New "What is LFS"

James Robertson jameswrobertson at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 7 09:28:18 PST 2003


Gerard Beekmans wrote:
> Hi guys,
> 
> Here's a first version of a revised "What is LFS" text. This would replace the 
> introduction section on the website and also the "Who would want to read this 
> book" section in the book.
> 
> It's not perfect and I've thrown in random thoughts at random places after an 
> initial draft (the one I didn't send to this list) was done already. There's 
> still a lot of work left to be done on this text, so I'm releasing it to the 
> wolves (you guys) to tear apart and put back together from scratch ala LFS 
> style.
> 
> 
> 
> ===============
> 
> What is Linux From Scratch?
> 
> Linux From Scratch, or LFS for short, is a term that encompasses a few things. 
> LFS is a project, a book and a philosophy, some even refering to it as a way 
> of life.

or this:

Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a term that can encompasses many things. 
LFS is a project, a book, a philosophy, and by some can even be refered 
to as a way of life.

> The LFS project is about teaching people a different way of looking at Linux 
> systems. Instead of purchasing or downloading an existing Linux system put 
> together by a vendor (such as Redhat, Debian, Mandrake, Slackware and 
> others), you put together your own Linux system by downloading the source 
> code and compiling all the software yourself.

or this:

LFS as a project and book is aimed at teaching people different ways of
looking at Linux systems.  Instead of purchasing or downloading an 
existing Linux distribution put together by a vendor (such as Redhat, 
Debian, Mandrake, Slackware, etc.), you put together your own Linux 
system by downloading the source code and compiling all the software 
yourself.

> What you end up with is not just another version of a Linux system, but a 
> system that you know intimately. Since you installed everything, you know 
> everything that goes on. There is nothing installed that you aren't familiar 
> with, or don't know why it is installed.

or this:

What you end up with is not another mass produced version of a Linux
system, but a system that you know intimately.  By installing everything
yourself; you know exactly why it was installed, how it was installed,
where it was installed to and what configuration options are available 
with the installation.

> Compiling from source also has the additional benefit that you can optimize 
> packages for your specific hardware. Because distribution's are geared toward 
> a very broad range of systems, their pre-compiled programs can't be too 
> optimized. For instance, a lot of distribution these days optimize their 
> programs for the i586 architecture, thus not taking advantage of the 
> capabilities of the i686, pentium4 or the AMD architectures. Besides 
> architecture optimizations, the GNU CC compiler also knows about code 
> optimizations but they don't work on all types of hardware, so no 
> distribution enables the more invasive and aggressive ones. Going the LFS 
> route changes all this. You can experiment with different optimization 
> settings to see which ones work best for you.

or this:

Compiling from the source code has other additional benefits.  One is 
the ability to optimize software packages for your specific hardware. 
Mass  produced distributions are geared toward a very broad range of 
computing hardware and so their pre-compiled programs cannot be 
optimized to any great degree.  For example, a lot of current 
distributions optimize their programs for the i586 architecture, thus 
not taking advantage of the capabilities of the i686, pentium4 or the 
newer AMD architectures.  In addition to architecture optimization, the 
GNU C compiler can handle source code optimizations.  This allows you to 
compile source code for extreme speed and small disk footprints.  The 
main problem with this is that they don't work on all types of hardware, 
so the distributions do not enable the more invasive and aggressive 
ones.  Going the LFS route changes all this.  You can experiment with 
different optimization settings to see which ones work best for you.

> Installing everything from source allows you to change the way packages get 
> installed. This isn't very useful for the core packages since hardly anybody 
> changes it, but when it comes to XFree86, QT, KDE, Apache, OpenOffice and 
> other such packages, compiling manually enables you to fine tune the program 
> and only compile the components you want.

or this:

Another benefit of compiling from source is you can change the way 
packages get installed.  This isn't very useful for the core packages 
since very few people change them, but when it comes to XFree86, QT, 
KDE, Apache, OpenOffice and other packages; compiling manually enables 
you to fine tune the program and only compile the components you want.

> Besides compiler optimizations, you can also change the general feel of the 
> system. Think about the directory layouts and bootscript implementations. 
> They are hard to change on existing distributions because all the packages 
> you install with their package manager rely on a specific bootscript setup, 
> directory layout and program locations.

or this:

Following the LFS method allows you to change the general feel of the
system to fit your needs.  Think about directory layout and bootscript
implementations.  They are hard to change on existing distributions 
because all the packages you install with their package manager rely on 
a specific bootscript setup, directory layout and program locations.

> Of course there are also disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of the 
> LFS approach is that it takes a lot of time to install and manage an LFS 
> system. It's not a simple manner of running one command that updates your 
> entire system with the latest patches and updates. You'll have to keep your 
> system up-to-date manually. And some packages are vert big and take many 
> hours to compile.

or this:

All things have disadvantages, LFS is no exception.  One of the main
disadvantages of the LFS approach is that it takes a lot of time to 
install and manage an LFS system.  It's not a simple matter of running 
one command that updates your entire system with the latest patches and 
updates.  You will have to keep your system up-to-date manually.  Some 
packages are also vert big and take many hours to compile.

> Let's get one thing straight: we're not saying that distributions are bad and 
> that LFS is the only good thing out there. It is possible to change an 
> existing distribution according to your taste, change its directory layout, 
> bootscripts and recompile all its programs. It's probably a bit harder to do. 
> If you take a distribution, take it apart and put it back together again with 
> your own changes, recompile certain parts, you're doing what LFS is trying to 
> teach people: how to build your own custom Linux system.

or this:

Let's get one thing straight: this project is not saying that 
distributions are bad and that LFS is the only good thing out there.  It 
is possible to change an existing distribution according to your taste; 
change its directory layout, bootscripts and recompile all its programs. 
  It is just probably a bit harder to do.  If you take a distribution, 
take it apart and put it back together again with your own changes, 
recompile certain parts, you're doing what LFS is trying to teach 
people: how to build your own custom Linux system.

> The LFS book is just one means to an end. If you don't follow the LFS book, 
> you could still end up with a system and call it an LFS based system. The LFS 
> book just shows you one way of doing it. The book provides you with a set of 
> packages that make up a basic Linux system and it tells you how to 
> successfully compile them and in which order so all dependencies are 
> satisfied properly. But in the end the LFS book is merely a guideline, not a 
> bible to be followed to the letter.

or this:

The LFS book and approach is just one means to an end.  If you don't 
follow the LFS book exactly, you can still end up with a perfectly 
functioning system and say it is LFS based.  The LFS book just shows one 
way of building a Linux system.  The book provides a set of packages 
that make up a basic Linux system and it tells you how to successfully 
compile them in a certain order so all dependencies are satisfied 
properly.  Just remember that in the end the LFS book is merely a 
guideline, not a bible to be followed to the letter.


My $0.02.  Cheers...

-- 
--------------------------------------------------------
James Robertson | jameswrobertson at earthlink.net
--------------------------------------------------------
Reg. Linux User: #160424  http://counter.li.org
Reg. LFS User:   #6981    http://www.linuxfromscatch.org
--------------------------------------------------------


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