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How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

One of the best things about Linux is that it allows you to customize your system the way you want. Unlike users of other operating systems, you are not limited to a particular corporate desktop environment, file manager, or office suite.

Typically, you make changes to your distribution after you install it on your hardware, but with Cubic, you can create a custom ISO that’s perfect for your needs.

Why create your own ISO?

The world of Linux distributions is so diverse and fragmented that there are distributions that fit almost every use case available. You can easily install a Linux distribution based on Debian, Arch, Ubuntu, Slackware, or Fedora; you can take sides in the great war between systemd and anti-systemd; choose a Wayland distribution or keep your graphics stack traditional with There is no shortage of options.

This is a great choice and will underpin your entire Linux experience, but what if there is a distribution that is almost perfect for you but requires a few tweaks?

Perhaps your favorite distribution comes with a browser you don’t like, or it may be missing a certain editing tool that you think you need. Perhaps you have an extensive collection of wallpapers that you want to make available as soon as you turn on your brand new laptop for the first time.

Of course, you can make changes quite easily after installing the distribution on your computer, but if you have several computers and want a consistent experience, or if you administer many computers that should have a standard set of software installed, for example, in a school or in office, it’s nice to be able to create your own ISO that will install exactly what you want without the hassle.

What is Cubic?

Like all good open source projects, Cubic is an acronym, in this case standing for Custom UBuntu ISO Creator, and as the name suggests, it’s a tool that will help you create a custom dynamic ISO image for Ubuntu-based distributions.

Ubuntu is a hugely popular distribution, and in addition to the main Ubuntu download distribution and its pre-configured flavors including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Budgie, and MATE, it also underpins distributions such as elementary OS, Linux Mint, and KDE Neon. Any of these could be exactly what you’re looking for, as long as they’re slightly different.

Cubic works like a wizard with a GUI that helps “easily navigate through ISO setup steps and has an integrated command line virtual environment”. Just choose your favorite Ubuntu based distribution and follow the step by step guide to get exactly what you need.

How to Install Cubic on Linux

01 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic
01 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

Cubic runs on distributions based on Ubuntu 18.04.5 Bionic and above, and while Cubic can be run in a virtual environment, this is not recommended. To get started, first enable the Universe repository and the Cubic PPA:

sudo apt-add-repository universe
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:cubic-wizard/release

Now update your system and install Cubic:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install 

You can now access Cubic through the menu system or by typing:


… in the terminal.

Creating an Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

02 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic
02 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

When you launch Cubic for the first time, you will be prompted to select a project directory. Do this, and then click “Next” to select the source ISO image and information about the ISO image to be created. Select the ISO file and the fields will be automatically filled in.

You can change the values ​​for your custom ISO to reflect the purpose of the ISO, or simply because you want to give it a cool name. We chose Vanessa’s Linux Mint Cinnamon release as the source ISO. The username is “MUO Linux Initial Release”.

Click “Next” and Cubic will extract the ISO image to the working directory you specified earlier and provide you with a chroot – a kind of isolated terminal where you can execute commands.

If, for example, you want your custom ISO to contain only the latest software, the first command you should run is:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Mint comes with a lot of useful pre-installed software, and while most of them are useful, you may prefer different tools.

One example is the HexChat IRC client. If you hate HexChat because of its GUI and prefer to work with IRSSI in the terminal, you must clean up HexChat first:

apt purge hexchat

…and then install IRSSI:

apt install irssi

This is similar to using the terminal on your desktop computer, except that the changes you make will be reflected in the ISO created by Cubic.

You can do this with any software you like or don’t like. Replace Transmission with qBittorrent, Pix for Ristretto or Firefox for Falkon!

It’s also a good idea to get rid of the excess in the form of apps that you’ll never use or that you don’t want your users to use:

apt purge rhythmbox timeshift celluloid notes thunderbird

You do not need to use a package manager to install software. You can get packages from the Internet, add them to your path, and make them executable. So that you can easily download YouTube videos on computers that have your custom ISO image installed:

wget https:
chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/yt-dlp
03 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic
03 4 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

We need a great MUO style desktop and we want it to come with a default wallpaper. Navigate to the wallpaper directory with:

cd /usr/share/backgrounds

…and click the copy icon next to the Back button in the upper left corner of the Cubic interface. Select the files you want to copy to this directory and click “Copy” on the next screen.

Once you have copied the wallpaper files, set the desired wallpaper by typing:

gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri file:///usr/share/backgrounds/muo_wallpaper.jpg

If you are using a different desktop, such as GNOME, you will need to change the command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file:///usr/share/backgrounds/muo_wallpaper.jpg

Complete your ISO image

When you’re done changing your wallpaper and you’re happy with the packages you’ve added or removed, click “Next” again.

You will see a list of all the packages that will be present in the live ISO, you can add a checkmark next to each which will see it removed during a normal or minimal install.

04 2 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic
04 2 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

Click “Next” again and choose which kernel you want to use.

The last choice you need to make is the type of compression you want to use. They range from XZ, which produces a smaller ISO but takes longer to pack and unpack, to LZ4, which produces a much higher ISO but takes minimal time. GZIP is a good compromise.

At this point, you’ll notice that the ubiquitous “Next” button has been replaced with a “Create” button. Press it and then go and make a cup of tea while Cubic builds your ISO!

In a few minutes, your ISO will appear in the Cubic directory, ready to be installed.

05 1 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic
05 1 - How to Create a Custom Ubuntu ISO with Cubic

Cubic makes it easy to create Ubuntu ISOs

Cubic is a great tool that makes it easy to ensure you get the experience you want as soon as your new machine boots up. You can use it for yourself or create images to deploy to your organization so students and staff have the tools they need to get started right away.

To make sure your ISO image works properly and that it has everything you might need (and nothing else), you should spend some time using it in a virtual machine before deploying or distributing the ISO file.

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❤ XOXO ❤

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