Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Customizing Ubuntu Part 4: Fine Tuning & Final ISO

After going through the customization process and thinking over some of the applications I originally included, I decided to trim them down and go about the final product in a different way. The final ends up being two different customized versions. The first being a slim (though with Remastersys, the ISO is still 1GB) version that has the classic GNOME environment by default and some additional programs. I won't re-list the applications I removed, as they were not reconsidered and you can read about them in part one of this series.

The additional software that made it to the base system follows:

  • Quadrapassel - Tetris clone, just one more little game to add for fun.
  • Lucky Backup - Graphical rsync front end that is great for backups and can be scheduled to automatically run.
  • Skype - For free video calls, not in the repositories and available pre installed in this image.
  • Pinta - Basic imaging program, great for cropping, resizing and other basic imaging needs.
  • gLabels label designer - For designing and printing on any number of different labels. From mailing labels to CD labels. Comes with a large number of pre-loaded popular label templates.
  • Banshee -Music player of choice right now.
  • Ripper X - For copying CDs to MP3 format on your local hard drive (so as to add them to an MP3 player, or just listen on the computer)
  • Synaptic  Package Manager - For software management.
  • OpenShot Video Editor - Great video editor for Linux, can be used to create photo slide shows and other home videos.

In addition to the base packages available in the stock Ubuntu system (LibreOffice, Firefox, Shotwell etc...) I picked the above programs to form what I would consider a more complete package (less some unnecessary applications, and of course the classic GNOME look) for more everyday, general use. And while some of these may not be needed, I think they make a good base install for many users. Going back, if I were to start over, I would likely not include Skype as it might not be desired for all users - but it can be easily removed. This base setup also still has PPA's in place for the GIMP, Pithos (Pandora Client) and Darktable if those applications are desired. The OpenShot stable PPA is also in place to ensure the most current version is available when the program is updated beyond the installed version when I created the ISO files. 

The next custom ISO is a version with software geared toward digital photography, which is one of my main uses for my laptop.  For this  ISO I have removed Pinta from the system and added the following additional programs:

  • GIMP 2.8, along with the resynthesizer plug-in, python layer effects plug-in and the G'MIC plug-ins.
  • Darktable - A digital darkroom program for developing photographs. Darktable supports RAW image formats.
  • Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher - For stitching panoramic photographs and other composite images.

  • DVD Styler - For creating DVDs that will play in standard DVD players.
  • WinFF - To convert video files between formats. DVD Styler typically needs MPEG format for video files.
As a quick side note, I am in the process of writing an introduction article/blog post on my photography blog regarding digital photography for Linux. Now back to the ISO files and related information.

Currently both ISO files are 32Bit. With Ubuntu's stock kernel being a PAE kernel, this shouldn't be much of an issue as PAE enables 32Bit systems to get past the 4GB memory limit. However, if there is interest in my project and a 64Bit version I would be willing to create 64Bit ISO files. I originally could not boot a 64Bit ISO in Virtualbox, but have since fixed that issue by enabling the virtualization technology in my system's BIOS.

Next step for this project is a customized version of Xubuntu. The XFCE powered version of Ubuntu has come a long way since I first looked at it in version10.04, but again, I am not a big fan of the default configuration. XFCE has the added bonus of being more customizable, much like the classic GNOME environment was before the introduction of GNOME 3. Even though many users man not want or need the flexibility to configure a desktop environment extensively, many still do though.

Eventually I would like to go further with customized Linux distributions, with Remastersys you have additional options for custom boot splash images and some other customizations for starters. And at some point I would be interested in working through the directions from the Linux From Scratch project for a completely custom, ground up build. I will be sure to document here any additional explorations I dive into.

But for now, the customizations I have done so far are available for download on Sourceforge at:



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