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origami-sheep 01-12-2012 06:58 PM

A new distro for installation of any other distro

So I've had some thoughts floating around for a while now and it basically comes from the question of 'why is Linux not used more?'. I think one answer is the ridiculous number of distributions that are all fundamentally the same.

But personally I cherish this and love distro hopping


Setting up is always hard for me because of my wireless card so I got the idea of a mini, live distribution which comes with a partitioning program and a huge number of networking drivers and easy setup scripts for them, to give a base for installing other distro's


Well at the moment I've been looking at Aufs and unionfs as the live distro could download an image of the installer file system (similar to puppy sfs files) and then just installing with that distro's installer and files but with the wireless all set up.
It could also provide an ideal platform for installing things like gentoo and Funtoo

I hope to be able to make a proof of concept as soon as possible, but ideas please?

MS3FGX 01-12-2012 07:22 PM

Much easier solution: get a wireless card that has good Linux support.

origami-sheep 01-13-2012 01:18 AM

that was not the point of this thread: i want to make a system to allow installation of any distro from just one live cd

Ion Silverbolt 01-13-2012 12:53 PM

One of the problems of that is, a distros respective Live CD is also kind of a test environment. With your method, I might get everything working to install, but what do I do when I have issues once the install is done? I just wasted time installing an OS that doesn't support all of my hardware out of the box. Maybe it's fixable, maybe not.

I understand the purpose of wanting to do something like that, but it makes more sense to use it for some of the "start from the beginning" type Linux distros. I use a Calculate Linux Live CD to install Gentoo. Much more convenient than using a Gentoo minimal install CD. Arch can be installed in somewhat the same say with a little more effort. But if I want to install Xubuntu for example, I want to know it works ahead of time before I waste 30 minutes to install it.

origami-sheep 01-14-2012 11:45 AM

Well that is true: which is why I believe that if done properly there could be a way of loading any other distro's live cd

The main point of this idea is essentially to help get hardware working right away

celthunder 01-14-2012 02:04 PM

Does this not already exist? look at gentoo and LFS for example they both require you have a base (live or otherwise) system to install from. Debian and ubuntu have bootstrapping which is the same thing? You can install pretty much any distrobution using pretty much any other one as a starting point right? Could be wrong hopefully someone else can chip in

linus72 01-14-2012 02:11 PM

There is and netbootcd, which may contain some things like what you want, including net-installation and disk utilities, etc

there is also Instalinux

origami-sheep 01-15-2012 07:34 AM

basically yes; it'll be something like netbootcd; but running in X (eventually with a gui for installing)

so far the way i see it working:

it boots as stand alone live distro
it downloads and mounts the netinstall iso of selected distro
it then switches over somehow (a filesystem union?) maybe chroot

input please: i am in a bit over my head with some of this xD

linus72 01-15-2012 07:42 AM

Check out how the netbootcd scripts work, when you choose whatever distro you want it downloads the appropriate kernel and initrd for said distro and I think runs it via kexec

The current version of NetbootCD is version 4.7, available from TuxFamily. It is built on a microcore-4.1 base, with kexec support added to the kernel.
I would suggest you use Netbootcd on some empty partition and learn whats going on, and maybe get the source, take it apart and check it out
source, etc is at bottom of their webpage.

as for the "live" distro part, you could use a Remastersys Ubuntu/Debian based one or a Slackware/SalixOS one using Linux-Live scripts that I have for -current/13.37

TobiSGD 01-15-2012 07:53 AM

The problem with you approach is the amount of RAM needed. If you download an install CD for a distribution it has to fit completely in the RAM, since you are doing this on a Live system. That may be possible if you have enough RAM and only small installer CDs, but you will not be able to install a distribution on an PC with only 512MB of RAM, when the installer CD is sized (and many are) to fit perfectly on the CD (700MB).

linus72 01-15-2012 08:00 AM

you may also want to look at Billix, which is similar to Netbootcd

the way both work is they have the kernel and initrd from many netinstall isos, so they dont use the iso or mount it, but use Kexec to boot the new kernel/initrd when you make your selection.
Netbootcd simply downloads the needed items while Billix I think has them onboard their iso.
Thus, they both use very little ram and both use CLI installers. I've used both and they work good, especially combined with

origami-sheep 01-15-2012 12:41 PM

well, i've actually gone and changed my mind here: its so close to building a custom distro i may as well do that! (no seriously, i plan to (-: )

anyone more experienced than me want to help?

linus72 01-15-2012 01:34 PM

It matters what distro you want it based on?
As far as I know I am the only person that has Linux-Live that will make live-media from a Slackware 13.1/13.37 install?
If Ubuntu/Debian based you can use Remastersys, If ARCH you can use Larch or they have others too for ARCH I think...

origami-sheep 01-16-2012 03:21 PM


but i thought maybe i'll first explore the world of LFS and distro design then come back to this

hydraMax 01-16-2012 11:07 PM

The Gentoo minimal install disk already provides an ideal platform for installing Gentoo. (Including the partitioning tool, et cetera.)

Frankly, if I were you I'd start with simply creating the "huge number of (wireless) networking drivers and easy setup scripts for them". If you can accomplish that you will have earned your place in the open source hall of fame. Wireless support is a complex issue; e.g., some wireless cards require certain kernel sub-systems to be enabled, while others require that they be blacklisted. (IIRC, enabling b43 stuff requires a few other kernel components to be disabled, which are used by other drivers.) Then there is the whole issue of proprietary Windows drivers that must be wrapped by NDISwrapper. Are you going to take the legal risk of distributing copy-righted Windows drivers on a CD, or are you going to force this "mini-distro" to download them off the Internet (which of course requires networking to be available in the first place).

The biggest contribution you could make would be to write more open source wireless drivers which could easily be used by all distros.

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