We needed to deploy a simple hypervisor on one of our internal systems. This system was disconnected from the Internet for some particular reasons and it was surprisingly difficult to find a suitable bundled linux distribution which provided the features we needed. Ubuntu desktop does not come with KVM, ubuntu server does not have X, so it’s not easy to run virt-manager on the machine. There were no CentOS versions that provided the right mix of capabilities; oVirt-node was one reasonable candidate, but it only exposed a management interface which needed to be run remotely or else somehow packaged with the system. One of our colleagues is a big fan of proxmox, but this is overkill for the simple single hypervisor case we wanted.

After a small bit of digging, we came across the relatively new roll your own distro capabiltiy provided by Suse, called SuseStudio. This enables you to create a specific distro with packages specific to your needs, clearly something that can be very useful in an enterprise context.

In our case, we just wanted a distro with QEMU/KVM, libvirt, virt-manager, firefox and sshd. The tool enabled us to create a distro with these packages on top of a standard Suse distro. We were then able to download it as an install ISO (it was also possible to download other formats, including a LiveCD option) and remote install it on our servers. It also provided other useful features including specifying network configuration a priori, message of the day and even logos if necessary.


Packages installed in our distro on Suse Studio


Distribution format in Suse Studio

All in all, the Suse tool proved very useful for generating custom distros and enabled us to build the Official ICCLab Linux Distro available for download here!