Updated: November 24, 2006
I have decided to review a number of popular, highly useful Linux-based live CDs. Most are warmly recommended as they can be used for safe browsing, system backup and recovery, diagnostics, as well as educational tools. Knoppix live CD is one of the more complete, mature and powerful packages available.
Well then, what makes Knoppix so attractive?
- It can run on a machine as lowly as a 486 with 32MB RAM.
- It has an exceptionally high rate of hardware detection and compatibility.
- It is a very useful rescue and recovery tool (supports writing to NTFS partitions using libntfs + fuse).
- It is a very good tool for getting started with Linux for people who do not want to meddle with installations.
You do not feel ready to install a Linux on your PC? You do not even like the prospect of experimenting with a virtualization product like VMware Player? Knoppix is the answer for you. Just place the CD in the tray, close it, reboot, and start playing with Linux.
What can you do with Knoppix?
Knoppix offers a wide range of applications for everyday use, including Firefox and Konqueror browsers, Thunderbird, Open Office, GIMP, GAIM, and many many more - listing them all would take a long time. The CD has more than 900 software packages.
Then, there's a range of special features that make Knoppix a very powerful tool. Here's a brief overview of the few that caught my eye:
Create a persistent Knoppix disk image
You will be able to virtual hard disk image of your live environment on a writable media like a USB stick, which will allow you to save personal data while using the live CD. This means that you will be able to preserve data collected during your live sessions, like files off the Internet.
NESSUS Security Tool
NESSUS is a security scanner for Unix-based operating systems like Linux, BSD or Solaris. It can perform close to a thousand remote security checks and suggest solutions to security problems.
QTParted is a partition manager, somewhat similar to GParted. Running from a CD, you will be able to rearrange your hard drive layout easily. For people who use Windows and do not have a partitioning software, this could be a solid alternative. It can also be used to prepare disks for installation of older Windows like Win98 and ME.
Winetools is a menu-driver installer for Windows programs under a x86 processor architecture with the Linux operating system using Wine. The program runs with a very comfortable GUI wizard that will allow you to easily install Windows-based applications. This is a nice, complementary (or alternative) approach to using VMware product for running Windows programs under Linux.
Furthermore, with Knoppix you will enjoy:
- Full support for the widest range of graphic, sound and network devices, including Bluetooth. The live CD also contains a variety of configuration tools for network and Internet protocols.
- A variety of development tools, including Python.
- A range of servers, including NX, SSH and Samba.
- A range of shells (Bash, Dash, Sash).
- NX client for Linux.
- Lilo-config, which will allow you to setup or repair a boot loader.
- A powerful media studio, with a player like Kaffeine, K4b for CD & DVD burning, KMix for sound mixing, Audacity and Sweep for sound editing, and more. The CD & DVD burning software allows you to save or salvage your personal data to external media even if you cannot boot into your native operating system.
- hexedit, for editing executables.
- Full NTFS read/write permissions, which means you will be able to work on Windows partitions. Booted off the CD, you will be able to access any Windows file you need; for instance, remove an offending file that cannot be deleted.
The list goes on and on and on.
There is no reason NOT to have a Knoppix live CD in your collection. It's a versatile, multi-purpose tool that can serve you well both in peacetime and war. Whether you want to hazard a risky session of browsing to nefarious sites, rescue data from a dead machine, rearrange partitions, or perhaps audit a remote machine for security leaks, Knoppix is a very handy solution that will not disappoint you. It is a good step for getting acquainted with Linux, in the most harmless fashion possible.
Afraid of the dreaded geek operating system called Linux?
No more. Come and have fun.