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Knoppix Tips and Tricks

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the sweet-debian-goodness dept.

Linux 496

cosog writes "Robert Storey writes in a thorough review about Knoppix: 'Some people even take a Knoppix disk with them when they go shopping for a new computer, a clever way to ensure that the hardware will be Linux compatible before you purchase it.' His article discusses things like: booting, rescuing, installing on HDD, tips'n'tricks, etc... A nice read for everyone interested in Linux (and Knoppix in particular ;)."

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Knoppix (5, Informative)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877310)

Knoppix + DD = ultimate way to mirror a drive from one to the other. Screw norton ghost.

Re:Knoppix (4, Informative)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877366)

Really? DD is far slower because it makes exact copies down to the bits. Norton Ghost works by cloning files instead. Instead, think of dump + gzip instead of dd. Insert some netcat for networking and presto, one central server holding default installs for all OSes you want. Probably works nice with network booting, then selecting a configuration, start cloning and then reboot into a brand-spanking new & fresh OS installation.

Re:Knoppix (5, Funny)

Geek of Tech (678002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877560)

You mean Dungeons and Dragons is a system administration tool also?! Dang! Just when I thought I knew something.... Good thing slashdot is here to correct that....

Oww, you mean the command dd..... right.... I knew that....

Re:Knoppix (1)

StarCat76 (644079) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877640)

DD is far slower because it makes exact copies down to the bits. Norton Ghost works by cloning files instead.

I must be missing something huge here. How can you copy files without copying the bits that make them up?

MIRROR: It SEEMS TO BE SLASDOTTED. (-1, Troll)

bethane (686358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877376)

http://24.174.81.26/review.php [24.174.81.26]

Just managed to snag it, loaded very slowly.

thanks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877419)

mod parent up, it does load rather slow.

Re:MIRROR: It SEEMS TO BE SLASDOTTED. (0, Troll)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877629)

You have way too much time on your hands.

On the other hand, it is kind of funny; the sound file is a nice touch.

DD != Ghost (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877385)

Come on now..

Since when does DD do muliticasting, resizing of partitions.. Partition selection... Remote capture of the HD, etc, etc, etc..

Sure DD has some uses, but it is NOT by any stretch of the imgaination as functional as ghost...

And if you want to toss in the enterprise features of ghost, the gap widens even further..

Re:DD != Ghost (4, Informative)

shaitand (626655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877469)

True enough, DD != Ghost, but not what he claimed, he claimed that linux on a cd will supplant ghost and that is something different altogether.

Now your not talking about ghost, your talking about a number of tools.

mount
partd
mkfs
kernel support for more filesystems than ghost will ever dream of.
tar
dd
cp
mkswap
lilo/grub

Between these utilities you can do pretty much everything ghost can and much much more. A knoppix cd (generally I use a customized one to take out the gui fluff) gives FAR more flexibility than any other software tool.

Re:Knoppix (5, Informative)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877392)

Norton ghost does so much more than this. Hate to say it, but I've spent plenty of time looking for Ghost replacements, and found none. There are a few (g4u, for example) which do networked dd-style copying, or partimage, which can actually read a partition table but can't deal with NTFS, but none that have the capabilities Ghost has for copying Windows NT/2K/XP installations (I use Ghost in deploying donated computers to schools and community centers; we don't feel Linux is managable for the target users).

See, if you do DD, it works if all the hard drives are the same size. But if you want to make an image that will last a while, on multiple machines, you have to make it match the smallest drive (since dd simply copies the content and doesn't rewrite the partition table). So if you make it, say, 2GB, you throw away a lot of space on bigger drives. And like I said, partimage can't write NTFS properly.

Not to mention Ghostwalker, which changes the machine's hostname and rewrites the SID's (I think that's what they're called; I rarely use Windows anymore) on the files so that they are unique and secure.

Re:Knoppix (4, Informative)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877522)

Ghost supports EXT2 and EXT3, and if you use sector copy, you can use ReiserFS/UFS/HFS/etc.

Personally, I use Barts Boot cdrom [nu2.nu] , and ghost over tcp/ip to backup servers/workstations and laptops. I find ghost works great to backup a system that doesnt have an OS or a Partition over the network. Plus I can read .gho files with ghost explorer, incase I need a file off a backup.

If ghost worked under winex or dosemu, then I'd run it under knoppix, but for now, Barts Cdrom does the job.

Re:Knoppix (3, Informative)

fgb055639 (707256) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877556)

have you ever tried Mondo? www.mondorescue.org Handles all your needs...

Re:Knoppix (1)

corian (34925) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877566)

Not to mention Ghostwalker, which changes the machine's hostname and rewrites the SID's (I think that's what they're called; I rarely use Windows anymore) on the files so that they are unique and secure.


Happily, there is also free software to do the same thing.

Knoppix + DD (or, as I did it, the Red Hat Install CD recovery mode + DD) has its uses -- if, as you said, the disk is the same. Not ideal for corporate use (unless you're really careful about giving everyone exactly the same PC model). I found it perfect when receiving a repacement laptop (exactly the same model) to which I needed to directly transfer the contents a dual-boot setup. It's nice that, for a one-time use, you can find capable tools for free. Obviously, that doesn't mean the professional utilites perform the same task.

Re:Knoppix (3, Informative)

corian (34925) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877584)

Happily, there is also free software to do the same thing.

...which I might have correctly linked to, had I previewed my post.

New SID [sysinternals.com]

Re:Knoppix -- replacement for ghost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877586)

If you have not found a replacement for norton ghost, you obviously
have not looked far enough.

Have a gander at Acronis Drive Image 7 (Drive Copy? Crap, can't remember).

It's inexpensive and does everything I need, and then some.

and knoppix + qtparted = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877465)

= screw partition magic away...

Re:Knoppix (0, Redundant)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877555)

That has to be one of the dumbest comments ever.

Ghost does a hell of a lot more than what DD can handle.

Is every single drive you use or own the same size? You never upgrade or something?

+4 informative?? Morons, the lot of you.

Or... (2, Interesting)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877607)

As already stated by other people, Knoppix AND dd are way more flexible than "just ghost." And the whole reason I like it is because it doesn't give a rat's ass what is actually on the drive. It doesn't care what file systems are there, and it will copy it exactly, with no "oops I copied all the files but missed something that I didn't think was important."

The first time I used ghost, I wasn't impressed. The first time I used dd I was surprised by its superiority through simplicity. Your mileage may vary, but that doesn't mean "everyone" is a moron because you don't agree.

Re:Knoppix (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877573)

Ghost does several other things, and is a bit more space-efficient. Ghost parses filesystem structures and can restore to drives of different sizes.
That said, there does exist a good free ghost-like tool or two for linux, which actually parse common linux filesystems:partimage [partimage.org] even has experimental NTFS support!

FREE HOMO-PEDO-NECROPHILIA PORN AT ANTI-SLASH.ORG (-1, Troll)

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Jesus Saves! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877319)

Ask Jesus into your heart today!

The ONLY Way, Truth and Life!

Re:Jesus Saves! (0, Troll)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877504)

Knoppix saves, too, you know.
Guess that means there's more than one way, eh?

fuckers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877322)

dylan lainhart is a leet haxor bitch fp

Could it be, (-1, Offtopic)

Zero_K (606548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877324)

Finally, the sought after fp?

Wow... (1)

eurleif (613257) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877330)

Seems to be Slashdotted already.

Re: Full text (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877359)

In these modern times it seems that there is a product to suit every whim and fancy. Whether you need a miniature Statue of Liberty with a clock in her (its?) stomach or a stuffed alligator with a light bulb in its mouth, you can rest assured that somebody somewhere is marketing it.

When it comes to software, much the same situation prevails. There are applications that do everything from psychoanalysis (in Emacs hit M-x and type "doctor"), to helping you contact alien civilizations (SETI@Home).

Operating systems are not immune to this tendency towards specialization. Notepads, cell phones and perhaps your DVD player all have specialized operating systems. At the height of the dotcom bubble, there were pundits predicting that soon your online refrigerator would have an operating system, the purpose of which was allegedly to order milk when you needed it. Just why you couldn't buy your own damn milk was never explained to us.

And finally we come to Linux distributions. There are different distros for different purposes. Desktop Linux (in many flavors), server Linux, embedded Linux, Linux routers, Linux BIOS, Linux on the Halfshell. And every so often, somebody comes up with a whole new use for Linux that just makes everybody sort of just stop in their tracks and say, "Cool!" Which brings me (you are still with me, aren't you?) to the topic of this article - Knoppix.

Live From Germany

Knoppix is a "live CD" distro - just boot it and use it. You do need a CD drive of course, but you don't need a hard disk. The implications of this are significant. It means you have a portable Linux that you can take with you wherever you go. This can be used in a number of innovative ways - as a demo disk, as a rescue disk, as a way to use Linux at your local Windows-only Internet cafe. Some people even take a Knoppix disk with them when they go shopping for a new computer, a clever way to ensure that the hardware will be Linux compatible before you purchase it.

To be fair, Knoppix was not the first live CD ever created. Apple, for example, distributed MacOS (even before OSX) on a live CD. Linux has had DemoLinux, SUSE Live-Eval and Cool Linux, as well as some others. But none of these have come close to the functionality of Knoppix, which could justifiably claim the title as "first useful live CD." Even though Knoppix has inspired a number of clones (Gnoppix, Morphix, Freeduc, Quantian, to name a few), it still remains the most popular live CD distro by far.

Most people are just awe-struck the first time they see a Knoppix CD boot. Probably the thing that blows them away is the hardware auto-detection. There is really nothing to configure - just boot the CD, and two to three minutes later you have a beautiful desktop system. This is remarkable, given the lack of standards (and lack of driver documentation) that exists in the PC world.

Knoppix took the Linux world by storm in late 2002, but actually it's history is a little bit longer than that. Klaus Knopper of Germany started his experiment with "Knopper's *nix" about three years ago. As he tells the story, it wasn't his original intention to create a new Linux distro, but rather to learn how "el torito" (the booting mechanism on CDs) works, and how to get access to a whole CD from a minimal ramdisk system. However, his project soon attracted the attention of the LinuxTag association, which happily provided a mailing list and forum so that others could give their input. Though Klaus was (and still is) the solo developer of Knoppix, user feedback and bug-testing have helped make this distro the great success it is.

Deep Impact

Knoppix is one of the most up-to-date distros around. This is thanks to the fact that it is based on Sid, the "unstable" branch of Debian. Some people might be put off by the word "unstable," or the word "Sid" (the name of the mentally unstable kid in the movie "Toy Story"). Fortunately, in everyday use Knoppix is considerably more stable than many other distros (and infinitely more stable than many of the people who use it, including software reviewers).

Knoppix has had a deep impact on the Debian community. Though one could write a long list of praises about Debian, one notorious aspect of the distro has been its nightmarish installation program. This problem is being addressed, but at the moment it's still not resolved. The poor installer (as well as confusing text-based configuration utilities) has created a market opportunity for commercial Debian-based distros such Libranet, Xandros and Lindows. These are very worthy distros in their own right, but they do cost money. Knoppix, on the other hand, is free.

But wait, Knoppix only runs off a CD, right? Well, it was originally intended that way, but there was no way to hold back the raging tide of popular demand for a hard disk installer. Klaus himself felt that he had no time to work on that, so enthusiasts in the Knoppix community stepped forward to write a hard disk installation script. As it turns out, there were two such efforts, and the Knoppix CD now boasts two installation programs.

The Price Is Right

Knoppix comes on a single CD and is available as a free download from one of several mirrors which you can find listed at knoppix.com. Failing that, CDROMs can be ordered from numerous sources - again, look at knoppix.com for a list of vendors. As an example, LinuxCD.org offers the CD for US$1.99 plus shipping.

Also, don't be too surprised if your local computer Linux-friendly computer shop or computer bookstore has the CD. I personally acquired my first Knoppix CD at a back-alley computer bookshop for the equivalent of US$2. Given the rapidly growing popularity of Knoppix, don't be surprised to find the distro as a bonus CD attached to the cover of a Linux magazine.

Wherever you obtain Knoppix, you'll probably want the latest edition, and that is sometimes confusing. If you carefully monitor the download sites, you'll soon realize that a new *.iso file appears about monthly. What makes it confusing is that these frequently appearing files often have the same version number, following by a date. A typical file name looks like this:

KNOPPIX_V3.3-2003-11-19-EN.iso

Ideally, one would expect mini-releases to have different version numbers (ie Knoppix version 3.3-1, version 3.3-2, etc). However, as Klaus himself readily confesses, personal laziness plays a part - version numbers in all README and HTML files on the CD would have to be changed. Since Klaus programs this mammoth project all by himself (other than the occasional donated shell script), and because the release schedule is so frequent, he's taken the easy way out and just lists the build date on package name and boot screen. However, when a significant new change occurs, you are likely to see the version number bumped up by one digit. This commonly happens when a new release of KDE appears, not surprising since Knoppix is KDE-centric.

Giving Knoppix The Boot

There's not much more to starting up Knoppix than to put the CD into the drive and boot - or is there? Actually, when you first boot, you will be presented with a greeting screen, a few messages, and a prompt that says:

boot:

You could at this point just hit , but you are also advised to push "F2 for help". If you push the F2 panic button, you'll be presented with a list of 13 possible options that you could pass to the kernel by typing them at the boot prompt. For example, in order to get a US English-style keyboard (the default is German), you would type:

boot: knoppix lang=us

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the 13 suggested options displayed by the F2 key are not the only possibilities. There are many other options but there is not enough room on the screen to display them all. You are advised to look at the file knoppix-cheatcodes.txt which should be downloadable from the same place you got the Knoppix CD. Since we need to look at some of those cheatcodes right now, I've reproduced them below:

Screenshot 1: Cheatcodes

The option "floppyconfig" can be useful if you want to use settings which you saved to a floppy disk during a previous session. The settings could be used, for example, for setting up a network. The settings are saved in a script called knoppix.sh - there is an easy-to-use utility to do this called "saveconfig" (also located in the KDE menu under "KNOPPIX").

Screenshot 2: Saveconfig dialog

Once you've typed your cheatcodes (if any), hit and watch the fun begin. Though invisible to the user, beneath the surface a lot is going on. Of prime interest is the hardware detection, which surprisingly relies on Red Hat's "kudzu" utility rather than Debian's "discover." The success rate of full hardware detection on a desktop machine is estimated to be at least 95%, but laptops are more troublesome, and Klaus estimates that perhaps only 75% of laptop bootups are trouble-free. This doesn't mean the machine won't boot, but it could mean that a certain piece of hardware (such as those notorious winmodems) may not be properly detected. Sound cards are also a potential trouble spot, though it can be argued that this is not a fatal flaw. With a little bit of luck, no user intervention should be required to get a perfectly configured system. If your machine is connected to a DHCP server, Knoppix will automatically get an IP address so you'll be network enabled.

One of the nice little surprises about Knoppix that you'll have about 1.8 GB of programs at your disposal, even though the CD only holds 700 MB of data. This is thanks to compression. SCSI emulation is built in, so if you have an IDE CD-R drive, it should work and you'll be able to burn CDs with the included K3b program.

Knoppix To The Rescue

Let us say I've forgotten the root password. To recover it, I could edit file /etc/shadow (don't try this until you've backed it up!) and remove all the characters between the first two colons in the line that begins with "root":

root:kX6yfIHgbljds:12407:0:99999:7::: ...could be edited to become...

root::12407:0:99999:7:::

Next time I boot up, root can then login without a password. And then I could use the "passwd" command to create a new password. The only question is: How can I edit /etc/shadow if I don't know the root password? The answer, of course, is to boot with a rescue disk - I will then have root privileges. In other words, Knoppix to the rescue.

Most people with enough geek background to use a rescue disk would probably like to get a text-mode console logged in as root. This is eminently possible with a Knoppix CD. As mentioned, when you first boot, you are delivered to a boot prompt where you are permitted to pass some options to the kernel. The options I use are as follows:

boot: knoppix 2 lang=us vga=normal

The "2" after "knoppix" means run-level 2, which is text-mode. There is simply no need to load X and the full KDE desktop if all you want is perform a rescue operation. The "lang=us" part is because I prefer a US-style keyboard rather than the default German system. The "vga=normal" parameter will prevent the VESA framebuffer from loading (which is the default). Although framebuffer mode will stock a nice penguin in the upper-left portion of your screen, it will also do funny things with the text on screen - in particular, on my laptop it makes the login-prompt disappear off the bottom of the screen (other people have found that their screen goes blank when VESA framebuffer loads).

Occasionally, some users report seeing an error message like this:

hdb: read_intr: status=0x59 { DriveReady SeekComplete DataRequest
Error hdb: read_intr: error=0x10 { SectorIdNotFound },
LBAsect=256902992

This is caused by a bad CD (remember that in Linux, no messages are good messages). You can test the CD by typing "knoppix testcd" at the "boot:" prompt.

After typing in my parameters at the "boot:" prompt and hitting , I am soon delivered to a prompt that says this:

root@tty1[/]#

I am now logged in as root with all the utilities of a full Knoppix distro at my disposal. For me this is particularly cool, because one of the programs on the CD is Emacs, my favorite editor. In practically all other distros, the only editor available at the rescue prompt is Vi. While I don't wish to ignite a flame-fest over the relative merits of Emacs vs. Vi, I do find it very beneficial to have my preferred editor at my disposal when I'm attempting to rescue a borked installation. Some other included editors are Vim, Joe, Nedit and Kedit.

If you are trying to edit a file on your hard disk, you'll need to mount the partition that has the particular file you want to edit. If you don't happen to know what partitions you have, you can find out by looking in Knoppix's /etc/fstab file:

Screenshot 3: /etc/fstab

What's interesting here are the lines below the comments labeled "Added by KNOPPIX". What /etc/fstab is showing us here are the partitions on the hard drive. As you can see in this example, there are six partitions (/dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, /dev/hda3, /dev/hda5, /dev/hda6, /dev/hda7). Knoppix finds these by running "fdisk -l", but (unfortunately) this will fail if your hard disk geometry is wrong. Such a thing is possible. At the risk of being flamed into ashes - I can say that I've personally noticed that installing FreeBSD 5.x on a machine with Linux partitions often results in an incorrect geometry setting (I'm not sure why).

Now that you know what partitions are available, you can mount the one which is causing you grief. Let us say that I need to correct a misconfigured file on /dev/hda3. I could mount the partition like this:

root@tty1[/]# mount /dev/hda3 /mnt/hda3

I can then "cd" to that partition:

root@tty1[/]# cd /dev/hda3

You now have access to this partition and may use whatever rescue tools you deem fit. In the above example, I will use Emacs to edit /etc/shadow and remove the root password.

Installation To The Hard Drive

Once you've played with the Knoppix live CD, you might decide you like it so much that you want to install it to the hard drive. Unfortunately, Knoppix does not provide an "Install Me" button (though the idea has been suggested). Nevertheless, installation to the hard disk is eminently possible.

Christian Perle was the first volunteer to step forward and write a hard disk installation script for Knoppix. His script, knx-hdinstall, is very simple to use. This fine effort was later reworked by Fabian Franz who wrote knoppix-installer, which has more features (including a "Previous" button which lets you backtrack to previous menus). Both knx-hdinstall and knoppix-installer are now included on the Knoppix CD, so your first decision is to decide which one you'd like to use. I personally prefer the simplicity of knx-hdinstall, though it does lack the convenience of a "back" button.

So without further ado, put the CD into the drive and boot. At the "boot:" prompt, type the parameters you prefer, which in my case (once again) are:

boot: knoppix 2 lang=us vga=normal

and hit . You will now be at a root console. The application you want to run is knx-hdinstall (which is located in /usr/local/bin, and already in your PATH).

root@tty1[/]# knx-hdinstall

After this step, "cfdisk" is launched which will allow you to partition your hard drive. One thing worth knowing is the knx-hdinstall only allows you to install Knoppix in one partition - the "/" (root) partition, plus you are also able to add a swap partition. For most people this will do fine, but there are people who like to create fancy partitioning schemes (separate partitions for /, /boot, /home, /tmp, /usr, /var, /opt and swap. This has important security implications, and is recommended if you're running a server, but most desktop users will not suffer for having only two partitions. If you really do need so many separate partitions, then you probably shouldn't be running Knoppix.

You should make your root partition at least 3 GB (I personally prefer at least 5 GB). Knoppix will install 1.8 GB of files in that partition, but Linux partitions should never be more than 80% full (to allow space for automatic defragmenting). Besides, your personal data will take up some space, and if you burn CDs you'll need at least 700 MB for a temporary ISO file.

I recommend a swap partition of about 400 MB.

After you've created your root and swap partitions and saved, you are asked if you want to use a swap partition (definitely recommended). You first tell the installer where you want the swap partition to be located, and then you are asked where to mount the root partition. After this you have no more immediate decisions to make - knx-hdinstall begins installing everything on the CD to the hard drive. The installation is about as simple as it gets (almost too simple since you have only a few options available).

Once all the files are copied, you are asked a series of questions. Below are the questions, and the answers I chose:

Do you want to start the mail server (smail) at system boot?
Do you want to start the secure shell server (sshd) at system boot?
Do you want to start the samba server (smbd/nmbd) at system boot?
Do you want to start the cups server (cupsd) at system boot?
Do you want to start kdm (graphical login) at system boot?
Give a host name for this machine (without domain appended):
Use DHCP broadcast?
Please enter IP Address for eth0.
Please enter netmask for eth0.
Please enter broadcast address for eth0.
Please enter Default Gateway.
Please enter Nameserver(s).
Set a password for user root (input is not displayed). ********
Set password for user knoppix. ********
Do you want to install the boot loader (LILO) into the master boot record (MBR)?
Do you want to create a boot floppy (recommended)?

First Time Boot

You can remove the CD now and reboot. If you chose to install LILO in the MBR (master boot record), you should get a menu prompt allowing you to choose between booting "Linux" or (possibly) "Windows". If you had other Linux distros or the *BSDs installed on other partitions, these will not be shown (you'll have to edit /etc/lilo.conf to add additional OSs).

Knoppix boots fast - on my machine it takes 23 seconds (by contrast, SUSE takes 53 seconds). One reason for the fast boot is that few services are loaded by default.

You will have a choice of logging in either as root or user "knoppix" (you did remember the passwords you chose, didn't you?). The safer thing to do is log in as knoppix.

The default window manager is KDE, but there are other options - Window Maker (wmaker), Ice Window Manager (icewm), Fluxbox (fluxbox) and XFce (xfce). Notably absent is Gnome - there is simply no way to fit it on the Knoppix CD. Presumably you'll start with KDE. At your first login, you'll be greeted by "Kpersonalizer", the KDE configuration wizard. The only two important questions you'll be asked come first:

1) "Please choose your country" - if you are an English speaker, it's best to choose "C".

2) "Please choose your language" - I chose "English US".

The other questions all relate to style and appearance, and I'm happy enough with the defaults. However, despite having chosen English as my preferred language, I still found that in an Xterm I had a German keyboard. To change this, work through these menus:

Settings-Control Center-Regional & Accessibility-Keyboard Layout

The keyboard that worked for me was:
Generic 105-key (intl) PC
U.S. English w/ ISO9995-3

After this, I used KDE's tools to add user "robert" (rather than always being either "root" or user "knoppix"). To do this, open the menu "System" then "Kuser" (KDE's user manager) and type the root password when prompted - you can then add a new user. One thing you must consider is what groups you want this new user to belong to. By way of comparison, user "knoppix" is a privileged character, belonging to all the following groups: audio, cdrom, fax, floppy, games, dialout, dip, sudo, tape, usb, users, video, and voice. I decide to let my new user "robert" belong to the groups cdrom, dialout, dip, sudo and users.

Having done this, I log out and log back in as user "robert". I start Emacs, then create a new hidden file called .xinitrc which contains only one line:

exec fluxbox

I then save and exit Emacs. I log out of KDE and log back in again - now when X starts, I am in Fluxbox, which I prefer to KDE.

Aunt Tilly's Printer

CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) offers an easy way to configure a printer. During installation, I said "yes" to the question "start the cups server (cupsd) at system boot?" Now, to complete the configuration I must open a browser (Konqueror and Mozilla both do nicely) and then type this url:

http://localhost:631

I then click on "Printers", name my printer "Epson" and assign it to /dev/lp0. I chose the correct printer driver from the list, and print a test page. Quick success. Gosh, all this Linux stuff is easy - even Aunt Tilly could administer her own Knoppix machine.

Time Waits For No One

I spoke too soon. Surely Aunt Tilly wouldn't be able to figure out my next problem.

I quickly discover that my clock setting is wrong. When I open an Xterm and type "date", I get this:

robert@sonic:~> date
Thu Jan 1 15:06:40 CET 2004

The problem here is that the time is wrong (should be 22:06), and furthermore my time zone is not CET (surprise - Germany!) but rather CST (east Asia). Suddenly, I realize that knx-hdinstall never did ask me for my time zone. Not only that, but on further investigation (with the command "hwclock --show") I discover that my hardware clock and system time are no longer the same (they were previously). That is to say, my hardware clock is now set to UTC while the system time is CET. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having the hardware clock and system time set on different time zones, it can play havoc when you have other operating systems on the same machine (because they might not be set up the same way).

To remedy the situation, I must issue the following commands (in this order):

1) tzconfig (set time zone)
2) date MMDDHHmmCCYY (change the date & time)
3) hwclock --localtime (set hardware clock to localtime)
4) hwclock --systohc (set system time to hardware clock)

Finally, I check it:

robert@sonic:~> hwclock --show
Thu Jan 1 22:25:13 2004 -0.639414 seconds

Tips, Tricks And Hints

I've already mentioned my dislike of VESA framebuffer mode. Now I want to banish it forever so that when I am at the console it will be in pure text mode. To do this, I become root with the "su" command and comment out the first line in /etc/lilo.conf that says:

vga=791

Still as root, I must then run the command "lilo" to write these settings. Next time I boot, VESA framebuffer mode will be gone for good.

As user robert, I edit/create files .bashrc and .bash_profile with the following content:

alias rm='rm -i'
alias cp='cp -i'
alias mv='mv -i'
set -o noclobber

alias startx='startx -- -dpi 100'

PS1="\u@\h:\w> "
export PS1

The first three lines force me to answer "yes/no" when I respectively remove, copy (overwrite) and move (overwrite) a file. The "set -o noclobber" parameter prevents me from overwriting a file with other commands such as "cat".

Tiny menu fonts are hard on my poor tired eyes. Rather than replace my eyeglass lenses with magnifying glass, I want to make the fonts larger. My above-mentioned "startx" alias will increase the font size significantly (I could use "120" instead of "100" but that would be ridiculously large). Note that this neat trick won't work unless you are starting X manually with "startx" (as opposed to automatic graphic login with gdm).

The lines containing "PS1" refer to my prompt at the command line. I really like a prompt that tells me what directory I'm in, like this:

robert@sonic:~/programs/python>

All of the above modifications that I've made to .bashrc and .bash_profile won't take effect until I log out and log back in again.

You Need Connections

It's time to connect to the outside world. I can do this with both a dial-out modem, or a high-speed ADSL modem using PPPOE (PPP over ethernet).

With KDE running, I can choose the menu "Internet", then the submenu "Connect". Here I will find a submenu "KPPP (Internet Dial-UP Tool)" and "ADSL/PPPOE Configuration". Both are pretty self-explanatory and you shouldn't have much trouble using them. However, if you are not logged in as either root or user "knoppix", then (whoever you are) you must belong to the groups "dialout" and "dip" - otherwise your attempt to configure these services will fail.

If you are not in KDE, but rather a light window manager such as Fluxbox, you can open an Xterm window and type "kppp" or "pppoeconf" depending on which device you want to configure.

PPPOE can be configured to connect at boot time, or you can configure it so that you turn it on/off as you need it. I prefer the latter. To turn it on, open an Xterm and type "pon dsl-provider" - to turn it off, "poff dsl-provider". Ordinary users can issue these commands only if they are members of groups "dialout" and "dip". A further requirement is that /usr/sbin/pppoe is set suid root, which can be done as follows:

chmod +s /usr/sbin/pppoe

To make sure this worked, check the permissions level:

robert@sonic:~> ls -l /usr/sbin/pppoe
-rwsr-xr-- 1 root dip 31020 Sep 17 03:13 /usr/sbin/pppoe

The above is now the default on Knoppix 3.3 (on earlier versions it was not).

Installing Programs
Despite Klaus's best efforts, there is just no way to squeeze a complete desktop distro onto a 700 MB CDROM, even with file compression. Fortunately, Knoppix is Debian-based, so you can use Debian's tools to add thousands of additional programs if you feel the need.

Debian is justifiably famous for it's APT (Advanced Package Management) system of managing software packages. You can install packages from a CDROM or directly from the Internet. The file which controls where Debian looks for packages is /etc/apt/sources.list. When you attempt to install a package, Debian will look in this file and seek the package from the first source it finds on the list (it is possible to have more than one source, just list them in order of preference).

I don't want to spend too much of this review explaining how Debian is structured, but an important point to remember is that Debian has three main branches - Stable, Testing, and Unstable (there is actually a fourth branch called Experimental, but let's not get into that). Since Knoppix is (mostly) based on Unstable, I was a little surprised to find that /etc/apt/sources.list had Stable and Testing listed first. You can edit this file and change the order, or maybe just comment out those sources you don't want to use. I would suggest backing up the original sources.list file before you do anything (maybe to /etc/apt/sources.list.old).

If you have a set of recent Debian Unstable CDROMs, you could use those to build a sources.list file, by typing this:

apt-cdrom -d /cdrom add

You'll be prompted to insert a CDROM in the drive. Do this in reverse order, starting from the highest (maybe CD No. 11) to the lowest (CD No. 1).

Once you've got sources.list configured to your satisfaction, you can start installing programs using the apt-get command. One thing you might want to install right away is a firewall program (Knoppix does not include one). I use Guarddog - to install this:

apt-get install guarddog

You then need to launch guarddog (as root) and set it up.

You can find a list of all Unstable packages on the Debian web site here. Another way to take a look at all the packages available for your distribution is to examine the database (this will depend on where your /etc/apt/sources.list is pointing) - do that with this command:

apt-cache search .

This will give you thousands of hits. It's probably more useful to be more specific. For example, if you want to know what packages are available for spell checking, you could try this:

apt-cache search spell

When you find something that looks interesting, you can get for more detail about it with the "apt-cache show" command:

apt-cache show ispell

Finally, if you don't like all this command-line crap, install the package "synaptic" - it will give you a nice graphic interface for installing and deleting packages.

You've Got Mail
Kmail is the default email client with Knoppix, and it does a commendable job. If you'd rather try something else, some other notable options are Sylpheed, Evolution, and Mozilla Thunderbird.

I receive hundreds of email messages a day. Some of this comes from friends and acquaintances, while the majority is mail from mailing lists that I subscribe to. I also get quite a few generous offers from vendors telling me where I can buy Valium without a prescription, how to get my colon cleaned, various methods to make money fast, get out of debt, lose weight now, or enlarge my body parts. I even occasionally receive greetings from various former African dictators who want to send me $10 million.

Much as I would like to take advantage of these fantastic bargains, I just don't have time. Therefore, I employ a relatively little-known program called Mailfilter. It is not difficult to use. You first set up a list of filter rules, and then run the command "mailfilter" - it will go online and delete all the unwanted crap in your mailbox without you having to download any of it. You can set a maximum size for your messages - any message that exceeds it will be deleted (a good way to avoid downloading those 10 MB digital photos of Aunt Tilly's French poodle). On the other hand, if you really want to see Aunt Tilly's French poodle, you can exempt her from the filter rules. Mailfilter is one of those programs that has changed my life.

Also worth looking at are Pop3browser and Popcheck - these allow you to interactively view your mailbox and delete files you don't want to download.

Conclusion
I downloaded Knoppix on Christmas day, and (all jokes aside about gifts from Santa Klaus), I am very grateful to Mr. Knopper for the fine piece of work he has produced.

Knoppix is a stunning distro - just watching it boot gets people hopping like a kangaroo on steroids. I can think of no better way to tempt your Windows-addicted friends to try Linux than to hand them a Knoppix disk. The way Knoppix auto-configures all your hardware without intervention is awesome. The fact that this distro is as free as air is another strong selling point.

Installation to the hard disk is not difficult, but a total n00b might find the configuration a little bit tricky. Knoppix was never really intended to become a desktop distro - but then again Viagra wasn't intended for its current usage (it was developed as a drug to treat heart problems, before certain "side effects" were discovered). In the everyday world, there are now probably more Knoppix installations being run from the hard drive than from a CDROM.

Having a portable Debian that I can carry around on a CD offers me instant gratification as long as I can find a computer with a CD drive installed. The fact that Knoppix can perform extra duty as a rescue disk is just icing on the cake. As an advertisement for a well-known credit card company once said, "Don't leave home without it."

Copyright Notice
Copyright (C) 2004 Robert Storey

Re: Full text (4, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877523)

"Most people are just awe-struck the first time they see a Knoppix CD boot. Probably the thing that blows them away is the hardware auto-detection. There is really nothing to configure - just boot the CD, and two to three minutes later you have a beautiful desktop system. This is remarkable, given the lack of standards (and lack of driver documentation) that exists in the PC world."

I ache for Linux to be this way in general. I'm a Linux newb. I get nervous mucking around with conf files. (i.e. typos, formatting, and upper/lower case...) Knoppix was the first time I booted a Linux distro and got the right video mode. I was so happy with that. It just found everything. Makes one wonder: Why even go through a lengthy install? Why not copy the disc, boot, and auto-configure? Guess I'm just frustrated after spending a VERY long time installing Redhat.

Re:Wow... (-1, Troll)

bethane (686358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877396)

I have posted a Mirror [24.174.81.26] further up in the thread [slashdot.org]

Of course, it's Linux. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877436)

This would have never happened with a proper Microsoft distribution. I actually sympathise with you in hastening the Windows demise, because that's the day Linux will get a professional treatment, MS-Linux.

One Linux distro to rule them all: MS-Linux.

And guess what? MS will find a way to keep the proprietary stuff just that, proprietary and closed.

Smash Israel! (-1)

cmdr_shithead (527909) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877334)

Down with Zionism!

This is just part of the hoax. Read on... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877335)

CREATORS ADMIT UNIX, C HOAX COMPUTERWORLD 4 January In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April Fools prank kept alive for over 20 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following: ``In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early release of Pascal from Professor Nichlaus Wirth's ETH labs in Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and power. Dennis had just finished reading `Bored of the Rings', a hilarious National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien `Lord of the Rings' trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risque allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called `A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C. We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax: for(;P("\n"),R-;P("|"))for(e=C;e-;P("_"+(*u++/8)%2 ))P("| "+(*u/4)%2); To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension! We actually thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T and other US corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C! It has taken them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate even marginally useful applications using this 1960's technological parody, but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense) of the general Unix and C programmer. In any event, Brian, Dennis and I have been working exclusively in Pascal on the Apple Macintosh for the past few years and feel really guilty about the chaos, confusion and truly bad programming that have resulted from our silly prank so long ago.'' Major Unix and C vendors and customers, including AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, GTE, NCR, and DEC have refused comment at this time. Borland International, a leading vendor of Pascal and C tools, including the popular Turbo Pascal, Turbo C and Turbo C++, stated they had suspected this for a number of years and would continue to enhance their Pascal products and halt further efforts to develop C. An IBM spokesman broke into uncontrolled laughter and had to postpone a hastily convened news conference concerning the fate of the RS-6000, merely stating `VM will be available Real Soon Now'. In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct. In a related late-breaking story, usually reliable sources are stating that a similar confession may be forthcoming from William Gates concerning the MS-DOS and Windows operating environments. And IBM spokesman have begun denying that the Virtual Machine (VM) product is an internal prank gone awry.

I used knoppix at bestbuy (5, Interesting)

mfchater (681560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877337)

I used a knoppix cd at best buy when looking for a new laptop. The salesman told me that I would not be able to run a linux distro on the toshiba Satelite p25-s607. I was happy to find out upon inserting the cd that I could indeed run linux. This was approx 3 months ago and the salesman said they wouldn't have drivers out for the video card for 6 months, of course he was wrong.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (5, Interesting)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877355)

Would be an interesting way to promote linux - make a dozen copies of Knoppix and slip them in Bestbuy computers, restart them.

Voila!

(smirk) Not sure the salespeople would appreciate it, though.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877368)

Why not distribute them like AOL CDs on rewritable media? At least if the person isn't interested they can do something useful with their plastic.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (1)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877417)

" Why not distribute them like AOL CDs on rewritable media? At least if the person isn't interested they can do something useful with their plastic."

Probably due to the incredible cost of that plan. It would cost millions that could be better spent fueling development. Maybe if AOL disks were a bootable distro with AOL, OpenOffice, and maybe some games, then you'd be in business.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877421)

Thats why they call them Best Lie.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (2, Interesting)

mfchater (681560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877437)

Actually it was a version of knoppix, knoppix std. Also, the best buy salesman wasn't happy that I was wanting to use an outside cd to boot the computer. I just told him I wasn't spending 2800.00 on a computer that couldn't do the things I needed it to do.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (4, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877478)

"I used a knoppix cd at best buy when looking for a new laptop. The salesman told me that I would not be able to run a linux distro on the toshiba Satelite p25-s607."

Back when Pentiums first came out, I went to a Circuit City and wrote a quick little Quickbasic app that drew random lines on the screen as fast as it could. This was a test I did at home as well, just wanted to get a feel for how much faster this would be than my 486. A salesman came over and told me to get away from the computer. He thought I was up to no good.

Have times changed? Maybe... But I would urge caution when going to a computer store and booting up Knoppix, maybe go grab a salesguy and say "I'd like to do this, cool?" I imagine stores that show computers like this have had to deal with their fair share of people trying to break the system.

Re:I used knoppix at bestbuy (1)

usdrowe (684703) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877562)

I've been looking for linux video card drivers for that laptop (Toshiba P25) that support the maximum resolution. Where did you find them?

A thorough review of his server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877339)



melting with poor tcp
nothing like a good /.'ing to understand your servers requirements

BitTorrent link... (5, Informative)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877342)

Here's where to get it quickly, via the official BitTorrent: http://torrent.unix-ag.uni-kl.de:6969/ [uni-kl.de] .

The torrents are pretty fast; faster than the mirrors in my personal experience.

It seems like... (5, Funny)

jdhutchins (559010) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877343)

he's running whatever server this article is on off of one of those machines sitting on the store shelf, based on it responsiveness.

Cool (1)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877346)

Never thought of taking a knoppix distro to shop with-neat idea. I like Knoppix cause you don't have to partition anything, and with modern CD drives, it runs fast enough for me.

Re:Cool (4, Interesting)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877445)

I've done it before with both Phlak .20 and PCLinuxOS pr4. It's pretty interesting to see what can/will boot and what absolutely refuses to. I was 'caught' doing it at Compusa and all the salespeople started gathering around. Nobody had ever seen linux being used before and was surprised at how windows-ish it was.

The kicker came when they found out it was free. I ended up giving both cds away to people that wanted to play with it at home.

Re:Cool (1)

RdsArts (667685) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877475)

I did. The fun thing is that most stores won't let you even try it on their hardware. (After all, it could installed something, or destroy the demo unit, or eat the CEO's lunch, or cause baby Jesus to cry. Anything is possible) Brought a CD wallet with Knoppix and my Net and FreeBSD install disks with me just incase the employees weren't watching^W^W^W^W they let me try them and see a dmesg on 'em. ;)

Which would have helped me avoid this laptop. PCMCIA slots cause system crashes unless I treat them with kid gloves, the USB seems to have problems, and it's way to fast.... Well, I guess it's not all bad. ;)

Personally, if I get another desktop, it'd probably be a PegasosPPC [pegasosppc.com] based system. They list not only multiple GNU/Linux distros as supported, but QNX and OpenBSD, with a FreeBSD port in the works, so it helps keep down some of the guess work. If only they made laptops...

How geeky is that ? (1)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877350)

Some people even take a Knoppix disk with them when they go shopping for a new computer.

Give me a break, we are only at the beginning of 2004.

jdif

Re:How geeky is that ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877493)

What's wrong with that? It's far better than getting headaches when your hardware isn't fully supported... Seems like a perfectly logical thing to do...

Rescue (2, Insightful)

vpscolo (737900) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877352)

Knoppix comes in very handy when around and about as it will get your out of virtually any hole (short of rm -rf). Unstabled for debian doesn't mean things crash, it just means that they have not been totally tested to be totally stable

it deserves the hype (4, Insightful)

bdaehlie (537484) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877353)

Knoppix really is amazing. I didn't understand all the hype before, but after a glorious performance recovering files from a horked Windows box, I make sure I always have a Knoppix CD around. Whenever Windows threatens to waste my time, its Knoppix to the rescue. Also - not only is Knoppix really good at what it does, it looks great too! Its a great way to show off Linux.

Re:it deserves the hype (2, Interesting)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877532)

At college we have some poorly run lab computers (most labs were run beautifully, except this one) that had one login account for everyone on the system. Some punk changed the password, so I just popped in Knoppix and surfed the Net that way w/o losing sleep over the insolent fool. Chalk up another win for Knoppix.

linux hardware test (4, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877356)

maybe this could be a good niche distro, a linux compatablity cd which does nothing except test a pc for compatablity with linux.

Re:linux hardware test (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877467)

PCLInuxOS 2k4 pr4 is a pretty good test of this, you can find it at pclinuxonline.com in the left hand column. It's basically mandrake 9.2 with a handful of tweaks so it has incredible hardware support. Phlak at phlak.org is a decent little distro for hardware testing as well. Both generally do well on laptops. Phlak won't boot on my desktop but it worked fine on every laptop I stuck it in...go figure.

Re:linux hardware test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877535)

Good but not perfect.

I have used several linux boot disks (knoppix, knoppix - std, penguinsleuth, etc.) they have all worked on my computer (PIII, 550, 512mb ram, 240mb hdds, win2k, ntfs, radeon 64, cd/dvd burner.) But when I tried to install mandrake 9.2 there was some incompatibility that caused the gui to fail.

KnoppiXBox? (5, Funny)

R33MSpec (631206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877363)

Now all we need is a Knoppix distro that loads automatically onto a demonstration Xbox at your nearest major retailer!

Oh the fun you could have especially if your playing on a big screen surrounded by huge Xbox signage!

Not yet (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877554)

Now all we need is a Knoppix distro that loads automatically onto a demonstration Xbox at your nearest major retailer!

Not yet. The Xbox-Linux people haven't learned how to mod the Xbox entirely through the optical drive. Besides, the demo consoles at the places where I shop are locked behind glass.

Re:KnoppiXBox? (1)

Aliencow (653119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877604)

Interesting exploit you got there. (I'm talking to the parent's other children..)

KNDFFS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877374)

Knoppix is Not Debian For Fuck's Sake.

Please don't come to #debian channel and split your guts right out yelling that Knoppix comes from Debian so you've right to ask Knoppix's questions there.

SLASHDOT LICKS DOG POOCH (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877378)

Fuckers

Need bootable USB (5, Interesting)

fastdecade (179638) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877380)

(Slashdotted already?)

Well, knoppix CD is great, but with 256MB (and more?) USB keys out there, I wish more BIOS's would allow booting from USB, it'd be so nice to walk into a net cafe, pull linux out of my pocket or USB watch, and then read mail with mutt in X-Windows while surfing with my own damn bookmarks. And not having to close the last guy's chat session and assorted porn popups? Priceless.

woot (-1, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877387)

Some people even take a Knoppix disk with them when they go shopping for a new computer

Yeah, and some people dies from a colon infection brought on by sexual impalement.

My Knoppix Problems (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877388)

I decided, after hearing so much about Knoppix and how it could get me into using Linux without all the fuss (partitions? what? geez) I thought I'd give it a go.

I was not impressed to say the least.

I booted the operating system and then started work on an essay on the ontological beliefs of Heraclitus of Ephesos. First of all starting OpenOffice.org ('.org' at the end of an application name? What's with that?) took incredibly long. I could have installed my copy (yes, it's legit and paid for) of Windows Millenium Edition in the time it took to boot Knoppix and start OpenOffice.org. Anyway it was to my surprise that even though I saved this file to my 'Desktop', the next time I booted Knoppix it was nowhere to be found. So now my philosophy 521 paper was missing -- needless to say I booted into Windows Millenium Edition (where files don't just god damned disappear) and rewrote the paper, printed it (couldn't get that working in Knoppix either) and haven't looked back.

I really like the idea of cooperation and open source software, the community idea seems really neat, and I hope these guys get their stuff together so regular guys like me can use this software at the efficiency and reliability that professional software offers.

Re:My Knoppix Problems (1)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877456)

I think the solution to your problem(s) would be semi obvios. First off, if your booting from the cd-rom, the only way you could possibly save to your desktop is if Knoppix created a ramdisk as a temp HD(you just said it doesn't use partitions). Thus, powering down your computer would kill that. Next, booting of a cd-rom is never fast. Lets compare the speed: CD-Rom Drive : 52x Max (above might have been using a slow model) Hard Drive : Usually around 7200x although, some 5400x are around today. Plus, the harddisk has a lot more per plader. 52x a small cd-rom track, or 7200x a huge hd track. That would make up for the boot time. Install linux to your HD... It will boot quite a bit faster. Plus, certain CD-R's don't operate at full 52x. Install to HD. No missing files (no viruses or crashes either), and a boot time similar to XP (a little longer but restarting less then 1/year it doesn't really matter). To be truthfull, I wouldn't find it practical to run of a cd-rom boot. I installed Mandrake to harddrive. Disk Drake created partitions for me without frying my NTFS Partition(thats right, non destructive resizing built into the install). Then, it booted and hasn't crashed yet. I've installed linux and never looked back. Trust me, Windows works pretty good, but once you get the right Linux setup, there is no comparison.

Re:My Knoppix Problems (1)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877537)

I saw some mention of Knoppix running off of a udf file system using a CD-RW drive. I seems it would easy enough to slip in a small read/write home directory. You could save your configuration and still not have to touch the hard drive.

Re:My Knoppix Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877545)

I agree with most of your post and the grandparent obviously doesn't understand some basic computer organization concepts. But your comparison of hard drive speed to cdrom is wrong. Speeds of hard drives are not 7200x and 5400x, they are 7200 RPM and 5400 RPM. To compare the 7200 RPM speed to 52x cdroms is wrong because obviously cdroms do not spin at 52 RPM. (Imagine the 1x speeds if it did!)

Re:My Knoppix Problems (3, Insightful)

Pyro226 (715818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877553)

OK, you're just way off here. First off, Hard Drives do not run at 7200 and 5400 x, they run at 7200 and 5400 revolutions per minute (RPM). CD-ROM speeds, are measured in X's, but these X's don't correspond (directly) to a certain RPM, they refer to the speed of the drive where 1x is the regular play speed of an Audio CD. 1x for data is considered to be 150 Kbps (Kilo BITS per second). Based on this, a 52x CD-ROM would get 7.8 Mbps, or just under 1 Megabyte a second.

Hard Drives using the the latest IDE can get 133 Megabyters per second BURST transfers, but even good ones usually only get 50 Megs SUSTAINED transfer.

Despite your screwy numbers, Hard Drives really are much faster for loading operating systems. But the other place you screw up is that you forget what Knoppix is all about - A bootable linux distro would be a lot less convienient if you had to carry it around on a hard drive and open up computers you wanted to use it on.

Re:My Knoppix Problems (4, Informative)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877600)

52x Max (above might have been using a slow model) Hard Drive : Usually around 7200x

These aren't comparable measurements at all.. The x in cdrom speeds is how many times faster it is than the original "1x" cdroms, and harddrive speed isn't measured in X's at all its in revolution's. You can't just add an X to the end of a harddrive speed and expect to compare it to a cdrom drive.

TROLL FROM MONTHS AGO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877490)

This Troll shows up wherever Knoppix is discussed... don't get sucked in.

Re:My Knoppix Problems (2, Interesting)

emtilt (618098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877571)

OpenOffice.org was orginally called OpenOffice, but there were legal problems that forced them to add the .org because of a previously existing product with that name.

Slashdotted? (0, Informative)

Aenb (737881) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877393)

Original server is getting slow, see http://24.174.81.26/review.php [24.174.81.26]

Re:Slashdotted? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877409)

I think you need to fix your redirect script. I have clicked on your link multiple times and not gotten to goatse, tubgirl, lemonparty, etc. once.

Re:Slashdotted? (1)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877501)

Warning, the above link is not what it appears. It attempts to redirect to various website that you do not want to vist (hint hint: goatse). But, before you can ever reach those, so many pop ups pop up that it would freeze a windows computer. I never got a chance at looking at the source, but I'm guessing its just a java loop generating pop up windows. This usually will freeze Win 9x computers, so don't click it.

Knoppix users buying computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877406)

Which knoppix users are the ones buying retail computers? Aren't most building them themselves? Maybe a laptop, but... sheesh.

Take a Mepis disk too (4, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877416)

Its by far a much better setup then plain knoppix. Well thought out and 'professional'.

Not to knock knoppix as Klaus has given birth to the *practical* live CD movement, but its still has the 'feel' of a toy..

Hmmmmm or have some fun and boot one off cluster knoppix and PXE the rest of the building...

Knoppix and a Gig of Ram (5, Interesting)

Pyro226 (715818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877427)

The newer (3.3 and up I think) versions of knoppix have a cool feature where the entire knoppix CD is loaded into ram. My friends computer has 1024 megs of ram, so we tried it out. It was so incredibly fast; Open Office barely took any time to load.

I don't know if his top of the line, hyperthreaded P4 had a big impact, because I don't know hard it is to decompress the cloop compression knoppix uses. But if you have a computer with a gig or more of ram you should give it a try.

best (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877434)

best tip/trick w/knoppix disk:
mount -o dev /dev/hdaX
chroot /dev/hdaX
lilo -v

used it many times, had to re-install lilo after windows got corrupt, forgot to run lilo, AFTER editing lilo.conf. A real life saver. Afterall, who REALLY makes linux rescue disks anymore?:)

Re:best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877624)

Afterall, who REALLY makes linux rescue disks anymore?
Well, obviously Klaus Knopper does - Knoppix ;)

Just hope you don't test it on a PC w/ an LG CDROM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877453)

Just hope you don't test it on a PC w/ an LG CDROM. Remember SUSE? I saw Gentro wreck a CD as well.

Re:Just hope you don't test it on a PC w/ an LG CD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877529)

That was Mandrake, not SuSE.

What could you steal? (1)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877455)

I wonder what sort of data you could steal from store PCs with Knoppix and a USB storage device?

Re:What could you steal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877533)

I wonder what sort of data you could steal from store PCs with Knoppix and a USB storage device?

The way you present your query, it could be interpreted as flamebait. It is, however, a valid question. I have found that the Knoppix distro is a great tool for comandeering someone elses computer. Quite fun.

Re:What could you steal? (2, Funny)

Goldfinger7400 (630228) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877542)

I wonder what sort of data you could steal from store PCs with Knoppix and a USB storage device?

h3llo this isa test of word...

Re:What could you steal? (1)

agent dero (680753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877569)

If any valuable data is on a store PC, it should be stolen.

We should enforce a 'stupid-penalty'

Article Text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877461)

Something For Everyone
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
-- Charles Duell, Commissioner of US Patent Office, 1899

In these modern times it seems that there is a product to suit every whim and fancy. Whether you need a miniature Statue of Liberty with a clock in her (its?) stomach or a stuffed alligator with a light bulb in its mouth, you can rest assured that somebody somewhere is marketing it.

When it comes to software, much the same situation prevails. There are applications that do everything from psychoanalysis (in Emacs hit M-x and type "doctor"), to helping you contact alien civilizations (SETI@Home).

Operating systems are not immune to this tendency towards specialization. Notepads, cell phones and perhaps your DVD player all have specialized operating systems. At the height of the dotcom bubble, there were pundits predicting that soon your online refrigerator would have an operating system, the purpose of which was allegedly to order milk when you needed it. Just why you couldn't buy your own damn milk was never explained to us.

And finally we come to Linux distributions. There are different distros for different purposes. Desktop Linux (in many flavors), server Linux, embedded Linux, Linux routers, Linux BIOS, Linux on the Halfshell. And every so often, somebody comes up with a whole new use for Linux that just makes everybody sort of just stop in their tracks and say, "Cool!" Which brings me (you are still with me, aren't you?) to the topic of this article - Knoppix.

Live From Germany
Knoppix is a "live CD" distro - just boot it and use it. You do need a CD drive of course, but you don't need a hard disk. The implications of this are significant. It means you have a portable Linux that you can take with you wherever you go. This can be used in a number of innovative ways - as a demo disk, as a rescue disk, as a way to use Linux at your local Windows-only Internet cafe. Some people even take a Knoppix disk with them when they go shopping for a new computer, a clever way to ensure that the hardware will be Linux compatible before you purchase it.

To be fair, Knoppix was not the first live CD ever created. Apple, for example, distributed MacOS (even before OSX) on a live CD. Linux has had DemoLinux, SUSE Live-Eval and Cool Linux, as well as some others. But none of these have come close to the functionality of Knoppix, which could justifiably claim the title as "first useful live CD." Even though Knoppix has inspired a number of clones (Gnoppix, Morphix, Freeduc, Quantian, to name a few), it still remains the most popular live CD distro by far.

Most people are just awe-struck the first time they see a Knoppix CD boot. Probably the thing that blows them away is the hardware auto-detection. There is really nothing to configure - just boot the CD, and two to three minutes later you have a beautiful desktop system. This is remarkable, given the lack of standards (and lack of driver documentation) that exists in the PC world.

Knoppix took the Linux world by storm in late 2002, but actually it's history is a little bit longer than that. Klaus Knopper of Germany started his experiment with "Knopper's *nix" about three years ago. As he tells the story, it wasn't his original intention to create a new Linux distro, but rather to learn how "el torito" (the booting mechanism on CDs) works, and how to get access to a whole CD from a minimal ramdisk system. However, his project soon attracted the attention of the LinuxTag association, which happily provided a mailing list and forum so that others could give their input. Though Klaus was (and still is) the solo developer of Knoppix, user feedback and bug-testing have helped make this distro the great success it is.

Deep Impact
Knoppix is one of the most up-to-date distros around. This is thanks to the fact that it is based on Sid, the "unstable" branch of Debian. Some people might be put off by the word "unstable," or the word "Sid" (the name of the mentally unstable kid in the movie "Toy Story"). Fortunately, in everyday use Knoppix is considerably more stable than many other distros (and infinitely more stable than many of the people who use it, including software reviewers).

Knoppix has had a deep impact on the Debian community. Though one could write a long list of praises about Debian, one notorious aspect of the distro has been its nightmarish installation program. This problem is being addressed, but at the moment it's still not resolved. The poor installer (as well as confusing text-based configuration utilities) has created a market opportunity for commercial Debian-based distros such Libranet, Xandros and Lindows. These are very worthy distros in their own right, but they do cost money. Knoppix, on the other hand, is free.

But wait, Knoppix only runs off a CD, right? Well, it was originally intended that way, but there was no way to hold back the raging tide of popular demand for a hard disk installer. Klaus himself felt that he had no time to work on that, so enthusiasts in the Knoppix community stepped forward to write a hard disk installation script. As it turns out, there were two such efforts, and the Knoppix CD now boasts two installation programs.

The Price Is Right
Knoppix comes on a single CD and is available as a free download from one of several mirrors which you can find listed at knoppix.com. Failing that, CDROMs can be ordered from numerous sources - again, look at knoppix.com for a list of vendors. As an example, LinuxCD.org offers the CD for US$1.99 plus shipping.

Also, don't be too surprised if your local computer Linux-friendly computer shop or computer bookstore has the CD. I personally acquired my first Knoppix CD at a back-alley computer bookshop for the equivalent of US$2. Given the rapidly growing popularity of Knoppix, don't be surprised to find the distro as a bonus CD attached to the cover of a Linux magazine.

Wherever you obtain Knoppix, you'll probably want the latest edition, and that is sometimes confusing. If you carefully monitor the download sites, you'll soon realize that a new *.iso file appears about monthly. What makes it confusing is that these frequently appearing files often have the same version number, following by a date. A typical file name looks like this:

KNOPPIX_V3.3-2003-11-19-EN.iso

Ideally, one would expect mini-releases to have different version numbers (ie Knoppix version 3.3-1, version 3.3-2, etc). However, as Klaus himself readily confesses, personal laziness plays a part - version numbers in all README and HTML files on the CD would have to be changed. Since Klaus programs this mammoth project all by himself (other than the occasional donated shell script), and because the release schedule is so frequent, he's taken the easy way out and just lists the build date on package name and boot screen. However, when a significant new change occurs, you are likely to see the version number bumped up by one digit. This commonly happens when a new release of KDE appears, not surprising since Knoppix is KDE-centric.

Giving Knoppix The Boot
There's not much more to starting up Knoppix than to put the CD into the drive and boot - or is there? Actually, when you first boot, you will be presented with a greeting screen, a few messages, and a prompt that says:

boot:

You could at this point just hit , but you are also advised to push "F2 for help". If you push the F2 panic button, you'll be presented with a list of 13 possible options that you could pass to the kernel by typing them at the boot prompt. For example, in order to get a US English-style keyboard (the default is German), you would type:

boot: knoppix lang=us

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the 13 suggested options displayed by the F2 key are not the only possibilities. There are many other options but there is not enough room on the screen to display them all. You are advised to look at the file knoppix-cheatcodes.txt which should be downloadable from the same place you got the Knoppix CD. Since we need to look at some of those cheatcodes right now, I've reproduced them below:

Screenshot 1: Cheatcodes

The option "floppyconfig" can be useful if you want to use settings which you saved to a floppy disk during a previous session. The settings could be used, for example, for setting up a network. The settings are saved in a script called knoppix.sh - there is an easy-to-use utility to do this called "saveconfig" (also located in the KDE menu under "KNOPPIX").

Screenshot 2: Saveconfig dialog

Once you've typed your cheatcodes (if any), hit and watch the fun begin. Though invisible to the user, beneath the surface a lot is going on. Of prime interest is the hardware detection, which surprisingly relies on Red Hat's "kudzu" utility rather than Debian's "discover." The success rate of full hardware detection on a desktop machine is estimated to be at least 95%, but laptops are more troublesome, and Klaus estimates that perhaps only 75% of laptop bootups are trouble-free. This doesn't mean the machine won't boot, but it could mean that a certain piece of hardware (such as those notorious winmodems) may not be properly detected. Sound cards are also a potential trouble spot, though it can be argued that this is not a fatal flaw. With a little bit of luck, no user intervention should be required to get a perfectly configured system. If your machine is connected to a DHCP server, Knoppix will automatically get an IP address so you'll be network enabled.

One of the nice little surprises about Knoppix that you'll have about 1.8 GB of programs at your disposal, even though the CD only holds 700 MB of data. This is thanks to compression. SCSI emulation is built in, so if you have an IDE CD-R drive, it should work and you'll be able to burn CDs with the included K3b program.

Knoppix To The Rescue
Let us say I've forgotten the root password. To recover it, I could edit file /etc/shadow (don't try this until you've backed it up!) and remove all the characters between the first two colons in the line that begins with "root":

root:kX6yfIHgbljds:12407:0:99999:7::: ...could be edited to become...

root::12407:0:99999:7:::

Next time I boot up, root can then login without a password. And then I could use the "passwd" command to create a new password. The only question is: How can I edit /etc/shadow if I don't know the root password? The answer, of course, is to boot with a rescue disk - I will then have root privileges. In other words, Knoppix to the rescue.

Most people with enough geek background to use a rescue disk would probably like to get a text-mode console logged in as root. This is eminently possible with a Knoppix CD. As mentioned, when you first boot, you are delivered to a boot prompt where you are permitted to pass some options to the kernel. The options I use are as follows:

boot: knoppix 2 lang=us vga=normal

The "2" after "knoppix" means run-level 2, which is text-mode. There is simply no need to load X and the full KDE desktop if all you want is perform a rescue operation. The "lang=us" part is because I prefer a US-style keyboard rather than the default German system. The "vga=normal" parameter will prevent the VESA framebuffer from loading (which is the default). Although framebuffer mode will stock a nice penguin in the upper-left portion of your screen, it will also do funny things with the text on screen - in particular, on my laptop it makes the login-prompt disappear off the bottom of the screen (other people have found that their screen goes blank when VESA framebuffer loads).

Occasionally, some users report seeing an error message like this:

hdb: read_intr: status=0x59 { DriveReady SeekComplete DataRequest
Error hdb: read_intr: error=0x10 { SectorIdNotFound },
LBAsect=256902992

This is caused by a bad CD (remember that in Linux, no messages are good messages). You can test the CD by typing "knoppix testcd" at the "boot:" prompt.

After typing in my parameters at the "boot:" prompt and hitting , I am soon delivered to a prompt that says this:

root@tty1[/]#

I am now logged in as root with all the utilities of a full Knoppix distro at my disposal. For me this is particularly cool, because one of the programs on the CD is Emacs, my favorite editor. In practically all other distros, the only editor available at the rescue prompt is Vi. While I don't wish to ignite a flame-fest over the relative merits of Emacs vs. Vi, I do find it very beneficial to have my preferred editor at my disposal when I'm attempting to rescue a borked installation. Some other included editors are Vim, Joe, Nedit and Kedit.

If you are trying to edit a file on your hard disk, you'll need to mount the partition that has the particular file you want to edit. If you don't happen to know what partitions you have, you can find out by looking in Knoppix's /etc/fstab file:

Screenshot 3: /etc/fstab

What's interesting here are the lines below the comments labeled "Added by KNOPPIX". What /etc/fstab is showing us here are the partitions on the hard drive. As you can see in this example, there are six partitions (/dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, /dev/hda3, /dev/hda5, /dev/hda6, /dev/hda7). Knoppix finds these by running "fdisk -l", but (unfortunately) this will fail if your hard disk geometry is wrong. Such a thing is possible. At the risk of being flamed into ashes - I can say that I've personally noticed that installing FreeBSD 5.x on a machine with Linux partitions often results in an incorrect geometry setting (I'm not sure why).

Now that you know what partitions are available, you can mount the one which is causing you grief. Let us say that I need to correct a misconfigured file on /dev/hda3. I could mount the partition like this:

root@tty1[/]# mount /dev/hda3 /mnt/hda3

I can then "cd" to that partition:

root@tty1[/]# cd /dev/hda3

You now have access to this partition and may use whatever rescue tools you deem fit. In the above example, I will use Emacs to edit /etc/shadow and remove the root password.

Installation To The Hard Drive
Once you've played with the Knoppix live CD, you might decide you like it so much that you want to install it to the hard drive. Unfortunately, Knoppix does not provide an "Install Me" button (though the idea has been suggested). Nevertheless, installation to the hard disk is eminently possible.

Christian Perle was the first volunteer to step forward and write a hard disk installation script for Knoppix. His script, knx-hdinstall, is very simple to use. This fine effort was later reworked by Fabian Franz who wrote knoppix-installer, which has more features (including a "Previous" button which lets you backtrack to previous menus). Both knx-hdinstall and knoppix-installer are now included on the Knoppix CD, so your first decision is to decide which one you'd like to use. I personally prefer the simplicity of knx-hdinstall, though it does lack the convenience of a "back" button.

So without further ado, put the CD into the drive and boot. At the "boot:" prompt, type the parameters you prefer, which in my case (once again) are:

boot: knoppix 2 lang=us vga=normal

and hit . You will now be at a root console. The application you want to run is knx-hdinstall (which is located in /usr/local/bin, and already in your PATH).

root@tty1[/]# knx-hdinstall

After this step, "cfdisk" is launched which will allow you to partition your hard drive. One thing worth knowing is the knx-hdinstall only allows you to install Knoppix in one partition - the "/" (root) partition, plus you are also able to add a swap partition. For most people this will do fine, but there are people who like to create fancy partitioning schemes (separate partitions for /, /boot, /home, /tmp, /usr, /var, /opt and swap. This has important security implications, and is recommended if you're running a server, but most desktop users will not suffer for having only two partitions. If you really do need so many separate partitions, then you probably shouldn't be running Knoppix.

You should make your root partition at least 3 GB (I personally prefer at least 5 GB). Knoppix will install 1.8 GB of files in that partition, but Linux partitions should never be more than 80% full (to allow space for automatic defragmenting). Besides, your personal data will take up some space, and if you burn CDs you'll need at least 700 MB for a temporary ISO file.

I recommend a swap partition of about 400 MB.

After you've created your root and swap partitions and saved, you are asked if you want to use a swap partition (definitely recommended). You first tell the installer where you want the swap partition to be located, and then you are asked where to mount the root partition. After this you have no more immediate decisions to make - knx-hdinstall begins installing everything on the CD to the hard drive. The installation is about as simple as it gets (almost too simple since you have only a few options available).

Once all the files are copied, you are asked a series of questions. Below are the questions, and the answers I chose:

Do you want to start the mail server (smail) at system boot?
Do you want to start the secure shell server (sshd) at system boot?
Do you want to start the samba server (smbd/nmbd) at system boot?
Do you want to start the cups server (cupsd) at system boot?
Do you want to start kdm (graphical login) at system boot?
Give a host name for this machine (without domain appended):
Use DHCP broadcast?
Please enter IP Address for eth0.
Please enter netmask for eth0.
Please enter broadcast address for eth0.
Please enter Default Gateway.
Please enter Nameserver(s).
Set a password for user root (input is not displayed). ********
Set password for user knoppix. ********
Do you want to install the boot loader (LILO) into the master boot record (MBR)?
Do you want to create a boot floppy (recommended)?

First Time Boot
You can remove the CD now and reboot. If you chose to install LILO in the MBR (master boot record), you should get a menu prompt allowing you to choose between booting "Linux" or (possibly) "Windows". If you had other Linux distros or the *BSDs installed on other partitions, these will not be shown (you'll have to edit /etc/lilo.conf to add additional OSs).

Knoppix boots fast - on my machine it takes 23 seconds (by contrast, SUSE takes 53 seconds). One reason for the fast boot is that few services are loaded by default.

You will have a choice of logging in either as root or user "knoppix" (you did remember the passwords you chose, didn't you?). The safer thing to do is log in as knoppix.

The default window manager is KDE, but there are other options - Window Maker (wmaker), Ice Window Manager (icewm), Fluxbox (fluxbox) and XFce (xfce). Notably absent is Gnome - there is simply no way to fit it on the Knoppix CD. Presumably you'll start with KDE. At your first login, you'll be greeted by "Kpersonalizer", the KDE configuration wizard. The only two important questions you'll be asked come first:

1) "Please choose your country" - if you are an English speaker, it's best to choose "C".

2) "Please choose your language" - I chose "English US".

The other questions all relate to style and appearance, and I'm happy enough with the defaults. However, despite having chosen English as my preferred language, I still found that in an Xterm I had a German keyboard. To change this, work through these menus:

Settings-Control Center-Regional & Accessibility-Keyboard Layout

The keyboard that worked for me was:
Generic 105-key (intl) PC
U.S. English w/ ISO9995-3

After this, I used KDE's tools to add user "robert" (rather than always being either "root" or user "knoppix"). To do this, open the menu "System" then "Kuser" (KDE's user manager) and type the root password when prompted - you can then add a new user. One thing you must consider is what groups you want this new user to belong to. By way of comparison, user "knoppix" is a privileged character, belonging to all the following groups: audio, cdrom, fax, floppy, games, dialout, dip, sudo, tape, usb, users, video, and voice. I decide to let my new user "robert" belong to the groups cdrom, dialout, dip, sudo and users.

Having done this, I log out and log back in as user "robert". I start Emacs, then create a new hidden file called .xinitrc which contains only one line:

exec fluxbox

I then save and exit Emacs. I log out of KDE and log back in again - now when X starts, I am in Fluxbox, which I prefer to KDE.

Aunt Tilly's Printer
CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) offers an easy way to configure a printer. During installation, I said "yes" to the question "start the cups server (cupsd) at system boot?" Now, to complete the configuration I must open a browser (Konqueror and Mozilla both do nicely) and then type this url:

http://localhost:631

I then click on "Printers", name my printer "Epson" and assign it to /dev/lp0. I chose the correct printer driver from the list, and print a test page. Quick success. Gosh, all this Linux stuff is easy - even Aunt Tilly could administer her own Knoppix machine.

Time Waits For No One
I spoke too soon. Surely Aunt Tilly wouldn't be able to figure out my next problem.

I quickly discover that my clock setting is wrong. When I open an Xterm and type "date", I get this:

robert@sonic:~> date
Thu Jan 1 15:06:40 CET 2004

The problem here is that the time is wrong (should be 22:06), and furthermore my time zone is not CET (surprise - Germany!) but rather CST (east Asia). Suddenly, I realize that knx-hdinstall never did ask me for my time zone. Not only that, but on further investigation (with the command "hwclock --show") I discover that my hardware clock and system time are no longer the same (they were previously). That is to say, my hardware clock is now set to UTC while the system time is CET. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having the hardware clock and system time set on different time zones, it can play havoc when you have other operating systems on the same machine (because they might not be set up the same way).

To remedy the situation, I must issue the following commands (in this order):

1) tzconfig (set time zone)
2) date MMDDHHmmCCYY (change the date & time)
3) hwclock --localtime (set hardware clock to localtime)
4) hwclock --systohc (set system time to hardware clock)

Finally, I check it:

robert@sonic:~> hwclock --show
Thu Jan 1 22:25:13 2004 -0.639414 seconds

Tips, Tricks And Hints
I've already mentioned my dislike of VESA framebuffer mode. Now I want to banish it forever so that when I am at the console it will be in pure text mode. To do this, I become root with the "su" command and comment out the first line in /etc/lilo.conf that says:

vga=791

Still as root, I must then run the command "lilo" to write these settings. Next time I boot, VESA framebuffer mode will be gone for good.

As user robert, I edit/create files .bashrc and .bash_profile with the following content:

alias rm='rm -i'
alias cp='cp -i'
alias mv='mv -i'
set -o noclobber

alias startx='startx -- -dpi 100'

PS1="\u@\h:\w> "
export PS1

The first three lines force me to answer "yes/no" when I respectively remove, copy (overwrite) and move (overwrite) a file. The "set -o noclobber" parameter prevents me from overwriting a file with other commands such as "cat".

Tiny menu fonts are hard on my poor tired eyes. Rather than replace my eyeglass lenses with magnifying glass, I want to make the fonts larger. My above-mentioned "startx" alias will increase the font size significantly (I could use "120" instead of "100" but that would be ridiculously large). Note that this neat trick won't work unless you are starting X manually with "startx" (as opposed to automatic graphic login with gdm).

The lines containing "PS1" refer to my prompt at the command line. I really like a prompt that tells me what directory I'm in, like this:

robert@sonic:~/programs/python>

All of the above modifications that I've made to .bashrc and .bash_profile won't take effect until I log out and log back in again.

You Need Connections
It's time to connect to the outside world. I can do this with both a dial-out modem, or a high-speed ADSL modem using PPPOE (PPP over ethernet).

With KDE running, I can choose the menu "Internet", then the submenu "Connect". Here I will find a submenu "KPPP (Internet Dial-UP Tool)" and "ADSL/PPPOE Configuration". Both are pretty self-explanatory and you shouldn't have much trouble using them. However, if you are not logged in as either root or user "knoppix", then (whoever you are) you must belong to the groups "dialout" and "dip" - otherwise your attempt to configure these services will fail.

If you are not in KDE, but rather a light window manager such as Fluxbox, you can open an Xterm window and type "kppp" or "pppoeconf" depending on which device you want to configure.

PPPOE can be configured to connect at boot time, or you can configure it so that you turn it on/off as you need it. I prefer the latter. To turn it on, open an Xterm and type "pon dsl-provider" - to turn it off, "poff dsl-provider". Ordinary users can issue these commands only if they are members of groups "dialout" and "dip". A further requirement is that /usr/sbin/pppoe is set suid root, which can be done as follows:

chmod +s /usr/sbin/pppoe

To make sure this worked, check the permissions level:

robert@sonic:~> ls -l /usr/sbin/pppoe
-rwsr-xr-- 1 root dip 31020 Sep 17 03:13 /usr/sbin/pppoe

The above is now the default on Knoppix 3.3 (on earlier versions it was not).

Installing Programs
Despite Klaus's best efforts, there is just no way to squeeze a complete desktop distro onto a 700 MB CDROM, even with file compression. Fortunately, Knoppix is Debian-based, so you can use Debian's tools to add thousands of additional programs if you feel the need.

Debian is justifiably famous for it's APT (Advanced Package Management) system of managing software packages. You can install packages from a CDROM or directly from the Internet. The file which controls where Debian looks for packages is /etc/apt/sources.list. When you attempt to install a package, Debian will look in this file and seek the package from the first source it finds on the list (it is possible to have more than one source, just list them in order of preference).

I don't want to spend too much of this review explaining how Debian is structured, but an important point to remember is that Debian has three main branches - Stable, Testing, and Unstable (there is actually a fourth branch called Experimental, but let's not get into that). Since Knoppix is (mostly) based on Unstable, I was a little surprised to find that /etc/apt/sources.list had Stable and Testing listed first. You can edit this file and change the order, or maybe just comment out those sources you don't want to use. I would suggest backing up the original sources.list file before you do anything (maybe to /etc/apt/sources.list.old).

If you have a set of recent Debian Unstable CDROMs, you could use those to build a sources.list file, by typing this:

apt-cdrom -d /cdrom add

You'll be prompted to insert a CDROM in the drive. Do this in reverse order, starting from the highest (maybe CD No. 11) to the lowest (CD No. 1).

Once you've got sources.list configured to your satisfaction, you can start installing programs using the apt-get command. One thing you might want to install right away is a firewall program (Knoppix does not include one). I use Guarddog - to install this:

apt-get install guarddog

You then need to launch guarddog (as root) and set it up.

You can find a list of all Unstable packages on the Debian web site here. Another way to take a look at all the packages available for your distribution is to examine the database (this will depend on where your /etc/apt/sources.list is pointing) - do that with this command:

apt-cache search .

This will give you thousands of hits. It's probably more useful to be more specific. For example, if you want to know what packages are available for spell checking, you could try this:

apt-cache search spell

When you find something that looks interesting, you can get for more detail about it with the "apt-cache show" command:

apt-cache show ispell

Finally, if you don't like all this command-line crap, install the package "synaptic" - it will give you a nice graphic interface for installing and deleting packages.

You've Got Mail
Kmail is the default email client with Knoppix, and it does a commendable job. If you'd rather try something else, some other notable options are Sylpheed, Evolution, and Mozilla Thunderbird.

I receive hundreds of email messages a day. Some of this comes from friends and acquaintances, while the majority is mail from mailing lists that I subscribe to. I also get quite a few generous offers from vendors telling me where I can buy Valium without a prescription, how to get my colon cleaned, various methods to make money fast, get out of debt, lose weight now, or enlarge my body parts. I even occasionally receive greetings from various former African dictators who want to send me $10 million.

Much as I would like to take advantage of these fantastic bargains, I just don't have time. Therefore, I employ a relatively little-known program called Mailfilter. It is not difficult to use. You first set up a list of filter rules, and then run the command "mailfilter" - it will go online and delete all the unwanted crap in your mailbox without you having to download any of it. You can set a maximum size for your messages - any message that exceeds it will be deleted (a good way to avoid downloading those 10 MB digital photos of Aunt Tilly's French poodle). On the other hand, if you really want to see Aunt Tilly's French poodle, you can exempt her from the filter rules. Mailfilter is one of those programs that has changed my life.

Also worth looking at are Pop3browser and Popcheck - these allow you to interactively view your mailbox and delete files you don't want to download.

Conclusion
I downloaded Knoppix on Christmas day, and (all jokes aside about gifts from Santa Klaus), I am very grateful to Mr. Knopper for the fine piece of work he has produced.

Knoppix is a stunning distro - just watching it boot gets people hopping like a kangaroo on steroids. I can think of no better way to tempt your Windows-addicted friends to try Linux than to hand them a Knoppix disk. The way Knoppix auto-configures all your hardware without intervention is awesome. The fact that this distro is as free as air is another strong selling point.

Installation to the hard disk is not difficult, but a total n00b might find the configuration a little bit tricky. Knoppix was never really intended to become a desktop distro - but then again Viagra wasn't intended for its current usage (it was developed as a drug to treat heart problems, before certain "side effects" were discovered). In the everyday world, there are now probably more Knoppix installations being run from the hard drive than from a CDROM.

Having a portable Debian that I can carry around on a CD offers me instant gratification as long as I can find a computer with a CD drive installed. The fact that Knoppix can perform extra duty as a rescue disk is just icing on the cake. As an advertisement for a well-known credit card company once said, "Don't leave home without it."

Copyright Notice
Copyright (C) 2004 Robert Storey
Verbatim copying and distribution of this article is permitted in any medium, provided this copyright notice is preserved.

I've done this before (3, Interesting)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877463)

and accidently (on purpose) left the Knoppix CD in machine. I love to watch people (especially the sales people) walk by and say "Cool, what's this". CD blanks are cheap enough now to do this.

Re:I've done this before (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877606)

this is not interesting. in fact, this is fucking retarded. I hope you die.

Re:I've done this before (1, Interesting)

Grimster (127581) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877625)

Imagine doing this in Best Buy then hanging out in the printer section nonchalantly watching over the shelves of printer cables as they try and figure out what's wrong, of course they're gonna start by doing the main (and for many only) troubleshooting they know how, reboot the machine. Of course being on cd it'll just bootup back into your fun and the hilarity continues.

Mmmm might just have to do this the next time I get bored and want to kill a few minutes. Maybe start a database of "how long it took them to either A: fix it or B: pull the display down and take it into their service department, or C: just turn it off and leave it off" with bonus marks for the lowpaydroid blaming it on a virus.

Dangerous (2, Funny)

flopsy mopsalon (635863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877479)

This Koppix looks like a good way for a hacker to go around taking over computers. In this age of terrorism, an attacker taking over computers at an airport, traffic light control center, or water treatment plant, could be especially dangerous. I hope the developers have put in appropriate safety measures to prevent this from happening.

Re:Dangerous (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877509)

Yeah, they've thought of that and built in a safety mechanism. On bootup, it asks the user whether they are Evil or not. If they say yes, it just powers down.

Re:Dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877549)

Give me a break!

A person with enough physical access to a computer to insert a CDROM, may aswell switch the machine off, or do other nasty things to it.

Sensitive machines (airport, water treatment) have to be physically secured; that where the danger lies.

Re:Dangerous (4, Insightful)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877565)

Ya know, this isn't just Knoppix. People would bring in Dreamcasts with custom boot CDs, hook them up to the network, and walk away. The DC would blast a hole in the firewall, and let the hacker in.
Despite of this obvious threat, Dreamcasts were not banned, nor made to implement stronger security measures. Why? Because if any device on a network, w/o a password or any type of authorization other than its physical location can destroy a firewall, then the network itself has larger problems to deal with. To me, this calls into question the assumption of trusted devices. In short, Knoppix cannot forsee it's use, thus placing the burden on those who create and administer networks to do so in a safe and responsible manner.

Re:Dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877635)

"I hope the developers have put in appropriate safety measures to prevent this from happening."

There are. If you are going to do anything evil, you will be forced to set the evil bit.

Re:Dangerous (2, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877636)

Illogical to worry about Knoppix rather than anything else being misused in that fashion. You could use any of 30 operating systems to "take over" most Wintel PCs and do something naughty. Or just run naughty software under the existing installed OS from CD. Better yet just yank out network cable & plug in your own evil network-equipped PDA or laptop and be naughty.

I take Debian 3.0 PC shopping! (1, Troll)

Debian Troll's Best (678194) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877519)

A self-booting distro is a great way of testing PC compatibility, and of course it won't upset the sales assistants who are obviously quite paranoid about customers installing strange software on their precious floor-models. But there are a few shortcomings of testing out PCs in this fashion. Since everything runs off the CD-ROM, how do you test the most important part of using a Debian-based distro...upgrading and installing software with apt-get?

A few months ago I was shopping around for a new PC (Bruce Perens was around at my place a while back to beg for scraps of food, but got excited and lost control of his bladder in close proximity to my ATX tower case). I found a local PC dealer that I liked the look of, but I couldn't be sure that the newish ATI Radeon 9800XT video card in it would be properly supported by apt-get. I asked the shop staff if they would mind if I brought in my own hard drive and do an install of Debian 3.0 onto it. They didn't mind at all (apparently Bruce Perens used to beg for food all the time at their store, so they were quite familiar with Debian).

They were really great about it. They even let me stay in the shop overnight to complete the Debian installation! Luckily I started it in the morning, otherwise I would have been there over the weekend as well! Anyway...by about lunchtime the next day I had Debian running sweet on their box, and began to test out apt-get. WOW is all I can say!!! That Radeon 9800XT made the progress marks in apt-get fly past! It must have been updating packages at about 350fps!!!

I decided to buy the machine after all that, and I got Bruce a sandwich on the way home too. He loves that kind of attention. All I can hope is that he doesn't show his appreciation by whizzing on my new GNU/Opteron ATX box! apt-get peace out kids!

micheal please read (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7877575)

sweet-debian-goodnes
Please shut the fuck up. Thanks

Knoppix and students (5, Informative)

mokeyboy (585139) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877577)

Knoppix is a great distro to pass on to students who need to work in a *IX shell environment to do course work. I recommend it to EE and IT students when they want to get their feet wet but don't want to use VMWARE or go through a potentially destructive HDD repartition. The KDE interface is friendly to the Windows crippled, the harware detection is fantastic and running from the CD, a user can't break it. Many of the derivative distros are also great in niche areas (eg ClusterKNOPPIX). A great piece of work to help make Linux better appreciated and understood.

My best experience with linux (4, Informative)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877585)

My best experience with linux is when I used knoppix a few months ago. My hard drive on my dell laptop crapped out again but I could still use my computer while the replacement was being shipped. I mean it wasn't perfect and I wouldn't want to use it full time, but it was a definate lifesaver that weekend.

I like the idea of a live cd where if I fucked anything up, a simple reboot would fix everything. This is how linux should be taught to new users who are afraid of trying new things but still have some strange desire to use linux.

Sweet Mandrake goodness too (1)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877614)

There's a little Mandrake goodness in there too, Michael.

Others (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877628)

I've used Knoppix on an old P200/128 ram and it worked fine. I eventually did a hdinstall of Knoppix so I would not need the CD anymore. My kids used it for months with no problems. I put Fedora on the same machine and it ran like a dog. I eventually went back to Knoppix.

I've also played around with Movix [sourceforge.net] , Mandrake Move [pctechforums.com] , and various other smaller live distros. I switched my $199 preinstalled Lindows machine from Walmart.com over to Mandrake based on my good experience with Move.

but (0)

Dagrush (723402) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877638)

yes, but does it run lin...

oh.
(kudos to the guy who started that phrase)

My 6 year old son likes Knoppix, really (5, Interesting)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#7877645)

The timing of this article is too funny, today my son, who is 6 (almost 7) grabbed my knoppix CD thinking it was a copy (legal backup:) of I game I had just made a copy of for him for him.

He put it in and after about 30 minutes after not hearing him ask for help with his game (which he ALWAYS does) I went in to see what he was doing, I almost had a heart attack, he was clicking away on Knoppix. It scared me becuase I forgot I had knoppix burned. and I thought he had rebooted my system into linux and changed from Gnome to KDE

But the more I think about it the more I like the idea of setting him loose on a live distro, I dont have to worry about him buggering up my work system (yes I have a spare system for him but its not fast enough for most of his games)

When I first started in computers I was his age and if I made a mistake I rebooted, no OS , MS basic in Rom and a 6502 on an OSI challener (the good 'ole days may date me a bit since that comp came out in 77 and I was 7:)but I got my feet wet in assy programming then. I didnt have to ask dear old dad for any help beyond well, everything, but I didnt have to worry about bonking an OS either.

When I found him on the system he was drawing cats on gimp, bestill my little code monkey....
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