The intention of LFS is to provide a basic system which you can build upon. There are several things, about tidying up the system, which many people wonder about once they have done the base install. We hope to cover these issues in this chapter.
Most people coming from non-Unix like backgrounds to Linux find the concept of text-only configuration files slightly strange. In Linux, just about all configuration is done via text files. The majority of these files can be found in the /etc hierarchy. There are often graphical configuration programs available for different subsystems but most are simply pretty front ends to the process of editing the file. The advantage of text-only configuration is that you can edit parameters using your favorite text editor, whether that be vim, emacs, or anything else.
The first task is making a recovery diskette because it's the most critical need. Then the system is configured to ease addition of new users, in Creating a Custom Boot Device, because this can affect the choices you make in the two subsequent topics—The Bash Shell Startup Files and The vimrc Files.
The remaining topics, Customizing your Logon with /etc/issue, The /etc/shells File, Random number generation, Compressing man and info pages, autofs-4.1.3, and Configuring for Network Filesystems are then addressed, in that order. They don't have much interaction with the other topics in this chapter.
This section is really about creating a rescue device. As the name rescue implies, the host system has a problem, often lost partition information or corrupted file systems, that prevent it from booting and/or operating normally. For this reason, you must not depend on resources from the host being "rescued". To presume that any given partition or hard drive will be available is a risky presumption.
In a modern system, there are many devices that can be used as a rescue device: floppy, cdrom, usb drive, or even a network card. Which one you use depends on your hardware and your BIOS. In the past, we usually thought of rescue device as a floppy disk. Today, many systems do not even have a floppy drive.
Building a complete rescue device is a challenging task. In many ways, it is equivalent to building an entire LFS system. In addition, it would be a repitition of information already available. For these reasons, the procedures for a rescue device image are not presented here.
The software of today's systems has grown large. Linux 2.6 no longer supports booting directly from a floppy. In spite of this, there are solutions available using older version of Linux. One of the best is Tom's Root/Boot Disk available at http://www.toms.net/rb/. This will provide a minimal Linux system on a single floppy disk and provides the ability to customize the contents of your disk if necessary.
There are several sources that can be used for a rescue CD-ROM. Just about any commercial distribution's installation CD-ROMs or DVDs will work. These include RedHat, Mandrake, and SuSE. One very popular option is Knoppix.
In addition, the LFS Community has developed its own Boot CD-ROM available at ftp://anduin.linuxfromscratch.org/isos/. A copy of this CD-ROM is available with the printed version of the Linux From Scratch book. If you download the ISO image, use cdrecord to copy the image to a CD-ROM.
In the future, the build instructions for this CD-ROM will be presented, but they are not available at this writing.
A USB Pen drive, sometimes called a Thumb drive, is recognized by Linux as a SCSI device. Using one of these devices as a rescue device has the advantage that it is usually large enough to hold more than a minimal boot image. You can save critical data to the drive as well as use it to diagnose and recover a damaged system. Booting such a drive requires BIOS support, but building the system consists of formatting the drive, adding grub as well as the kernel and supporting files.