Pick and choose packages to create your own custom Linux distribution

September 10, 2007
A long time back, I had talked about precisely such a service where you can pick and choose packages to create your own custom Linux distribution. Well here is a similar but much more intuitive project.

The custom NimbleX LiveCD project is an online service made available by Bera Florin & Radulescu Bogdan, which creates a made-to-order Linux distribution with just the packages you need and facilitates the resulting ISO image for download.

Fig: Wizard to create the custom Linux ISO.

Fig: Choose the wallpaper from the collection.

Fig: The ISO being generated.

When you visit the website, you are prompted to start customizing Linux. There are three modes of customization which you can choose from them being :
  1. Minimal - Usually minimal customization is not the reason you came here but if you want to get a standard no frills distribution choose this option.
  2. Custom - Choose this option if you have been using Linux before and you are familiar with some of the software packages.
  3. Recommended - This mode is very similar to the custom option but has the advantages that it automatically points you to some of the most useful packages for day to day activities.
While the website recommends you to select the "Recommended mode", it is a good idea to choose the "Custom mode" instead if you are sure which packages you need. Next it prompts you to select the categories that interest you. All the packages have been separated into a total of 9 categories such as Office, Games, Network, Graphics and so on. And the package selection is quite intuitive too. For example, if you want to install the GCC compilers, then you can select the Compiler pack from the list of packages and it will add all the packages related to the compilers to the resulting ISO image of the Linux distribution.

Once all the packages have been selected, the website allows you to fine tune the distribution in a variety of ways such as choosing a custom wallpaper (You can even upload your own personal wallpaper), Set the volume and KDE sounds, set the root password and create a user account and set your language. Finally just before it starts putting together your custom ISO, it lists your selection of packages and you can verify all your selection is included and then the site creates your custom Linux distribution on the fly and provides you a link to the ISO image for download.

Advantages of using this service
  • Pick and choose only those programs which you actually need.
  • The resulting Linux distribution ISO is lean and once installed will occupy less space on the hard disk.
  • A good selection of packages including Sun Java 6.0 and Proprietary Nvidia drivers
Drawbacks of this service
  • You cannot choose packages not listed in the wizard. For example, if you want to include GNUCash then you are at a loss.
  • There is a slight security problem because there is no way to verify the genuineness of the packages selected.
  • The resulting ISO image is made available only for 6 hours after which it is deleted. So it doesn't cater to those with a dial-up connection.
All things considered, this is a very good project which has a great potential. I have often wondered why the big Linux distribution makers such as Debian, Red Hat, SuSE and the likes do not provide such a service. For one, it considerably reduces the bandwidth usage even though it might drastically increase the usage of disk space on the server. Secondly the end users get to create a custom ISO with only those packages they need.

Do check out this very interesting project developed by Bera Florin and Radulescu Bogdan.


  • This is really a cool a project. It would be really nice if they could provide means for users to add their own packages from their own computers to the distribution they're about to create, that way you get a real customization.