[ubuntu-uk] Customising Ubuntu with Reconstructor (version 2.6) and Gimp (2.2.13)

alan c aeclist at candt.waitrose.com
Tue Jul 31 22:06:35 BST 2007

Customising Ubuntu with Reconstructor (version 2.6) and Gimp (2.2.13)

I have been successful with customising Ubuntu version 6.06.1 (Dapper)
and Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty). I happen to be using a kubuntu 7.04 machine
for the work. The machine also has ubuntu-desktop and xubuntu-desktop
installed, so additional libraries might be used without me being
aware of it.

For my limited needs I found Reconstructor to be the easiest to
achieve things with, once I had grasped what I had to do. There is an
excellent guide in the Ubuntu Community docs,
which I did get some success with, although it was a bit above my
experience just now so I did not continue at this time..

I installed reconstructor from the repos, no problem. I cannot say
which of th erepositories it is in, becasue I hav eall of them enable
just now I think. Reconstructor runs with a GUI and a terminal display
also alongside. I had to ignore the terminal display because it did
not give me enough clues, The gui is ok once it is understood.

I was successful with Reconstructor for Ubuntu, although I failed to
get success with several attempted kubuntu customisations.
Reconstructor seems geared to Ubuntu only afaik.
At my experience level anyway.

When investigating boot splash and usplash customisations I found a
lot on the internet about size of graphic and colour depth and colour
palette. I did begin to understand what this meant and how to use gimp
for it. The restraints in image size and type are important and

Boot splash
I now understand that the boot splash is what is seen initially and
includes the initial overlay of boot menu choices.

The screen with the oscillating progress bar is called the usplash

Desktop background
The desktop background shown after the live CD is fully running is the
default background or wallpaper. I note that for a live CD the
background image is found in
/usr/share/backgrounds whereas after an install, additional
backgrounds are also available in /usr/share/wallpapers.

My Initial Error messages after I start Reconstructor:
The terminal shows errors as follows on my machine:

X Error: BadDevice, invalid or uninitialized input device 169
     Major opcode:  145
     Minor opcode:  3
     Resource id:  0x0
Failed to open device
X Error: BadDevice, invalid or uninitialized input device 169
     Major opcode:  145
     Minor opcode:  3
     Resource id:  0x0
Failed to open device
Reconstructor -- (c) Reconstructor Team, 2006
          Version: 2.6

However, I still got success.  :-)


           Sequence of use of Reconstructor:

1) welcome screen

2) I chose the desktop live CD

3) Live CD
Working directory (the default was ok for me).
Creation via checkboxes of three other working (sub) directories on
first use. This was ok, then I subsequently ignored these on
subsequent runs.

Live CD iso filename - I had downloaded the iso (Ubuntu 7.04 desktop
i386), and copied it into a temporary directory in my user area, and
also used this temp dir to put any relevant graphics I used or needed.
For example I called my temp dir agecon-1.

Use of:

4) Customisation Boot screen tab:

4a) Live CD Splash (.pcx) this is the boot splash image, and will be
first to be seen when booting, with a menu overlaid.

This is required as a .pcx file, it must be I think a size of 640x480
pixels with limited colours from a specific palette. The size is
crucial and so is the fact that the colours must be 'indexed', and be
a maximum of 16 colours (or less) only.

Example: (I actually used a different graphic for my purposes but
google is good for the example) of using gimp (version 2.2.13) for
this: using an image (I take the google logo from its main page as
sample)(google page, right click onto the logo, save image as). I
saved the logo as a file logo.gif,
open with gimp. Use the Image>Scale Image to resize it to 640x480
exactly. Note the link fixing proportionality must be broken for
this example...... There are other ways I am sure but this is a quick
and dirty example!

Exactly 640x480 size.
(for interest now try dialogues>colormap) then
Image>Mode>RGB  then
Image>Mode>Indexed (set to 16 colors maximum)
Dialogues>colormap  (observe the colormap).
I note that there are detail requirements for some specific colours
for example colour 13, the failure colour. See,
I have ignored this level of detail at this stage. More experiments
with gimp here are not difficult ;-) and more needs to be learned
about arrangement and managing indexed colours.

Save the image as (for example) a newboot64048016 as a .pcx file
(Select File Type) in to your temp dir chosen location. This will be
your initial boot menu screen.

In the Reconstructor GUI use the Live CD Splash file finder ... to
choose this pcx file.

The Live CD text color can be chosen - this is the colour of the
initial boot menu text.

4b) Usplash Filename:  this is required to be a .so file (shared
object library or something I think). There is some compiling etc to
be done, and unless you want to go the DIY scenic route,
start with a .png file - and use the choice here of the *[Generate]*
button (*not* the Usplash Filename field which is intuitively next and
which is
required as a completed .so file) (I found this all very confusing at

Google logo.gif
Image Scale>Image to 640x680 and indexed to 16 colors as before, then
unlike before,
Save as .png file (using Select File Type) into your temp dir as for
example newusplash64048016.png

Then use the button:
This will offer a file finder to enable a suitably sized prepared .png
file to be converted into a .so file

I noted losing the file name and or file target location entry on
some occasions when using the file finders -  might have been my
fingers maybe.

The generated file is named by yourself as a  .so file. For example,
  I cannot recall if it is essential to ensure it is saved with a .so
extension. However I think I made sure the  .so extension was in place
*manually* in my
own activities.

Click [Apply] (or your entries will be ignored)

5) Click the Gnome Tab
and then the Desktop dropdown triangle to expand the list.
Choose your previously created and prepared desired background
wallpaper file. This is finally required as a .png file. I do not
believe there is any unusual size or other restraint about this file.
I wanted to modify the desktop originals, not just replace, so I
needed to locate them. In the live CD see /usr/share/backgrounds  in
an installed system also see  /usr/share/wallpapers. I put prepared
work and work in progress into my temp dir to find it easily.

I used Gimp to edit the default background. I opened  a copy of the
background file, also opened a logo, scaled the logo, selected all
(logo), copy and paste into the background.
Then: Dialogues>Layers, (note floating selection is selected,
therefore is the current layer)
now I moved the Opacity Slider to a low figure (16% say) and then
anchored the layer. Saved as .png into temp dir. This is now the
intended custom default background for the live CD desktop

Used the file finder to set this for Gnome tab Wallpaper entry
[Apply] (or the entry will be ignored).
Then click Next

6) Select the components to build (Defaults were ok for me so I did
not select anything)


7) then Yes
to build Live CD.

Make a relaxing hot drink. Mine took about 10 minutes or more to build
on my machine.

alan cocks
Kubuntu user#10391

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