Following a comment I read in a recent Slashdot post, I decided to build a "Linux From Scratch" distribution. Interestingly, Linux From Scratch comes in the form of a book in HTML format - no software is included.
Following the book's instructions, you download the source packages you need to build a basic Linux system and then use the step by step instructions to get it working.
The idea is to set aside a partition on an existing Linux system and build the software there. I chose my "firewall box" as that is the only permanent Linux system I have. Interestingly, on running fdisk I found I have approximately 20 Gb of unused disk space on it - well i say "unused" it has the original Win 98 system that the box came with. I immediately reformatted about 10 Gb of space on the first disk as
The methodology is to mount your new partitions on your original system, build a basic toolchain (compiler etc) and then chroot into your new "/" and literally build the Linux system from scratch. At the time of writing I am just starting the build of my new Linux - the final version of glibc is compiling (for at least two more hours
I have to say it's quite exciting building a Linux system from scratch. You have to hand create the directory structure, password file and group file among other things. OTOH the configure -> make -> make install cycle can get a bit tedious. BTW it's taken 24 hours of compiler time and about 8 hours of my time to get to where I am.