The question most people raise is "why go through all the hassle of manually installing a Linux system from scratch when you can just download an existing distribution like Debian or Redhat".
That is a valid question which I hope to answer for you. The most important reason for LFS's existence is teaching people how a Linux system works internally.
Building an LFS system teaches you about all that makes Linux tick, how things work together, and depend on each other. And most importantly, how to customize it to your own taste and needs.
Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a type of a Linux installation and the name of a book written by Gerard Beekmans among others. In that book the reader is given instructions on how to build a Linux system from source. The book is available freely from the Linux From Scratch website and is currently in version 6.5.
To keep LFS small and focused, the book Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) was created which presents instructions on how to further develop the basic Linux system that was created in LFS. It introduces and guides the reader through additions to the system including networking, X, sound, printer and scanner support. Since Release 5.0, the BLFS book version matches the LFS book version.
In addition to LFS and BLFS books Cross Linux from Scratch describes cross compiling and Hardened Linux From Scratch focuses on security enhancements like use of Stack-smashing protection, PaX and Address space layout randomization using grsecurity. Cross Linux from Scratch provides the necessary instructions to build a base, command line only Linux distribution. While LFS is limited to the x86 architecture, CLFS supports a broader range of processors.
CLFS addresses advanced techniques not included in the LFS book such as cross-build toolchains, multilibrary support (32 & 64-bit libraries side-by-side), and alternative instruction set architectures such as x86-64, Itanium, SPARC, MIPS, and Alpha. Hardened Linux From Scratch focuses on creating a more secure version of the original Linux From Scratch as its main purpose, including embedded systems.
Linux From Scratch is a way to install a working Linux system by building all components of it manually. This is, naturally, a longer process than installing a pre-compiled Linux distribution. According to the Linux From Scratch website, the advantages to this method are a compact, flexible and secure system and a greater understanding of the internal workings of the Linux OS.
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS), version 6.8. More of an educational project than a Linux distribution in a traditional sense of the word, Linux From Scratch is a book of step-by-step instructions on how to build a minimalist Linux-based operating system from scratch - either by using an existing Linux installation or from a live CD. Version 6.8 brings new versions of the Linux kernel, GNU software and most other packages that make up the base system.
From the release announcement: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) version 6.8. This release includes numerous changes to LFS 6.7 (including updates to Linux kernel 2.6.37, GCC 4.5.2, glibc 2.13) and security fixes. It also includes editorial work on the explanatory material throughout the book, improving both the clarity and accuracy of the text."
The complete 303-page book is available either for online viewing or as a download in PDF, XML or HTML formats.
• 2011-03-05: Distribution Release: Linux From Scratch 6.8
• 2010-09-19: Distribution Release: Linux From Scratch 6.7
• 2010-03-01: Distribution Release: Linux From Scratch 6.6
• 2010-02-13: Development Release: Linux From Scratch 6.6 RC1
• 2009-08-16: Distribution Release: Linux From Scratch 6.5
• 2009-07-29: Development Release: Linux From Scratch 6.5 RC2
What is the LFS LiveCD?
A LiveCD is a CD that is able to boot your system into a 'live', working operating system, independent of anything on your hard drive. It's a little different than an installation CD, which boots your system into a program that will guide you through the installation of some system onto your hard drive. With a LiveCD, you have an entire system contained on the CD and with that, the freedom to do nearly anything that a system installed on your hard drive can.
The LFS LiveCD is geared specifically toward providing a reliable host system for the purpose of building Linux From Scratch. Therefore, it may not be what you would envision as a "perfect" Linux system. It should, however, provide you with a comfortable enough environment so that you can, in turn, build your own "perfect" system.
For a more detailed description of the current version of the LiveCD read the documentation.
Why would I want to use the LFS LiveCD?
It provides a known good host for building LFS
At times, Linux distros are built in such a way that make it difficult to successfully build LFS using that distro as a host. Their releases may even contain bugs that are really only exposed with heavy compiling, as is done when building LFS. The LiveCD has been tested thoroughly and is known to successfully build the current version of LFS without deviation.
Removes the LFS prerequisite of having a Linux distro installed on your system
To build LFS, you need to have a host Linux system with development tools. In this case, the LiveCD is the host system. This allows you to build LFS onto a completely blank machine, if you so desire.
Doubles as a rescue CD
Having a LiveCD close at hand can be a life saver if your system breaks or suddenly refuses to boot. You can boot the CD, fix the error on your local system, reboot, and voila!
Includes all sources and the LFS Book
This spares you from having to download all the packages individually, which can be quite time consuming. It also removes the need for a working internet connection.
If you liked this article, subscribe to the feed by clicking the image below to keep informed about new contents of the blog: