Back Up or Redistribute Your Ubuntu-Based Installation with Pinguy Builder

Backup or Redistribute Your Ubuntu Based Installation with Pinguy Builder

Last month, we covered Distroshare Ubuntu Imager which allows anyone to create a custom Ubuntu distribution from their current installation. As powerful as Distroshare’s script might be, the manual configuration might not be for everyone. The creators of Pinguy OS, one of the most user-friendly Ubuntu derivatives, have created a fork of the old Remastersys source and turned it into a simple, easy-to-use graphical utility for making bootable ISO images from any Ubuntu-based Linux installation.

Getting PinguyBuilder

Pinguybuilder binaries are hosted on SourceForge. There are two verisons: 3.x and 4.x. Version 3 works with Ubuntu 14.04 and 14.10. For 15.04 and above, you can use version 4.

To get the latest binaries (currently 3.3 and 4,3), you can also just use wget.


will download version 3, and


will get you version 4.

To install the downloaded deb file, the developers recommend gdebi (as pinguybuilder has a few dependencies which dpkg would not handle).

First, you probably need to install gdebi, as it is usually not included in Ubuntu-based systems.

sudo apt-get install gdebi

Then using gdebi itself, install PinguyBuilder,

sudo gdebi pinguybuilder*.deb

or to be specific, use

sudo gdebi pinguybuilder_3.3-2_all.deb


sudo gdebi pinguybuilder_4.3-2_all.deb


Note: an easier method is to locate the .deb file, right-click on it, and select “Open with -> GDebi Package Installer.”

Using PinguyBuilder

When you start it, PinguyBuilder wants root privileges.


Next it is going to warn you that you should quit all running programs and close all windows before proceeding.


The text of the warning specifies “Backup,” which is one way you can use PinguyBuilder, but it’s best to do so anyway just to be on the safe side. Once you’re done and have clicked OK, there are a number of options to choose from.

Note: there is virtually no difference between the user interfaces of version 3 or 4; they will simply work for different versions of Ubuntu.


Selecting “Backup” will let you make a complete backup of your system, including all user data and personal information, and turn it into a bootable ISO file.

The “Dist” option will do the same, but excluding your personal data and all user-specific information. This will effectively create a re-distributable ISO image that will be working and configured just like your currently running system – perfect for making “home baked” distros.

The other two options will allow you to break down the previous process into two parts – “Distcdfs”will make the distributable file-system that you can modify afterwards as you like. “Distiso” will turn it into an ISO image when you are ready.

There are a number of ways PinguyBuilder lets you customise your new distro. The options below the main functions will allow you to add a custom GRUB background image for both the live environment and the installed system, plymouth boot animation, and will allow you to select a user whose settings would be replicated.

There is also a “Settings” tab which will allow for some more, although minor, customisations, and is mostly there to set up the working directory, file name, and the username to be used with the live environment.


When you set everything up, just click “Backup” or “Dist” from the first tab, and watch the progress in the output window.


The only thing you should worry about is that the ISO cannot be larger than 4 GB. This is due to the limitation of the ISO 9660 standard that will not allow for larger files.

You can, of course, run PinguyBuilder from the command line. This can be useful if you are trying to replicate a server installation or any sort of terminal only environment. Just type

sudo PinguyBuilder

into a terminal (case sensitive!) to list the various command line options you can use.



Making your own distro at home, with some nice customisations, could not be much easier. PinguyBuilder, the script and GUI used to make PinguyOS ISO images makes the process straightforward and easy for anyone wishing to back up their systems or create their own distributions for friends and family or even for broader audiences.

Attila Orosz
Attila Orosz

Attila is a writer, blogger and author with a background in IT management. Using GNU/Linux systems both personally and professionally, his advice stems from 10+ years of hands on experience. In his free time he also runs the popular Meditation for Beginners blog.

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