Have you ever wanted to create a customized, redistributable and bootable USB stick of your Debian/Ubuntu Linux server, f.e. as a backup or test system? Or would you like to give your nicely customized Debian/Ubuntu Linux desktop to your friend, without your personal data? Then you should give Remastersys a try. It creates a bootable ISO of your running system (without reboot) which can be copied to a USB stick.
Remastersys knows two main modes for creating a live ISO:
- backup: Creates a bootable ISO of your whole systen, including the home directories
- dist: Creates a bootable ISO of your whole systen, NOT including the home directories
Here is how to install and use it:
Install Remastersys on Ubuntu
- Add repository key:
wget -O - http://www.remastersys.com/ubuntu/remastersys.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add -
- Add repository to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/remastersys.list:
deb http://www.remastersys.com/ubuntu precise main
- Update Apt and install it:
apt-get update; apt-get install remastersys
- Optionally you can install the GUI:
apt-get install remastersys-gui
Before you can use Remastersys, it needs some configuration.
This is found in
/etc/remastersys.conf. You should at least check or change the
WORKDIR variable, you need a lot of diskspace there and
the final ISO image is saved in this directory.
Now simply run Remastersys in the desired mode:
sudo remastersys backup
sudo su remastersys dist
It takes a lot of time to finish and depends heavily on your disk speed. Note that you need internet access because some packages will be downloaded during the creation of the live image.
After running Remastersys, you will find a
.iso image in you
WORKDIR. Copy it to a save place and run
remastersys cleanup to free up disk space.
Now you can simply try this ISO image in a VirtualBox, burn it to a CD/DVD or copy it to a USB stick. This works very well with the Ubuntu tool “Startup Disk Creator”
usb-creator-kde), even as read-only stick.
Remastersys is just a Bash script which makes use of several Linux tools to create a live ISO image:
casper, squashfs, preseed, isolinux, ubiquity, mkisofs/genisoimage. Most of them can be customized by editing the files under
I’ve patched the Bash script to have a customized hostname on the iso image and to choose a corresponding custom isolinux config file if available:
gawk and add the following config variable to
You can now place a custom isolinux config files named like this
isolinux.cfg.<customhostname> in this directory and it will be chosen when creating the bootable iso image.