I'm looking into the best way to deploy a customized Ubuntu image and it looks like I have two options:

  1. To make an "OEM install" version.
  2. To make a custom Ubuntu image.

Could someone help me understand the difference between these two methods of customizing an Ubuntu install? It appears to me that both these methods allow for elaborate customization of the image while allowing the user to enter their own end-user details (time zone, username, password, etc...).

  • This is really old but since I ran into it I think it merits an answer. In OEM mode you can prepare everything you want before initializing the computer with an user account. At the end you can click "Prepare for shipping" and the computer will present the first time config wizard asking for credentials and other stuff. check here: help.ubuntu.com/community/Ubuntu_OEM_Installer_Overview Jan 30, 2020 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


The OEM Install

  • The OEM install allows machine by machine customization.
  • It does not create an ISO image, but customizes a single machine.
  • Customization is done at the stage of installation.


  1. Do not require a custom iso.
  2. Each machines can have different customization.
  3. Suitable for small number of customized machines, each with its own set of customization.
  4. Also suitable for uncustomized machines where user gets to setup her own settings.


  1. If each machine needs to be customized the same way, they still have to be done individually at the time of install and thus, will take longer.
  2. You will need some other tools to create an iso image.

Custom Ubuntu Image

  • On the other hand custom Ubuntu Image allows making a single customized iso.

  • Copy it in multiple CD/DVD/USB

  • Deploy the same image in multiple machines quickly.


  1. Suitable for large volume deployment of identically customized machines.


  1. Requires an extra step of creating and testing a custom iso image. May not be worthwhile for one or two machines.
  • sorry but not really clear, what is OEM, if by mistake i choose OEM what are the differences working with desktop ubuntu,
    – stackdave
    Dec 30, 2017 at 18:30
  • thanks , i think I made a mistake, i've bought a hp notebook with oem preinstalled, then i choosed no oem , because user oem installed was force (it's normal , when you finish install you can delete oem user), so after choose no oem ,well the laptop does not recognise wifi driver, sounds,etc , so i've lost the preconfigured hp oem installation, so i can't use more wifi, need to use an external wifi usb ... i think that is the main difference, but i'ts too late to recover now, the drivers.. hp page no information or drivers
    – stackdave
    Dec 31, 2017 at 19:39

An OEM version is for manufactures of computers (system 76 for example) whereas the custom Ubuntu image is made so you "personalize" an image. If I was you, I would just do custom image.

  • 1
    I understand the reasons for a OEM version vs a custom image; but I'm wondering whether there is any technical difference between the two.
    – Suman
    Dec 13, 2012 at 17:25
  • Your answer is in the the questions you linked, Q#1, second answer. Dec 13, 2012 at 18:24

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