It is long since I tested a Linux Distribution for Review. Here I am going to share with you my opinion on Knoppix Linux Live CD operating system.
Just a short introduction on what is Live CD. Basically we install operating system in hard drive, the installation process is nothing but copying the binaries from CD/DVD to hard drive and configuring for your hardware. In case of Live CD, let’s leave the existing installations on hard drive undisturbed and boot the machine from CD/DVD. The contents of CD/DVD is loaded into memory and running. This is very useful to test a OS for your hardware compatibility. Knoppix is the pioneer in it.
So today we are going to review the Mother of Live CD. Before jumping into review, here is a summary of Knoppix in its own words.
KNOPPIX is a bootable Live system on CD or DVD, consisting of a representative collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. KNOPPIX can be used as a productive Linux system for the desktop, educational CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform for commercial software product demos. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk. Due to on-the-fly decompression, the CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it (over 8GB on the DVD “Maxi” edition).
AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 920 Processor
ASUS M3N78-EM Motherboard with Nvidia GeForce 8300 HDMI chipset
NVIDIA GeForce 8 series Graphics on board
500GB Hard drive (not necessary)
The kernel is 188.8.131.52 and the system is based on Debian GNU/Linux. Machine booted with Live CD. The system came up with amazing speed, got the desktop well withing 25 seconds. I haven’t seen this performance any mainline distros like Ubuntu, Fedroa etc. It was a smooth process showing hardware detection on console.
The system welcome us with a nice LXDE desktop.
Knoppix is known for its near perfect hardware detection. In this case also it detected NVIDIA graphics, Audio, Giga bit ethernet very well.
It does not load the proprietory nvidia kernel module, instead it loads open source nouveau. But it does serve good, it handled compiz 3D effects. Though it is not as smooth as proprietory driver, it works. But usability point of view, I prefer closed source driver as of now.
If you find that desktop 3D effects comes as hurdle in your work, you can very well disable through “Desktop Session Settings” tool available in Preferences menu. In advanced options, just replace “compiz –replace” with “metacity –replace”. It should work.
It detected my external Sony HD LCD TV connected to HDMI connector of mother board out of box and configured for mirror display. It worked like charm. I just want to remind you again about Knoppix’s ability to efficiently detect and configure hardware.
IceWeasel 3.6.13, IceDove 3.1.2, LibreOffice 3.3.0, Pidgin, GNOME MPlayer, PCManFM, GPicView, GIMP, LXTerminal are available as default applications for your productivity. The default applications selection is fine.
The software installation, un-installation can be managed through more standard “Synaptic Package Manager”, which is powered by the solid debian package management system. So availability and installation of application is sweet.
GNOME Mplayer is the default music player with out of box MP3 support.
Apart from “Synaptic Package Manager”, there is an additional tool to install most widely used applications and components. It is available in “Main Menu -> Preferences -> Install components”. But unfortunately it does not work. I was trying to install Flash plugin for firefox to view Youtube videos. Once you click “Install” button after selecting flashplugin-nonfree, it just exits. I just tried to run it from command line (/usr/sbin/knoppix-install-extras), it throws the following error message.
urxvt: “Installation”: malformed option.
rxvt-unicode (urxvt) v9.07 – released: 2009-12-27
Usage: urxvt [-help] [–help]
[-display string] [-tn string] [-geometry geometry] [-C] [-iconic]
[-cd string] [-/+rv] [-/+ls] [-/+j] [-/+ss] [-/+ptab] [-/+sb] [-/+sr] [-/+st]
[-sbt number] [-/+si] [-/+sk] [-/+sw] [-/+ip] [-/+tr] [-tint color]
[-sh number] [-fade number] [-fadecolor color] [-/+ut] [-/+vb] [-/+tcw]
[-/+insecure] [-/+uc] [-/+bc] [-/+pb] [-bg color] [-fg color] [-hc color]
[-cr color] [-pr color] [-pr2 color] [-bd color] [-fn fontname]
[-fb fontname] [-fi fontname] [-fbi fontname] [-/+is] [-im name] [-pt style]
[-imlocale string] [-imfont fontname] [-name string] [-title string]
[-n string] [-sl number] [-embed windowid] [-/+override-redirect]
[-pty-fd fileno] [-/+hold] [-w number] [-b number] [-/+bl] [-lsp number]
[-letsp number] [-/+sbg] [-mod modifier] [-/+ssc] [-/+ssr]
[-e command arg …]
So I installed Flash plugin for Firefox in usual way as shown below.
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
Pros: Rapid boot speed, excellent hardware detection and configuration, good default applications and strong package management
Cons: Mosty all are minor stuffs. Default Desktop effects is not smooth experience, absence flashplugin by default or no easy way to install flashplugin, inconsistent UI
It is definitely a must have Live CD in your shelf.