I have a dream:), I want to customize an "ubuntu-11.04-alternate-amd64.iso" image. What is the best software/solution for it?

I want to customize these things (ALL OF THEM is needed):

  • Customized package list: I don't need all that comes with the default install, but I have a few thats not inc. in the def. install.

  • GUI: I don't want a Desktop Environment in it, I only want to use the Openbox WM.

  • I want a "half-automated" install: the installer only asks for: 1 encryption password + timezone + 1 username/password.

    So e.g.: the installer automatically creates an encrypted VolumeGroup with the given password (partitions: 256 MB /boot + VG get's the rest of the place: in the VG: 10 GByte to / and 2 GByte to swap and the rest goes to /home). - I mean with full encryption.

  • Automatically configure a few apps: e.g.: Google Chrome/Firefox - e.g.: auto install WOT+NoScript in them.

  • Automatically install & configure: grsecurity; PaX; Pro Police; DigSig.

  • Configure in a way that the OS will do all the updates automatically without user interaction.

  • Set file associations, e.g.: VLC for all the video files, etc.

  • Install a Local DNS cache + Privoxy proxy & configure them to use as default, e.g.: ns:, HTTP/S proxy:

  • Automatically set the iptables Firewall rules that I provide.

Thanks for any help reaching my goal. Have a nice day.

p.s.: All that in one ISO image file (so not like e.g.: boot from a PXE server, i need a custom image in my hand that already contains the needed packages(even extra pack.) not that it downloads them when installing :P )


4 Answers 4


The last time I looked into this, there were several different methods, each with pros and cons.

I ended up using the Ubuntu port of Red Hat's kickstart. There's a decent GUI tool you can apt-get install: system-config-kickstart. It can definitely do the simple things, like skipping a windowing system or customizing a list of packages to install. It can even do simple partitioning, but I wouldn't count on being able to do LVM, let alone encrypted LVM. See further documentation here: https://help.ubuntu.com/11.04/installation-guide/i386/automatic-install.html

Once you have your ks.cfg, you can either specify it as an HTTP URL when booting, or you can build a new image with genisoimage that has the file at e.g. /preseed/ks.cfg and passes a kernel argument ks=cdrom:/preseed/ks.cfg when booting.

Preseeding the Debian Installer might be the more native way to do it: https://help.ubuntu.com/11.04/installation-guide/i386/appendix-preseed.html

This thread has some other good suggestions, especially FAI: https://serverfault.com/questions/463/how-can-i-configure-unattended-installation-of-ubuntu

P.S. There are several configuration management systems that may suit your needs if you find that configuring the machine after installation is acceptable. See especially puppet, bcfg2, and chef.

  • fai: doesn't supports ext4, uses server to boot custom image Jun 4, 2011 at 20:19
  • system-config-kickstart - y, doesn't do lvm/luks Jun 4, 2011 at 20:20

Have you tried remastersyshttp://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/backup? You have to make your system just the way you want your custom distro to be and then use remastersys to make your own Ubuntu remix disc.

  • remastersys doesn't supports custom rules for lvm/luks? Jun 4, 2011 at 20:25

Site after site, and application after application... I'm sorry, but for me, all of he above is unnecessary, and will just make things more difficult. The method I prefer for creating a custom LiveCD is to simply mount the image, replicate the contents out, mount the squashfs, replicate the contents into a working directory, chroot in and have a ball. The majority of what you mentioned can be done by editing the default settings for each individual application, usually located under /usr/share/$applicationName/default, or is system wide and therefore has a config in /etc. If you modify everything while chrooted, you can then run mksquashfs on the working directory, replace the squashfs from the original liveCD and create your image. Ubuntu actually has a very comprehensive wiki for this.


Edit: I'm sorry, I just realized that you referenced that article yesterday. I have stepped through it quite a few times, although mainly for the creation of custom portable live usb devices, and I can give you any help you need if you just send me a message.


I did something like this a while back with SuseStudio. That's just the name of the site, you can use any distro. Check it out. It's been a while since I've been, though. http://susestudio.com/


Andrew Hauser

  • this is askubuntu, i asked about ubuntu, and you're linking suse :) but thx. Jun 4, 2011 at 17:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.