Create your own Linux distribution

Master Builder

© Lead Image © Sebastian Duda,

© Lead Image © Sebastian Duda,

Article from Issue 198/2017

Linux systems out of the box are a dime a dozen. But if you want a customized system, you will certainly see the benefit of AryaLinux, which lets you put together an individualized system from the sources.

Several hundred different Linux distributions for different use cases vie for your favor. These preconfigured systems also include some software that you find useless, or they lack important programs that you need to install manually. AryaLinux from India takes a different approach here: The operating system is developed from Linux From Scratch (LFS; i.e., from source) and targets advanced individuals who prefer to determine what is installed on their system and want to curate their own software.


Although the project site now offers 2017 images, for this article, I used the 2016 images, which are still available for 32- and 64-bit architectures [1]. The hybrid images also allow you to start up from a USB stick. From 2017 on, AryaLinux will only be offered in the 64-bit variety.

The 2016.08 images come in a choice of two desktop environments: In addition to the lean Mate interface, whose ISO image weighs in at roughly 2.3GB, you can get the not-so-lean Xfce desktop (2.7GB) [2]. The developers also provide a Builder DVD for both popular hardware architectures, which is fairly small at 1.6GB but is based on the older 2016.04 version. The 2017 images are significantly smaller at 1.9GB (Mate), 1.8GB (Xfce), and 1.4GB (Builder).

Live System

After creating a bootable storage medium, the Live system boots to a visually appealing desktop that immediately displays a full-screen window, without any intervention by the user, for localizing the system. You can select the language option from the numerous alternatives. After then clicking Change Language, the desktop will appear in your choice of language within a few seconds.

Besides the traditional icons for file management, the interface also offers a starter for installing the operating system. In a style familiar from the older Gnome 2.x branches, you will also find two horizontal panel bars at the top and bottom edges of the screen, with the Applications, Places, and System menus on the left and a system tray on the right to facilitate the use of the system.

AryaLinux does not seem unusual when you look at the individual submenus: You will find the entire spectrum of standard applications, including LibreOffice, Gimp, Firefox, and Thunderbird. In addition to some smaller Mate-specific applications, the software inventory includes some less frequently preinstalled applications, such as the universal VLC media player or the graphical mass memory management tool GParted.

When you call individual programs, full localization is a positive aspect: AryaLinux also translates external applications (e.g., Gimp, VLC, and Xfburn) from the Xfce treasure trove. The system is thus fine for immediate use without any further manual adjustments.


To install AryaLinux on a mass storage device, use the AryaLinux Installer launcher on the desktop. It takes you to a routine that sets up the system on the hard drive in six steps. Somewhat unusual is the way the system sets up the partitions compared with other installers. The wizard is easy to use with its self-explanatory settings.

AryaLinux needs at least 20GB of local storage for the system partition, as well as (for 2G of RAM or less) a swap partition of at least 2GB, which also is used for hibernation mode. Because the wizard itself does not rely on partitioning software, it is advisable to prepare the local mass storage first by using the GParted built-in tool in Live mode. In the following two dialogs, you specify a user and set an administrator password.

The localization options appear next and are divided into three parts: In addition to the system language, the routine asks you for the desired keyboard layout and time zone. After you have approved the configuration, the installer installs the system on your mass storage (Figure 1). After a quick restart, AryaLinux is then available; the software selection matches that of the Live system.

Figure 1: The installer puts the system on your mass storage in just a few steps.

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