Build Your Own Ubuntu-based Distro With Novo Builder

There are many reasons why people want to create their own linux distro. It could be that they are not satisfied with all the existing distros out there and wanted to build one that can fulfill their needs, or they just want to try out something new and show off their “geekiness”.

Whatever the reasons, we all now that it is not an easy task to build your own Linux distro, unless you deem yourself an expert in the field. Well, with Novo Builder, things starting to become a whole lot easier. And I seriously mean it when I said easier.

Novo Builder is a Debian GNU/Linux tool for creating your own up to date Ubuntu variants (only Ubuntu variant for the time being) customised to include the programs, themes and customised settings that you want. You don’t have to learn all the codes or any of the technical process. With a few mouse clicks and a long waiting time, you can quickly create your very own OS (and probably boost it to your friend).

Getting started

Note: Before you start, please be forewarned that the building of the OS can take up to 40Gb of hard disk space. Make sure that you have sufficient space before you start.

Download the installer.

Extract the tar file and double click the script to run it. When prompted, select “Run in Terminal“. The installation will take quite some time, depending on your Internet speed. In some situation, the script might not works well. When this occurs, you can use the command to install Novo Builder:

Running Novo Builder

Run Novo builder (Applications -> System Tools -> Novo)


There are mainly two options for you: Pick from the preset setting, or create your own based on an existing distro. The easiest way is to pick from the Preset.


Choose a base distro from the Preset field. Click the “Prepare” button. Wait for some time (you might want to go and grab a coffee).


When it is done, the first column of Edit/View button will be enabled. You can now edit the sources.list to include your custom repository, or to add in some scripts for the startup process. You can even Add/Remove/Edit the kernel, the GUI or even some of the default apps. Ignore this if you know nothing about coding.

When you are done, click the “Build Base” button. Prepare for another round of waiting.

Once the build is completed, the Post Build option will be enabled. This is where all the fun starts. From here, you can open the Synaptic to install/remove your favorite applications. Of course, the more applications you install, the bigger the final ISO file will be.


The Chroot GUI button enables you to run your custom distro in a virtual environment, much like in your Virtualbox. This is a great way to check out your distro before finalizing it.


The last step is to create the ISO file with the Build ISO button. When it is done, you should be able to find the ISO in your “/home” directory (Note: It is the “/home” directory, not “/home/username“).

To clean up the mess and free up the hard disk space, you might want to click on the “UnMount/Del” button to delete the img file. This will free up as much as 20Gb of space.

Do also check out the documentation file for more help on Novo Builder.

Have you tried Novo Builder? Let us know how it works for you.

Image credit: programad

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. i know it might seem like a really foolish question, but would it possible to go back to previous gdm if you build an os. so i can have TOTAL control over everything. i ask this as i've created maybe 20 different gdm's and well, i miss using them

  2. Personally I have not tried it, but theoretically, I think you can. Once you have built the base, you should be able to make amendment, including restoring to the previous gdm.

  3. oh ok, i'll have to look more into that. i just tried a few things. but when i pressed “synaptic” nothing happened and i thought i had followed your instructions properly. i'll get some sleep as it's getting late and try again in the morning

  4. So image credits you give but post credits? Nah, better just copy all the blogs out there and pass them as your stories. But that's why you'll never grow :)

  5. So is it an Ubuntu tool, or a Debian tool? They're different distros and have different packages etc at this point.

  6. The article is original content. I have physically tested it, take the screenshot and wrote the article. So what make you say that I “copy all the blogs out there and pass them as my stories”? I just feel ashame for you that you dare to make accusation without even dare to leave your name in the comment.

  7. there's another tool in ubuntu's repositories that does the same called uck (ubuntu customization kit).

    it's a little buggy, to my experience but still worth the notice.

  8. Can you customize and remove all the packages you want get it to install themes wallpapers as default rename the distro to what i like instead of Ubuntu change it to easy sailing change the repos it uses add more screen resolution to xorg.conf add blocked sites to hosts file etc… i take it you get my drift

  9. Personally, I have not customize any distro to the extent that you desire. However, Novo builder does give you plenty of flexibility to create the distro you want, so my guess is, you can change things like the default wallpapers, change the repo and more screen resolution etc. but you might need to dabble with some code and have a understanding of how the core system works.

  10. I have the skill just not the time. i tried a program earlier on but the amount of work was horrific missing dependency 10 after a another i got sick of it. hopefully this will be better

  11. Thank you for such a great review and instructions on Cyvoc's creation, I am LastOS the creator of Novo Builder GUI, Lacking the skills of documentation that you obviously have made Novo that little bit complex for anyone but those who are serious about learning Novo to take advantage of it. This is unique, no way you could have copied it because I never put any info like it on the web, so ignore anyone who says different ;)

  12. Its perfectly possible to go back to GDM, simply build the Distro Base you want to and remove the login-manager it uses through synaptic – after that install gdm. I know it was a pain to tell Linux what GDM it should use by default, but if you find out the right commands to get it configured you could just put them in Chroot CLI or add them to a script and place them in the 'scripts' folder structure. Optionally you could add the configuration files to a overlay to do the job.

    If you need more help use our Forum:

  13. Narcasiss, what you want to do is perfectly possible, read the User Guide / help file:

    Basically you would need to make your own preset and NOT install stuff like Ubuntu-desktop, you will be left with a plain-gnome, or plain kde, with no Ubuntu logo's / brandmarks / theming. You can then just add all the themes you want through .debs or through scripting (bash). If you are unsure about anything just ask at the forum


  14. Thanks for dropping by to leave your comment. I appreciate it. Great software that you have created. Keep it up.

  15. The download link is not working . Can anyone post a mirror ? my email is theblazehen at

    1. The website is currently down, and I have no idea when it will be up again. Google it and didn’t find any alternative download source.

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