Review: Knoppix 6.4.3 Live

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).

Hardware specification

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 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.

Default Desktop of Knoppix Live

Hardware support

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.

Desktop effects Enable/Disable Preference settings

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.

Dual Monitor auto detection


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.

Firefox has been pre-installed NoScript extension, which stops running the javascript in all unecured sites (non https). And also Flash plugin is also not installed by default. Though the script blocking justified for security reasons, it makes web experience not smoother.

Firefox pre-installed with NoScript extension

Software management

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.

GNOME-Mplayer as default media player playing with MP3 support out of box

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
options: styles,combining,blink,encodings=eu+vn+jp+jp-ext+kr+zh+zh-ext,fade,transparent,tint,XIM,frills,selectionscrolling,wheel,slipwheel,cursorBlink,pointerBlank,…..
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

Most widely used Components and Applications Installation Tool

Final thoughts

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.

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  2. Hello,

    Landed here via Google.

    First, I must ask why your review is for the 6.4.3 release of Knoppix, when the latest one available to the general public seems to be 6.4.4.

    I wonder whether it could be because of the way there is a link to the release notes for 6.4.3 at the top of the mirrors page on the Knoppix web site ( )

    In general, I must say that I found the organization of the Knoppix web site(s) leaves much to be desired and figuring-out which release is actually the latest and then finding the right ISO was hardly simple.

    NoScript extension, which stops running the javascript in all unecured sites (non https).

    While NoScript does indeed offer the option to “Forbid active web content unless it comes from a secure (HTTPS) connection”, that is by no means the primary function of NoScript.

    The primary function of NoScript is to block all JavaScript, Java and plugins by default, allowing one to choose which sites to allow by whitelisting them.

    @eselma: “Warvault” was correct; while all the other versions of Linux Mint are based on Ubuntu, the Debian Edition (LMDE) is, as the name obviously implies, based directly on Debian.

  3. Thanks for the nice review of Knoppix, my first distro when I tried linux 7 years ago. It was really amazing when I saw for the first time a full operating system running from a cd 🙂
    Since then I have been using so many distros, but I always feel Knoppix has its own original and personal touch, a truly different class and excellent distro indeed.

  4. @Ed The Red,

    While Mint is a good distro it is based in Ubuntu, not Debian. In fact, it is called “The polished Ubuntu”,

    For a Debian squeeze based distro with latest Firefox, video drivers (out of the box, even “live” for nVidia cards) you could test MEPIS ( ). The latest version is 11.00; and by the way, it was the first live distro ever, even before Knoppix, eight years ago. And, as Knoppix, it has a great hardware detection.

  5. I´d like to know if it supports touchscreen monitors. Ubuntu doesn´t support it yet.

  6. @Ed The Red
    For a nice installable Linux based on Debian stable I have taken to installing Mint Debian Edition and changing the /etc/apt/sources.list. I replace all the “testing”s with “squeeze”s. Haven’t noticed any dramas with my XFCE edition install…

  7. Meh, another Live CD. While I am glad compiz is now working, at least to some extent with nouveau, it isn’t something I care about in a live disc.

    What I would like to know is how Kanotix is when it is installed. I know it is possible.

    But it might be nice to have a nice installable Linux based on Debian stable, but with a more modern kernel and version of iceweasel/firefox. And presumably the reason it can handle so much hardware is that it already has the firmware-linux stuff that is stripped out of the official Debian versions these days. Would it ‘apt-get upgrade’ reliably?

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