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SUSE Studio Builds Customized Linux Appliances in a Flash - page 2

Automated Customization Goodness

  • May 21, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

The final step before building your image is to configure the basic settings like network (DHCP or not), startup, users, etc. You can add additional users at this step for desktop and server appliances. Other options you can configure at this step include the default memory and disk sizes, language and time zone, splash screens and any startup or shutdown scripts you might want to run. You can even upload a custom logo or background if you'd like.

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You have four options for the final step when you're ready to actually create your image. These include a bootable disk image for either a hard disk or USB memory stick, a live CD/DVD (.iso) image, and either a VMware or a Xen virtual machine image. Clicking on the big green "Build" button launches the process to create your image. There's a progress bar that lets you know how everything's going along the way and, at the end, a download link to transfer the image to your computer.

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What's it all Mean?

Virtual appliances provide an ideal packaging tool for open source project distributions looking for a clean way to offer a test drive of their product. This works especially well for projects with lots of dependencies on other packages and the underlying operating system. SUSE Studio can build an appliance perfectly configured and tailored to meet essentially any requirement. The only limitation at this point is the underlying OS has to be either openSUSE or Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

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SUSE Studio takes care of all the heavy lifting required to build a custom distribution. It makes the whole process available to anyone with a web browser and a basic idea of what they're trying to accomplish. The Test Drive feature makes it possible to give your newly created appliance a spin even before downloading. There's even a way to save any modifications you make during the testing process so they will be included in your final image.

At this point the project is by invitation only, but you can sign up on the web site if you're interested. It's also labeled as "Alpha" software, meaning you'll probably find a few glitches if you kick the tires hard enough. We were able to configure an appliance that generated an "internal build error", and the "Test Drive" button didn't seem to work on any of the appliances we created.

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In the final analysis SUSE Studio provides a fantastic service to the open source software community that should make a big impact on the distribution of custom Linux-based appliances.


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