April 12, 2024

I'm in Shock and Awe at Knoppix

knoppixlogo.jpgThere are going to be a whole load of Tech Heads out there who are pointing and laughing at the screen now, but I've just stumbled over Knoppix, and I have to say I'm impressed, and it's already got me seriously thinking about what OS will go in a second desktop PC in the house.

Knoppix (for the 99.99% of the population of the world who've never heard about it) is a version of Linux. I've always known Linux is out there, but it's still very strokey beard territory to actually go and do something worthwhile with it. I've thought a few times about grabbing Lindows, but something about that whole set up strikes me as a bit creepy. So Knoppix is Linux on a CD-Rom. And to set it up and run it on a PC, you put the CD in the drive, re-boot your PC, and set it up so it boots from the CD (a quick setting change in the BIOS) and away it goes. Two minutes later there's a very nice desktop and not a bit of BillG code running on my PC. How does it do that?

It doesn't touch the hard drive on my PC. This is the biggie for me, any experiments I need to be able to roll back asap, and Knoppix is just a matter of toggling the Mode Select Standby switch.

The technical bits that I can make out, is that it is using the Debian build of Linux, and it's using KDE (The K Desktop Enviroment) which is somewhere between a PC and Mac OS X. I've spent the last few nights in the enviroment, and it has the main tools I need (Email, Web, IRC and MSN Messenger via GAIM). If it wasn;t for the fact that (a) it doesn't see the IrDA Serial Cable dongle and (b) none of the OPL translation tools run under Linux then I'd be very happy to stay here. Oh and (c) lack of sound, but givent he Compaq Deskpro prolly has some weird chipset I don't think that should be too surprising.

I like the fact I can save all my info and settings to a single file onmy Windows Hard Drive and not have to play with partitions. I like the fact all the apps are there and the whole thing just works - Broadband connection through the NTL box worked out the box and I didn't have to set up or change anything. I like the fact that I can play Jezzball again. And Vikki approves of the Freecell that comes in the package... which is very important.

In short, it's free to download (just burn the ISO image to a CD), free to try and won't upset anything on your PC when you go back to Windows. Is Linux ready for the desktop? From where I'm sitting, it looks like it. Why not have a look yourself?

Posted by Ewan at April 12, 2024 07:15 AM
I'm rapidly coming to the same conclusion as you about Linux on the desktop. Last weekend I replaced Red Hat 9.0 with Fedora Core 1 on my home machine (my firewall/router etc) and it is really nice to use for browsing, mailing, IRC and IM (that's my shortlist of regular computing activities). Thus far I haven't tried Open Office, but the time to try is approaching fast. I'm using GNOME as opposed to KDE, which feels nice to me, although I have absolutely no idea what the differences are. Fedora didn't want to find the soundcard on my Compaq box either. Try using sndconfig, and selecting some kind of generic SoundBlaster card. That usually works for me. Give me a shout if you need the exact settings. Posted by: Martin Little on April 12, 2024 12:49 AM
Even better, you can follow these steps [http://www.knoppix-std.org/docs/customize.html] to customize your distro. Want a demo of your java webapp? install tomcat, mysql, whatever repack, burn and voila!, a demo cd for your customer!! Posted by: jano on April 12, 2024 08:48 PM
For hard drive installs kanotix is supposed to to be better (it's knoppix based). Warning though: you have to setup dhcp manually. Posted by: Glen Stampoultzis on April 13, 2024 12:47 AM
Damn, that is nice Jano! Posted by: Martin Little on April 13, 2024 12:57 AM
Ewan -- you need to trim the URL from Jano to remove the trailing ] . Posted by: Martin Little on April 13, 2024 12:58 AM
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