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October 8, 2002

Linux From Scratch

I've never had any desire to bake my own Linux system from scratch, but when someone hands you a recipe and says "Try it", you've got to at least take a nibble.

The recipe is from the Linux From Scratch project. LFS starts with about 100mb of original sources, and leads you through patching and compiling your way into a bootable Linux system.

The result is a bootable Linux system, but it's a long way from what I'd like to live with: right out of the oven you don't have any network utilities, not even which, and certainly not emacs. (Arrr, it's vim for dinner tonight, me hearties.) What drew me to Linux in the first place was that all the utilities I really wanted were already part of the system. In that sense, LFS is a step backwards.

And it also takes quite a while. Real time of about a day, compile times up in the hours on a ~1 Ghz Pentium box.  (Well, it was really a "guest OS" running under VMware on a 2.2Ghz P4.  See my essay about VMware for details.)

Complaints about the lack of tools are somewhat beside the point; from my point of view, LFS is a teaching tool. But if you're really intent on building your own distribution, Beyond Linux From Scratch (what else?) provides guidance on adding the all the pieces you might want to make a full Linux system.