Knoppix ... Ohhhh Pretty!

Earlier this month, there was an update release of the Knoppix Linux distribution. Knoppix is intended to be run as a live CD distribution. That is, you stick the CD into a PC, start it up, and Linux comes up. It runs off the CD without touching the hard disk. Thus, any PC--even one running Microsoft Windows--can run Linux without loading anything onto the hard disk or otherwise changing the existing system.

There has been enormous interest in this release. All of the download mirror sites have been getting hammered. I had difficulty finding one that would respond at all, and even then it took about 36 hours to retrieve the CD image.

Once the image was burned to CD, I tested it out on coldsnap, a 450MHz Pentium II beigebox system with 128MB memory. The system booted just fine and dropped right into the X graphical environment with the KDE desktop.

It is quite impressive, but ultimately I'm a bit puzzled. Knoppix is an excellent demonstration of the Linux environment. I'd feel comfortable handing a copy to somebody who was running Windows and wanted to see what all the Linux hoo-ha is about. Also, Knoppix could be a useful system recovery tool. If you have a system with disk problems, for example, you could boot Knoppix and effect repairs.

Other than that, I'm hard pressed to find applications for it. Maybe you could use it if you want access to Linux on public computer terminals, but even then it seems like it would be frustrating to be unable to save session state. When I'm on a public terminal and need access to a Linux environment, I'll run a java applet that implements an ssh client, and use that to access my home system.

The Knoppix distribution is very impressive. I wonder, however, if it has purpose beyond being a cool demo.


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re: Knoppix ... Ohhhh Pretty!

I thought I read somewhere that Knoppix let you actually install it onto a PC if you wanted to...

I downloaded it, but my CD-ROM drive sucks and won't burn CDs >650MB