Canonical, the team behind Ubuntu, is due to release its latest long-term support (LTS) edition this April, marking the first of their LTS releases to offer five years of support. For users, 12.04 means unprecedented stability, and although the release is still in Beta, it’s not too early to start planning for April, and to learn how to create custom installation images.  Based on the most up-to-date LTS release, a custom image saves time, and removes the hassle of individually deploying your company’s software across workstations or products.

We’ll use Ubuntu’s OEM Configuration Mode to create a modified installation, and Clonezilla to capture an image of the system after we’re done. OEM mode allows administrators to customize the installation, and prompt users to create an account, but if your setup is different, simply select the normal installation mode.

For this tutorial, we’ll need a copy of Ubuntu 12.04, a Clonezilla Live bootable device (CD/DVD, USB Flash drive, or HDD), a system to install Ubuntu, and an additional drive large enough to store the modified image. (The size of the backup drive will depend on what changes you make to the system, but I would recommend planning on at least 5 GB for the storage device.)

  • Boot the computer from the Ubuntu installation medium. At the splash screen, press F4 and select “OEM install,” and then install Ubuntu.
  • The user created during the installation stage will only be temporary, and removed before capturing the image.
  • When the computer reboots into OEM Configuration mode, make any necessary changes. This may include updating or adding packages, configuring specific settings, or loading your own software.
  • Run the “Prepare for shipping to end user” script on the desktop, or alternatively, “sudo oem-config-prepare”.
  • Shut down the computer, remove any Ubuntu installation media, and insert the Clonezilla Live drive.

Clonezilla:

  • Select “Clonezilla Live – default settings” from the boot screen.
  • Go through the menus, selecting the language, and keyboard layout. Select “Start Clonezilla” at the third menu.
  • Select “device-image” and “local-dev” to create the image on an attached drive.
  • With the backup drive inserted, and mounted, select the directory you’d like to save the image to.
  • Select beginner mode to use the default settings, and “save disk” or “save partition” depending on your setup. Name the image.
  • Select the source destination, and continue through the menu until Clonezilla has created the image.

When the capturing process is complete, the image is ready for deployment. Connect the bootable media, and the custom image to another system, and deploy the image using Clonezilla. For large scale deployments, consider a SolidLogic Core i5/i7 Rackmount System running Clonezilla Server Edition—a great setup for multi-casting in large scale deployments.