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The Excellent SUSE Studio (and tips)

I study in an engineering university full of geeks and nerds. Most of them use some (pirated) version of Windows, though they all know how superiorly Linux would perform on our sprawling LAN network.

They do not. And one of the major reasons is that there are some particular softwares that everyone here uses, but cannot be bothered to download for a Linux distro. People in Pakistan do not like the idea of not being able to double click and install, and when they see their favourite apps missing, they don’t bother to enable a repo and download them. They ditch Linux altogether.

Enter SUSE Studio. I’m a SUSE apologist, and nothing could be more exciting then a simple, easy way to build a personalized (or in my case, universitized) Linux distro – one that can keep the people on board the Linux ship longer, until they find out how good it can be.

SUSE Studio is still by invite only, but I got mine fairly quickly (in under a day).

And I went in. Many people in the blogosphere have already commented on how easy it is, how it runs in a browser, and how simple it is to test created distros. TuxRadar has a particularly nice account of the SUSE Studio.

My point is that in under 30 minutes, I had added the necessary repos, added the required software (recommended packages + DCPP, XChat, Blender, some DTP software, CAD, and some others). I also put in some artwork (our logo and wallpaper). But most importantly, I put in place of the license some basic starting instructions for getting up and about with iGIKI OS. I also set some of the fancier network settings that every node on our LAN has.

SUSE Studio Config Panel

(The SUSE Config Panel screenshot. Taken from a VMWare guest running Windows Vista on a stock openSUSE 11.1 host)

The Test Drive works extremely well too. After making sure nothing was broken, I downloaded a LiveDVD image.

The result was a beautiful, custom, effortless openSUSE 11.1, that worked flawlessly. And it was a first time build. No second builds needed.

All I can say is that I am speechless in front of the technology Novell has brought to us. It is astounding. The bar has been lowered so much, even toddlers can vault.

My only gripe is the SUSE Studio itself is closed source. Hope you’re listening, Novell!

I have, since, built several distros for different purposes. I would like to share a few tips, that may come in handy:

  • For initial testing, build hard drive images. You can then test, and also know what files changed when you ran it.
  • Pay particular attention to the Messages in the left hand column. It often helps you avoid bloat.
  • The software section is the one to which you must pay utmost attention. That, in all probability, is where any breaking or making of the produced distro will take place.
  • Package dependencies are automatically resolved in most cases. However, I have found that some software that calls on E17 repos causes conflict with Gnome libraries. The Message section will notify you – take care.
  • Live images test best. No matter which format you want to deploy in, I have found live images to be the best indicator of final performance. Then again, that may just be me.
  • Don’t forget to create a new user account in the config section! It looks nice when you can show off to a first timer with a custom login.
  • If you enable the firewall and also install some odd-port-requiring server or other networking tools like Samba or Nmap or Cain & Abel or something, then be sure to configure the firewall later through YaST. I have found the default firewall to be VERY draconic.
  • (Other tips if somebody suggests them)

Happy building with this great service!

  1. Dean Hilkewich
    24 August 2009 at 12:29 AM

    “My only gripe is the SUSE Studio itself is closed source. Hope you’re listening, Novell!”

    Actually the plan is to opensource it.

    Taken from the susestudio irc channel logs:

    Hi. Is there plans to open source susestudio?
    we’re open sourcing it over time
    so, yes, though no definite dates yet
    we’re pretty busy just dealing with all the users rihgt now 🙂 but you can get all the power of studio through the script it uses to do builds, kiwi

  2. 24 August 2009 at 10:21 PM

    @ Dean Hilkewich: I heard that only some sections of the SUSE Studio are going to be open sourced. Any reliable releases by Novell in this regard?

  3. 6 October 2009 at 2:35 PM

    I agree entirely that Suse has hit a ‘homerun’ with the Studio service.
    I would venture that they will keep using an ‘invitation only’ entrance method to keep usage relative to their ability to properly support it.
    I further agree that other ‘serious’ contenders will need to work a bit harder as Suse has definitely raised the bar substantially.

  4. 8 October 2009 at 4:41 PM

    @ game: Glad to see a Red Hat dev round here…

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