AB9IL.net: Customizing Bluewhite64: Part 1

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Bluewhite64 is one really well designed 64 bit Linux distribution. It is light on resources, fast, and be scaled for large or small operations. Bluewhite64 can be customized, and the settings easily managed with the technique of "modularized changes."

Bluewhite64 is a wonderful Linux distro. In its original form, Bluewhite64 is lightweight and fast, with applications one needs for general computing tasks. Keeping the system updated is simple, requiring a few minutes on the command line. Executing the "slackpkg upgrade-all" command will retrieve and install the latest versions of software in the repositories. When a newer version of Bluewhite64 is released, the command "slackpkg install-new" will retrieve the newest set of official packages and install them. Simply execute the command and allow the system to work for a while, then you get a shiny new version of the coolest 64 bit Linux distro in operation!

Much like SLAX, Bluewhite64 supports loading additional software in the form of compressed "LZM: modules in the /modules folder. At the present time, there are very few modules being created in this manner, as most users prefer using slackpkg to keep their systems updated. However, it is entirely acceptable to make modules as in SLAX using the "dir2lzm" command.

Changes made to a Bluewhite64 system are not persistent (do not survive re-boots) unless the user configures the system properly. Imagine adding a wireless driver or digital audio workstation package (Ardour, for example), working through a long trial-and-error process to achieve a very suitable configuration, with the intention to preserve the work. One doesn\'t want to lose these at shutdown.

There are three ways of preserving changes that will be discussed here:

The simplest way to implement persistent changes in Bluewhite64 is to use the boot parameter (without quotes) "changes=/dev/sdaX/" where the "X" represents the scsi drive and partition number containing the "changes" folder. For example, if the system is on a bootable USB stick, sda, and the user wants changes saved to the first partition, the cheatcode "changes=/dev/sda1/" is used. Note that the /changes folder must be manually created - Bluewhite64 doesn't do it automatically. Thereafter, any changes to the system are preserved, including desktop configuration, files in the home folder, or anything else that is different from the base set-up.

The second option is to create a specialized configuration module. These are great for customizing Bluewhite64, since they may be carried over into new updates of the base distro. All one must do to customize the newer edition is copy the configuration modules into the new version\'s /Bluewhite64/modules folder. Note that a kernel upgrade will likely require remaking many of the Bluewhite64 modules, but that extra work generally doesn\'t happen until major upgrades once or twice a year. Such a module can hold all of the changes desired by the user, but not superfluous items such as internet browser history, temp files, or other things that are non-essential and worth discarding at system shut down. Think of this as a customized "always fresh" option. During the boot process, these modules will be taken in order, and written into the file system (on a file-by-file basis) over the core files.There are a number of steps necessary to create a customized configuration module. Assuming that the Bluewhite64 system is on partition sda1, the procedure is as follows:

  1. Boot Bluewhite64 with all desired modules included in the /modules folder.
  2. Add any new wallpapers to the /usr/share/wallpapers directory
  3. Configure the desktop background, themes, visual effects
  4. Go online and install all desired browser plug-ins, software updates, etc
  5. Configure all software as desired, including bookmarks, email settings,etc.
  6. Navigate to the /mnt/live/memory/ folder
  7. Open a console window, and enter (without quotes): "dir2lzm changes /dev/sda1/Bluewhite64/modules/bw64conf.lzm"
  8. Navigate to the /dev/sda1/Bluewhite64/modules/ folder and verify that it contains a new new module: bw64conf.lzm.

If all seems normal, reboot. The new system should come up with all of the intended changes. Test all of the affected software to make sure it works as intended. If further changes are necessary, the above steps may be repeated to create more config modules: bw64conf1, bw64conf2, and so on. Note that if you give the new module the same name as an old one, the old module will be overwritten in whole, eliminating files containing the older changes.

Continue reading Bluewhite64 Customization: Part 2 to learn how to conserve system resources by consolidating numerous changes into single a single configuration module (or even a Bluewhite64 core module).

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