Building Linux from Scratch

Master Recipe

Article from Issue 251/2021
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If you really want to learn about Linux, build it from scratch.

Linux from Scratch (LFS) [1] and Beyond Linux from Scratch (BLFS) [2] are online tutorials that provide step-by-step instructions for how to compile and assemble your own Linux system from freely available sources. The abbreviation LFS refers to both the documentation and the resulting Linux system.

If you've been around Linux long enough, you have probably come across the need to compile software – either from a homegrown application or possibly from source code available at an open source project website. You might think that compiling an operating system is similar, and in some ways it is, but building a complete operating system is vastly more complicated than compiling your average desktop application.

Keep in mind that the modern distro you are using to build that desktop app already has a complete toolchain that has been tested and approved for compatibility. Imagine that this build environment doesn't exist yet and you have to create it. That includes a compiler and also important libraries such as glibc and libstdc++. The Linux from Scratch instructions (sometimes call the book) contain 11 chapters that are divided into five major parts. The authors break the process of building a Linux system into three stages (Figure 1):

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