Novell is now a part of Micro Focus

HowTo: Create and Use Stomfi's Cool School Show Part 4

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Stomfi

Digg This - Slashdot This

Posted: 12 Apr 2005

StomfiLearning to use Linux at Home and Work
Welcome to my ongoing series of HowTo articles designed to help Linux newbies get comfortable with Linux. Before trying any of these HowTos, take a few minutes to study the prerequisites so you can hit the ground running.

Cool School Show is a multimedia presentation, editing, and review system for students to include their own school work in any field of endeavour for viewing and rating by other students in friendly competition.

The first part of this how to showed you all the windows used in the system

The second part showed you the objects and scripts that make it all work.

The third part showed you the scripts so that the local user can edit and add new shows.

By now you should have the Cool School Show up and running. You can see some extra content on my site @ This is a small 10MB site which relies on links to other sites, like Cool Solutions, to get most of the documentation content.

These last two parts of the SCOOL series are how to create a bootable no-install CD with the Cool School Show as a menu selectable application.

I spent quite some time checking out this type of CD and apart from the one I chose, they all were to hard to configure for the newbie. Thank goodness for Rasta Software who produce the Dyne:Bolic CD. This single CD has got full suites of Video, Music, Graphics, TV, Streaming and Office software. It can "nest" user and settings onto a MS or Linux hard drive or supported pen drive, which it auto magically finds on reboot. The system can be dragged and dropped on to a hard drive or 1GB pen drive for faster operation, and freedom to use the CD drive for other things. The system uses OpenMosix which can turn networked computers into a load sharing "supercomputer", so that rendering your fancy 3D blender graphic takes no time at all.

Dyne:Bolic is optimised for low end hardware such that it runs effectively on a P1 with 64MB, which means that members of the "Digital Divide" can own a really wonderful computer system. There is also some new and innovative creative software on this CD, which fits well with the aspirations of SCOOL.

I still can't believe how easy it was to reconfigure and burn the CD for my own special needs. Individuals and organizations could do well to modify this CD to showcase their own software all over the world.

The first thing to do is to get a copy of Dynebolic. You can visit dynebolic,org if you have the band width and get the latest version which was 1.4 at the time of writing. I got a copy of version 1.3 from a LinuxFormat magazine, and another of the same from Linux User & Developer.

After booting and playing with the CD I found the develop folder in /mnt/dynabolic/develop. In there is a "README" and the Dynebolic SDK. This is a shell script. Yippee! I know about them and you should too by now, enough to understand what is going on, anyway.

The simplest way to find out how a program works is to start a shell console and type the program name followed by either -h or –h or –help, whichever works.

You'll notice I have started a root console, as I know I'm probably going to do things that need root privileges.

Here is a screen shot of the help:

You can see from these messages that you'll need at least 2.4GB of free space. I have my home folder on a separate partition, so I shall create a folder /home/dyne to do all the work in.

I've started a Root Midnight Commander session. You will see how this file management tool is useful for this sort of work.

The dynesdk is in the devel folder. Use the TAB key to change to the home dyne pane, highlight dyne and press enter, to go to the folder. To go back you highlight the two dots .. and press enter. I like to configure mc so I can navigate in and out of folders with the left and right arrow keys. I also set the Pause after run feature so it waits for me to press enter after giving it a command line command. The command line is the yellow area with the block cursor.

Click on the Options mc menu bar item, click configuration. This is what you will see:

The Pause after run feature is Set to Always. use internal edit to off if you like to use vi. Lynx-like motion is on to use the arrow keys. Leave the rest as is. Don't turn off internal edit if you don't know how to use vi.

When you are done click Save. To make sure these options are saved for the next time you log in. Click Options again, and click save setup. Click once more and you are done.

If your mouse doesn't work you can get to the top bar mc menus with the F9 key, the arrow keys for navigation, the space bar to turn the selection, and the enter key to confirm.

We will be using the File menu a bit later in part 5 to create some symbolic links.

Now it is time to start dissecting the Dynebolic CD by using the sdk commands. We are going to use only some of the micro commands, as we don't have to change everything. We don't need to touch /usr or /var. All our changes will be in /home and /initrd for the compressed files, /isolinux for changing the boot message and /extra for our selection of added inclusions. Actually because we are going to radically increase the size of /home, we can save space on the CD by deleting some big files from /extra.

To make life easier copy the file /media/cdrom/devel/dynesdk to wherever you put your "dyne" folder, in my case /home/dyne. You can use mc for this by moving to where you created the dyne folder, clicking the TAB key to the other pane, moving to the /media/cdrom/devel folder, highlighting dynesdk, clicking Copy or pressing the F5 key and clicking OK or pressing the Enter key.

Now you completed that task, you have a good idea of how to use mc to do basic file management.

Now do the same thing for the whole cdrom folder by copying it to the dyne folder, like this:

When you have completed the copy you can use dynesdk to explode it. TAB to your dyne folder and type " ./dynesdk explode " on the command line. You will have to wait for a while as /usr is a big file.

This is what you should see:

If this program complains that you haven't got mksquashfs, then you can fool it into thinking you have, as we won't be using it. Create a file with the command vi /usr/bin/mksquashfs. Press i and insert test squash file. Press the Esc key. Press :wq to save and quit. Enter the command

chmod +x /usr/bin/mksquashfs

Now try again.

Press any key and you should see this new layout in your dyne folder.

Now that you have exploded Dynebolic you can start your changes by copying SCOOL from your development folder into the Dynebolic home folder. This is my mc action.

This is pretty easy isn't it. The next job is to change the menus in Dynebolic home. There are two of them. One in the GNUStep folders and one in the .fluxbox folders.

Navigate to the dyne/home/GNUStep/Defaults folder and highlight the WMRootMenu item, thus:

Yeah, I know I swapped the window to the other side; still the same process though. Click on Edit in the bottom menu bar or press F4. These are my two new entries, one for the SCOOL program and one for a newbie readme file.

Save this file and select the next one in .fluxbox. You can see its path address in the window top bar decoration.

You can see that each menu has a different syntax, but it is again a pretty simple action to change it. Just make sure you get each one exactly right as far as the syntax - which are the things like commas, the sort of brackets, the case of letters in commands, the quotes.

I did a bit of artwork by modifying the Dynebolic background and putting my work into the home GNUStep Library. I changed the home GNUStep Defaults WindowMaker file to point to my artwork. Thus:

If you like you can also change the SaveSessionOnExit option in this file, which will be relevant when nesting, as you will see.

The next little job is to make sure we can use ssh to copy file to and from the central network library.

The Dynabolic startup scripts are in /usr/etc and are called from /etc which we find in this exploded development tree in dyne/initrd/etc. The one we want is rc.M.

Edit rc.M by pressing F4 or clicking Edit. You have to include the lines to call the "/usr/etc/rc.ssh.~1.2.~" file, which starts the sshd daemon. A funny file name. Make sure you get those tildes in the right place. On my keyboard its the most left hand top key with shift.

By the way a daemon is a hidden helper, which in Linux is a program which runs in the background and goes to sleep while it waits for its functions to be needed by the user or system, and then wakes up and does it when required.

Here is the editing:

I changed the Samba work group to SCOOLGROUP. This is done in two places. Here is the first:

Here is the second:

Samba is used by Dynebolic to do file transfer and use printers on Microsoft Operating Systems.

The last file to change is the boot message which comes up when you first boot the CD.

This file is called boot.msg and is in the folder dyne/cdrom/isolinux. You can see I've included With SCOOL by Stomfi © 2005.

Now we are going to use the dynesdk to replace the home and initrd files in dyne/cdrom/dyne.

Return to the dyne folder where dynesdk resides and enter the command

./dynesdk mkhome

This is what you should see:

Next is the command " ./dynesdk mkinitrd "

You will have to type y and press enter during the running of this command.

Now we can delete a few big files from dyne/cdrom/extras

Here is my selection. I've included the file which you can also download from the SCOOL page at

The last SDK command is to make the iso file so we can burn a CD.

In the dyne folder type the command " ./dynesdk mkiso "

This is end of the messages from the "dynesdk mkiso" command. You can see the size of the iso is about 560MB, which will fit nicely on a 700MB CD.

In part 5 of this How To series, we shall burn the CD using k3b, test it by rebooting, copy our RunRev IDE over to the Dyne:bolic home folder, use the IDE to recreate the SCOOL standalone, use mc to set some symbolic links in SCOOL/bin to programs in Dyne:Bolic, copy SCOOL/bin back to our SUSE development hard drive folder, exit Dyne:bolic, reboot to SUSE and remake the CD with the new standalone, and package the CD using Stomfi's official CD artwork. Part 5 will complete this innovative series.

Copyright Notice

Copyright Stomfi © 2005

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA.

Novell Cool Solutions (corporate web communities) are produced by WebWise Solutions.

© Copyright Micro Focus or one of its affiliates