Building your own Slackware distribution
without a distro builder tool
Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and SuSE have tools for making respins. Slackware's package manager has an easy to use makepkg script, and the installer is wickedly easy to customize to meet your needs. So, let's go through making a Slackware-based distribution. Alright, so we start with the ISO file you download of the Slackware DVD. Open a terminal, and loop mount the ISO, then list the files
mount -o loop SlackwareDVD.iso /mnt/cdrom -t auto && ls /mnt/cdrom
You ought to get something similar to the following
ANNOUNCE.12_2 BOOTING.TXT CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT CHECKSUMS.md5 CHECKSUMS.md5.asc COPYING COPYING3 COPYRIGHT.TXT CRYPTO_NOTICE.TXT ChangeLog.txt FAQ.TXT FILELIST.TXT GPG-KEY PACKAGES.TXT README.TXT README.initrd README_CRYPT.TXT README_LVM.TXT README_RAID.TXT RELEASE_NOTES SPEAKUP_DOCS.TXT SPEAK_INSTALL.TXT Slackware-HOWTO UPGRADE.TXT extra/ isolinux/ kernels/ pasture/ patches/ slackbook/ slackware/ source/ testing/ usb-and-pxe-installers/
Go ahead and make a build directory for yourself, as well as a package creation directory, then move into your build directory. Copy the contents of the DVD into your build directory.
mkdir ~/build mkdir ~/packages cd ~/build cp -R /mnt/cdrom/* ~/build
Now comes the "fun" part. If you move into the slackware/ directory you are greeted by an ugly assortment of files and packages. The installer in isolinux/ reads these package directories and files to install packages in the target HDD. For it to do this, each package series' directory contains a few unique files: install, install.end, maketag, maketag.ez, and tagfile. You will not need to touch install or install.end, but do not delete either file. maketag and maketag.ez are identical. tagfile is different from the other two, but is mostly just a list. Every package you add or remove has to be listed in all three of those files. You can look at each one and get a good sense of how to edit them. You can remove an entire series of packages if you wish, but you will need to make an adjustment to the installer if you do. For example, Emacs sucks. I remove it. Move into isolinux/ and look for 'setpkg'. You need to remove any package series from this file if you removed them from slackware/ --ie if you deleted x/ you will want to remove line 32 and line 33 (X and XAP)
"X" "X Window System" on "This series contains X, the window system (or GUI) used by Linux." \ "XAP" "X Applications" on "The XAP series is a collection of applications for X." \
A quick note that the minimum is
aaa_base-13.0-i486-2 aaa_elflibs-13.0-i486-2 aaa_terminfo-5.7-noarch-1 bash-3.1.017-i486-2 bin-11.1-i486-1 bzip2-1.0.5-i486-1 coreutils-7.4-i486-1 devs-2.3.1-noarch-25 dhcpcd-3.2.3-i486-1 dialog-1.1_20080819-i486-2 diffutils-2.8.1-i486-3 e2fsprogs-1.41.8-i486-1 etc-13.0-i486-2 findutils-4.4.2-i486-1 gawk-3.1.6-i486-1 glibc-solibs-2.9-i486-3 gnupg-1.4.9-i486-1 grep-2.5.4-i486-1 gzip-1.3.12-i486-1 iputils-s20070202-i486-2 kernel-huge-smp-184.108.40.206_smp-i686-2 kernel-modules-smp-220.127.116.11_smp-i686-2 logrotate-3.7.4-i486-1 module-init-tools-3.6-i486-2 net-tools-1.60-i486-2 network-scripts-13.0-noarch-2 openssh-5.2p1-i486-1 openssl-solibs-0.9.8k-i486-2 pkgtools-13.0-noarch-3 procps-3.2.7-i486-2 sed-4.1.5-i486-1 shadow-4.0.3-i486-18 slackpkg-2.80.2-noarch-3 sysklogd-1.4.1-i486-10 sysvinit-2.86-i486-6 sysvinit-functions-8.53-i486-2 sysvinit-scripts-1.2-noarch-30 tar-1.22-i486-2 udev-141-i486-3 util-linux-ng-2.14.2-i486-1 wget-1.11.4-i486-1 which-2.20-i486-1 xz-4.999.8beta-i486-1
So, if all you are doing is changing the package selection, Slackware can be a good basis. More can be done though. You can change the installer by extracting the initrd.img file in isolinux/
cd ~ mkdir extracted cd extracted zcat ../build/isolinux/initrd.img | cpio -div
You will find the installation scripts in extracted/usr/lib/setup. I am not going to detail each file, as that is beyond the scope of my post, but if you search for lines that start with --dialog, you will have a good idea of what is going on. Reassembling your initrd is easy
cd ~/extracted find . | cpio -o -H newc | gzip -9fv > ../build/isolinux/initrd.img
Making packages is relatively easy but it changes for each piece of software you wish to add. For the majority you can download the source, extract it, and then cd into the new directory, compile and then run makepkg.
wget http://www.gnu.org/some/piece/of/software.tar.gz tar -xzf software.tar.gz cd software/ ./configure --prefix=/home/username/packages make && make install cd ~/packages makepkg software.tgz
I would now move software.tgz into the slackware/ folder in ~/build and add it to the maketag files and the tagfile. To assemble the ISO image
cd ~/build mkisofs -o ~/myDistro.iso -R -J -V "myDistro" -hide-rr-moved -v -d -N -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 32 -boot-info-table -sort isolinux/iso.sort -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -c isolinux/isolinux.boot -A "myDistro" .
Do NOT forget the trailing period after the last "myDistro".