Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project that provides you with step-by-step instructions for building your own customized Linux system entirely from source.
Many wonder why they should go through the hassle of building a Linux system from scratch when they could just download an existing Linux distribution. However, there are several benefits of building LFS. Consider the following:
LFS teaches people how a Linux system works internally
Building LFS teaches you about all that makes Linux tick, how things work together and depend on each other. And most importantly, how to customize it to your own tastes and needs.
Building LFS produces a very compact Linux system
When you install a regular distribution, you often end up installing a lot of programs that you would probably never use. They're just sitting there taking up (precious) disk space. It's not hard to get an LFS system installed under 100 MB. Does that still sound like a lot? A few of us have been working on creating a very small embedded LFS system. We installed a system that was just enough to run the Apache web server; total disk space usage was approximately 8 MB. With further stripping, that can be brought down to 5 MB or less. Try that with a regular distribution.
LFS is extremely flexible
Building LFS could be compared to a finished house. LFS will give you the skeleton of a house, but it's up to you to install plumbing, electrical outlets, kitchen, bath, wallpaper, etc. You have the ability to turn it into whatever type of system you need it to be, customized completely for you.
LFS offers you added security
You will compile the entire system from source, thus allowing you to audit everything, if you wish to do so, and apply all the security patches you want or need to apply. You don't have to wait for someone else to provide a new binary package that (hopefully) fixes a security hole. Often, you never truly know whether a security hole is fixed or not unless you do it yourself.
A by-the-book LFS system is fairly minimal, but is designed to provide a strong base on which you can add any packages you want. See the BLFS project for a selection of commonly used packages.