UPDATE: I now have a remaster.sh script to help you remaster Ubuntu ISOs like a pro: http://bad-programming.blogspot.com/2015/08/remaster-ubuntu-using-ubuntu-1404-or.html

I’m building an Ubuntu Live CD for WES (my Webcam Security System software). I tried out the Ubuntu Creation Kit. It didn’t work, and it hasn’t been updated in a long time. So, like any right-thinking person, I wanted to take matters into my own hands.

This is a walkthrough on how to remaster an Ubuntu Live CD, which should transfer to just about any Linux. We’ll be going through the guide at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCDCustomization except I’ll be talking about why exactly we run each command as we go along.

First, download the ISO. That’s obvious right?

Then you have to have enough space available for the ISO, the unpacked ISO and whatever packages you’re installing. Just assume 5+ GB will be spent. Right now my ~/livecdtmp folder is 4.3 GB according to `du -hs ~/livecdtmp`.

I wanted to get my command-line installation right, so I also installed a VM under VirtualBox. This was a bit of a pain, mostly because my old fashioned computer struggles to keep up. I went through the entire Ubuntu 15.04 installation process, a basic generic install. I saved the state. I installed VirtualBox Guest Additions and setup a shared folder between my host machine and the VM.

Second, I formulated a list of requirements for this Live USB to make sure I stay on target throughout the process.

  • Must have “motion” installed.
  • Must run WES on start up.
  • Must have access to a webcam.
  • Must have access to the internet.
  • Must be able to email from a local account.
  • Must have a locked screen.
  • Must have updates disabled.
  • Should have exfat-fuse and anything needed for NTFS.
  • Should have no access to “shutdown” from the user interface.
  • Should have some persistence enabled (mainly for the config and images/video).
  • Should prune images/video.
  • Could have a configurable password.
  • Could have some custom screensaver and background image.
  • Could have XFCE as the window manager.
  • Could have tmux/vim/emacs installed and ready to use.
  • Want to have Dropbox access for remote storage/syncing of video/images/etc..
  • Want to have GPG encrypted configs, video, images, etc.

Third, I began informally recording my installation process.

My first run at it has failed. The ISO failed to boot, presenting a black screen and no other activity. For some reason, the Live CD customization instructions on the ubuntu site appear to be out of date for this distribution. I’ll attempt to do a No-Op (do nothing) remastering to the ISO to see if I can get it to work at all in the next post.