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The ROCK Linux Philosophy
Pages: 1, 2


Unlike other Linux distributions, ROCK Linux does not use a special package format. The packages are simple *.tar.bz2 archives. The package metadata is stored under /var/adm/*:

  • /var/adm/flists/<pkg-name> List of files
  • /var/adm/md5sums/<pkg-name> MD5 checksums
  • /var/adm/cksums/<pkg-name> CRC checksums
  • /var/adm/packages/<pkg-name> Package description

This makes the package metadata easy to parse by third-party scripts.

However, ROCK Linux comes with the rpm and rpm2cpio programs -- so it's easy to install RPM packages by hand or to convert RPM packages to ROCK Linux *.tar.bz2 files.


In addition to the ROCK Linux base and extension distribution, there are also so called sub-distributions. These are Linux distributions for a special application which are automatically built from the base distribution. Currently there are two sub-distributions available: 1. The install disks, and 2. The ROCK Router distribution (a modular distribution on floppy disks designed for routers).

The following sub-distributions are planned for the near future:

  • A read-only Linux which boots from a CD (for surf-stations)
  • ROCK NC Linux -- a Linux based NC which mounts all its data over the network using the Coda distributed filesystem.

Auto-build process

The focus of ROCK Linux was always to allow easy rebuilds of the entire distribution by typing a single command.

This auto-build process makes it easy to port ROCK Linux to new architectures, to optimize it for a special processor, and to update the whole system to a new system library or kernel.

The ROCK Linux Alpha port is being worked on.

System administration

While there is no configuration or administration utility in ROCK Linux, there are little helper applications which can be very useful for administrators:

  • The shadow package comes with some command-line tools for user and group administration (useradd, groupadd, ...).
  • The utility dump-config analyzes the running kernel configuration (network, sysctl, modules, etc.) and dumps out simple shell scripts which restore the running configuration. You can pick the stuff you need and copy it to your startup scripts.
  • ROCK Linux is using a SysV-like init concept. The tool runlvedit helps you to manage the symlinks to your start and stop scripts for the various runlevels: It dumps out a simple config file, lets you edit it, and imports your changes. There are no side effects if you are mixing this with setting the symlinks by hand.
  • There are some utilities for installing, removing, and updating packages. There are also two utilities to check for modified, added, and removed files on the system. This is useful for intruder detection and making backups of your configuration.


ROCK Linux can be installed from CD, local disk, or the network (NFS, FTP or HTTP). The install disks (and the bootable CD) come with a big number of modules (SCSI, network, and PCMCIA). It gives you a root shell where you can create your partitions, format your filesystems and mount them under /mnt. This is done by fdisk, e2fs, and mount. Only the package installation itself is done by a helper application (the "ROCK Linux Install Shell") that lets you select your packages (using shell patterns) and install them.

Getting ROCK Linux

You can download the sources from the ROCK Linux homepage and the Mirrors. The binary distribution (generic i386-pc) can only be downloaded from the mirrors listed on the homepage. There is no binary distribution for the development snapshots.

Have fun with ROCK Linux!

Clifford Wolf started his relationship with computers 11 years ago and has been involved in Linux and GNU development for the last six years. Before he started on the ROCK Linux Project he worked as a Unix system administrator at a large Austrian ISP.

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