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Knoppix for Rapid Desktop Deployment 343

heretic108 writes "From first boot to full desktop in 20 minutes! Knoppix has shot into the spotlight as a GNU/Linux distro suitable for demonstrating quality Open Source Software, standing out for its ability to self-configure itself into a vast range of hardware, and to run entirely off a CD boot without interfering with any existing system setup. That, plus its fat catalogue of pre-installed desktop software. But OSS enthusiast David McNab has poked a bit deeper, and found that Knoppix can install itself to disk, resulting in a completely configured GNU/Linux desktop system, ready to use, in 20 minutes, hassle free. CD no longer needed! Best of both worlds - use as a GNU/Linux demo disk, and if the user likes it, it's a snap to install permanently. I can't think of any distro that comes close to this, for ease and speed of setup. I found McNab's short Knoppix Installation Howto which gives a very brief and easy guide. With this rapid setup ability, Debian-based Knoppix makes a great contribution to the catalogue."
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Knoppix for Rapid Desktop Deployment

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  • by CatWrangler ( 622292 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:33PM (#4584293) Journal
    No Blue Screen of Death? No individual user licenses? No aborted installs? No minesweeper? Who actually would use this newfangled thing?
  • wonderful, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dollargonzo ( 519030 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:35PM (#4584299) Homepage
    if it is so wonderful, how come other distributions not use similar hardware detection? we have seen linux distros go in and out, people complain and complain about hardware detection, but we have yet to see one of the bigger distributions adopt a system similar to what knoppix is doing. i mean the worst thing that could happen is could detect the wrong hardware (tough, but possible) and you will have to remove the modules. but otherwise, seems like a win win situation.

    • one exception ofcourse is mandrake, but i have tried it, and well, it doesn't seem to work that well. perhaps the newer versions are better.

    • Re:wonderful, but (Score:5, Informative)

      by damiam ( 409504 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:39PM (#4584322)
      Other distros do. Mandrake, Red Hat, SeSU all have superb hardware detection. Knoppix is different only in that it detects hardware on startup, which is the only way to make a CD-only, no-install distro.
      • Re: wonderful, but (Score:4, Informative)

        by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @03:42PM (#4584824)

        > Other distros do. Mandrake, Red Hat, SeSU all have superb hardware detection. Knoppix is different only in that it detects hardware on startup, which is the only way to make a CD-only, no-install distro.

        FWIW, since around 7.0, Red Hat has re-detected hardware on startup, and will notice if anything has been added, removed, or changed.

        I don't mess with SuSE much, but I vaguely remember that they have been doing it even longer. (Don't quote me on that part, though.)

      • Re:wonderful, but (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spitzak ( 4019 )
        Why not always detect hardware on startup? It takes long enough to boot anyway, and if this works we could feel safe changing *any* hardware in our machines without worrying that it won't reboot.

        If it screws up, then an advanced user could probably store some files that modify it (I guess this requires that it correctly detect the disk and file system these files are on...) Ideally the files should be of the form "If you are detecting xyz, well stop because you are wrong, the hardware really is this..." and not of the form "Don't try to detect xyz because really the hardware is this..." That way if the user pulls the misdetected hardware they can reboot because it will still check for the replacement hardware.

    • Re:wonderful, but (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kh0ng ( 594312 )
      Good question. I saw knoppix three weeks ago, when another student gave a Linux/UNIX-Intro. I liked it and thought that, since it was based on it, Debian would be similiar. You can expect how surpried I was when I tried to install Debian. Knoppix might be based on it, but in terms of userfriendlyness its far ahead.
    • God,

      Gentoo is neat - but if you compile it all...

      I'm on day three of install and config - Single 733MHz+ 1GB RAM and a 1.5Mb net connection!

      Thought I'd finally dig into this guy, 'cos I was intrigued by out-of-the-box EVMS.

      Looks like my next install will be Knoppix. Just to keepa broad perspective on things!

  • Including non-free? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vagary ( 21383 ) <<jawarren> <at> <>> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:39PM (#4584317) Journal

    This might be a bit off-topic, but hey, at least I'm not wasting your time with an Ask Slashdot:

    Can someone point me towards a live-CD that includes Flash, RealPlayer, and the ability to play as many multimedia files as possible? OpenOffice and some kind of Gecko browser are also required.

    The reason is that Windows is just not cutting it on my girlfriend's computer. She's having all sorts of weird technical problems so I've decided something needs to be done. Unfortunately, my Debian is so wacked out and constantly tweaked into a semi-usable state that she doesn't trust Linux. So what I need is something she can use for a few weeks -- still accessing her docs on her Windows partition -- until she's sold.

    • Have you tried Knoppix? Did you read the article? I would think that Knoppix would fit your bill perfectly.

      Did I just get trolled?
      • It's missing Flash, RealPlayer, and Gecko. Why didn't you just recommend I install VMS? Or perhaps you didn't bother to read my post...

    • Perhaps you should try Knoppix eh?

      Knoppix is a livecd that autodetects and sets up most devices automatically upon boot, it includes open office, mozilla (konquorer [sp?] as well), OODLES of games, graphics programs, utilities, fun programs, and just plain "cool" things. It doesnt contain Flash nor Realplayer (at least I never got them to work), but it does play most of my multimedia content I had on my hard drive (divx, mpegs, avi, etc).

      It autoconnects to internet if you have the ability to use DHCP so thats a big plus. You can access the hard drive from the desktop, open papers/etc from there...

      Best thing -- it doesnt change ANY files on the harddrive! No worries about a "livecd" turning into a "pseudo installation" to run. There IS a way to put a swap file on your hard drive but its buried in menus and I wouldnt even bother with it... Knoppix runs fast, reliable, and just looks nice.

      (And the desktop? You can change it of course.. but I am sure you knew that =)
    • by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:06PM (#4584445) Homepage Journal
      " So what I need is something she can use for a few weeks -- still accessing her docs on her Windows partition -- until she's sold."

      Dude, there's no need to sell your girlfriend just because she uses Word.


      • Believe it or not, she's trying to write a *thesis* in *Word*! Crazy, I know. I'm banned from mentioning BibTeX whenever she starts complaining about citation management. And she's already wasted days thanks to proprietary formats. It's a wonder people manage to get any work done in Windows...

    • irresponsible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:30PM (#4584544) Homepage Journal
      Do not, I repeat do not force a nontechnical person to use Linux. Your job as a "computer person" that your friends and family trusts is to make the computer experience easier, not harder.

      Yes, Windows sucks. If it's having that many problems, see if you can roust up a copy of Win2000 or WinXP. But if you force your girlfriend to use Linux, she will probably end up frustrated and hating it (and maybe even hating you).

      Then, in a few years, when Linux is ready for the desktop (if that happens) then she won't want to try it.

      If you really think Windows sucks too much for her to use, maybe you should look into getting her a Mac. Forcing nontechnical people to use Linux is not the way to win friends, or spread good feelings for the operating system.

      • Re:irresponsible (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vagary ( 21383 )

        Do you have a good metric for testing whether Linux is ready for the desktop? I'm not sure that it is, but it's got to be better than the shit she's struggling with now.

        We're starving university students, therefore Macs are entirely out of the question (she's wanted a Mac ever since reading Microserfs). I doubt her aging hardware's ability to run Win2k (or else I would have already tried it) and so it's even less likely to handle XP. But really, should a new computer be required just to word process, web browse (including multimedia content), and listen to music? (Seriously, that's all she does. But for some reason WindowsME can't even do that.)

        • Multimedia web browsing is one of the most CPU intensive application jumps to go mainstream in a long time. The only reason the 8 meg of ram 386's aren't usable today is web browsing. Other than that virtually everything else the mainstream user wants worked fine under Windows 3.1. Anyway the system requirements for Win2000 are not that high if she has 64 megs I think its a doable switch.

          The big problem is that:

          a) She likes windows products: flash, real, quicktime, word

          b) She is not technical

          c) You can't mention a single advantage of Linux for her uses

          Anyway if she really wants a Mac you may want to check out the used powermacs on Ebay. For a grand you can get a system as good as the modern iMacs that comes loaded with software.

      • Re:irresponsible (Score:4, Insightful)

        by uchian ( 454825 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @03:19PM (#4584740) Homepage
        Do not, I repeat do not force a nontechnical person to use Linux.

        Wha? No, wrong. My mother ain't technical and can use Linux just fine.

        What you should say is do not force a non-technical person to ADMIN a Linux box. But then again, you shouldn't let a non-technical person admin any box unless you want to have to fix it every other week. I have to keep cleaning all of the games off of my Aunt's computer because she doesn't understand the concepts of "limited hard drive space" and "uninstalling stuff" no matter how short I make the words I use.
      • Re:irresponsible (Score:3, Informative)

        by kubla2000 ( 218039 )

        Nice troll!

        Linux not ready for the desktop? Have you read the article? Have you tried the cd? It's amazing what a good distro can do.

        Setting up printing as is as easy as clicking through a wizard, same with changing video settings, scanners, etc, etc, etc. How the arse do you justify spreading this kind of FUD? Do you get confused because the widgets look a little differently from your win98 desktop?

        In the last several months, I've given away about 20 knoppix cds directly (indirectly, by running Linux training courses for which students use Knoppix, I've given away many more). It's all down to experience. Once users get used to a slightly improved (and hence, different) way of doing things, they're all over Linux.

      • "Do not, I repeat do not force a nontechnical person to use Linux. Your job as a "computer person" that your friends and family trusts is to make the computer experience easier, not harder."

        Huh? Isn't this a bit over the top? The guy can do the install and make sure all the right apps are installed and configured. He can get the networking right. He could even install Crossover and Win4Lin (If you have to reboot Windows it might as well take 15 seconds) if necessary.

        Sure, Linux may not be able to fit into every fat32 formatted American mind just yet but it is stable and it is easy to use. Aside from the install and the interoperability issues (because MS Office won't play nice) Linux makes a fine desktop. (Yea, I know Linux is quick and easy to install. It's just that Linux installs offer more choices than most. People usually don't like choices when it comes to the computer.)

        "But if you force your girlfriend to use Linux, she will probably end up frustrated and hating it (and maybe even hating you)."

        Wow, that's a bit harsh. Boot a CD, loose a girlfriend. If that's all it takes then she won't last long anyway. I get your point but I think it applies more to Wal~Mart PCs. Those don't come with Debian hacking boyfriends.

      • If you really think Windows sucks too much for her to use, maybe you should look into getting her a Mac
        Modern Wedding Anniversary Gifts:

        First - Clocks
        Second - China
        Third - Crystal/Glass
        Fourth - Appliances
        Fifth - Silverware
        Sixth - Candy/Iron
        Seventh - Desk Sets
        Eighth - Bronze/Pottery
        Ninth - Linen/Lace
        Tenth - A MacIntosh

        I think that's a little more commitment then our buddy is looking for here. Maybe a low-end PC would be okay for a "just thinking of you (and your computer troubles)" gift, but a MacIntosh? That's at least the equivilent of an engagement ring (and costs about the same, too!)!
    • SuSE do (Score:3, Informative)

      SuSE do an excellent Live CD. It can be downloaded from their FTP site and has pretty bootup screens, latest KDE with custom artwork, Mozilla, OpenOffice etc.

      Some other stuff it does well - it'll store swap, config and home directory on files in the first windows harddisk with enough space it can find. That means you can in fact use it as your primary OS if you're happy with not being able to add new software and slow bootup times. You can reconfigure, write docs and so on, and it'll all be saved to disk.

  • How much? (Score:5, Funny)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:39PM (#4584320) Journal
    How much is one of these frontpage /. ads? Please contact me, I may be interested in buying one.
    • by Link310 ( 453668 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:19PM (#4584502)
      It typically costs at least a few hours of downtime on your server, and possibly a surge in bandwidth usage.

      /. is not responsible for increased bandwidth usage due to a slashdotting or any costs incured.

      Please submit ads using the "submit story" link on the side of the page. Things to include:
      * A simple way for people to bash microsoft.
      * Something that can be turned into a beowulf cluster.
    • frontpage /. ads? FRONTPAGE?!?
      Taco you TURNCOAT.
      So THAT'S what that server migration a few days ago was all about... /me whips out nmap
    • How much is one of these frontpage /. ads?

      How much does one anonymous /. account cost?
  • by Lostman ( 172654 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:42PM (#4584334)
    Just my own little story how Knoppix helped me.. =)

    My fiancee was volunteered to teach a class in algorithm design and c++ programming at the highschool she teaches at (for honors credit) -- the problems, though, were numerous.

    She had to deal with:
    1) NO funds available for purchasing of any programming utilities
    2) Computer ADMIN not allowing her to install ANY programming software (borland freeware, DJGPP, etc) to disk
    3) NOT allowing students to write (even temporary files) to the hard drive...

    We looked at a LOT of different ways to handle these problems. Finally we decided that maybe using a linux livecd and having a disk with gcc/g++ for each student. Looked at a few different types that were mentioned on slashdot but NONE seemed to work well... until we saw a VERY old article that some user mentioned Knoppix.. went to it, d/l'ed it, burned to disk, popped it in and rebooted...


    Knoppix comes fully loaded with office utilities, games (PLENTY of games), graphics software, but most importantly DEVELOPMENT software already on it. We were in love with it (in truth, my other box is still running it from cd just bc we liked it =) -- even more important was that it ran without the need for ANY files or ANY changes to the hard drive.

    It discovered all devices hooked to my computer and actually had them working (AS WELL as the internet connection from "straight to cable modem" or "over network using ICS" setups we have at my house).

    She took it to her school, popped it in, rebooted the computers (after fidgeting with bios to allow boot from cd, laugh) and QUICKLY came up with the Knoppix desktop. It certainly didnt take more than a min or so to bootup...

    Most surprising thing was that for a "ran from cd" linux it was REMARKEBLY fast. Lets just say I was VERY impressed with Knoppix and recommend it for ANY new person. Without the threat of "ruining their computer," they can just pop in knoppix to try out linux... if they hate it, pop it out and its finished.

    So in the end, fiancee's school didnt have to shell out money, didnt "screw up the computers" (sigh), have a setup for students to write and compile programs, and exposed students (and teachers) to Linux. I would say the entire situation was a big WIN =)
  • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
    If this was posted 2 months ago it would be my distro of choice. I was a knoppix user for a while, but I got tired of not having my CD rom available and I wanted a few games. It was the ease and power of knoppix that made me a full time Linux user. I immediatly got rid of debian and installed Mandrake 9.0. I then baught WineX, SimCity 3000, Quake 3, and Kohan:AG. Knoppix was awsome, everything configured automatically at boot, and ran flawlessly. Mandrake is giving me more hassle then Knoppix was. so I say knoppix is cool.
    • Any reccommendations for good places to buy Knoppix CDs? (The english version, preferably not from anyone in the US)

      (I would download it, but my employers' net connection this weekend is downloading the Age of Mythology demo...)
      • I D/L'd it.

        But someone smart would go to

        type knoppix, and click i feel lucky.

        then click the english link on the page.

        there is a list of stores selling it.

        You could have also succeeded by trying first, as they sell burned copies of most linux distros, and happen to be on the page.
  • Knoppix==Awesome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:44PM (#4584350)
    Knoppix is a GREAT distro. I regularly give it to people to try out Linux. It also makes a great recovery disk. I can go anywhere and pop it into a PC with a CD-ROM drive and it boots giving me all the tools I need.

    What? Your Windows 2000 server's dynamic disk has crashed, again? No problem. Insert Knoppix. Copy /mnt/WINNT to /mnt/GoodDisk. Have a nice day.
  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:44PM (#4584354) Journal
    ... is the sheer number of packages included on a *single* CD ROM. It's incredible. (Plus, they tend to be quite recent versions, and with some programs, like the excellent and promising Scribus, that's important because progress is rapid.)

    Also, if you want to show someone the sheer variety of free and Free browsers available with Linux, Scribus has konqueror, mozilla, dillo, not to mention text-based ones as well.

    It's an amazing distro -- demoware that really works. Anecdote: I have used Knoppix, from the CD, as my only OS for several days when using a borrowed laptop on which I could not politely do an OS swap. Except a slight slowness with the CD up-and-down-spinning, it was hard to tell I wasn't just using a recent Debian system installed normally.

  • except it used the OSS sound system and the OSS module for my soundcard does not work...if it used ALSA I would be very happy.
  • VMWare (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HeelToe ( 615905 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @01:56PM (#4584412) Homepage
    One really neat use of this would be to bundle VMWare into the CD dist so that you could actually drop the CD into a machine you don't trust (maybe your employer's?) to be free of keystroke loggers, etc.

    Use Linux for any "private" work you want to do, use encryption tools (ssh, tunneling, etc.) to get out your corporate firewall to a trusted machine, and then simply run your other operating system inside VMWare for doing your work.

    Does Knoppix make it easy to add new things into the cd image?
    • Re:VMWare (Score:3, Informative)

      by bstadil ( 7110 )
      Does Knoppix make it easy to add new things into the cd image?

      Yes, As long as you keep inside the size limit. I removed some of the Demos on the ISO and included a brainwave relaxing program AutoZen to run on my my Girlfriend's Windows machine. Worked fine.

      WmWare workstation is only 11Meg so you should be OK.

    • Cool idea.
  • by Raleel ( 30913 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:05PM (#4584441)
    I'm not normally a debian zealot, and by me using the term zealot, you can figure out what I think of people who constantly tell me that I'm wrong for using redhat and mandrake. That having been said, I've really got to respect this. Well done.

    Personally, I don't care about having 10 different editors, but I'm sure some people do. I can almost live entirely off of the redhat 8.0 personal desktop (I have other machines to compile on), save for the lack of mp3-ability out of the box (freshrpms, I love you) and dvd-ability (again, go freshrpms). But the ability to do something like this, be able to just install it on to a hard drive, type a single command for updates, no registering or anything, and continue on, is very nice.

    I think this years install fest will see a lot more debian installs than it will redhat or mandrake because of this.
  • There's another one (Score:4, Informative)

    by OrangeHairMan ( 560161 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:10PM (#4584465)
    There's another Debian-based bootable distro, called LNX-BBC. It is only 50 megs, but you can still install Debian from it and apt-get all the packages you want. []
    • This thing is fantastic. It's amazing the things you can fit into 50 megs - basically every command line program you'd want except Emacs and man pages, plus minimal X support.

      For a really quality experience, modify the image to boot to a win95 boot disk image with stuff like fdisk and format, and include loadlin and NTFS dos drivers on the image. You can then use it to fix just about any system. Best of all, it still fits on a credit card sized CD that I keep in my wallet.

  • Is it only me who misread the article header?
    A rapid desktop deployment for Debian system is not "news that matter", a working rapid desktop development system - a competitor to Kylix can be that news...
  • I can beat that. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:16PM (#4584489)
    20 minutes? Bah. My old vintage 1975 Sol-20 boots SOLOS from ROM in under a second. I can install a new OS ROM in seconds, it is conveniently provided on a ROM cart that pops in and out of a slot in the back. I can load BASIC or ASM-80 from Cassette Tape in under 2 minutes.
    Yeah, yeah, before you mod this down, just think a sec, I'm only trying to show how ludicrous this "time to first boot" is, as a measure of an OS.
    • What exactly does SOLOS do? I bet you can count the significant functions of the operating system on one hand. Knoppix on the other hand is linux, which does more shit than you can reasonably discuss the ramifications of in 64k.

      I had a kaypro 4 which ran cp/m, hardly the oldest computer around but it illustrates a point. CP/M does jack shit; It does nothing but provide a system through which other applications can be loaded. It loads fast, but who cares? It gets kicked out of memory when you load an application. It hardly does anything.

      • SOLOS has a full VT-100 terminal, this CPU was used daily on the FedWire banking system, it was used to transfer millions of dollars every week. Sometimes CPU power is irrelevant. I also used it to write assembly language programs for process control, running a variety of motors and measurement devices in a lab.
  • Knoppix is kool... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dcuny ( 613699 )
    I got a copy from CheapBytes []. Very cool. I've handed out more than a dozen copies since then. People are a lot more willing to try it out once they find out it won't touch your hard drive (unless you want it to).

    It's come in handy a couple of times, like when my hard drive flaked out. I talked my non-techie wife through setting up KPPP and KMail over the phone so she had internet access. (Fortunately, it was just a loose cable)

    I've used DemoLinux [] before that, as well as the SUSE demo CD, but Knoppix is much nicer. The only feature I miss is DemoLinux's ability to anchor part of the file system to the hard drive...

    All in all, a very nice distribution.

  • by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:19PM (#4584500)
    I've just gotta say, thanks Slashdot. This is what I've been looking for.

    One of the major reasons I was very reluctant to try Linux out (I'm a dedicated Win2K admin) was that it would require me to re-partition a disk for an ext3 filesystem.

    Well, seeing as how each and every one of my drives are NTFS Dynamic Volumes, there's no chance in hell that Linux is going to be able to read (or even repartition) them, and neither will most other software. So, it's a total wipeout if I wanted to try it.

    I'm downloading the ISO of this right now; I can get a chance to use Linux without *installing* Linux this way. In essence, what I've wanted for a long time.
  • by vik ( 17857 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:33PM (#4584549) Homepage Journal
    I got Knoppix onto the cover CD of PC World in New Zealand and I hear there is a possibility it may go on the Australian version - write encouragement to the Ed and ask if it can be had from the Kiwis (the answer will be yes, I guarantee it :).

    We had to cut it down to 350MB to fit the sponsor's Windows games and so forth on the CD too (thanks Eaden at Opentech) so no OpenOffice, but the reader response we got was incredible. See this [] and search for "Knoppix" for the feedback.

    Vik :v)
  • by oob ( 131174 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @02:40PM (#4584575)
    After reading the comments here Knoppix has just become my default Christmas gift to friends and family. The opportunity to quickly and easily expose new users to Linux without altering their current environment is a magnificent opportunity to "spread the gospel."

    I'm planning to bundle the CD with two sheets of paper, one showing how to start and use it and explaing that it won't interfere with the ordinary function of the computer concerned and the other David McNabb's HDD install HOWTO.

    Then in January I'm going to apply for a position in the marketing department of AOL, I'll have all the required skills :)

  • It would be really slick if computer magazines started including a free Knoppix CD. People could try out Linux for the first time without touching their current installation.
  • I'm quite impressed at this distro, and I do realize how hard it is to autodetect the wide range of hardware that Linux supports. However, I still find it humerous that back in the day, the time it took to install BeOS was almost entirely determined by the speed of your CD-ROM drive :)
  • good use at school (Score:2, Interesting)

    by exism ( 621647 )
    I've personally used Knoppix off and on in my C++ class at school. All the computers run Win98 along with Borland something, anti-virus, and some sort of lock down software. With everything they have on there it takes an extensive amount of time to even compile a simple program. I seem to make everyone a little jealous since I can compile any program in a fraction of a time it takes them, besides a screen/vim/gcc setup without X is much more productive then the Borland crap. On another note, when I got braver, I used parted on the knoppix cd to resize the windows partition and installed a copy of debian. I didn't install and bootloader and just use a floppy to boot it up. When the school year is over i just resize the partition back and no one will ever know. :)
  • A bootable Linux CD like Knoppix can be very handy when you are stranded out of reach of a Linux box.

    Case in point: I went away this weekend to a fairly remote part of the north Devon countryside, armed only with a Win98-powered Toshiba laptop with built-in modem (and an external modem). I hoped that I'd be able to dial up to my ISP (handy emergency ISP for those in Britain: 0845 206 6050, username totalserve, password totalserve), download the Putty ssh client and read my mail. I was expecting some maybe-important messages.

    In one of the bizarre screwups that occasionally reminds me why I normally use Linux and not Windows, I could dial up and ping things but not make HTTP connections to any host. I tried to investigate but there wasn't much I could do. Definitely a software problem (like I said, DNS and pinging were fine), and hard to investigate with only vanilla Win98 tools.

    Realizing this I remembered the Knoppix CD I had at home. If only I had brought it with me! So I telephoned home and spoke to my brother, asked him to find the CD ('what? you don't keep it in a case? won't it get scratched?' - no, CD cases are AFAICT superfluous) and post it to me. 'Stick it to a bit of card', I said, 'and post it to me first class'.

    That was on Thursday evening and I knew that the CD could not arrive until Saturday - that's today. I thought it had failed to arrive, but it eventually got here late in the morning. Sure enough the disc was stuck on to an octogon of cut-out cardboard using a single strip of masking tape across the diameter. (That's the kind of rough yellow tape that doesn't stick on very hard.)

    I eagerly peeled off the masking tape, it was a bit harder to remove than I had expected but I peeled off the tape up to the hole at the centre of the disc. Then I peeled from the centre towards the other edge - and instantly the tape ripped off and with it the silver backing of about a quarter of the CD. I'm left with just transparent plastic where the silver has peeled away. I know that CDs have insane levels of error correction, but of course it would be futile to try sticking the tape back again in roughly the same place and seeing if the CD still works. (I tried it anyway.)

    Like that story where the last man on earth's glasses get smashed when he enters the library. That's the cliche that came to mind.

    So the moral of the story is: Debian and Knoppix may be very stable and robust Linux distributions. But the CDs on which they are distributed are quite literally 'flaky'. Don't try sticking them on to things with tape!

    Epilogue - I found that the Windows installation sensibly had the original .cab and setup.exe files lying around in c:\windows\options, so I reinstalled Win98 from that. That is how I am able to post this message to Slashdot.
  • live test (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sireenmalik ( 309584 ) on Saturday November 02, 2002 @05:45PM (#4585266) Homepage Journal
    To test the new computer i was buying (and getting), i took my Knoppix CD along.

    I bought the box which caused the least trouble!

    Knoppix was more than helpful :)
  • Knoppix mentions that the system will run faster if it can create a swap partition on the drive of the computer it's installed on.

    Why is it that swap space can't be used on an existing partition? It seems that it'd be to knoppix's advantage if it (optionally) allowed you to use an existsing FAT32/NTFS/EXT2 partition for temporary swap space while it runs.

    I mean, Windows does this and look at how great it runs!

    OK, I was just kidding with that last part, but I'd still like to know why this hasn't been done :-)
    • There are two different kind of swap "spaces": Partition-based and file-based.

      File-based is what you are used to, and what Windows tends to use.

      Linux uses partition-based. It's faster, since you don't have to deal with a filesystem, and more space-efficient, same reason. However, it does mean that it completely consumes your partition and fills it with what will look like random garbage to anything trying to access it like the partition has a filesystem.

      Thus, there is technically nothing stopping you from using a windows partition as a swap partition; in fact, I once did that as a joke, on purpose. But you should be aware that you will completely and unrecoverably blow away anything residing on that partition the moment you use it. (Later I re-partitioned the disk to shrink the swap down, as using the whole Windows space as swap was too much. It was just sort of funny, the idea of Linux using Windows as a scratch space...)
  • Myself, I accidentally found Knoppix when I was looking for the UT2K3 Demo LiveCD from Gentoo. I fired it up and ran it on my system. VERY impressive. Runs like a dream, and more importantly, it does what what Windows has done all along - it detected and used everything I had. I was online with DHCP, it knew my video card, everything.

    But like I said, I had this confused for the UT2K3 disc, so I was looking for that and couldn't find it. This is when I found out what probably most "avid" PC users experienced with Windows find out, and is probably the real #1 threat to Linux on the desktop - the fact that it's all very different, and compared to Windows, difficult. I mean, with a Mac versus Windows you of course know there are differences in things like interface and file system structure, but after some work you've got it down. The way Linux uses and organizes files befuddled me, and I can suddenly see why most people are turned off by Linux - it doesn't seem worth it to learn a whole new paradigm when the one you're most comfortable with is used by 90+% of the world and (from a business standpoint) is more profitbale anyway.

    So perhaps what is needed next is a good "So you've only ever used Windows..." guide. (and if one already exists, feel free to point to it)

    • I was looking for the UT2K3 Demo LiveCD from Gentoo. I fired it up and ran it on my system. VERY impressive. Runs like a dream, and more importantly, it does what what Windows has done all along - it detected and used everything I had. I was online with DHCP, it knew my video card, everything.

      Maybe I'm just a 'tard who didn't think of this earlier, but what a boon for game developers! "HERE you go! Just like your PS2, dump this CD (with live Linux filesystem & game of the week) in your PC and hit the power button..." Now, a REAL reason for game developers to develop for Linux! Control of the *PC* platform - no DLLs, MSIs, or DX crap to work with - THIS is the environment that your customer gets, every PC an Idrema with a live filesystem + app on CD. On the surface, it seems like a great leap back, but it appears that the benefits outweigh the fs overhead on each CD.

      What a fsking GREAT idea! (Or am I missing something? Besides hardware, I mean, this is supposed to be somewhat tolerant in that regard, anyway.) It seems to work for Gentoo and Epic Games [], anyway.

      • well not to make you sound any less the genius, but you're not the first person to think of this, at least not that's posted it on Slashdot anyway.

        The idea is not without merit, and it would solve some problems but introduce others.

        To run a game this way would mean that the end user can't do anything while they're playing the game. No e-mail checking, no downloading with Kazaa, no way to quickly get back to your desktop (short of rebooting), etc. The notion of multitasking is gone. In may ways this would be like the good/bad old days of rebooting just to play DOOM.

        It also means saying goodbye to DirectX. Since we already have UT2K3 and all things Quake running on Linux already it's far from impossible, but many developers don't want to kiss DirectX goodbye. While Epic and id are two companies that favor cross-platform compatibility over ease of tools, many other developers think otherwise (witness Neverwinter Nights).

        Back in the pre-DirectX days the developer would have to code for every concievable piece of hardware. DirectX shifted most of this burden to the hardware makers, but to do this LiveCD route would make the developer have to do it again. Not sure how big a problem this would be nowadays (since it might not be such a big deal to just throw every driver in history onto the disc) but it might be another Big Hassle for the developers.

        Finally, this means that game developers would have to either become geniuses on making bootable Linux distros in addition to games, or else get cozy with Linux distro makers. Heck, this might even cause political distro wars as to whom gets used. Plus this probably won't do anything to further Linux on the desktop (if that's your bag).

        But I can see this as an interesting option to do in addition to the install and run in Windows/Linux option. Kinda reminds me of when Windows wasn't popular yet and Adobe Photoshop 1.0 (I think) came out with a Windows Runtime.

  • I just discovered Knoppix a few weeks ago, and I must say I'm impressed. I've never had a Linux distribution install so cleanly and easily, self-configuring everything. So many apps are included, and the KDE desktop looks great. Other distributions have a long way to go to catch up to this piece of work, which is even more impressive considering it runs live from a CD. Knoppix is the perfect introdution to Linux for someone who just wants to check it out, but you can get real work done with it too. I've been using it to run my favorite Linux apps on my Windows laptop. It's been really handy. Now I want to give a copy to all my friends who have been wondering about Linux. Great work!

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