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1. Introduction

1.1. How to Build an LFS System

The LFS system will be built by using a previously installed Linux distribution (such as Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat, or SuSE). This existing Linux system (the host) will be used as a starting point to provide necessary programs, including a compiler, linker, and shell, to build the new system. Select the “development” option during the distribution installation to be able to access these tools.

Chapter 2 of this book describes how to create a new Linux native partition and file system, the place where the new LFS system will be compiled and installed. Chapter 3 explains which packages and patches need to be downloaded to build an LFS system and how to store them on the new file system. Chapter 4 discusses the setup for an appropriate work environment. Please read Chapter 4 carefully as it explains several important issues the developer should be aware of before beginning to work through Chapter 5 and beyond.

Chapter 5 explains the installation of a number of packages that will form the basic development suite (or toolchain) which is used to build the actual system in Chapter 6. Some of these packages are needed to resolve circular dependencies—for example, to compile a compiler, you need a compiler.

Chapter 5 also shows the user how to build a first pass of the toolchain, including Binutils and GCC (first pass basically means these two core packages will be re-installed a second time). The programs from these packages will be linked statically in order to be used independently of the host system. The next step is to build Glibc, the C library. Glibc will be compiled by the toolchain programs built in the first pass. Then, a second pass of the toolchain will be built. This time, the toolchain will be dynamically linked against the newly built Glibc. The remaining Chapter 5 packages are built using this second pass toolchain. When this is done, the LFS installation process will no longer depend on the host distribution, with the exception of the running kernel.

While this may initially seem like a lot of work to get away from a host distribution, a full technical explanation is provided at the beginning of Chapter 5, including notes on the differences between statically and dynamically-linked programs.

In Chapter 6, the full LFS system is built. The chroot (change root) program is used to enter a virtual environment and start a new shell whose root directory will be set to the LFS partition. This is very similar to rebooting and instructing the kernel to mount the LFS partition as the root partition. The system does not actually reboot, but instead chroots because creating a bootable system requires additional work which is not necessary just yet. The major advantage is that “chrooting” allows the builder to continue using the host while LFS is being built. While waiting for package compilation to complete, a user can switch to a different virtual console (VC) or X desktop and continue using the computer as normal.

To finish the installation, the bootscripts are set up in Chapter 7, and the kernel and boot loader are set up in Chapter 8. Chapter 9 contains information on furthering the LFS experience beyond this book. After the steps in this book have been implemented, the computer will be ready to reboot into the new LFS system.

This is the process in a nutshell. Detailed information on each step is discussed in the following chapters and package descriptions. Items that may seem complicated will be clarified, and everything will fall into place as the developer embarks on the LFS adventure.