Who's this site for?

This site is most useful (currently!) to experienced Linux System Administrators who need to standardize their system install routines. It enables you to build custom install images for various flavors of Linux. A custom install image is one where most or all of the questions that a normal install asks have been pre-answered. You can also optionally preselect what software will be installed automatically before the system's first boot into service.

Why would I want to do that?

Let's look at a few scenarios:

These are just some of the scenarios where a custom bootable image would be very useful. This website allows you to build that custom CD. However, you need to know what sort of custom CD you want and what you want it to do. You also need to know something about the install system of the distribution you intend to use. If you don't, then some of the questions asked won't make much sense to you.

That's no reason not to use this site and build process: it is a good reason to go and read the fine manuals. When you know what you want to do and why, then come back.

Instructions for the build process

What do I have to do?

The steps are quite simple. To build a CD:

1. Click on 'Let's get started' from the Home page

2. Set the target hostname if known

'Target hostname' is the name of the machine you want to buld an install for. If you know what the machine will be called, that is, its fully qualified domain name (FQDN) - such as myhost.example.com - or know what IP address it will be on - such as - then type that in, in the form where it asks for 'Hostname or IP'.

If you don't have these details don't make them up, that won't work, just leave the entry blank and the details will be collected using DHCP and the installer when the CD is run.

3. Choose the distribution you want to build from the pull-down list.

If you don't know what distribution you want to use, then this site may be solving a problem you don't yet have. Check around using search engine or DistroWatch to decide which distribution you want to use. As a very rough guideline, and avoiding flame-attracting recommendations, you might like to note what other people often do:

The distributions that end with _64 are intended for 64-bit processors - AMD or EMT64, generally. If you are not quite sure what you are doing you may want to skip these for now.

The steps that follow will be subtly different depending on the distribution. Here we describe the process for Debian and (largely) Ubuntu/Kubuntu.

4. Hit the 'Continue' button.

5. Choose a 'System profile'.

If this is your first time you'd be best advised to leave it on the default, 'Custom - you choose what to install'

6. Choose an install method.

If in doubt, leave it on the default (some distributions offer more options than others do).

7. Choose a Boot Image.

Again, if in doubt leave it on the default.

8. Hit 'Continue'

9. Select a waystation

10. Choose the time zone to use for the machine(s) to be installed

11. Choose whether the machine clock is set to GMT

This is often true for the UK, but may not be true for other locations if it is not a server machine.

12. Select any other languages you want to be supported

13. Hit 'Continue'

14. Choose how you want the disk space to be partitioned.

Most of these options will wipe the entire hard disk of the target machine when the install is run. If you select the wrong option you may cause your whole disk to be wiped when the CD is launched! But that won't happen here and now. If you are not clear on what you are doing, this is a good time to stop and rethink.

15. Hit 'Continue'

16. Choose which disk and partition you want to use.

17. Hit 'Continue'

18. Check the displayed info. Enter some default passwords. If all look ok then:

19: Hit 'Go For It!'

20: On the following page select the ISO image that is displayed and download it to your computer.

21: To use it, burn it to CD and boot from it on the target machine – the machine where you want to install. If you do not know how to do this it is unlikely that this service is overall one that will be useful to you. However if you want to proceed there is ample instructional material available elsewhere.

Thanks to James Roberts of Stabilys Ltd. for putting this document together.