Introduction: Make an Operating System (no Programming)

About: Computer Science and Engineering student at TU Delft.

In this tutorial we are going to make a very basic and simple operating system based on Linux openSUSE. But not only we are going to make on OS we are also going to do it without writing a single line of code! Our operating system will be called Banana Linux, which will have of course a graphical user interface, and with it you will:

  • Be able to surf the web
  • Make documents
  • Edit photos
  • Watch videos and listen to music

They may not sound like a lot but by the end of this tutorial you will be able to create you very own OS and make it do anything you want. Ready, set, go!

Step 1: SUSEstudio. a Great Tool !

You may be wondering how are we gonna make this operating system so easily. Well the answer is through SUSEstudio. An online tool that lets you combine different packages with a base template and then build your operating system by pressing a single button. Using this tool is very simple. First of all visit the website and then create an account by clicking on "Sign in or create an account". Then if you want you can login through your Facebook, Google, Twitter, Novell, Yahoo or OpenId account without the need to create a new one.

Step 2: Setting Up the OS

Once you have logged in from your home page select "create new appliance". Then you are going to be presented with some options for the base template. There, under the openSUSE Leap 42.1 category select GNOME desktop. For those of you that don't know GNOME is a desktop environment composed by free open-source software specifically developed for Linux based operating systems. Now that we have finished selecting our base template it's time for us to name our OS. Scroll down on the same page until you find a the little box under the title "Name your appliance". For the purpose of this tutorial we are going to name it BANANA Linux but you can of course change the name. In the end press the "create appliance" button.

Step 3: Selecting the Software

Now it is time for us to select the default software that the user will find pre-installed once BANANA Linux has booted. You are now presented with some tabs and currently are in the "Start" tab from here you can once again change the name. On the upper right you see the tabs: "Start", "Software", "Configuration", "Files", "Build" and "Share". Click on "Software" then you are going to see some default packages that are already selected for you operating system and under them you see some categories. Each of this categories contains free software that you can use. In this tutorial we are going to use software from the "Graphics", "Multimedia", "Office" and "Networking" categories. Go ahead an click on each one. Then:

  • In the "Graphics" category select Gimp (photo editing)
  • In the "Multimedia" category select dvd+rw-tools, audacity and VLC (audio & video)
  • In the "Office" category select all the libreoffice suite, which means libreoffice, writer, calc, impress, draw, math, base (creating and editing documents)
  • Finally in the "Networking"§ category select MozzilaFirefox (browser)

If at any point you see grey check marks next to packages that you have not selected don't worry they are either preselected or are required by an other package. Also feel free to look at the pictures above to better understand where everything is.

Step 4: Configuring and Building

We have already done the most "difficult" part and now we need to configure our operating system. To do this click on the "Configuration" tab. Once again some categories will appear: "General", "Personalize", "Startup", "Server", "Desktop", "Appliance", "Scripts".

  • On the "General" category set language and region to "ask on first boot" (the user will be asked to enter his language and region during the first boot). Then under Firewall select Enable firewall if it is not already selected. Finally under users and groups insert your username and you password as shown in the picture above.
  • On the "Personalise" category select the blank logo and upload the BANANA Linux wallpaper image, that can be found in the pictures above, and then select it. Of course you can improvise and select anything you want here.
  • On the "Startup" category set start in run level to "5: Graphical Login" so you boot into the GUI.
  • On the "Desktop" category select if you want "Automatically log in user" and select the username so that the os will boot into the selected user's account

Now that we have finished configuring it is time to build our OS. Select the "Build" tab. There set default format to: "USB Stick / Hard Disk Image" and under that select "Live CD / DVD (.iso)" so you can download and run your operating system inside a virtual machine. Lastly press the Build button so the building process can begin. I warn you that this may take a while and it depends on the total size of the packages you want to install. Once it has finished building click testdrive to try it online.

Step 5: Boot and Use the System.

That's it guys! You have just made your own operating system which you can run online or as I suggest download the .iso file and run it inside a virtual machine. Of course you can experiment a little bit more with SUSEstudio and learn more about packages so you can make a more complex operating system that you can use in a computer !

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