Open Source

Create your own Ubuntu LiveCD with Reconstructor

Have you ever had a need to create a LiveCD based on Ubuntu, only with a few tweaks? You can now do that with a great tool called Reconstructor. Jack Wallen outlines how this tool is used in this week's entry. Read it. Try it. Love it.

If you've ever rolled out multiple instances of the same operating system you know these roll-outs can be a real pain. Much of the time you spend getting all of your roll-outs the same. You could always do a network installation. Network installations, of course, depend upon a boot disk that help the client connect to the server containing the image to install. This type of installation is certainly ideal for larger installations.

But for creating a unique Ubuntu LiveCD that will allow you to customize what goes on the CD as well as the default username, theme, splash screens, wallpaper, etc., you need Reconstructor. This is an ideal tool for creating a LiveCD for your company that you can hand out for PR purposes, or for whatever reason. And believe it or not, it's easy to use. There are a few tricks to know (especially when wanting to add applications that are not on the default LiveCD) in order to really make your LiveCD yours. But how is it done? Let's take a look.

Getting and installing

The first thing you have to do is install Reconstructor. This is simple. Open up the Add/Remove Software utility, search for "reconstructor" (no quotes), select the results, and apply the changes. Or you can open up a terminal window and issue the command sudo apt-get install reconstructor.

Once installed you will find Reconstructor in the System Tools submenu of the Applications menu.

Using Reconstructor

You will be surprised that creating your own LiveCD is nothing more than walking through a wizard with few simple screens. The only challenge is knowing to open up a terminal within the application in order to install the extra applications you need.

Once Reconstructor has started, the first screen is nothing more than a Welcome screen. Click Next to get to the next screen which will ask you the type of disk you want to create. Your choices are:

  • LiveCD
  • Alternate CD

Most likely you will want to create a LiveCD. Select that and click Next.

Figure A

Figure 1

Figure A shows the first screen which will actually require you to interact with more than a single click. If this is your first time around with revisor you must select the three check boxes in order to create the basic directory structure for Reconstructor to work. In this same window you can give your LiveCD a unique file name should you want.

Once you have finished this, click Next to move on to the next screen.

Figure B

Figure 2

Figure B shows the Customization window. This is where the majority of your Reconstructor work will happen. You can configure your desktop's look from wallpaper to font. You can configure your splash screen as well as what modules are run at startup.

But more importantly you can add applications to your LiveCD - even applications that are not currently on the version of Ubuntu you are running.

To do this you will open up the Terminal window associated with Reconstructor. Open up the Reconstructor terminal by clicking the icon in the bottom left of the Customization window. This is a root terminal so you can run apt-get without using sudo.

What you will want to do is install all of the applications you need on this LiveCD through this terminal. Once finished close the terminal and complete your customization. After the customization is complete click Apply and then click Next.

In this next window you have three more options to take care of. The first is customizing the file name for your LiveCD and the second is adding a description to the file, the final is selecting the architecture for the LiveCD. You will notice there are three check boxes - leave these checked.

Once you're done here click Finish and your build will begin. When the build is complete (this can take a while) you will find the ISO image where you configured it in the last window.

That's all there is to creating your own version of Ubuntu. I've used Reconstructor many times and it never fails me. Give it a go and see what you can come up with.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

Editor's Picks