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I am developing a Debian GNU/Linux-based operating system/distribution. It's for visually impaired people. I took the "standard" Debian Live CD and built my distribution from a bare metal command line. Here are some features:

  • Xfce desktop, heavily modified for the visually impaired;

  • High contrast themes, icons and color schemes;

  • Pre-configured Orca screen reader;

  • An intuitive and simple screen magnifier;

  • Virtual keyboard;

  • Basic set of desktop applications, logos, wallpapers and bash scripts made by me.

The system is pretty much ready and installable, in some kind of "alpha" state. I don't have a name for it yet, so I call it "Redebian" and use this name in my scripts. I will present it in a science and technology fair in my school in August (I'm currently in High School), so the project is very important for me.

But one thing is bothering me: I don't know how to properly change my OS name from Debian to whatever its name will be. I googled for several days and got suggestions to edit /etc/os-release, /etc/issue and a few more files, but I am afraid to break the system. I'm using the official Debian repositories, so the release name is a very fragile factor.

What should I do to safely and properly change the name of my Debian-based operating system? For example, I want it to show "Welcome to Redebian" when the system is booting instead of "Welcome to Debian". And I want the update-grub script to recognize the system as "Redebian".

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Taking the source from @Jeff Schaller, you will have to edit the following:

Apart from that, there are also 3 files you may explicitly want to change, them being /etc/issue (perhaps /etc/issue.net too), /etc/os-release and /etc/lsb-release, with the last one need to be changed to change the GRUB listing for your distro. Be sure to checkout /etc/default/grub for the line GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR. It should be something like GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null

For every other software that your operating system may need, you will at a very minimum have to download the DEB sources, run a find . -exec sed -i /debian/redebian/g {} \; for all the files, and then recompile each of the DEB packages. This is a hacky approach, but you will get the desired result for most packages. Basically, we are taking every instance of debian and replacing it with redebian for every software.

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  • Thanks for answering! So, are you suggesting to download all the DEBS in the distribution and change them, one by one? Wouldn't the changes be reverted with software updates? Have in mind I don't have a software repository, I'm using the official Debian ones (the team is a classmate and I). Also is it really a good idea to change all the names from "debian" to "redebian"? Wouldn't it break something? – Eduardo Cola Mar 14 '16 at 0:06
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Not being much of a debian user (other than raspbian), here is a guide to changing Ubuntu, which is a debian variant: https://askubuntu.com/questions/194062/how-can-i-replace-ubuntu-branding-with-my-own

I think relinux is your best bet...

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  • Thanks for the answer, I'll take a better look at it tomorrow. I don't want to use any remastering tool, though; I'm doing it all manually (extract the squashfs filesystem, modify everything, rebuild the filesystem, rebuild the ISO) and that's how I want to work. – Eduardo Cola Mar 14 '16 at 2:28
  • I guess that is for the experience? My only comment with doing it manually is that I find there is always something you miss - but as this isn't a "public" distro, I guess you can get away with it by controlling what people see and do... Good luck at the fair! – KolonUK Mar 14 '16 at 23:57
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I know the Gnome folks have done a lot of work in the "accessibility" aspect. I'm not familiar with that, but XFCE has a lot less manpower available, so I'd bet XFCE is much less polished in that area.

I know Fedora has spins, collections of software for a particular purpose. Perhaps your work would fit better into that idea. Handling a distribution is a huge job, Debian has hundreds of contributors, as has Fedora. Better piggyback on what is already there.

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  • Thanks for pointing that out. I chose Xfce because it has the best relation between low resource consuming, beauty and customization. After trying tens of different DE's and WM's, Xfce is definitely the best for me. And I can't use another distribution as a base neither use different tools, since the project is almost ready. Also I can't simply use something such as SuSEStudio because what I'm doing is a technology fair project (and not a drag & drop competition). I must remember you that I'm still using all Debian repositories and my system is basically Debian with makeup. – Eduardo Cola Mar 21 '16 at 17:01

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