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Setting Up to Make Fedora Live CDs

Creating a Fedora live CD is very similar to installing Fedora to hard disk. Instead of resulting in a system that boots from your computer’s hard disk, however, the result is an ISO image that can be burned to a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive. Here’s what you need to do to get started:

  • Install Fedora 8. You should either install Fedora 8 or boot a Fedora live CD to set up your build environment. Then get the latest updates to packages (as root, type yum update).
  • Add livecd-tools. Install the livecd-tools package included with Fedora 8 (as root, type yum install livecd-tools). Installing livecd-tools will bring along other packages that you’ll need to build live CDs, such as squashfs-tools (to create the compressed file system), syslinux (for the isolinux boot files), and isomd5sum (to implant the MD5 checksum to verify CDs you create).
  • Allow for disk space. Make sure that you have enough space to hold the resulting ISO image (a live CD takes up to 700MB, whereas a regular DVD can be up to 4.2GB). By default, you’ll need enough space for the ISO in the current directory, and possibly as much as 10 times that amount in /var/tmp. (Both of those locations can be changed on the livecd-creator command line; I describe that process later in this article.)
  • Get a kickstart file. Using one of the kickstart files available in the /usr/share/livecd-tools directory is probably the easiest way to get started. Choose the one that’s most like what you want, such as the base-desktop, kde, games, or minimal kickstart file. (Because of space limitations, most of these kickstart files are for English only, and leave out large useful applications such as the OpenOffice.org suite.)

At this point, you should be ready to do a simple test run to make sure that the basic live CD components are in place and working.

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