Live CD
November 06, 2007 11:18PM
OK, Thanks to Ian in advance for any storage space he's willing to give me. Now, what do we want in our Live CD. I've been having a few network issues with the latest Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) so I'll probably use the Feisty release as a base to start from (probably more important to have a working Live CD rather than the latest bleeding edge one). Also, I'll only be doing the i386 version as I don't have access to any non-Intel machines (plus its easier to focus on one LiveCD to start with - if it takes off, then we can look at another).

What I thought would be pretty essential to put on it so far:
- Java JDK + 3D
- the latest host software
- Art of Illusion
- any USB-> serial converter workarounds I find I need
- set the Mozilla homepage to
- a changelog to say how I've changed the default Feisty LiveCD so others can repeat with other distros etc.

What I thought I'd leave out but note so can be put in later versions:
- Eclipse (and the link to the svn repository).
- KiCad
- Picp, Gpicp and PiKdev

The idea is to get a LiveCD out there that the ordinary person can use to run their Reprap and design AOI files to share. Thats where I see the majority of people who would benefit from a LiveCD being at.

The devs that want to change the source code of the firmware or host software or design the circuits are I believe more likely to have the resources to do this anyway. Besides, I haven't played with any of the tools in the second list myself except for Eclipse (and then only marginally) so lets minimise the complications for me to start with.

Anybody have any comments?
Chances are I'll have to uninstall something from the default Feisty install to fit this on a single CD so does anybody have any ideas of what would not be missed (preferably a big piece of software)?
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 06:58AM
Not that I know what I'm talking about... but I've dabbled in *nix from time to time...

By LiveCD do you mean we boot this cd? does it have support for standard usb drivers and network shares (ie: *nix and windows)

I'm not familiar with the distribution you're using... but does it have apache or some other web server? I don't see that being a necessity... what about source code? you can't exactly recompile the kernel on a cd, so I wouldn't think that's necessary... maybe even the entire compiler...

Also, does it have XWindows? does any of the stuff for reprap need it?

I also think it's important to get a developer version out there... this is supposed to be self evolving... but that's hard without the source in everyone's face... the whole reason we need a LiveCD is because of how hard it is to get the host software up and running on a machine... excluding the ability to modify that source seems self defeating to me...

Without a working development environment capable of compiling the host source code, I've reverted to building my own stepper exerciser in .net (and I'm not the first)... If I'm still not able to compile the source by the time I've gotten an extruder up and running, I'll be expanding it to an extruder exerciser, which will probably be followed by a full blown .net version of the host software...... because it's easier for me to rewrite the thing in .net than to try and get the existing software/source working...
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 03:29PM
Are we limited to a CD why not DVD? as 4.something GB is a lot of software or can it be broken over multiple discs one for operation another for development etc?
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 03:33PM
a quick google search for livecd turned up a variety of projects. going for a fairly well-known one 'gparted', i went to their download page.

they are using sourceforge to offer files (as well as bittorrent): []

i'd definitely be willing to sell livecd's, but i doubt anyone would buy them, and the host software will probably change too rapidly to make that worthwhile.

i'd say we should host it on sourceforge theres plenty of space and we are already using it for the other reprap related things. i can easily set you up with admin access to make releases of the livecd.
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 03:35PM
lordcat: read up on the topic here: []

in a nutshell, its a complete operating system on a disk. it allows everyone to use a shared environment. pretty rad.
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 03:56PM
Hi Zach,

... look at LinuxCNC or EMC2 ( [] ) - it's for free ...

They have Ubuntu as Live-basis, some CNC-programs and tools for controlling different setups and you can install the whole on your harddrive, if it's ok ...

Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 04:06PM
Ian, I'll see how things go but I'd like to keep it to just a CD rather than a DVD just because theres still a lot of machines out there without DVD drives (also of course it keeps the download a little smaller).

The Ubuntu LiveCD as it comes is a bootable CD that comes up with a menu with a number of items but most people just use the first one which is to run the entire distro off the CD. It uses squashfs to pack around 2GB filesystem onto the CD and once it loads it uses the Gnome desktop and has an install icon on the desktop. This then runs a 7 step process to install the filesystem to the local hard-drive with some personal preferences such as username/password, time zone, language etc.

But it should be stressed that you don't need to click on that install icon. It comes preloaded with Totem media player, OpenOffice, Firefox, Evolution, and a whole bunch of games; all of which work fine, if a bit slow, running from the CD.

Essentially, if the LiveCD is done right, then you don't actually need to change your hard-drive at all unless you want things to run faster or changes to be permanent.

Zach, yes I think in the short term the host software may be changing too quick to make this practical for the store. However, it would be enough to be used as a tool for those having issues getting their machines configured properly and could be used as a backup in case you irreversibly screw something up at the wrong time.

In the longer term; I would think that the host software wouldn't change that much once we have a 1.0 release. The physical design of the reprap would probably be changing a lot more often than the host software. At that point it may make sense to include it in the store and just update it every few months as a new version of the host software (and possibly AOI) come out.

BTW, I found a webpage with some screenshots of the Ubuntu LiveCD running (in this case though its the one from a year before the one I'll be using although most of the stuff is the same) []
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 04:56PM
well, i think at this point in time its safe to say that none of the parts of the project will stay the same for very long, although i would say that the hardware things will probably be more static than the software (once we get them right that is) its easy to change software, so once we get things in a state where our electronics and mechanics are rock solid reliable, we should then focus on getting the software to the same state.

personally, i have a huge list of things i find wrong with the host software. primarily, it still has quite a bit of bugs in it, and unfortunately nobody is really hacking on it too much. its easily the most accessible part of the system for someone wanting to get started.
Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 06:58PM
I happened to experience Ubuntu Live CD yesterday trying to install Ubuntu on an old machine. It was impossibly slow, completely unusable. Every mouse move seemed to need a CD access. It was as if it was demand paging code from the CD, treating it as a hard drive. Problem is the seek time is about 100 times more.

This was on an Athlon XP2600 with 256MB RAM and a six speed DVD drive. Tried both Dapper and Gutsy. They ran OK once installed on the hard drive but each step of the installation menu took about 15 minutes to draw.

I think it only works if you have a fast CD drive or enough RAM to cache it all. Fine if you are installing in a new machine, but no good on an old one, which is otherwise perfectly adequate for running Ubuntu, and I would imagine the RepRap host, but I have never managed to get that to run.

Re: Live CD
November 07, 2007 10:49PM
I think the bottleneck in your case might have been RAM. Any changes it makes to the filesystem are stored in RAM so you do need quite a lot but I've got it to work moderately well on 512MB and at an almost bearable speed with 768MB.

Who knows, this may be a waste of time but I think it might be useful to one or two people in the current community and if we can get it right then we could get rid of most of the installation instructions for those who have a spare few gig on their current hard drive.

The instructions would be: pop the cd in, boot off it, click install and follow the prompts. I think the default in the Feisty install process is even to resize you current primary partition and install itself in the thus freed space.

I haven't really done anything much more than talk (or should that be type) about it yet but I'll give it a go and let you know how it goes.
Re: Live CD
November 08, 2007 10:18AM
to be honest, i think a much better use of resources would be to fix the installation process.

there is no reason we cant modify the host software build process to pack all the files into one .zip file that contains all the required libraries for the host software. the end user would just download their OS specific file and just run it. its how thousands of other software projects do it, and if we want to go mainstream, we'll have to do it too.

we're using entirely open source software, and one of the main benefits of open source is that we *CAN* distribute the software. there is nothing keeping us from distributing RXTX *with* our software. same with java3d, etc, etc. with java its possible to put that all in the same jar file and just have all the things it needs to run contained in one nice little file.

as an example: does this, as well as the arduino folks. the arduino folks are particularly relevant, as they use Java and include many of the same files we'd be including (they use RxTx for their serial comms as well) is another one that we coudl learn from. they have an IDE aimed at helping artists make interesting visual applications (even in 3D!) they also distribute an easy to install package (that contains all the 3d libraries needed to run!!)

it really cant be too hard to do, and i'm sure if one were to contact the developers of either of those projects they would be more than glad to either help, or point us in the right direction. heck, we could probably just browse through their SVN to find their build script and then use it for ourselves.

this would even have the side effect of making LiveCD creation easier. you simply take any other live CD out there, add the RepRap linux package file, and then release the new liveCD.... no configuration!

don't take this as a vote against a livecd (i personally think they're great!), its just that i think that you may be using a hammer where a stapler would suffice winking smiley
Re: Live CD
November 08, 2007 03:24PM
I love live cd's and it might be an option since we need other software like Aoi....

but I have to agree with Zach, we do need a better package but it also need to be updated on a regular basis. The one we say to use now unless you use the Devoloper install is from july and it seems a lot has changed since then..


also Reece I have made a cd using Ubuntu that had reprap on it and would love to help out if we are to offer one.
Re: Live CD
November 09, 2007 08:03AM
I looked at Arduino's source and it does not look to be to hard. Plus we have a script now that Johnathan had made it creates a copy of the present host file all it needs is the rxtx, 3d to be added..

Bruce W
Re: Live CD
November 12, 2007 01:14AM
I'm hoping that I can also use the LiveCD to get my local LUG interested and helping out. A small number of them would be willing to help me out with LiveCD issues and another small number might be willing to help out with the coding of the host software if its simple enough for them to see a demo of what we've currently got and the parts that are a little clunky.

So yes, if it was just for distribution of the software there are better options. E.g. making it into a .deb package and adding it to the offical Debian repositories covers a much wider range.

It also means that if you have a reprap and are going somewhere to show it off all you need is to take the LiveCD and any data files rather than take along a dedicated computer/laptop.

What I'm trying for is the 'try before you buy/commit' and 'portable showcase' niches that LiveCDs fill anyway. Maybe not big niche markets but I can do LiveCDs, so I'll try it and see how it goes.
Re: Live CD
November 12, 2007 11:31AM
fair enough... if you've got the itch, you might as well run with it.
Re: Live CD
November 16, 2007 04:38PM
Attached is the changelog of my current 0.2 version of the LiveCD. The log also contains a list of the commands I've run so you could follow along and make your own if you'd like. I've but up generic instructions on remastering an Ubuntu LiveCD at []

The main issue so far was caused by a corrupt file. Don't ask me how it got corrupted but its taken me quite a number of hours to figure it out. It was the j3d-org-java3d-all.jar file so its kind of important.

The iso image is currently 748MB. I've taken out the obvious stuff like Games but haven't really tried too hard yet. I'll probably get the thing working as a LiveDVD and then look at bringing the size down to under 700MB.

I've run into a personal resource issue that gives me another reason for wanting to take it down to CD size too. I've got around 7 or 8 computers in the house at the moment as I've just taken some old cast offs from work and am hoping to get them rebuilt for friends. Of course they all came with CDRW drives. I'm also using a couple as my main home machines so I've got DVD+/-RW drives for them but now that I'm building a LiveDVD I am using them for that so I can't have any background entertainment such as playing a DVD.

Oh, poor me!

Some of the people I'm getting these machines built for would also be the kind of person that wouldn't build a reprap but would use one so a LiveCD in the future would mean I could gift them a fully built Reprap and give them the CD and just let them go for it.

Anyway, this 0.2 version is very basic and I'll be adding functionality to it over the next few weeks to bring it to the point where I'm willing to release it into the wild to be poked and prodded to see how it breaks.

So far its basically an environment which successfully runs the reprap host java program. I haven't even got the point of testing to see if it will communicate with my electronics as it should yet. I'll do a few tests to make sure thats working as expected then move on to adding the developer tools.

Of course, if anybody wants a copy at this early stage just PM me and I'll upload a copy anywhere you like.
open | download - Change.log (2.9 KB)
Re: Live CD
November 16, 2007 11:35PM
keep up the good work Reece, I for one think a live CD is a good starting point for some would be reprappers myself included, putting all this reprap stuff on my computer just made it a mess and I had to reformat sad smiley not to mention I really don't like XP sp2
Re: Live CD
November 27, 2007 12:18AM
I am currently in the process of uploading 0.4 of the LiveCD to sourceforge. It looks like it will take around another 14 hours. I hope it will be finished before I go to work tomorrow so I can click the last OK button on my way out the door but I'm not hopeful. So sometime in the next 12-24 hours it will be available on sourceforge.

First a few negatives:
Its based on the Ubuntu Feisty CD I had lying around so its i386 only and running GNOME not KDE. This means that currently PiKdev and Picp can't be installed without going to the effort of changing this (as they are dependent on the kde-base).

If I'd known that I would have tried to borrow a friends Kubuntu to start from. When I get a bit of time in couple of months I'll probably do this.

I didn't include Eclipse or KiCad as they would be too big for it to still fit on a CD. They should be easy enough to add to a system installed using this CD however. Just follow the instructions in the wiki.

Gpicp may be more of a problem as you may have to compile and install by hand as when I tried apt-get couldn't find it. As it depends on Picp anyway its not going to work for the above reason.

I also couldn't figure out the command to install subclipse from the terminal but, as thats a plugin to Eclipse, again this currently doesn't matter.

Now for the positive:
It contains Java 1.5 JRE + Java3d + RXTX etc. that is needed for the Reprap-host 0.8.1 Java software that is also installed and working.

Art Of Illusion is installed and seems to be working but I haven't used it at all so somebody who knows what they're doing should test it out.

Minicom and poke are also installed and seem to be working but the same applies to them.

The plan for the future is currently to do a 0.5 release in a couple of weeks time if the feedback suggests that there are a number of little things that should be changed.

If there are only a couple of minor changes, or a major change needed then it will probably wait for a couple of months until I have time and I'll make a Kubuntu based version and from then on it will then take its version numbering from the version of the reprap-host software it has installed.

There is a change.log file containing all the commands I've run on the root of the cd. Whilst I ran them all as root I tried to prepend 'sudo' to indicate any that needed more than normal user rights.

There were a few learning experiences in this as I'm relatively new to Linux (Vista's DRM gave me a reason to drop Windows, and Reprap gave me a goal and reason to convert to Linux) such as the difference between 'remove' and 'purge' as applied to package management. For this reason there are a few additional commands that could have been done without but this gives others a look at *exactly* what I did at each step.

Of course, once its up on sourceforge you could help me speed up that timeline if you'd like. My vision for this CD is that it could be used as a troubleshooting tool, as the basis for an install, or it could be used as portable demo/backup OS to go along with a reprap on the talkshow/tradeshow/touring circuit.
Re: Live CD
November 27, 2007 01:42PM
Looks like the upload stopped half way through while I slept. I've restarted it and it is estimating another 14 hours to go :-(
Re: Live CD
November 28, 2007 03:14AM
OK, that time it got right to the end and something crazy happened at the sourceforge end to give me a zero length file :-(

Plus I've just about reached my bandwidth cap for the month.

I'll wait till next week when my bandwidth counter resets and I'll share it out as a torrent.

Its always something isn't it?
Re: Live CD
November 28, 2007 11:48PM
ALWAYS! never stops. Thanks for the effort though.
Re: Live CD
December 02, 2007 06:18AM

There are now a couple of new files on the sourceforge page under LiveCD: the sources for the packages not available from the Ubuntu source repositories plus a torrent for the LiveCD itself.

Direct link: []

The tracker for the torrent is The Pirate Bay so if their servers get raided again there may be a small delay :-)

A couple of pointers on the whole bit-torrent experience (from a newbie for newbies):
- Assuming you're on a home broadband connection you'll need to do whats called port-forwarding on your router. The best place to figure out how to configure your router is [] Simply select your broadband router model and your bit-torrent client and it will give you step by step instructions on what to do.
- If you have a cheap ISP like I do that gives you a broadband modem for joining up with them you may have issues making the configuration stick eg. my DSL-504T didn't like saving the settings unless it was disconnected from the ADSL line at the time!
- If you are new to file-sharing networks in general and bit-torrent particularly, do a bit of reading to make sure you understand the options and settings. If all you're going to do is download/share other people's torrents you will only need a quick 5 minute once-over to get the basics.
Anonymous User
Re: Live CD
December 06, 2007 08:54PM
I just downloaded the LiveCD and fired it up, it worked perfectly. I'm writing this from the LiveCD, even. The README made sense to me, and the software ran and started talking to my hardware without any configuration. It's not fast, but it's not nearly as slow as I expected either. This will be very nice to point someone to when they're trying to figure out whether their problems are software or hardware. Nice work.
Re: Live CD
December 06, 2007 11:39PM
Thanks. I'll be uploading it to Ians bitsfrombytes site shortly. I've had my computer on and seeding pretty much non-stop (partly as I was copying and sorting out files from a couple of 120GB drives to a 500GB, all on external UScool smiley and it looks like I've chewed through nearly half my monthly bandwidth so far so its good to know its worth it.

Hopefully in the not too distant future I'll also have a torrent/download of all the sources for all the packages in the LiveCD, not just the non-Ubuntu repository ones which I understand is needed to keep to the letter of the GPL.

It shouldn't be too hard to write a script to do this so I'll do that and put it in svn, along with a one that expands the iso and another to make the iso (Based on the instructions I've culled from all over and put up on []
Re: Live CD
December 07, 2007 09:58PM
Attached is a quick and dirty script you run from a hard-drive whilst booted in the LiveCD. It will download all the sources for packages in the Ubuntu repositories but make sure you have quite a lot of space (and bandwidth) as it will download approximately 2GB worth of files which will then expand to fill another 6GB.

Because of this, I've run through a significant portion of my bandwidth for the month so I won't be making the whole lot available until the new year. Of course, someone else could be kind enough to do it and I'll add the torrent to the other one already available on sourceforge. Just make sure you've got a spare computer with a fair amount of space (preferably formatted as ext3) you won't be needing for a day or so (I'm currently re-zipping all the source into one file and so far its taken 3 hours).

Also, if anyone wanted to take the LiveCD apart and remake it I've put a couple of other scripts up in the svn to help you do this:[]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/07/2007 10:01PM by reece.arnott.
open | download - (904 bytes)
Re: Live CD
December 11, 2007 08:50AM

I would be willing to do this. I have the LiveCD downloaded and have been seeding for about 3 or 4 days now. I don't have any bandwidth limits that I know of--I run Cable--and have a shit-ton of hardrive space. I've got a working Ubuntu Fiesty distro on my main computer if that helps.

What I don't have is a perfectly clear understanding of how all this works. I get the running the script thing and waiting for it to suck things onto my drive but what then? Send me more detailed instructions and I'll do it for you if you like.


Actually, I'm DLing it now just in case. :-)


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/2007 09:02AM by Demented Chihuahua.
Re: Live CD
December 11, 2007 06:31PM
Gentlemen - May I make a suggestion. If we used the live CD image from emc2 with is ubuntu 6.0.6. it is only 673 Mb in size and should hold the additional code from reprap. What we get is a system that can be used either for reprap or CAM operation under emc2. This leverages additional software usage and can get us to a more common liveCD level. They/We even might like it.

Bob Teeter
Re: Live CD
December 12, 2007 12:58PM
bobt... It would be nice but does the emc2 LiveCD currently have the Java JDK (70Mcool smiley or Art Of Illusion (20Mcool smiley or its equivalents? The squashfs compression is around 2:1 and sometimes upwards of 3:1 but thats still quite a lot of additional stuff and very quickly you get to the point of making it a LiveDVD or taking out functionality.

These are the big packages so far but there are a couple of more serious issues...

Some of the other tools not currently included are KDE only so I'll be redoing what I've just done with Kubuntu in the new year when I get a bit of time so I can include them.

Things are just starting to ramp up for me at the moment so I don't have time to look into it but I will when I get some time. However if its only available as a GNOME desktop then I'd have to add in all the KDE stuff which is where I am with the current cd and I've decided that it would be less work to start from a Kubuntu base and redo everything.

Now, Demented Chihuahua, about the source files... Once you've run the script you will end up with a folder called ubuntusources with 774 separate folders inside it, one for each package.

I had thought it would be easy enough just to zip up the entire thing into an file but my computer choked on having a zip file over 2GB.

One thing to do would be to create a torrent seed of the entire folder (look at your bittorrent client help files to figure out how to do that) as is but thats over 6GB. A better way would be if there was a simple script that could run through and make each folder into a zip file or tar.gz files and then create a torrent seed containing those 774 files which would probably be at most 3GB (more likely a little over 2).

I'm sure its quite easy but I haven't got around to figuring out how to do it yet.
Re: Live CD
December 12, 2007 01:57PM
Hi Reece,

... when it's to big for a single CD, then why not create 3 of them?

1. RepRap-demo-live-CD - all programs for running the reprap from boot, able of reprapping STL's from USB ...

2. Designer-live-CD - all programs for creating 3D-data and STL-files, able of writing to USB ...

3. Tools-and-PCB-creating-live-CD - all programs for designing PCB's and lots of usefull stuff ...

So everyone can download his favorite or all three - either for running from boot or for installing on a PC

Re: Live CD
December 12, 2007 07:51PM
Reese - let me take a look at the emc2 live CD and see what can be done. I guess since I happen to be RHCE that I might be able to help some. I would really like to be able to use a single linux box for both EMC2 and RepRap. I also am interested in making 1 linux box run multiple repraps just because it can.

Bob Teeter
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