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How to build the ultimate imaginary Linux distro

If I were to sit down, right now, and build a brand-new Linux distro...what tools would I use?

By Bryan Lunduke on Wed, 11/27/13 - 9:15am.

Roughly a week back, I was at SUSECon, talking with a few fellow Linux nerds about all of the cool services and tools available for those that build their own Linux distributions.

And this got me thinking. If I were to sit down, right now, and build a brand-new Linux distro... what tools would I use? What services would I utilize in order to create the best distro out there, and simultaneously make my job as easy as possible?

Here's what I've decided on - after a great deal of debate and discussion with other Linux users. And I'm sharing it here. I present to you, the imaginary blueprint for "LundukeNIX". (I suppose you can call it something else if you *really* want to.)

The package format: RPM.

Why RPM? Truth be told, I'm more of an "apt" and DEB guy myself. But the tools available for building and maintaining RPM packages - and distros based on RPM - are just too awesome to pass up.

Specifically, the Open Build Service (previously the "openSUSE Build Service") and SUSE Studio. I know what you're thinking. Doesn't that make this new distro basically just openSUSE? Not at all. Stick with me for a moment.

The Open Build Service is a handy way to build packages, and keep them updated, in a nice semi-automated way. And, if you use the instance of it that’s hosted by SUSE, you get a completely free-of-charge repository for the packages in your new Linux distro.

That means that you save time and, perhaps just as importantly, money. All while taking advantage of a battle-hardened set of servers to serve up your packages.

The same goes for using SUSE Studio. Sure, you can use it to create a simple re-spin of openSUSE. But you can also just use openSUSE as a base from which you can endlessly tweak and modify your new distro (which doesn't need to resemble anything SUSE-based in the slightest). Which can tie back in to the repositories that you created with the Open Build Service. And, when done, you can even have the SUSE servers serve up the .iso's (and other install media formats) for you. Again. Save money. Save time.

From there, I would need to pick a desktop environment. I think I'd have to go with KDE - a slimmed down, customized, KDE setup. It's modern and it's flexible - not that GNOME isn't, but KDE seems more focused on that.

Which brings me to having an online store. Most of the big operating systems have some form of built-in "App Store." And this Linux distro will be no different. But building one is easier said than done.

So I'm going to opt to use the Bodega system as the basis and spend my team’s precious engineering resources on simply building a nice client on top of it. Bodega is an Open Source payment processing, content management and content delivery system. Think of it as all of the hard-to-build bits of the Google Play store ready to use in your own system. It's flexible, it's currency agnostic (uses a point-based system where people buy points to spend within your store) and it's capable of handling any type of content. Apps, music, books...anything you can think of.

At this point we've got a system building and it is hosted for free. We also have a proven, flexible desktop environment and even our own App/Content Store to help our users find what they want (and help the project earn some much-needed revenue). And most of the work (and cost) is taken care of for us.

Ain't Open Source grand?

Now we just need to decide between Libre Office, Caligra and Abi Word...