Live Systems Manual


About this manual

1. About this manual

1.1 For the impatient
1.2 Terms
1.3 Authors
1.4 Contributing to this document
1.4.1 Applying changes
1.4.2 Translation

About the Live Systems Project

2. About the Live Systems Project

2.1 Motivation
2.1.1 What is wrong with current live systems
2.1.2 Why create our own live system?
2.2 Philosophy
2.2.1 Only unchanged packages from Debian "main"
2.2.2 No package configuration of the live system
2.3 Contact



3. Installation

3.1 Requirements
3.2 Installing live-build
3.2.1 From the Debian repository
3.2.2 From source
3.2.3 From 'snapshots'
3.3 Installing live-boot and live-config
3.3.1 From the Debian repository
3.3.2 From source
3.3.3 From 'snapshots'

The basics

4. The basics

4.1 What is a live system?
4.2 Downloading prebuilt images
4.3 Using the web live image builder
4.3.1 Web builder usage and caveats
4.4 First steps: building an ISO hybrid image
4.5 Using an ISO hybrid live image
4.5.1 Burning an ISO image to a physical medium
4.5.2 Copying an ISO hybrid image to a USB stick
4.5.3 Using the space left on a USB stick
4.5.4 Booting the live medium
4.6 Using a virtual machine for testing
4.6.1 Testing an ISO image with QEMU
4.6.2 Testing an ISO image with VirtualBox
4.7 Building and using an HDD image
4.8 Building a netboot image
4.8.1 DHCP server
4.8.2 TFTP server
4.8.3 NFS server
4.8.4 Netboot testing HowTo
4.8.5 Qemu
4.9 Webbooting
4.9.1 Getting the webboot files
4.9.2 Booting webboot images

Overview of tools

5. Overview of tools

5.1 The live-build package
5.1.1 The lb config command
5.1.2 The lb build command
5.1.3 The lb clean command
5.2 The live-boot package
5.3 The live-config package

Managing a configuration

6. Managing a configuration

6.1 Dealing with configuration changes
6.1.1 Why use auto scripts? What do they do?
6.1.2 Use example auto scripts
6.2 Clone a configuration published via Git

Customizing contents

7. Customization overview

7.1 Build time vs. boot time configuration
7.2 Stages of the build
7.3 Supplement lb config with files
7.4 Customization tasks

Customizing package installation

8. Customizing package installation

8.1 Package sources
8.1.1 Distribution, archive areas and mode
8.1.2 Distribution mirrors
8.1.3 Distribution mirrors used at build time
8.1.4 Distribution mirrors used at run time
8.1.5 Additional repositories
8.2 Choosing packages to install
8.2.1 Package lists
8.2.2 Using metapackages
8.2.3 Local package lists
8.2.4 Local binary package lists
8.2.5 Generated package lists
8.2.6 Using conditionals inside package lists
8.2.7 Removing packages at install time
8.2.8 Desktop and language tasks
8.2.9 Kernel flavour and version
8.2.10 Custom kernels
8.3 Installing modified or third-party packages
8.3.1 Using packages.chroot to install custom packages
8.3.2 Using an APT repository to install custom packages
8.3.3 Custom packages and APT
8.4 Configuring APT at build time
8.4.1 Choosing apt or aptitude
8.4.2 Using a proxy with APT
8.4.3 Tweaking APT to save space
8.4.4 Passing options to apt or aptitude
8.4.5 APT pinning

Customizing contents

9. Customizing contents

9.1 Includes
9.1.1 Live/chroot local includes
9.1.2 Binary local includes
9.2 Hooks
9.2.1 Live/chroot local hooks
9.2.2 Boot-time hooks
9.2.3 Binary local hooks
9.3 Preseeding Debconf questions

Customizing run time behaviours

10. Customizing run time behaviours

10.1 Customizing the live user
10.2 Customizing locale and language
10.3 Persistence
10.3.1 The persistence.conf file
10.3.2 Using more than one persistence store
10.4 Using persistence with encryption

Customizing the binary image

11. Customizing the binary image

11.1 Bootloaders
11.2 ISO metadata

Customizing Debian Installer

12. Customizing Debian Installer

12.1 Types of Debian Installer
12.2 Customizing Debian Installer by preseeding
12.3 Customizing Debian Installer content


Contributing to the project

13. Contributing to the project

13.1 Making changes

Reporting bugs

14. Reporting bugs

14.1 Known issues
14.2 Rebuild from scratch
14.3 Use up-to-date packages
14.4 Collect information
14.5 Isolate the failing case if possible
14.6 Use the correct package to report the bug against
14.6.1 At build time while bootstrapping
14.6.2 At build time while installing packages
14.6.3 At boot time
14.6.4 At run time
14.7 Do the research
14.8 Where to report bugs

Coding Style

15. Coding Style

15.1 Compatibility
15.2 Indenting
15.3 Wrapping
15.4 Variables
15.5 Miscellaneous


16. Procedures

16.1 Major Releases
16.2 Point Releases
16.2.1 Last Point Release of a Debian Release
16.2.2 Point release announcement template

Git repositories

17. Git repositories

17.1 Handling multiple repositories



18. Examples

18.1 Using the examples
18.2 Tutorial 1: A default image
18.3 Tutorial 2: A web browser utility
18.4 Tutorial 3: A personalized image
18.4.1 First revision
18.4.2 Second revision
18.5 A VNC Kiosk Client
18.6 A base image for a 128MB USB key
18.7 A localized GNOME desktop and installer


Style guide

19. Style guide

19.1 Guidelines for authors
19.1.1 Linguistic features
19.1.2 Procedures
19.2 Guidelines for translators
19.2.1 Translation hints


Live Systems Manual

Customizing the binary image

11. Customizing the binary image

11.1 Bootloaders

live-build uses syslinux and some of its derivatives (depending on the image type) as bootloaders by default. They can be easily customized to suit your needs.

In order to use a full theme, copy /usr/share/live/build/bootloaders into config/bootloaders and edit the files in there. If you do not want to bother modifying all supported bootloader configurations, only providing a local customized copy of one of the bootloaders, e.g. isolinux in config/bootloaders/isolinux is enough too, depending on your use case.

When modifying one of the default themes, if you want to use a personalized background image that will be displayed together with the boot menu, add a splash.png picture of 640x480 pixels. Then, remove the splash.svg file.

There are many possibilities when it comes to making changes. For instance, syslinux derivatives are configured by default with a timeout of 0 (zero) which means that they will pause indefinitely at their splash screen until you press a key.

To modify the boot timeout of a default iso-hybrid image just edit a default isolinux.cfg file specifying the timeout in units of 1/10 seconds. A modified isolinux.cfg to boot after five seconds would be similar to this:

include menu.cfg
default vesamenu.c32
prompt 0
timeout 50

11.2 ISO metadata

When creating an ISO9660 binary image, you can use the following options to add various textual metadata for your image. This can help you easily identify the version or configuration of an image without booting it.