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Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 09:06 PM EDT

I get a lot of email asking me how to get started in GNU/Linux. I usually suggest trying Knoppix out first. What is Knoppix?
KNOPPIX is a bootable CD or DVD with a 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 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 8 GB on the DVD "Maxi" edition).

By the way, as many of you will know the Knoppix Live DVD is now available. Yum. Here's everything you get.

For all of you who are maybe thinking about trying GNU/Linux or Knoppix yourself, I thought I'd say an encouraging word. It's nowhere near as hard as you may have heard. Here are two newbies, both women, one a mom and one a grandmother, and they both managed to function just fine when they decided to give it a whirl.

A site called asked the mom, who isn't particularly computer knowledgeable, to try out Fedora (installed for her), and she explains exactly what she tried (GAIM, Gimp, her digital camera, etc.) and if something didn't immediately work, how she solved it, with some help from the forum participants. She points to their how-to helping her set up mplayer, for example, and here's their "How to read your NTFS partitions in 5 minutes or less". I'm sure we can guess whose fault it probably is that it is somewhat complex to set it up to run Windows Media files in Linux. Even with the few things that caused her some preliminary issues, she solved everything and then she fell in love. It's fun to read a complete newbie enjoy Fedora.

The grandmother is our own brooker, who decided to try to save a relative's files on an ailing XP computer using a Knoppix CD.

She had read on Groklaw about how wonderful I think Knoppix, the CD, is and how you can rescue files on an ailing Windows computer with it, and so she tried it on a friend's computer to save a few Word files, and then when her niece found herself with a Windows computer that wouldn't boot at all, cram full of urgently important files, brooker just plunged in, and without any help at all, not even documentation, she successfully saved most of the files. She didn't try to fix the Windows side instead of saving the files, which is what I would have looked at first, myself. Because she decided to save files and did it by trial and error, it naturally took longer than if she'd had a friend show her, and she definitely took the long way around, but I thought it was so interesting to see that trial and error actually works for a newbie to Knoppix, I asked her to tell us what happened, the detailed version. Some of you will no doubt be willing to share with her some better ways, and that's fine.

I'll let her tell you the rest of her adventure. And keep in mind she is new to GNU/Linux, not just to Knoppix, although certainly above-average competent in the Windows environment. I guess Windows users simply must learn a few things to stay afloat at all, or have a designated tech support family member to help. It's not like you can just call up Microsoft for free and ask them how to access your files when your computer won't boot any more.

She just plunged in, but for those who prefer at least a star to guide them in Knoppix, there are books. Here's one in English. There are books in German and Japanese too, on how to use Knoppix. You can use Knoppix without installing it, just live from the CD or DVD, or you can install it on your computer, and brooker did both. Here's a NTFS FAQ from the Linux-NTFS Project. Here's what they are about:

A free (GPL) NTFS write support is currently under development. Experimental-oriented developers may find the corresponding tools and instructions for accessing rw-mounts of NTFS-Partitions, on the DVD (use at your own risk).

Here's some documentation.

Remember as you read brooker's account that she took the scenic route. With a book, nothing would take you three days. And with a friend to ask questions, things she couldn't figure out would have been doable. But I find it encouraging to know that even with nobody available to walk her through it, with a little persistence, using her Windows skills, she was able to rescue almost all files from Windows using Knoppix. The next time you are faced with such a problem, perhaps you can try Knoppix too.


A Knewbie's Knoppix Rescue Adventure,

~ by brooker

First things first...

Who am I?

I'm a decidedly ordinary person, certainly no tech guru, not a programmer, or a scientist, nor particularly well-educated.

I am an artist/illustrator and work from my home studio, full time, and have been doing this type of work for almost 35 years, but have only been using the computer as a drawing and design tool since '94. (I still keep my old pens & ink, colored pencils, t-squares and triangles handy though!)

Most of my work is for publishers of educational materials for grades K-12. The most used programs on my computer -- in fact, just about the only major programs installed on my computer -- are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for book layouts, and an old version of Quark, though I avoid Quark unless absolutely forced to use it.

I am an older woman (yes, a grandmother many times over), and I have deadlines that I must meet without fail. Excuses like "Windows ate my last assignment" are not acceptable when the publisher has printing deadlines of their own to meet. It's a good way to lose a contract job, which is why it was very important to me, early on, to learn how to take care of my computer systems and maintain as secure, stable and dependable work tools as possible.

Wrestling Windows into submission was NEVER easy. It was a process of many years, during which I killed many a system by experimenting (mostly trying to fix them after a crash). These days I maintain an uneasy truce with Windows, and my main system has now run steadily for 3 years without problems. I can tell that it's beginning to slow down a bit though, and constant vigilance is still required to stay on top of things.

Over the years my family and friends began to call and ask for help for their own computer problems. It's always been a labor of love for me to help them whenever I could. My son always showed tremendous patience with me whenever I'd call him for help, so it only seems right to pass that help on. Doing so also helped me to learn more and gain a little confidence with my own computers. Scary as it might seem to more tech-savvy folks, among my small circle of family and friends, I am the Tech Support Lady, not because I particularly know all that much, but because they know I'll do my best to help out, and to teach them whatever I learn without making them feel badly about making mistakes, which is why I always keep my eyes peeled for utilities and tools that can help make fixing ailing Windows systems faster and easier.

When I heard about Knoppix, I had to try it.

My Computers

I have 3 computers in the house, but the one I love and work with the most was given to me by my youngest son. He airbrushed pretty blue flames on the case, so I have to admit to being sentimental about keeping it running. The motherboard is an ABIT VP6, with dual PIII processors, 1GB RAM, and a rather elderly D-Link network card. It was a couple of years old when I inherited it, and I've used it for almost 5 years now. At one point its capacitors began to leak and needed to be sent off for repair, but that has been the only down time this computer has ever had. It is a dependable and much beloved work horse, and I'm rather proud of it.

The case cover isn't on it any more (I didn't want to chance scratching the wonderful paint job), and I've attached a mishmash of hard drives to it, in fact 2 are hanging outside of the case right now, braced on small cardboard boxes covered with anti-static bags, easy to unplug and swap with another, if necessary. I have the whole thing resting on the floor (not inside a desk enclosure), on a piece of wooden shelving with plastic "sliders" under it, so I can easily move it out to swap hardware when needed. This is the computer that I use to plug other people's hard drives in to to rescue files and run anti-virus on them. It only has one CD-burner on it.

I might add here that my ability to gracefully climb under my computer desk to "swap parts" has diminished considerably over the last few years (along with my enthusiasm for doing so). I can still manage it, but not without a few groans and crackles from knees and elbows.

All 3 computers in my house share a cable modem through a Netgear router. There are shared folders on all systems, and two external storage drives are connected by USB and mapped for easy access from the other computers. It's not a fancy setup, but it works. I try to keep things simple because I am not particularly knowledgeable about technical things and don't always have the time to figure them out. My main interest is doing work using my computer, not working on the computer itself.

I had helped save a couple of files (Word docs) off of a friend's ailing Windows computer, using Knoppix 3.8 on her computer, a system much newer than any of mine. That first experience doing a "for real" file rescue was a snap. Once Knoppix had booted up and opened to display the desktop, it showed icons of the two hard drives that were available.

In Windows, whenever I can't think of what to do next, I just try right-clicking on things to see what sort of menu choices I get. I found that it works in Knoppix too.

I right-clicked on each of those drive icons and found a nice menu. One thing I have learned from my adventures with Linux is that drives need to be "mounted" in order for them to be accessible. In the right-click menu the option to "mount" or "unmount" makes that task very easy to do. Opening a mounted drive only requires one click on the icon, or select "Open" from that same right-click menu. Pretty easy stuff.

The files that needed to be retrieved were all Word docs, and by clicking on the drive icon, navigating to and opening the folder where the Word docs were, I was able to copy and paste them into a disk in the floppy drive. Piece of cake.

The Big Files Rescue Operation Begins

I had another opportunity to use Knoppix recently when my niece was scheduled to bring her computer for me to look at.

My niece had called about her newest computer having "problems", and she said she would be bringing it over a few days later. Now I figured it'd be fun, just like my first trial run. Actually, it WAS kind of fun, and lots of things were easy, but it was not at all like my first file rescue using Knoppix. In part, it was because my computer is so old, I think, and mostly because it was a much larger project, saving everything on the computer, some files too big for a floppy.

My niece's computer is a Shuttle, with a Maxtor 250GB hard drive, 512MB RAM, and a Siluro FX5200 graphics card. I believe the network and sound cards are integrated into the motherboard.

I started on Saturday, and on Tuesday there were notes scattered from here (my studio room) to the kitchen (where the ailing computer is set up on my "island" counter). This time the rescue was not so simple, it was a long and wearying task. My niece's computer was completely unbootable. When I pulled her hard drive out and plugged it into my own computer, Windows wouldn't even recognize it, just popped up error boxes.

However, Knoppix not only recognized the drive, it let me access her files as well.

When Knoppix had the contents of her hard drive displayed on the screen, I asked which files she needed to save. She then began to point to folders that, added together, made up around 320MB. These files weren't just Word & Excel files (though there were plenty of those), they were AutoCad files (she works for an architect,so a great many of those files were .dwgs), client project files (she also does custom work for a remodelling company), images from job sites (about 200 of them), and her entire past portfolio of personal artwork. And she hadn't backed any of them up.

She had recently finished moving ALL of her archived portfolio of design and past client project files off of several zip disks, using her old external zip drive, onto her Shuttle. She had been in the process of organizing them for burning on CDs when her computer crashed. Her computer is a daily work tool for her, like mine is for me, so I understood her distress when it crashed and hoped to be able to help.

Getting Started

We set the Shuttle up in my kitchen and turned it on. As she had described earlier, it booted to the point of starting to load Windows then went to a blue screen and would go no further, not even in Safe mode.

I inserted the Knoppix Live CD into the CD drawer and restarted. We watched as Knoppix began listing the parts on her computer (I'm sorry not to be better at terminology), and it opened onto a screen that offered a choice of exiting entirely, or continuing to load into Knoppix. By hitting return (or "enter"), the desktop began to load.

Knoppix always opens a browser window first thing (Konquerer), which I closed. The desktop then displays a cheerful group of icons along the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Rolling the cursor over just about anything in Knoppix will bring up small descriptions, so getting a basic idea of what those taskbar icons do is pretty easy.

Icons for all the drives that Knoppix "sees" are displayed right on the desktop.

From my previous experiments with the Knoppix Live CD, I knew where to find the "Home" directory from the taskbar (it's the house icon), and how to access the hard drives that are displayed as icons on the desktop (just click on 'em; remember to "mount" them first).

Because Knoppix displays the contents of a hard drive in the same way that Windows does, it was easy to navigate to the folder that my niece wanted rescued. I opened it and asked her to show me which files she needed. That's when she hesitantly confessed that she hadn't backed up any of her time sheets and other Word and Excel docs in over a week, and explained the fact that her entire portfolio of past projects and artwork was in there too (from those old zip disks), plus several folders full of photo files taken at job sites (.jpgs and .pngs).

All together there were 320MB worth of Auto-Cad, Excel, Word, .jpg, .png, Quicken, and TurboTax files. Many were not backed up anywhere.

Because her Shuttle doesn't have a floppy drive, and neither of us have USB thumb drives, I knew I would have to plug that hard drive into my own computer, which I did.

Once the Shuttle's hard drive was connected as a slave to my computer, I restarted into Windows hoping I could just run my anti-virus through that drive and then grab that huge block of files and transfer them directly to another drive. I've done that before many times on ailing windows drives. However, this time Windows wouldn't even recognize that drive at all. It popped up error boxes (I didn't write the Windows error messages down, but do remember that they contained exclamation points and discouraging words like "unreadable disk" & "I/O problems"). Windows couldn't even read the drive enough to do a scandisk, and my AV couldn't recognize the drive to run a virus check on it.

I was afraid to mess with it too much in Windows, so I put the Knoppix CD in the CD drawer and restarted my computer. I have learned that using Knoppix from CD does not touch or alter the hard drive at all, so I felt safer using it on that sick hard drive. All of the drives on my computer were listed as icons, and though I did get a few errors at first when I tried to open that damaged drive again, I kept trying and it did finally do it.

My first goal was to get a copy of those folders into the Knoppix "Home" directory where I could work with them away from the ailing hard drive. I didn't move all of them at once, because I knew that running Knoppix from CD means that there is only a limited amount of memory to work within. I'm afraid I only minimally understand how that works (magic, maybe? :o), but I did feel that it would be wisest to do things in smaller workable chunks. I asked her to prioritize those files and tell me which ones to go for first. I stressed that, not knowing how close that drive might be to total failure, there were no guarantees that I could save them all, if any.

I don't think she really understood my pessimism, but did point to some folders that she felt were most urgent to save, about 129MB worth...and then she left for work.

Planning a course of action

Left to myself to think the project through and (I hoped) to come up with a solution that didn't involve using the floppy drive, I began looking through the various bundled programs in Knoppix and found K3b for CD burning. I ran the program and could see that it recognized my Lite-on CD burner...which was where the Knoppix Live CD was sitting at the time.

Now, I know this will likely sound dumb to others, but I remembered once when I had installed an upgrade to one of my Adobe programs from CD, during the authorization process, when the installer asked where to find the previous version for the upgrade, if it couldn't find the "prev install" folder on the hard drive it instructed the user to insert the original CD in the drive instead, and even says that it's ok to take the upgrade CD out and replace it with the original CD if necessary. Which I remember doing, and the Adobe installation and authentication process continued just fine, though to go beyond that stage it did require the upgrade installation CD to be reinserted.

I don't know if I explained that very well, but basically I wondered if Knoppix could actually let me replace the Knoppix Live CD with a blank CD for a short time, and let me burn those files. (Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained :o)

It didn't work, but I learned something by trying and didn't despair. I just decided to install a second CD burner on my computer. Piece of Cake. I didn't think it would take but a few minutes to do.

Now, over the years I've acquired a variety of rag-tag computer parts, and in my cupboard there were several orphaned, slightly dusty CD drives lined up like books on the shelf. I had no idea if any of them actually worked, so I piled them up beside my computer desk and picked one to try. Two hours later, I had a Lite-on DVDR-W installed and recognized by Knoppix (I had pulled it out of my niece's Shuttle).

*My CD installation adventures during those two hours would make quite a humorous tale (with bits of slapstick that Laural and Hardy might appreciate), but it's best left to another time. I'll just note here that the knees and elbows were now groaning and crackling quite emphatically.

Because I had shut my computer down to install the CDburner, I had to once again boot into Knoppix, open the ailing hard drive (it still took several tries before it opened), and copy those folders back to the Knoppix "Home" directory.

I opened K3b again and was pretty excited to see the second burner listed for me to select, so I proceeded to give it a try. I navigated to the "Home" directory and dragged those folders into the Data Project window and hit the "Burn" icon with great anticipation.

Everything looked like it would work, but very shortly into the process an error box popped up. I am sorry to say that I didn't write it down. I am not a good multitasker and tend to get too absorbed in things...I'm also a little forgetful. Sorry.

The next idea was to try to move those files to another drive on my computer. My first choice was an external USB storage drive. However, when I tried copying and pasting a file to that drive, I got an error message that said: "Could not write to /mnt/uba1/archway.dwg"

I right-clicked on the desktop icon for that USB drive, and found an option to change the read/write permissions. So, thinking that might be a solution, I chose that. A dialog box popped up that asked "Make partition/dev/uba1 writable?" (I checked, "Yes")

I was asked to confirm: "Do you really want to change partition/dev/uba1 to be writable?" I chose "Yes" again, and it only took a second or two for that change to be made and confirmed.

I tried once more to copy/paste a file to that USB drive. That's when a rather disconcerting warning message popped up:

X Error

Warning: "The partition/dev/uba1 is of type NTFS! Writing to this file system can cause data loss. You can try using the captive-ntfs driver (see Knoppix utility menu), or only do write operations manually & expect to have to reinstall the file system afterwards. This dialog won't do this risky thing for you, and will quit now without changing anything."

Quite polite and to the point, and I felt that it was best not to argue. I also appreciated a program that would not do anything risky for me. Feeling that I might be getting in over my head if I tried to mess with file systems, I decided to look for something that was more within my newbie abilities.

That's when I decided to just install Knoppix to a hard drive. Then I could set up my own passwords and give myself "root" authority. I felt it was very likely that I could burn a CD from an installed Knoppix.

So, I installed it. I had a short little video tutorial on installing Knoppix from a website called irongeek. I ran that tutorial on another computer (which is basically a storage computer on the other desk in my office that I use as a juke box to play music while I has a CD burner, but no floppy drive).

Because I didn't want to inadvertently mess up anything on my other drives during the Knoppix install, I unplugged all of them and pulled a spare little 20GB drive from my spare parts cupboard and plugged it in. The Knoppix installation was a breeze, not one single problem, and within 30 minutes I was booted into Knoppix for real. How fun!

Unfortunately, the ailing Windows drive wasn't accessible from within the installed Knoppix. I don't know why, or what made the difference, but no matter what I tried, Knoppix just wouldn't open that drive anymore. I was heartbroken and very upset, afraid that I might have somehow caused the drive to fail entirely.

At this point, there were thunderstorms brewing outside, so I powered everything down and quit for the night.

Day 2

Around noon the following day, I decided to try the Live CD once more, just to see if it might read that hard drive one more time. It took a few attempts and I almost gave up, but it DID open at last.

After moving a chunk of those files into the Home directory again, I began digging through them to see what I was dealing with. It was becoming clearer to me that I might not have many more chances to save anything from that Windows drive, so I considered just seeing how much I could get transferred by using the floppy drive, if it came to that.

The bad news was that many of the folders were full of other folders, which were full of zipped files, which were full of more folders with more zipped files.

The good news was that when I unzipped them using a little utility that comes bundled in Knoppix called Ark, most of the individual files were of a size that would fit on a floppy disk. I was extremely impressed with Ark, it made the job of unzipping and organizing the files into floppy-sized chunks a breeze. It literally runs rings around WinZip.

My next task was to see if any of my old floppies were even still good. I hadn't used them in ages. I actually found about 30 of them in a box. So, the file transferring task began.

The only other computer I have with a floppy drive, is a little-used, rather elderly machine (without a CDburner) located at the other end of the house. It is connected to my network though, and has a shared folder. I spent the rest of the day copying files to floppies and carrying them to the other room, feeding them into the old computer's shared folder, then coming back to fill up some more. I had to stop once again for thunderstorms (and food and sleep), and called my niece with the good news that I had about 2/3 of her files saved. She was glad to hear it, but asked if I could, please, keep trying to save the rest.

There was one folder in particular that I was afraid would be too much to save...and of course, that was the very one she wanted the most. I didn't have the heart to say no, or to stop trying.

Day 3

I held my breath the next morning as I fired up the Knoppix CD once more. It took several tries, but Knoppix is a trooper and opened the drive again, and I started the process of filling floppies again.

When I got to the image folder there were over 200 images. Many were too large to fit on a floppy. So, I opened The Gimp image editor and saved them as .jpgs, which brought up a slider allowing me to reduce the file size. It reduced the quality a bit as well, but at least the image was saved.

By afternoon a friend pitched in to help me with the transfers, as I filled floppies, he fed them into the other computer, while I filled more. It helped a lot.

By 7:30PM that evening, Knoppix, a couple of floppy drives, and 30 blank floppy disks had helped save 308MB of files. I immediately ran a virus scan and then transferred the whole thing to a computer with a CD burner and burned it all on CD.

By 8:00PM I had both the DVD drive and the sickly Maxtor drive back in the Shuttle with the Maxtor analysis utility running, and my own computer put back to normal. The little 20GB drive with Knoppix installed was unplugged (I'm still a little shy about trying a dual boot setup with Windows). Then I had to get back to my job for a while.

It was a long and wearying few days, but I was proud that with a lot of patience and that little Knoppix CD, I managed to recover 309 MB of files.

There were some very frustrating moments. I could see those files and open them, and saving them to floppy was easy, but because there were so MANY I really didn't want to have to break them down and save them one floppy at a time. I've since found information about burning CDs here: .

With all the files saved (and checked over with my anti-virus program) I was free to try to get that Windows system repaired and running, but it was not repairable. It was (as the Munchkins declared of the squashed witch in the Wizard of Oz) "not merely dead, but truly, most sincerely dead".

Lessons Learned

Looking back I have to laugh, because it was a little like a crew of teeny-tiny tug boats rescuing the cargo off of a big wallowing tanker. Transferring files onto and off of floppies was such a slow process -- waiting for the little floppy drives to stop ticktickticking each time was a serious lesson in patience.

That should be the end of the story, but there is a little follow up. I wrote to PJ and told her the experiences I'd had with my niece's Shuttle, and she asked if I could try again to burn a CD, maybe be more specific with the steps I took, and suggested that I not do anything to that ailing hard drive yet, because maybe some readers might know how to save the rest of the files from it.

So, this morning I plugged the 20GB drive with Knoppix installed back in to my computer, also pulled that DVD-RW drive back out of the Shuttle and added it back into my computer, and booted into Knoppix.

In the installed Knoppix, I opened K3b again and was given a "writer Speed Verification" box. The speed for my older Lite-on is 40x and the default setting was correct. Both Lite-ons were listed, and the blank CD was acknowledged, but the DVD-RW drive was greyed out.

I picked some random files off of one of my hard drives and pasted them into the Home directory, and then dragged them into the Data Project window in K3b and hit the "Burn" icon. That CD was burned in the blink of an eye! It was SO easy that it made me laugh. I loved it.

I'm rather proud of saving those files off that drive even though I apparently did it the hardest way possible. I'll likely look back on this weekend someday and laugh at my muddling efforts. I still have much to learn about GNU/Linux.

What are my conclusions about using Knoppix, or any GNU/Linux software as a newbie? Is it too hard for ordinary users to figure out?

Well, I USED to believe that, mostly because I had read it so often. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't think of one single skill in this world that doesn't require at least a little bit of patience and effort to learn.

I used to think that, for longtime Windows users like me, using GNU/Linux would feel like visiting an alien planet. But it's not that way at all, especially not in the newer versions. To me, it's been more like visiting a new friend's house. The furniture and floor plan might be different from yours in your home, and there might be different pictures on the walls, but the things that matter are basically the same. For instance, the faucets still work like faucets, the toilet flushes like any other, the refrigerator door takes no time to figure out, and there's no problem understanding which room is the kitchen and which is a bedroom.

It would not take long to wander down hallways and open a few doors (with the host's kind permission, of course) to learn your way around the main areas of a new house. Knoppix is very much like that. A great many things work in standard ways. It's not at all scary to explore, in fact exploring seems to be encouraged, and it doesn't take long to feel at home with Knoppix. I liked seeing at one point during the boot process, that the word "Welcome" is displayed in several different languages. It's a nice touch.

There is definitely some learning needed to do more complex things with Knoppix, but anyone that thinks the basics might be hard to learn will be pleasantly surprised to find how very easy it is. Personally, I honestly wouldn't want an OS that I couldn't grow with.

If you think about it, most people just learn a few basic things with Windows programs and don't mess with more complex things. It's easy to keep to simple things in Knoppix as well.

Was I disappointed that some things didn't work for me as I hoped on my first attempt? No. The bottom line is that an ordinary newbie user just managed to save 309MB of files, using a variety of tools on Knoppix, like Arc, Gimp, OpenOffice (I used OO to turn several documents into PDFs), and even though I was not able to successfully burn CDs while using Knoppix Live from CD, the K3b software worked like a charm in my installed version of Knoppix.

I attempted a rescue that happened to be a bit larger and more complex than I was prepared for, but that was not the fault of Knoppix. When I used it the first time to save just a couple of files, it worked perfectly. In fact, when all else failed, Knoppix just worked. When I booted into my Knoppix installation the last time, I was able to relax and explore a little. It is just plain nice!

Are there things about Knoppix that are too complex for newbies? Sure, but there are also a HUGE amount of things that are not only friendly to users, but LOTS easier to use than the Windows equivalent.

Also, my old computer runs SO fast when running the installed Knoppix that I am floored! And, the very nicest part of all is that I can now burn LOTS of Knoppix Live CDs and give them away! In fact, I've done quite a bit of that.

I have known for a long time now that I never would upgrade my Win2K systems to any newer Windows versions. I also want to help my family and friends get off of the Windows treadmill. I am more confident now than ever before that GNU/Linux is the way to go.

I've wanted to learn how to install a GNU/Linux system for a very long time, but whenever I'd read articles or posts on forums that stated that Linux was still too complex and "not ready for grandma yet", I always felt discouraged, sure that it would be too difficult for me to learn. I really was a little afraid of it.

Then it occurred to me that all of those posts and articles over the years that kept me discouraged might have been intended to do just that. Fear is the first part of FUD, after all, and I fell for it. Hmmmph. Hanging out for a little while each day at Groklaw -- one of the FUD-Bustingest websites around -- has helped a lot to dispel the fear factor.

I've been impressed and happily surprised at how much fun it has been to use and learn Knoppix and other Linux software. Even with my systems that have a lot of old hardware (which would be all of them), I've been amazed at how much is recognized immediately when I experiment with installing different operating systems. So far I like SuSE the best, but I still have a few hardware issues to work out with it. I have Mandriva on one spare hard drive, and it was pretty easy to install, and now I have Knoppix on another. I'm still running Windows 2KPro on my main system, but I I am slowly whittling away at the need to have it at all.

So if you think it's too hard for you, think again, and give Knoppix a whirl, ideally before you need to use it as a rescue vehicle. If I can do it, anyone can. And that's the truth.


Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora | 418 comments | Create New Account
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Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 09:30 PM EDT
I'd like to see a guide by task. That is, if you want to set up a printer, here
is what you do, if you want to see your network configuration like you do
so-and-so in Windows, here is the equivalent in Linux. The Knoppix CD has tons
of programs on it but it is confusing what you use for which task. Many seem to
perform many of the same things... why one over another, and which to use?

The reality is that for most people with everyday computing tasks, Linux is just
fine, but they are used to a minimal knowledge of how to do things in Windows
and they don't know how to translate that into the equivalent minimum working
knowledge in Linux.

Is there a guide like this? Something compact enough to print up that I can
give to people?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here please
Authored by: fudisbad on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 09:36 PM EDT
For current events, legal filings and Caldera® collapses.

Please make links clickable.
Example: <a href="">Click here</a>

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
Darl McBride, show your evidence!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please
Authored by: fudisbad on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 09:47 PM EDT
If required.

See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
Darl McBride, show your evidence!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: DarrenR114 on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 09:51 PM EDT
Bob Mims, are you listening??

If not, maybe you should be.

I'm gonna email a link to this page just in case you don't follow Groklaw.

No job is too small for dynamite ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's holding me back...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 10:01 PM EDT my Palm Pilot. Seems like most of the Palm Apps are made to run on
Windows. Take for instance, chapura's TurboPassword. It's Windows only. If I
didn't have the Palm Pilot, I'd have done this long ago.

What do I do about these database applications on the Palm Pilot? Do they all
use something like the HotSync Manager?

Suggestions are very welcome.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix, Suse and Gentoo
Authored by: rtrentc on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 10:14 PM EDT
My Suggestion is to get your feet wet with Knoppix, then grab Suse to get used
to the linux system, and finally install Gentoo. Gentoo is a great system to
really learn how linux is put together. Its a bit like doing linux from scratch
in that you can build the system from the ground up. And the gentoo
documentation and community forums are great.

Now if your doing a production system I would then suggest Suse or RHEL. But for
personal use, Suse or Gentoo.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: Malor on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 10:23 PM EDT
Wow, you got an awful lot correct here. Overall, you approached this problem
better than many 'real' computer techs I've known. You may not have the pure
depth of technical knowledge that the dedicated geeks do, but you have a great
deal of common sense.

What you just went through is exactly the sort of thing that makes people into
computer techs. For most of us, learning how to be really good with computers
required a great deal of time doing exactly what you just did.... trying to dig
our way out of holes that either we or someone else had created. After you've
either dug or failed to dig your way out of enough holes, you get pretty good at
digging. :)

My only suggestion, overall, is to point out that USB drives have gotten pretty
cheap. You can get 256mb USB flash drives for well under $50. Had I been stuck
in your posiion, that's what I would have used. The time saved by avoiding
floppies would have paid for the flash drive.

Overall, great job! You successfully did what needed doing. In the long run,
that is ALL that matters. You saved the data. Everything else is ancillary to
that... if the data was saved, it was a good repair. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Knoppix for newbies??? No way!
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 10:35 PM EDT
Knoppix would, probably, be the worst thing to suggest to a newbie, who
have only seen Windows. The first thing a newbie would do after seeing
Knoppix is to run away, kicking and screaming, and never come back to ever
looking at Linux. First time I checked it out I kept wondering what is so cool
about it and so far failed to figure that out.

Linspire, on the other hand, is a great choice for newbies: excellent desktop
Linux distribution, in my opinion. Clean, nice design, simple and pretty
powerful. Linspire would definitely catch an eye of a newbie - both by its
looks and its simplisity. It feels somewhat like Mac OS X: Linux inside, nice
eye candy outside.

Personally I prefer Mandrake Linux... Ooops, I mean Mandriva :) And they also
have some sort of 'Live' CD to try out, although I would still recommend
Linspire for newbies.

Just my $.2 :)

Regards - farlander.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Print it and frame it.
Authored by: dingletec on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 11:08 PM EDT
I want this article on my wall where I can see it. As an IT worker, nothing
makes me happier than people who simply try to figure things out. I love it!
Thank you for sharing, it is a great encouragement. My only suggestion is to
remember you have a network. If you had a shared folder, it would have taken a
minute to copy all of those files to the other computer. But you only really
learn something well by doing it the hard way a few hundred times or so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

on a related note
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 11:09 PM EDT
knoppix livecd was the cat's meow earlier this week when my sig other's hdd data
partition took a walk in windows xp.

i was pretty sure it was just a scrambled mft [caused by a poorly tested
software installer - grr!], but wanted to back the data up before doing a
chkdisk -f [or anything more in depth] just in case anything went awry.

both windows xp and a windows pe boot disk where fooled by the messed up mft,
but knoppix read it like a champ. i saved the data to a portable usb hdd [fat
not ntfs], fixed the drive with chkdisk and went to bed happy =)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 11:56 PM EDT
Dear author and readers,

I am a Linux Administrator. I'm working in an organization where most of the IT
staffs are Windows Administrator.

We have a few copy of Knoppix. Many of the IT staffs (Windows Administrator)
have tried it including myself.

Apparently Knoppix make my boss thought that Windows Desktop and Linux Desktop
are all the same. Not to mention already some IT staff thought that Linux Server
installation is just the same as Windows Server installation. Anybody can just
install Linux for end-user and forget. "Why do you need to administer a
Linux desktop ?" he question. "What worse thing can happened ?".

Believe me, we can promote Linux to end-user but remember: Knoppix is just one
of Linux distribution. Linux is just a kernel, but the packages inside that make
it applicable to end-user or not. Even for Windows XP, we still need to do some

Fortunately for any Linux distro, it is easier to remotely administer Linux
desktop and write script that can be run at schedule time in any distro.

So, though Knoppix is easy to use, I believe it may work for use at home, for
some organization but not for other organization.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm driven by my budget
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 20 2005 @ 11:57 PM EDT
My family are heavy computer users. My son has a bunch of music
editing/synthesizing/? programs. My daughter specializes in graphics and video.
I use my tired old laptop as an X server to faster computers at home and work.

I don't know what it would cost to do the same thing in Windows but I bet it
would be in the thousands.

The other thing is that I now feel helpless on a Windows box. It's so
frustrating not to be able to do things that are trivial in Linux.

I have a few frustrations (but not enough to drive me back to Windows): I
haven't found a decent AutoCad clone, OpenOffice doesn't handle Word templates
accurately, translating from WebCT to Moodle is rocky.

If your computer use has advanced to the point that you are fixing and modifying
your own computer, it's probably worth your while to migrate to Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: urzumph on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:35 AM EDT
One thing I have learned from my adventures with Linux is that drives need to be "mounted" in order for them to be accessible. In the right-click menu the option to "mount" or "unmount" makes that task very easy to do.

I think perhaps this is one thing that a lot of people new to Linux ask about, because it is so hidden in Windows. (Ever wonder what that 'Safely remove hardware' thing is? (for USB sticks) That's Windows unmounting.)

Without going into too many details, mounting a 'disk' (I hesitate to say 'disk' because you can mount lots of things that aren't disks in the traditional sense, which is how knoppix does it's magic) tells the computer that you want to access the files on it, and more importantly, how you want to access them. For example, you can access disks read only, limit who can mount and unmount the drive, limit execution of programs on the drive, and many other things.

Because you have manual control of mounting an unmounting, you can do some fairly amazing stuff, such as reformatting disks without turning off the computer (and potentially interupting whatever it is doing) and replacing whole sections of the file system (such as your home directory) with seperate disks (mountpoints not in /mnt)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Windows is winning the PSYOPS battle
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:45 AM EDT
    Remember as you read brooker's account that she took the scenic route. With a book, nothing would take you three days. And with a friend to ask questions, things she couldn't figure out would have been doable.
I know what you're saying, and I love Linux precisely because it is possible to troubleshoot and fix a problem, but my experience is that we are a microscopic minority. Most of the non-geeks I know would never spend the time, or even have the inclination to read a book or 'figure it out'.

I don't know if MS did it on purpose, but it was a stroke of genius to make Windows fix things when you reboot. It's something anyone can learn in 10 seconds and it does actually manage to fix things. This placebo makes a completely clueless user feel like they can 'fix' their computer. People are actually disappointed when I tell them there's no need to reboot a Linux system.

I also find that most people hate having to ask for help. It painfully highlights their ignorance (about computers that is, which is not a crime) and makes them feel helpless and dependant on someone else.

Unfortunately, the very things that make us love Linux, positively repel far far more. We'd do well to better understand and empathize with our non-geek cousins.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:53 AM EDT
This is great, and brooker has done an amazing job. But modesty aside, she's
not your average grandma. Not many grandma's I know can change their own
hardware around, though I'm sure all of them could if they were so inclined.

However, I think the myth that "Linux ain't ready for you grandma" can
be just as applicable to Windows, anyway. About the only system that is
"grandma-ready" is an Apple system, and even then no system is

What is really needed I think, and we are just now starting to see it, is a
"critical mass" of non-tech-savy Windows users who are fed-up with
Windows problems and trying something else. If there is a comunity that can
help and is approachable, then most will give something a go.

Sure, Linux has it's faults too. And you can argue over which
"distro" is the best for newbies 'till the time_t wraps around. But
as brooker says, at least you're off the tread-mill and there are people who can
help in non-judgemental ways, and they aren't all "religeous zealots"
whom you don't want to be "converted" by.

Anyway, the only religeous types I've dealt with are of the coven Redmond,
telling me I'm silly for using non-Microsoft products, because everybody uses

"Everybody" used to smoke cigarettes once, too...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
Authored by: jgr on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 01:15 AM EDT
Congrats on the files saved and lessons learned.

The methods you used were once very common, as they were the only method then
available. I support and administer many systems and would now use the following

1. Boot a Linux LiveCD in the "dead" system (w/o removing any hardware
from it).
2. Connect through the network to a Linux system w/ enough disk space for the
files to fit onto.
3. Open Konqueror and copy (drag 'n drop) all of the files from the
"dead" system to the Linux system.
4. Fix the "dead" box and copy all the files back.

[NOTE: An external USB memory / hard drive is another good solution for the
intermediary storage function.]

Burning CD(s) or DVD(s) of the important data is a good idea, along with helping
the user understand the importance of their continuing to do so periodically.

I would recommend PCLinuxOS ( ),
based on Mandrake, as a good beginner system. The big pluses are 1) Better menu
organization, 2) Easier config tools (i.e. more like the Windows' Control
Panel), 3) More current updates, and 4) Easier to install / uninstall

LinSpire is also an easy to use system but their Click 'n Run library files tend
toward staleness and there is a subscription cost.

Ubuntu / Kubuntu work well and have a good menu arrangement, but tend toward
updates being less current and w/ the same lack of config tools like Knoppix.

Granted, all of these systems have most individual component configuration
utilities available, but a new user will probably have trouble finding them
since they are not displayed in the menu choices.

Good luck with your (continuing) Linux adventure.


[ Reply to This | # ]

    Adventures in Windows security...
    Authored by: RedBarchetta on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 02:59 AM EDT
    So I'm in the school library, and I noticed they've done away with the clerk handling the login/time keeping for the use of the Microsoft Windows-based computers. Instead, the pencil pushers implemented an automated time keeping system that allocates time use.

    Being the old hack I decided to test the bounds strictly out of contempt for the faulty, new time allocation system. For reasons still unknown it would attempt to kick me off after about 2 minutes of use, indeed, always right after after the opening of IE7 and typing WWW.GROKLAW.NET into the location bar. This annoyed me because I was well under the visitor time limit of twenty minutes. Not one to waste time, I decided to try another sytem. Like the other system, I noticed this new one had a "start" menu with nothing available, and the desktop only had a few icons that represented the available applications (half-dozen, including IE 7). I decided to try IE7 on this new computer, hoping it might yield new results. This time, whenever I would open IE7 and type WWW.GROKLAW.NET into the location bar, IE7 would pop-up a window declaring that the site was being banned from view because of content restrictions. "What?," I thought, as my temperature started to rise. Is this "default IE7" behavior??

    So one of the oldest tricks is to kill any process with any security function, including the Windows screensaver. But when I CTRL-ALT-DEL'd this machine, I noticed the "Task Manager" button was greyed out. Nothing relating to task management was available to me, so I had to find other security holes. After some exploring, I became confused; the security was setup fairly well. So well, I thought, I might not be able do much. Faced with no task management, no ability to run random programs, no DOS shell, no telnet, no ftp, crippled IE7, and a half-baked time limit application, I managed to find one small, seemingly innocent exploit: IE7 allowed me to save files into the "MyDocuments" folder.

    No sooner had I finished downloading Mozilla 1.7.8, than I was off and installing it, completely bypassing any IE7 and/or the time monitoring application. Here was the rub, though. Upon installation completion, the Mozilla browser would automatically launch. Because I was restricted from accessing the "programs" menu, this was the only way I could get Mozilla to execute. This meant that whenever I wanted to cruise the web, as a visitor, unimpeded by Microsoft's "big brother" filters and time-monitoring applications, I needed to re-run the Mozilla install application so I could get Mozilla browser to run at the end. It's crazy, but it's true.

    Now each time I go to the library, I choose that one system on the far end, by the heater intake vent where no-one likes sitting. I'm able to read GROKLAW and surf the web without restriction using Mozilla, and I don't have to be bothered by the work of incompetent sysadmins.

    Mind you, this is all unbeknownst to the system adminstrator who sits a dozen yards away...

    (oh, and next time I'm taking the latest knoppix - all machines had CD-ROMs and the ability to boot from them. And on the last day of school, I just might install SuSE out of protest against Windoze!)

    Collaborative efforts synergise.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    "Knoppix Hacks"
    Authored by: attila_the_pun on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 03:09 AM EDT
    O'Reilly publish a book called "Knoppix Hacks" by Kyle Rankin. This contains all sorts of "hacks" for using Knoppix to achieve a range of tasks.

    Chapter 7 is entitled "Rescue Windows".

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Very handy addition -> 'toram'
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 03:10 AM EDT
    Very nice writeup, one thing I must add though is that
    when Knoppix first comes up and asks for any additional
    parameters, there is one option, 'toram' (without quotes), which means 'load the
    entire thing to RAM'. A system that
    has enough memory to do this will then read the entire
    CD and expand it all into memory, allowing you do unmount the
    CD and use it as a burner.

    In the past you also used to have to type 'lang=us' unless you wanted the
    language to be set to German.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: johol on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 04:01 AM EDT

    One thing I have seen no one mentioning is using Samba to mount other computers hard drives. Samba is a program which lets a Linux computer (or Unix computer for that matter) share "Windows shares" (or mount "Windows shares" shared by other computers).

    On the Knoppix web site there is a Samba HowTo (it's called "Smb HowTo" since the protocol used is the "Smb" protocol and the application that does the magic stuff is called "Samba")

    If you can get it working, then you should be able to mount a Windows share from within Knoppix and then copy files from the damaged hard drive to the mounted Windows share. No floppies involved. ;)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 04:29 AM EDT
    PJ? Is this you?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Yes - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:30 PM EDT
    Big List Of Live CD's
    Authored by: TAZ6416 on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 05:07 AM EDT
    Click Here

    I'm quite fond of BeatrIX myself


    Donkey Does London

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Linux = Choice = Wonderful!
    Authored by: TiddlyPom on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 05:59 AM EDT
    The think I like most about Linux is that there is plenty of choice and plenty of distributions to suit everybody :)

    I started out with Slackware which is still OK although I find the tar.gz package updates a bit primitive. I must admit though that it is *great* on old low performance handware - e.g. I have Slackware 10 running on an old Twinhead laptop (Pentium 90MHz, 48Mb RAM, 2Gb hard disk, 800x600 screen) and this runs (single) office applications sufficiently quickly to be usable. Try doing that with Windows XP and Microsoft Office!

    From there I graduated onto Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux. Personally I find Mandrake/Mandriva very easy to configure and use although I have always had a strange problem with networking locking up (requiring module unload/reload or restarting networking) which has put me off somewhat. Don't let this put you off however - I think Mandriva is great!

    I now have three favourite distributions dependent upon application.

    For development and for a superb stable distribution, I think you cannot beat Fedora Core and it makes a superb file server as well. The downsides are Redhats' political correctness (not surprising considering the actions of a certain Utah based company) meaning that there is no MP3/MPEG/DVD-Video/NTFS support out-of-the-box but it is pretty easy to add afterwards. I just wish that they would use Synaptic rather than Yum although I realise that Yum is better for mixed 32/64 bit systems.

    For newbies I would recommend either MEPIS or Ubuntu Linux as both are superb Debian based distros and very easy to install and configure. There is very little to choose between them although MEPIS has the advantage that the live CD is also installable whereas Ubuntu has separate live-CD and install CDs. MEPIS feels a bit more polished to use but Ubuntu has a better set of administration utilities and has more support. I guess if pushed I would tend to lean towards Ubuntu.

    With Novell making SuSE an open project (OpenSuSE), this might be a good choice for newbies as well although you still have to fight a little to get MP3s and DVDs to play.

    Bottom line is that one of the strengths of Linux is the choice of distributions which is also sadly why some Linux newcomers are put off.

    "There is no spoon?"
    "Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    From a UK Sunday National - "The worm that didn't turn up "
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 06:28 AM EDT

    Like many people last week, I received an urgent email from our network manager. It reads, in part: 'A new virus "W32/IRCBot.worm! MS05-039" is active out there and many machines are already infected.....

    But I rapidly learnt this was not what these wretches want to hear. They do not want to be told that they should abandon their Microsoft-ridden machines and worship in a different church. So in the end, I stopped telling them about Apple and Linux and began mouthing the soothing bromides favoured by vicars when dealing with terminal cases.

    And the moral of the story? Simply this: as far as computing is concerned, most people are masochists. And I am a sadist, because I have stopped flogging them with the truth... The Observer

    Brian S.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Have paid the $200?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:04 AM EDT
    Not wanting to rain on their parade, but these things do need to be asked.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    How to solve chicken and egg problem.
    Authored by: troll on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:13 AM EDT
    Dear gramdma.

    I have had the same problem.
    I had to burn a CD from a live Linux distro.
    The problem was, all that was instaled in the computer was one CDRW drive and
    one HD. I solved my "chicken and egg" problem by using slax
    distribution. Slax is a live CD.

    Slax is surprisingly small. Some 200MB. Small size has several advantages. You
    can burn it to a small CD that fits into shirt pocked (or in grandma's purse
    The most important advantage its small size brings is that you can run it from
    RAM. Just boot CD and at the command prompt type 'slax copy2ram'. After
    distribution boots you can remove CD and use burner.

    Slax has quite a few other unique features. Like being able to save your
    configuration and/or files to the web. Then you just boot your slax with the
    'slax webconfig=passphrase' option. You can also install many slackware programs
    and burn them to the CD you started your slax from. Amazing.

    Yours truly ...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PSLinuxOS is good for begineers.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:15 AM EDT
    It is a live CD,I think based on Mandrake, but sorted out by Texstar to be as simple as possible. It just works, and can be installed to the hard drive.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:36 AM EDT
    By far the simplest way of getting files off one machine and onto another one is to use the fish:// protocol available within Konqueror. Connect the machines via the existing network, or use a cross-over cable. Boot both PCs with Knoppix. Give the root user a password, using the passwd command. Start the ssh daemon in Knoppix on the target (sick) machine. /etc/init.d/sshd start

    Set a route between the two machines & check it using ping. Split the Konqueror window and log into Knoppix on the sick machine using the Konqueror fish:// protocol and using the other window pane set the destination for the files on the good one using the file:// protocol. Now Drag'N'Drop to your little hearts content. Remember that in an emergency when there is no Ethernet, you can also connect the machines using a 'FastLinks' cable and the parallel ports using the plip network interface. Much slower than ethernet to be sure, but much more convenient than floppies. -- Christopher Sawtell.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Knoppix is great... when it works
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:45 AM EDT
    ... which it didn't, for me.

    Version 3.9 booted just fine on a real old machine that I had. It locked up on
    the DHCP sequence to start up the network, with the ethernet connected to a

    I know this is Knoppix and not the hardware since the existing installation,
    that of Redhat 9 booted up and started up the network just fine.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • probably ACPI - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 10:21 AM EDT
    Knoppix and Fedora - File transfers
    Authored by: DaveHowe on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 08:50 AM EDT
    One option would have been to connect a network cable between two machines
    (almost all peecees now have at least a 10BaseT ethernet connector) and transfer
    the files that way....

    A feature to note is that Linux does not do well writing to NTFS disks (but can
    read them fine). Similarly, There are ways to read ExtFS and several other unix
    FS on windows, but writing them is problematic.

    So where do you go for common ground? the older file format (introduced in OEM
    Windows95) FAT32. FAT32 can be read and written to by both operating systems, so
    is a good choice to reformat a USB thumbdrive to if you wish to use it between
    linux and windows.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Scenic route
    Authored by: inode_buddha on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 08:57 AM EDT
    Hurray for brooker! I actually took the scenic route myself years ago (before
    knoppix). It's not the fastest way to learn, but you learn things very
    thoroughly that way, IMHO.

    Copyright info in bio

    "When we speak of free software,
    we are referring to freedom, not price"
    -- Richard M. Stallman

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I'm Sorry To Have To Tell You This
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 09:26 AM EDT
    Dear brooker,

    Yes, I know you referred to yourself as an "ordinary person, certainly no
    tech guru..." But by the time I got to the part where your favorite
    computer doesn't have a cover on it and the hard drives are sitting out on
    cardboard boxes, it was obvious.

    brooker, please sit down. I really very sorry to tell you this, but: You're
    not an ordinary person anymore. You're a geek. I know, most people think it
    only happens to adolescent males, but it can happen to anyone at any age. And
    the worst part?

    There is no cure...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Question for the geeks here :-)
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 11:00 AM EDT
    Data recovery is a problem as the main article outlines. This particular problem
    took three days and a small pile of floppies.

    Assuming that there is (say) a portable hard drive that the data can be written
    to (or something similar with lost of space) are there any tricks in the trade
    for doing this sort of thing?

    I know of 'dd' as a last(ish) resort but it can takes ages to sort out the data
    once it has been ported. Also repairing a damaged boot table is not quite
    everyone's cup of tea. As well as hard disc failures there are problems with
    flash memory sticks, CDs, DVDs - and even floppies.

    I can recall spending a *long* night a few years ago with a hex editor
    recovering text files off a damaged (small) hard drive. Im not an expert in data
    recovery - as at least some of you will have already figured out: going over a
    hard drive with a hex editor - there *has* to be a better way.

    Im sure someone here knows a better way - especially under Linux for such a
    common and irritating problem.

    Many thanks in advance.



    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why not use a WIndows Live CD - Bart PE?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 11:36 AM EDT
    I know... Windows bad, Linux good.
    But there is a Windows Live CD alternative that handles NTSF read/write natively, offers networking support, etc.
    No, it's not a full-fledged operating system environment, but for the recovery tasks described in this article, it would be much easier for the average Windows user than resorting to a Linux distro. I understand that recommending a Windows approach is heresy... but in this case, it may nonetheless be best.
    Check out Bart PE.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: tiger99 on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 11:37 AM EDT
    Great piece of work! And a very good advert for FOSS in general and Knoppix in particular.

    But to make life easier I would suggest "Knoppix Hacks", published by that good friend of FOSS, Mr, O'Reilly. It is only a little book, not too expensive, but with the usual format of describing 100 useful "hacks" in depth. I don't have my copy here right now, but I recall that it goes into detail about handling NTFS filesystems and other very necessary stuff, and points you to a few places on the web where more details can be found. Handy to keep in the pocket, or whatever.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    re: "ran a virus scan" (truth about virus scan) & ohh my..30X1.44=43.2MB(not equal to 308or9MB:)
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:02 PM EDT
    Dear Grandmother,

    RE: "I immediately ran a virus scan"??? Do you know what is really
    going on behind that anti-virus software?

    Read this:
    Can Viruses Be Detected?
    Jennifer Lapell 2000-06-17

    THen this:
    Ain't no network strong enough
    Master cryptographer Bruce Schneier's "Secrets and Lies" explains why
    computer security is an oxymoron.
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    By Brendan I. Koerner
    (then buy the book to read before sleep each night)!

    Then for desert read this:
    "RSA: Microsoft on 'rootkits': Be afraid, be very afraid
    Rootkits are a new generation of powerful system-monitoring programs" News
    Story by Paul Roberts
    FEBRUARY 17, 2005 (IDG NEWS SERVICE),10801,99843,00.html


    Keep up on security by reading these sites: (use this site to check your firewall ports and understand
    some basics on security)! , (NSA has suggestions on their site on different parts
    regarding security suggestions for various Operating systems)
    and a few others...

    A wonderful newbie site and a wonderful distro to use is this: built by a school system in Oregon and with help from
    LTSP folks... (check it out, has easy to follow instructions for install and
    support methods...then, take it to your local school and tell them about it)!
    Run even older computers off your more powerfull ones... very cool. And if used
    by schools saves on tax payers dollars (everyone is struggling with taxes and
    keeping the good teachers paid these days and every bit helps)!

    PS - AND my math may need advise and correction... BUT, My ohh my...
    "30 blank floppy disks had helped save 308MB of files".
    30*1.44MB = 43.2MB so how did you get the 308 or is it 309 MB of files onto
    this many floppy disks?
    How the heck? Please clarify. I know I must have missed something???

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Ahhh, wonderful
    Authored by: Tufty on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:29 PM EDT
    Brooker realy does herself down, no really. She is far more accomplished in
    support than many that I have had the misfortune to work with. If I am looking
    for tech support staff then I hope she can make the interview but it may be a
    long commute to here. :)

    As a person who is aiming to move to Linux I find much encouragement in these
    articles here. Linux has moved a long way since I last looked at it. Many of the
    side threads help educate me and are read enthusiastically. I am certainly not
    an IT noobie and have had many years in support and installation (PDP - PC,
    hardware and software) but, with Linux, I have to learn a whole new paradigm as
    I need to be able to perform a full support role rather than install it on a box
    plugged into the wall then use it.

    I built a system to try this on but it keeled over :( , I reported this before
    after I had some helpfull suggestions on distros. When I can get going again,
    being totally brassic at the moment, I will be using the knowledge gained here
    as a guide.

    Thanks to all.

    There has to be a rabbit down this rabbit hole somewhere!
    Now I want its hide.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Tsela on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 12:41 PM EDT

    It's funny how things work. It just happens that today due to a stupid mistake of mine the GRUB menu.lst file was left in a state that made it impossible to boot my Debian GNU/Linux partition (I'm dual-booting with Windows ME, and stop the computer when I don't use it for energy saving reasons). No problem though: I inserted the Knoppix 3.9 CD that I burned precisely for this kind of issue, set things to be able to read and write root-owned files, corrected my menu.lst file (it was nothing, just the "root" command pointing to the wrong partition), rebooted, and everything was back to normal. Once done, the first thing I do is go on Internet and check Groklaw, and what do I see? An article about using Knoppix to rescue a computer ;) .

    Christophe Grandsire

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: luvr on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 01:01 PM EDT
    Isn't it nice how Linux (esp. a Live-CD version) can rescue a Windows system?

    A friend of mine once complained that his Windows system kept getting what looked like a virus, even after he wiped clean his harddisk, and did a completely fresh install. He thought his harddisk had broken down in some weird way, and he was about to dump it and replace it with a new one.

    I immediately suspected that he had a boot-sector virus, so I popped out my Knoppix CD, started his computer with it, and zapped his Master Boot Record (plus a few more sectors, just to be sure) - I used the dd statement, something like the following:

    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=2048

    (that zapped the Master Boot Record, plus 2047 additional sectors).

    He subsequently reinstalled Windows XP, and he couldn't understand how I could repair his harddisk without even opening the box... :-)

    And me, I was happy that I saved his perfectly good harddisk from being dumped!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 01:52 PM EDT
    A slight variation on the authors method would be to use the network to move the
    files that need to be saved.
    I use Xandros Biz Edition 3.0 on my business system but it doesn't matter
    whether its Xandros, some other Linux distro with Samba support, or even another
    Windows system for that matter.
    Most people who use a hardware firewall/router in their home or business
    network, such as the author mentioned she uses, have them set to DHCP which
    auto-assigns an IP address to any system joining the network. Knoppix uses DHCP
    to get its IP address during the bootup process

    1. Boot the affected Windows system from Knoppix

    2. On another system, it doesn't matter whether its Linux or Windows, share a
    folder and allow any user to connect to it.

    3. If you don't already know the IP address of the system with the shared
    folder, use "ifconfig" on Linux (root/su command) or
    "ipconfig" on Windows to get that systems IP address. (from console in
    Linux, from command prompt in Windows)

    3. Go back to the affected system. Open the KDE File Manager in Knoppix on the
    affected system and type in the address bar "smb://" or
    whatever the appropriate address is for the system with the shared folder.

    If you did everything correctly, you should be able to see the shared folder in
    the KDE File Manager and simply copy/paste all of the files you need saved from
    the affected system to the shared folder.
    I use this method all the time to back up customer data prior to reloading their
    trashed Windows systems. (I see a LOT of these trashed Windows systems) I have
    backed up gigabytes of data this way. As well, Xandros Biz Edition has an
    antivirus scanner that I use to do a initial first scan of all data prior to
    allowing it back on the freshly reloaded Windows system. I always do an
    additional scan of the data on the Windows system after reloading and moving it
    back too.

    Knoppix is a wonderful tool and NO equivalent Windows based tool exists that
    works as simply and reliably as Knoppix. I highly recommend it!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Don't forget Gnoppix
    Authored by: BigBadBob on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 06:00 PM EDT
    For those who prefer a Gnome experience to a KDE one, there is Gnoppix (nicely based on Ubuntu). See Some people find KDE a little overpowering!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    the root of all evil
    Authored by: rsmith on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 06:13 PM EDT
    ... And she hadn't backed any of them up.

    I hope her niece now understands the importance of making and verifying backups.

    Intellectual Property is an oxymoron.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 06:19 PM EDT
    Don't bother choosing someone who is NOT comfortable using computers...ROFLMAO. Obviously this is not a "typical" grandma or even a "typical" user.

    I use Linux in this article not to be ONLY the Kernel, but as a complete operating system regardless of distribution.

    The user here knows FAR more about computers than most of the people that I deal with on a daily basis. She can use Linux, no problem, she has HD's hanging out of her machine for christs sake. She apparently knows how to swap HD's and set jumpers on them correctly. I certainly would not call this a WIN for Linux...far from it. I would call this more a case of look, I already know aout computers and now I am going to try Linux.

    How can this "brooker" claim "I'm a decidedly ordinary person, certainly no tech guru, not a programmer, or a scientist, nor particularly well- educated. then go on to say:

    I have 3 computers in the house..."

    The motherboard is an ABIT VP6, with dual PIII processors, 1GB RAM, and a rather elderly D-Link network card. It was a couple of years old when I inherited it, and I've used it for almost 5 years now. At one point its capacitors began to leak and needed to be sent off for repair, but that has been the only down time this computer has ever had

    The case cover isn't on it any more (I didn't want to chance scratching the wonderful paint job), and I've attached a mishmash of hard drives to it, in fact 2 are hanging outside of the case right now

    ...shared folders on all systems, and two external storage drives are connected by USB and mapped for easy access from the other computers. It's not a fancy setup, but it works. I try to keep things simple because I am not particularly knowledgeable about technical things and don't always have the time to figure them out

    Come on now, this is no ordinary user at all, this person pretty much knows what the hell they are doing around a computer.

    Here are what I consider some more reasonable things that have been said around the net, and relate in some ways to my own experiences (and I have been using various Linux Distributions and *BSD's since 1993 or 1994 maybe before, that is when I first remember)

    ...I just installed SuSE 9.3 on my laptop and getting wireless to work has been no less then a nightmare let alone between the frequent lock ups I get.

    I agree [name withdrawn], Its almost impossible to get a Printer, Flashdrive or Digital Camera working under Linux.

    Most linux users enjoy the complexities surrounding linux distros, and love learning about what their computer is REALLY doing

    Some of my own experiences include (without naming names of distributions):

    1. LiveCD works perfectly. Install the same distro and I cannot for the life of me get X to work properly.
    2. Get everything installed (sans X) and since I am not using a cheap-o "BrandX" network card, I have no networking. I remove the card (which is of substantially higher quality) and put a "BrandX" one in and now it works.
    3. X works with cheap-o "Brand X" graphics card, but not with my "Brand Y" graphics card, because it is not so popular (probably because of its cost).
    Now, this is a problem in my eyes. I am not at all inexperienced when it comes to unix-like operating systems, having been working with Linux and *BSD since 1993 or 1994 (heck maybe before, but that is when I remember first installing NetBSD on an old Apple LCII).

    Even with my experience, I still have a box at my house (Sun Ultra 1) that is running a *BSD right now (and was running gentoo previously to that) that I have issues with. Under Gentoo GNOME would not under any circumstances compile, under the *BSD it is running right now, GNOME comes up but the Gnome Session manager crashes at login, and I have thus far been unable to track down the problem. It WAS working just fine, then it suddenly broke for no apparent reason...kinda funny if you ask me. Now I have not put a lot of time into fixing it yet, but the fact that the solution is evading me, and the lack of even a semi-descriptive error is hugely frustrating.

    Anyway, I wrote this reply only because I feel that Linux/BSD are not yet ready for the desktop of the AVERAGE user. I can't possibly say without laughing that this article even comes close to showing that Linux (or *BSD) is ready for the desktop of Joe Average.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Linux vs Windows.. Linux Wins
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 07:31 PM EDT
    G'Day all,

    I have recently been having a long stay in hospital, and am currently in some
    supported accomodation. After over a year of Illness and not having access to a
    computer, I have scavanged bits and pieces from my Brother and his friends to
    build one. The box currently has a 2Ghz Pentium 4, inbuild Sound (SiS based),
    Nvidia GForce 4 video 64mb, old Toshiba DVD-RAM drive another 4xCD-ROM, 512Mb
    RAM. It does the trick. The facility where I am staying does not have out bound
    Telephone, so no Net.

    (I have used Linux in the past)I also did not have any software CD's. I picked
    up a magazine which had Fedora Core 4 on the cover and installed that. It
    detcted all the hardware fine!!!. One Problem Because of Patent issues Fedora
    does not support MP3 or DVD,s no net access so cant Download the modules to
    rectify this. I decided to install a copy of XP (onloan from Bro) so i can
    listen to some of my MP3 (I have a number of CD's filled with them from the
    past) or watch a DVD!!. Easy you would think not so!!.

    Windows will not detect the inbuilt Sound Card, and has problems with the Video
    even though DirectX says it is all ok. The Machine runs Sooooooooo Slowly under
    windows that it is not funny.

    What I Find Amusing is people always say Linux does not have the hardware
    support of Windows, where in my case Linux shows superior hardware support.
    Allso has all the software I need to do stuff as soon as I install it. Linux
    took less time to install with more ready to run software, (open Office, Gimp,
    etc)than Windows, which has nothing really.

    I have heard people complain that Linux takes a long time to install, but you
    have to rmember what you get, a complete System ready to run. Windows takes a
    similar time to install and all you get is the basic shell you still have to
    install all the applications. So really it would take 5 times as long (Probably
    Longer) to install Windows to a similar functional level!! even allowing for
    time spent on configuration.

    Linux or the Desktop is ready, in my opinion.

    (Posting this from a work experience placement, still not net at home YET, soon

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    KAELLA - Knoppix en francais
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 21 2005 @ 09:11 PM EDT
    Kaella - Knoppix LiveD en fran├žais
    Pour les utilisateurs francophones.

    For French speaking users, there is Kaella, a Knoppix version adapted for the french speaking community. Some programs deleted, other added, all translated in french, with drivers for some ADSL modems used in Europe.

    I showed Kaella LiveCD, or pointed to it, to several friends and business relations in Belgium and in France.
    About 2/3 of them liked it, and about 1/3 installed it permanently on their hardisk, besides Windows (going in fact, with the upates, from Kaella/Knoppix to Debian ). To be honest, I had to give a lot of help in the first setps...
    Some are now starting Linux more often than Windows...
    Others are keeping the LiveCD in case they have a problem with their Windows machine.

    NOTE: Thousands of secondary schools students in the French region of Auvergne will receive CDs containing free and open-source software when they return to school in September: one CD with software libre for Windows and an other with the Kaella/knoppix LiveCD.
    The project, which has been funded by the local government, will distribute 64,000 packs of CDs to students, according to Linux Arverne, a Linux user group involved in the initiative. The project aims to get students and their families more interested in free and open-source software. A least 3 other french regions are interedted in a similar project.
    Full article on ZDnet


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another suggestion how to copy things with Knoppix
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 05:48 AM EDT
    You mentioned that you tried to copy data to a USB storage drive, and that
    Knoppix would not do that because it would be risky.

    Well, that is correct only if the filesystem on the USB drive is a NTFS
    filesystem (which you mentioned it was).

    Connect the USB drive to a Windows machine, and reformat it with a FAT32
    filesystem (that is the one used by Win 95 + 98). Any Linux based operating
    system can happily read and WRITE FAT32 filesystems safely.

    You will loose all data on the drive by doing this, but usually USB drives are
    only used for intermediate data storage.

    Linux can also format your USB drive and create a FAT32 filesystem, but the size
    of that is limited to 8 GB, so if you have something larger it will not utilize
    the whole space available.

    Best regards,

    Geri (too lazy to remember yet another password)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What ordinary users want is a system that doesn't *break* all the time
    Authored by: cybervegan on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 10:55 AM EDT
    MOST users don't actually *want* to understand what goes on under the thin
    veneer of the GUI - whether it's Windows, MacOS, Linux or whatever: they are
    completely floored by having to do *anything* technical.

    The only things that they can handle are totally automatic - with glistening,
    candy-sweet installers that just say "Click OK to install your new
    oojit" and then, after the user has done nothing, condescendingly say
    "Congratulations! You have successfully installed your new oojit."

    That's not because they are stupid, or even because they couldn't understand:
    it's because they have been *led* to believe that is so.

    Saying "Linux is not ready for the Desktop" is like saying "Cars
    are not ready for the road". How many *ordinary* people truly understand
    how their car works - from the pistons, through transmission to the exhaust, and
    everything in between and around? I wouldn't be so bold as to say that *I*
    fully understand every detail, and I'm certainly not cut out to do my own
    maintenance, beyond the basics.

    Most people these days take their car to a mechanic when there's something wrong
    with it, but it's not because they are incapable of understanding how to fix it
    - it's because of all the special tools required, the bewildering range of
    spares, and above all, the experience needed to do a good job. We all just want
    a car that simply works - we can deal with topping up oil and water, and maybe
    changing blown lamps and wiper blades. For most everything else - basically
    anything involving getting oily or underneath the vehicle, most people will use
    a mechanic.

    Most computer users are the same: if they can do it with a wizard, or an
    automatic installer, they'll give it a go. If not, they'll consult their techie
    friend. In my experience, rescuing data off a corrupted Windows hard disk is
    *not* the sort of thing that most users would attempt, nor is installing an OS -
    Windows or otherwise. The Windows install procedure is not easy enough for most
    users, even the more adept ones, whereas with most Linux distro's, it's not only
    easier, it's quicker too, but I digress.

    To my mind, Linux will be ready for the desktop when users's don't have to know
    how to use the command-line to do simple tasks like formatting floppies, editing
    word-processor documents, drawing pictures, printing photos and surfing the web.

    I recently installed Ubuntu Linux for a friend, Ally, on an ageing Fujitsu
    Siemens "Scenic" - a PIII/600, I think. I explained to her that
    although I'd also put Win98 on it too (the machine is not capable of running
    WinXP, and it has a license key sticker for Win98), that I wouldn't be
    configuring that to work on the internet because of the security risk. She
    specifically wanted the machine for surfing the web, chat and maybe some

    She's fallen in love with it - and quite likes it that when people ask her what
    version of Windows she's got, she can say "I haven't - that's too easy to
    get viruses on. I've got Linux". Of course, no-one knows what that is,
    but they are beginning to notice that she hasn't had any of the usual newbie
    problems with viruses and spyware. I live about 25 miles away, and the thought
    of having to come up every other day or so to fix the machine was just too much.
    Ubuntu has given her a stable, dependable computer that she can't break - her
    biggest fear is of doing something wrong and trashing it. With win98 I dread to
    think what would have happened.

    She's now had it about two months, and the only things I've had to do for her
    are set up her cable modem, and install flash-player - niether of which are
    tasks she would even *consider* doing herself, Windows or no Windows. She's
    having a great time with it, and she wouldn't know a hard disk from a
    power-supply. The biggest difficulty she had was accidentally clicking on the
    time (top right on Ubuntu screen) which pops up a little calendar window that
    doesn't have an "X" button on it. It's "stay-on-top" so it
    was obscuring her Firefox browser a bit. She phoned me for help - even I wasn't
    sure what to do (not being able to see it), so I just looked on my machine.
    Sure enough, you just click the time again, and the calendar closes. Maybe
    that's a silly usability issue, but not a killer, and fixed in less than 5

    This is the third time I've installed Linux for friends, mostly because I got
    bored de-lousing their Windows systems of spyware and worms. I've never had any
    comeback - and I no longer have to constantly "fix" their ailing

    Getting back to Ally's computer - there is still some work to be done, however,
    on the Windows side - installing video, sound and chipset drivers. Now *that's*
    something she definately couldn't handle.

    Users really evaluate ease-of-use with regard to dependability and stability,
    not how easy it is to do techie stuff that makes the hairs on the back of their
    necks stand on end. With Linux, once it's working, it stays working - and it
    even empties the bin for you. With windows, you have to be constantly vigilant
    and make sure you keep your system, malware scanner, and firewall up-to date:
    woe betide you if you don't. I don't call *that* ready for the desktop.


    Software source code is a bit like underwear - you only want to show it off in
    public if it's clean and tidy. Refusal could be due to embarrassment or shame...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Try Slax!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 12:51 PM EDT
    Another one I would recommend is SLAX. It's smaller (about 200 MB) but contains
    the most commonly-used stuff.
    What I like most about it is that you can load it entirely into ram, at which
    point it ejects the CD and allow the use of the drive. This is great for my
    laptop - I can boot Slax into ram and then use the built-in CD burner.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Anti-Static Bags
    Authored by: RedHatMatt on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 01:50 PM EDT
    From the article:

    ...I've attached a mishmash of hard drives to it, in fact 2 are hanging outside of the case right now, braced on small cardboard boxes covered with anti-static bags...

    If these drives are actually IN the anti-static bags, this is bad. The way anti-static bags work is that the plasic is impregnated with metal. When the bag is touching the electronics, no static charge can build up anywhere on the surface of the bag. In other words, anti-static bags are conductive. This is fine for transport and handling, but you should never run any electronic gizmo when it is touching an anti-static bag. You could very well short out and ruin the thing you are trying to protect. Important safety tip.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Windows tool - R-Studio
    Authored by: GLJason on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 02:29 PM EDT
    I had a drive that was too bad for Knoppix to work. I guess the directory listings for the drive were corruped and all. I tried-out and bought R-Studio and it worked very well. R-Studio let me select and save almost all my files.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    not only for newbs
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 03:52 PM EDT
    Knoppix is also the fastest way to get a fully working desktop Debian system
    installed in 20 minutes, which is certainly good for pros as well.

    I haven't benchmarked this against other Debian-based distros, like Ubuntu,
    Knoppix just seems to have a good balance of desktop choices I like and the
    fastest install time I've seen.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: ir0b0t on Monday, August 22 2005 @ 11:36 PM EDT
    Thanks for posting this terrific narrative Brooker. I am also a newbie and
    easily intimidated by tech stuff. Your persistence inpired me.

    I have a Knoppix cd which I love, but I have never had an occasion to use it for
    its intended purpose. I have often wondered whether I am doing something wrong
    when I use the cd just because I don't know anyone else who uses one.

    I have resolved, however, to install Mandriva on my machine at work. I'm
    migrating my work computer the rest of the way to gnu/linux from XP before the
    summer ends. Your story gives me hope that it will happen with minimal pain.

    Thanks again!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Newbie Adventures in Knoppix and Fedora
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 23 2005 @ 07:09 AM EDT
    I'm neither anti nor pro Microsoft, but I love the choice, freedom and
    flexibility Linux gives me. I think stories like this (and I've seen others
    closer to home) show that Linux has reached a very important plateau due to the
    maturity and stability of the OS, the available desktops, and the applications.
    Combined with the ability to try out and install a distro via a live CD (not to
    mention alternatives for running Windows in Linux as a process, which I just
    did), and Linux becomes a very viable alternative to Windows. My experience with
    it tells me that at this point in time it need not be any more complicated to
    install than Windows, and once it's on the hard drive, an average person can use
    it with not much more of a learning curve than Windows. I think that's great,
    especially since this is something created from the ground up and refined in an
    environment that was cooperative rather than competitive - or anticompetitive,
    for all that.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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