Creating Custom Ubuntu Live-CD With Remastersys

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Remastersys is a tool that can be used to do 2 things with an existing Klikit or Ubuntu or derivative installation.It can make a full system backup including personal data to a live cd or dvd that you can use anywhere and install. It can make a distributable copy you can share with friends. This will not have any of your personal user data in it.

Install Remastersys in Ubuntu

The Remastersys repository needs to be added to your /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Paste the following into the sources.list:

# Remastersys
deb remastersys/

Save and exit the file.

Update the source list using the following command

sudo apt-get update

Install remastersys using the following command

sudo apt-get install remastersys

This will complete the installation

Using Remastersys

In order to learn how you can use remastersys, run

sudo remastersys

remastersys Syntax

sudo remastersys backup|clean|dist [cdfs|iso] [filename.iso]

remastersys Examples

1) to make a livecd/dvd backup of your system

sudo remastersys backup

2) to make a livecd/dvd backup and call the iso custom.iso

sudo remastersys backup custom.iso

3) to clean up temporary files of remastersys

sudo remastersys clean

4) to make a distributable livecd/dvd of your system

sudo remastersys dist

5) to make a distributable livecd/dvd filesystem only

sudo remastersys dist cdfs

6) to make a distributable iso named custom.iso but only if the cdfs is already present

sudo remastersys dist iso custom.iso

cdfs and iso options should only be used if you wish to modify something on the cd before the iso is created. An example of this would be to modify the isolinux portion of the livecd/dvd

Creating An ISO Image

To create an iso image of your installation, simply run

sudo remastersys dist

This will create an iso image called customdist.iso in the /home/remastersys directory. The dist option makes that your personal folder (e.g. /home/ruchi) will not be included in the iso image. You might have to insert your Ubuntu installation CD during the process.

This is how the end of the process looks:

92.16% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:25 2007
93.39% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:25 2007
94.62% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:24 2007
95.85% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:24 2007
97.08% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:25 2007
98.31% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:25 2007
99.54% done, estimate finish Wed DEC 28 15:31:25 2007
Total translation table size: 2048
Total rockridge attributes bytes: 3950
Total directory bytes: 9094
Path table size(bytes): 54
Max brk space used 0
406890 extents written (794 MB)

/home/remastersys/customdist.iso is ready to be burned or tested in a virtual machine.

Check the size and if it is larger than 700MB you will need to burn it to a dvd

796M /home/remastersys/customdist.iso

Clean Up

After you've burnt the iso image onto a CD/DVD, you can run

sudo remastersys clean

to remove all temporary file created during the iso generation as well as the /home/remastersys directory.

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51 Responses

  1. Sx66gns says:

    Hell yea mate! thanks.

  2. fajar says:

    Thank you very much.
    Very nice article.

  3. Primus says:

    I would like to download this program but repository doesn’t work any more I thought that I was doing something wrong, but when i paste the path for repository in firefox it say 404. So something must be wrong with this
    repository or server.

  4. Primus says:

    I have found other repository:
    deb romeo/

  5. rationalperseus says:

    try this way:

    gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list


    # Remastersys
    deb remastersys/

    at the end.

    sudo apt-get update

    and after that on with installation…

  6. Quiz_Master says:

    Nice guide..Thanks a LOT for this…

    Sorry for n00b Question but I want to save new ISO to a custom location instead of /home/remastersys
    How can I do that ??

  7. Frank says:

    Hell yeah,
    Just what I was looking for.
    Can’t wait to give it a try 😉

  8. Prakash says:

    Hi. Nice guide for remastersys.

    I am using remastersys in creating ubuntu based customized work. I compiled my kernel and created a new vmlinuz. Now I booted into my new compiled kernel image and then created an live dvd using remastersys.
    I burn it in DVD and boot it from DVD. it entered into live cd mode. But it stops with a screen,

    BusyBox v1.1.3 (Debian 1:1.1.3-5 Ubuntu7) Built-in shell (ash)
    Enter ‘help’ for a list of built-in commands.

    I dont know where I m doing mistake.
    Help me to resolve my problem.


  9. DarkNet says:

    I’m am having the same problem …. I can use remastersys fine makes the iso i burn it …. when i go to boot it it get to the boot menu … then after i make any selection… it starts to do what i pick (eg. start safe gfx mode) then it drops me to an ash shell …. never evern seen this shell before until now ….. the md5 cheaks up so i’m not sure …… one thing i did notice this time when i booted in i have a new kernnel in my menu … guess it updated …. would that have some thing to do with it maybe ….

    any help in this matter would be greatly aperasheated —

    lol mind my spelling

    Thanx in advance DarkNet

  10. DarkNet says:

    sry i guess i should have added it dose the same in VBox OSE

  11. DarkNet says:

    lol using hardy 8.04 sry about the choppy posts feel free to merge them ……. sry writting these on my breaks from work and attemping to slove the issue as well and if i do slove it i’ll put how i did it here.

  12. DarkNet says:

    so i got it to work thou it boots very slowly but it works! what i did is purged all extra linux images so i was left with one then reran remastersys then instead of droping me to ash it said error 15 file not found … so i copied linux-2.6.24* and initrd.img-2.6.24* to the remastersys casper dir …. and moded the grub menu.1st accordingly then ran remastersys again but only making the image. …. i can post the commands if anyone needs them lazy now


  13. DarkNet says:

    lol tired to … can the mod change copied linux-2.6.24* to vmlinuz-2.6.24* Thanx

  14. browncoa-rabeye says:

    Just wanted to say thanks! I found this site while looking for something else, but it works perfectly! 🙂

  15. Cariboo says:

    Unfortunately ‘Remastersys’ is not working for Ubuntu 8.04-amd64!

  16. cube says:

    criboo is a n00b remastersys worked fine for me on 8.04 AMD64

  17. Bill Currie says:

    A very pleasant surprise! Second try on AMD64 system worked.
    Incredibly valuable product.
    First try experience may help others. I forgot I was experimenting with Compiz-Cube and used that system to Remaster. When booted I had all the effects of the Cube but nothing but white pages. By accident I noticed the Advanced Desktop Effects worked on the blank pages. I tried to us CL1 (CTL-ALT-F1) to fix the video driver but that requires a reboot. I could not figure how to remove the Advanced Desktop Effects from the command line so I rebooted the system shutdown the Advanced Desktop Effects and remastersys that configuration. It works fine but I cannot install the ATI drivers.

    Thanks again!

  18. ZLance says:

    I have this question. Let’s say, I want to make a custom live/install cd, but I don’t want it to be the copy of the system that I have running, is it possible to do that? I understand that remaster sys can only work with current system, and call me lazy, but I don’t want to change my whole distro for one particular live cd I want to make. I could look for it online tho, but u know, If I done it myself, feels somehow better.

  19. rexmo says:

    I am trying to create a USB boot flashdrive on a 16 GB stick. My Ubuntu 8.1 install has a lot of additional software added to it. When I use the remastersys it gives me an error:

    The compressed filesystem is larger than the iso9660 specification allows for a single file. You must try to reduce the amount of data you are backing up and try again.

    Is there any way areound this? I am not burning the image to disk, I only want to use it to create a boot USB with Ubuntu’s built in USB boot creation feature.

    Any help is GREATLY appreciated.

  20. 123 says:

    #19 – Rexmo:

    It’s because iso9660 can’t do files (i think) over 4gb. You have to use the UDF spec.

  21. LK says:

    Remastersys seems to be broken when I tried installing it gives error

    The following pacakages has unmet dependencies:

    remastersys:Depends: ubiquity but it is not going to be installed
    E: Broken Package

    would appreciate any help.

  22. Dan says:

    Is there a way to just have the system install? No user interaction. I would like to be able to setup a system. Image it. Give out a CD. It installs. Is this workflow possible with this tool?

  23. irv says:

    I am making a backup of my entire system and going to burn a live DVD. It is running as I write. It must make a ISO image on the hard drive because it is using up most of my hard drive storage to create it. It is about 32% done and is 150616 is size and needs to go to 464176. I have a 60 gig HD and at the rate it is going I might run out of space. I am down to 14% left. My question is if I can’t finish this backup, can I connect a USB drive to my system and direct the ISO image file to it?

  24. irv says:

    It finial finished with very little HD left. But I got the same error as rexmo:

    The compressed filesystem is larger than the iso9660 specification allows for a single file. You must try to reduce the amount of data you are backing up and try again.

    So I did a sudo remastersys dist and burned the ISO file to a DVD. The only problem is it hangs when I try to boot with it when it come to Configuring network interfaces. I tried it on two different laptop.

  25. Chris says:

    What are the dependencies for Remastersys? I’d like to use this to create live CDs of Ubuntu Server and I was wondering if X was required?


  26. Tim says:

    Hey Irv- Did you ever get your issue with the hang at configuring network interfaces? I’m having the same problem and have tried it on multiple systems. Any help is appreciated.


  27. Bruce says:

    Any updates for 9.04?

    Is this project still active?

  28. remastersys worked great for adding to ubuntu, then maing a bootable backupDVD. I have had no success makinmg a smaller ubuntu 9.04. Here is what I did:

    Made some room like this:
    apt-get remove openoffice*

    installed remastersys per instructions above
    built and burned, like this:
    remastersys backup mydisk.iso

    The resulting disk won’t boot. BTW I am creating the iso on a parallels virtual machine.

    My end goal is to have a bootable CD with
    ubuntu – open office + g++ + subversion + some other files in ~/

    Has anyone had success with something similar?

    thanks, James

  29. Johann says:

    Hello. May you tell me if there are a similar tool to do the following work:
    – As I don’t have a DVD burner I would like some application that allows me to automatically install Ubuntu and download and install all the applications I have installed in this moment. I’m not an english speaker, so if I didn’t result clear, please, let me know and I will do my best to explain it better.

  30. michael says:

    Remastersys dont works with Ubuntu 9.10. With Ubuntu 9.04 it works perfect. No burned DVD starts after using remastersys backup (newest version) with ubuntu 9.10.

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