Today I finally got my invitation to try out SUSE Studio. SUSE Studio is a web application that enable users to customize and build their own SUSE Linux distribution, online and before downloading it. Sounds familiar? Yes, just weeks ago we talked about customizing Slax online.
Well, SUSE Studio doesn’t exactly allow one to build a full fledged Linux distro, rather it’s intended to help build very specialized “appliances”, based around the concept of Just Enough Operating System (JeOS). A JeOS is not a generic operating system, but refers to a customized operating system that precisely fits the needs of a particular application. For instance you might want to build a distribution catering specifically to multimedia packages, or office application or software development.
SUSE Studio offers a very clean and straightforward wizard to build such a JeOS. One begins by choosing the base template (GNONE, KDE, Server, Minimal X etc), architecture (32 bit or 64 bit) and then the packages one wants to include. There is a catch however. The number of packages is restricted to only 200.
The wizard also allows you to customize the boot options, add user accounts, configure network and optionally upload and add your own packages or RPM builds. Finally, you can choose to either create Live CD ISO or a VMware or Xen virtual image. Building the ISO image can take anything from under 5 minutes to 15 ~ 20 minutes depending on the number of packages you have added.
Before you download, you can even test drive the custom distribution online. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try that part because my router was blocking the required ports. I’m still working on this thing.
SUSE has always been one of my favorite distribution, and this product is going to be immense. I would love to see something like this for every major distribution.