I have nothing but good things to say about Suse Studio. Wow. But before we get started with this amazing product, lets talk names.
“Suse“. How do you say that? I know that Bryan Lunduke of http://lunduke.com/ pronounces the name, “su-sa“. I have also heard people pronounce it “soose“, which makes me think of the word “sues“; For instance, have you seen these headlines in the news!?? Sony suse GeoHot for hacking the PS3. But I digress…
So whats the big deal bout Suse Studio anyways? Well basically it’s a cloud service that lets you build and test your own Suse Linux distribution. You can configure your own packages, choose a background and startup logo, and then download an .ISO of your very own personalized linux. So lets get started.
Account / Login
To get started, head over to http://susestudio.com/login. They support a surprising number of login methods, with google being my favorite. After logging in, click on the studio link in the upper right-hand corner. Now click “New Appliance”
You should be at the “Choose a base template” screen. For now I will just be sticking to the topmost group, “openSUSE 11.4″ in my case. I recommend that you choose either “GNOME desktop”, or “KDE 4 desktop” at this point. If you are hardcore (like me) choose “Server”. Scroll to the bottom of the page and pick either 32/64 bit mode. Click “Create appliance”.
After this you will be taken to the welcome screen. This screen is pointless, and I personally think they should just link you to the next place we are going: the “Software” tab. Click the Software tab now!
What you see before your eyes is a basic package manager. Search for package names under the “Search for Software” heading. Anything you add here will be present on the final live cd. Some packages you should consider adding:
- iputils (this includes the ping command)
- nmap (look for all active hosts on ur network with) nmap -sP 192.168.1.2-255
- iptraf ( run this to see all inbound/outbound network connections and their speeds)
- screen ( lets you detach and re-attach a console for overnite or otherwise longterm commands)
- mdadm ( add for raid support )
Select and add all the packages that you think your distro will need. Go to the next tab, “Configuration”. Here you can configure user accounts, the bootup look, and the startup mode (Normal Console or Graphical Login). I won’t cover this tab too much because it’s pretty simple.
For now, skip the next tab and go straight to “Build”. After the build finishes, click “Testdrive“!! Now here is where the magic happens. No really, they have a wizard who literally waves his wand when you click the testdrive button. His beard powered magic will create a clone of your new baby distro, and shock it to life with 1.21 Gigawatts! A new tab will open and you can watch as the machine boots live in the cloud. The new tab has an integrated VNC viewer which directly displays your machine. You can control it just like you would a normal computer with your keyboard and mouse. This is all made possible because Suse Studio spins up a new Virtual Machine in the cloud, running an instance of the distribution that you just configured. It’s quite impressive.
On the build page there are multiple build types listed under “Default Format”. My favorite type to download is “Live CD/DVD (.iso)”, however all the types listed can run the testdrive. I like the live cd because is my favorite because it seems to be the best for importing into XenServer (or other unlisted distributions). It does list Xen, however this is actually different than XenServer. The images tend to not be compatible. If you know an easy way to convert from a Sude Studio build to a .XVA file, please let me know.
My final review? Awesome! I couldn’t be happier with this service. I can invision many different uses for this website. There are also tons of options that I won’t cover in this post, but I should mention just a few. You can add users and set their passwords. You can upload your own files, including .TAR.GZ. You can set build scripts to extract, make, install your tar during the “Build” state (different than run time). And So. Much. More.