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How To Create A Custom Ubuntu Distribution With Distroshare Ubuntu Imager

If you think setting up a fresh installation of Ubuntu is tedious and annoying, this app is the tool for you. Distroshare Ubuntu Imager is a unique program in that it can take an existing Ubuntu Linux installation and convert it to a custom Ubuntu distribution in the form of an installable ISO image.

Install Git

Getting this tool isn’t too difficult, though it’s not in any of the traditional Ubuntu software locations. Instead, you’ll need to download it directly through Github. To interact with Github, the Git package is required. Install the program by opening up a terminal in Ubuntu and entering the following command:

sudo apt install git

Download Distroshare Ubuntu Imager

Once the Git tool is on Ubuntu, it’s possible to download the latest version of Distroshare Ubuntu Imager. In the terminal, use the git clone command to download the source code.

git clone https://github.com/Distroshare/distroshare-ubuntu-imager.git

Running git clone downloads everything necessary to run the script. However, it won’t be usable on the system until the permissions are correct. Use the CD command to move into the distroshare-ubuntu-imager folder, then, update the script file with the chmod command.

cd distroshare-ubuntu-imager
sudo chmod +x distroshare-ubuntu-imager.sh

Configure Custom Ubuntu Distribution

The Distroshare Ubuntu Imager tool works by taking note of the installed programs on the system and making a usable script. Before attempting to create the ISO file, some setup is required. Open up the Ubuntu Software Center (or, alternatively, the terminal) and install any programs, drivers and tools you’d like to include in the ISO.

Additionally, feel free to customize Ubuntu to it’s fullest. Change the wallpaper, move any pictures, video files, music, documents, and etc into their respective folders. Keep in mind that the live ISO image gets larger as things get added to Ubuntu.

When your operating system is fully customized, open up a terminal and install any available software updates. This won’t mean that Ubuntu will always be up to date when the custom ISO image installs, but it’ll be much more current than the images that are available on the Ubuntu website.

To update Ubuntu, open up the Gnome dash and search for “Software & Updates”. Launch the app and install any updates. Alternatively, open up a terminal and use the apt tool.

sudo apt update

After Ubuntu’s software sources finish refreshing, use upgrade to install any pending updates.

sudo apt upgrade -y

Create Custom Ubuntu Distribution

Ubuntu is fully customized and ready to go. The next step is to run Distroshare Ubuntu Imager and create a new ISO image for safe-keeping. Open up a terminal and execute the script with the sudo command.

sudo ./distroshare-ubuntu-imager.sh

Running the distroshare-ubuntu-imager.sh file is automatic. As it first starts up, the program installs any necessary programs required to create a live disk. Things like the Ubiquity installation tool, Linux headers, and other things.

Soon after the dependencies for the live disk finish installing, Distroshare Ubuntu Imager will go through, generate a new Intitramfs file, clean up the kernel, patch the Ubiquity installer, install the live disc’s Grub menu and finalize everything.

Finalizing the live ISO image takes a very long time. Generally, an average Ubuntu installation can take up to an hour. Time only goes up depending on how much stuff is on Ubuntu.

When the script finishes, it outputs an ISO file inside of the following directory:

/home/distroshare/

Enter the following command to move the newly generated ISO file to your user’s home directory.

mv /home/distroshare/live-cd.iso ~/

Burn Custom Ubuntu Live CD

Now that Distroshare Ubuntu Imager is done creating an ISO image backup of your current installation, it’s safe to burn the ISO image. There are many ways to burn ISO images on Linux, but by far the easiest way is with the Etcher Image burning tool.

To install it, head over to this website, select  “Linux” and click download. Once Etcher is finished downloading, open up the file manager and extract it from the ZIP archive. Once extracted, open up a terminal and do the following:

cd ~/Downloads/etcher-*

sudo chmod +x *

./etcher-electron-*-x86_64.AppImage

If the commands above are entered correctly, the Etcher app should open right away. At this point, plug in your USB drive, click “select Image”, browse for live-cd.iso in /home/username/, and click “Flash!”

Note: custom Ubuntu ISO is larger than 64 GB? Trim it down, as most USB images shouldn’t be any larger than 3 GB.

Flashing the ISO will take a long time, depending on how large the file is. Let Etcher flash your image and wait a bit. When the process is complete, restart your PC, boot from the USB drive, and install Ubuntu normally. When the installation finishes, all of your programs and settings will be there.

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