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I'd like to build an open source appliance that runs a Linux kernel. What are my options here? I thought about building Linux from scratch (LFS), include my software, and then build an installer that installs it to the target machine.

Problem is, I don't know what hardware users have. So depending on their system configuration, my pre-compiled kernel may or may not work.

I really want a minimal OS with a super-easy custom installer. What are my options?

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closed as not constructive by Chris S, MadHatter, Rilindo, sysadmin1138 Jan 18 '12 at 15:29

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why was this closed? – Daniel Jan 18 '12 at 18:16

Maybe using virtual machine technology is a solution? You could set up your appliance under VirtualBox, for example, and then 'export' the virtual machine. Your users should then import your appliance in their VirtualBox instance. This requires them to install VirtualBox, of course, but since it is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, this is not a difficult requirement.

W.r.t. building a minimal system: well-known distributions like Ubuntu (Server edition), CentOS, etc. also allow you to do a minimal installation. These are probably easier to set up than LFS. If you do want to use LFS to get a very lean kernel, the VirtualBox method also helps you: VirtualBox simulates the same hardware over all platforms. If you get a fine-tuned kernel working on your VM, it will run anywhere.

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Well, problem is, it will be hosting virtual machines :-) So it must be bare-metal. Ubuntu/CentOS etc. are too heavy for my taste. – Daniel Jan 18 '12 at 15:13

I have used SuSE Studio to create custom installers for SuSE and OpenSuSE, you can take a small base, add packages as needed, try it and create a cd or usb installer.

good luck!

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