So you want a Linux thats set up with just the applications you want—no more, no less. What do you do? Well, an expert Linux user does it himself. But not everyones a Linux legend. For the rest of us, there are two good choices.
Theres a low-end personal option: Instalinux.coms free service, SystemDesigner. Theres also a high-end corporate choice: rPaths rBuilder.
At Instalinux.com, you can create installation disks for CentOS 4.3, Debian 3.1 and 3.2, Red Hat Fedora Core versions 3 through 5, Novell SUSE 9.3 and 10, and Canonicals Ubuntu and Kubuntu 5.10. It doesnt, as you may have noticed, support the latest openSUSE 10.1 or the new Dapper Dan members of the Ubuntu family.
The free, online program lets you design your own Linux system profile. For example, if you want a KDE interface, but not GNOME, for Fedora, you can build it. Once this is done, SystemDesigner creates a network install ISO file. Next, you download and burn this boot image to a CD.
When you boot a system with the CD, the image automatically starts downloading the required files from the Net. And, depending on what options you choose and your Net connection speed, you should have a customized Linux up and running within an hour or two.
As eWEEK Labs found out in its tests, Instalinux can be darn useful.
On the other hand, it only gives you limited control over your build. If you want to get down and dirty with your build. If you want the right mix of virtualization tools, the right libraries for your development team, and your own customized programs all in one perfect fit of a distribution, you want to talk with rPath.