i. Foreword

My journey to learn and better understand Linux began over a decade ago, back in 1998. I had just installed my first Linux distribution and had quickly become intrigued with the whole concept and philosophy behind Linux.

There are always many ways to accomplish a single task. The same can be said about Linux distributions. A great many have existed over the years. Some still exist, some have morphed into something else, yet others have been relegated to our memories. They all do things differently to suit the needs of their target audience. Because so many different ways to accomplish the same end goal exist, I began to realize I no longer had to be limited by any one implementation. Prior to discovering Linux, we simply put up with issues in other Operating Systems as you had no choice. It was what it was, whether you liked it or not. With Linux, the concept of choice began to emerge. If you didn't like something, you were free, even encouraged, to change it.

I tried a number of distributions and could not decide on any one. They were great systems in their own right. It wasn't a matter of right and wrong anymore. It had become a matter of personal taste. With all that choice available, it became apparent that there would not be a single system that would be perfect for me. So I set out to create my own Linux system that would fully conform to my personal preferences.

To truly make it my own system, I resolved to compile everything from source code instead of using pre-compiled binary packages. This “perfect” Linux system would have the strengths of various systems without their perceived weaknesses. At first, the idea was rather daunting. I remained committed to the idea that such a system could be built.

After sorting through issues such as circular dependencies and compile-time errors, I finally built a custom-built Linux system. It was fully operational and perfectly usable like any of the other Linux systems out there at the time. But it was my own creation. It was very satisfying to have put together such a system yourself. The only thing better would have been to create each piece of software myself. This was the next best thing.

As I shared my goals and experiences with other members of the Linux community, it became apparent that there was a sustained interest in these ideas. It quickly became plain that such custom-built Linux systems serve not only to meet user specific requirements, but also serve as an ideal learning opportunity for programmers and system administrators to enhance their (existing) Linux skills. Out of this broadened interest, the Linux From Scratch Project was born.

This Linux From Scratch book is the central core around that project. It provides the background and instructions necessary for you to design and build your own system. While this book provides a template that will result in a correctly working system, you are free to alter the instructions to suit yourself, which is, in part, an important part of this project. You remain in control; we just lend a helping hand to get you started on your own journey.

I sincerely hope you will have a great time working on your own Linux From Scratch system and enjoy the numerous benefits of having a system that is truly your own.

Gerard Beekmans