One of the coolest things about Linux is the fact that there’s a ton of choice. In some regards, “Linux is Linux” is true, in that the backbone tends to be similar from distro to distro, but the truth is, there’s so much more choice where Linux is concerned than any other OS. Don’t like how one distro is set up? Go for another! While some OS’ look the same on everyone’s PC, having the option of different Linux distributions allows you to find one that suits you perfectly.
But what if things were taken a bit further? That’s what the SUSE project is hoping to do with their SUSE Studio roll-your-own distro website. Although the service is currently in a private alpha (sign-ups are available), the service allows you to actually build your own distro, which means the ISO you burn to a DVD is one you took part in customizing.
That in itself sounds simple, but the level of customization is staggering. You first choose a “base” build, each with a different desktop environment, and from there, you can select which packages to build into the ISO, and you can even go as far as building the distro with applications not usually found in the SUSE distribution (via URLs). You can even allow it to prepare a MySQL database… insane.
Once your configuration is complete, you have the option to save as a DVD image (.img or .iso), and believe it or not… you can even save it as a virtual machine, for use with Xen or VMware. This service is designed for users who already understand Linux, but wow, the potential is incredible. I cannot wait to see this service go live…
Almost every aspect of the ISO is customizable, from the background of the boot splash, custom logo, adding users/password, running custom scripts during boot, memory size for virtual machine. It took me 5 minutes to make a custom ISO with minimum changes and another 10 minutes to build the ISO. Real life application of this service has so much potential that its amazing, not because it is unique (which its not), but how simple and fast it is to build your own custom Linux distribution.