4 years passed by, and now I had an order from buylinuxcds.co.uk site to dispatch an USB stick with Knoppix.
The most recent version of this distribution is Knoppix 7.4.2. It has been released in September 2014. The ISO image size is just under 4Gb. I downloaded it via torrent.
Unfortunately, Knoppix is not the distribution you can write to a USB stick using the dd command or Ubuntu's built-in tool. You basically have three choices:
- use Unetbootin,
- use the long and windy way described on official site, or
- write a DVD.
I tried option 2, but gave up after approximately 10 minutes of going round. Option 1 simply worked.
So, USB stick is in the port of my laptop Toshiba Satellite L500-19X. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
Booting upUnetbootin created a rather big list of booting options for Knoppix 7.4.2. There are options to boot in 32- and 64-bit modes, to boot in Adriane (audio-desktop) option and many more.
Once boot process started, it took literally seconds to take me to the default desktop. Knoppix really boots fast!
First impressionsThe default desktop in Knoppix 7.4.2, as in any previous version, is LXDE. It has a panel at the bottom with a menu button in the left corner. The quick launch panel next to the menu button has shortcuts to file manager, terminal, Iceweasel browser, Libreoffice and some more. The notification area in the right corner has sound indicator, network manager, battery and performance indicator and clocks.
The default wallpaper in Knoppix 7.4.2 has some code quotes and blue fume on top of them. There are no alternative wallpapers in the default distribution, or I have not found them.
|Knoppix 7.4.2 welcome screen|
There is no switch between the virtual desktops anywhere on the screen. However, right click on the window title allows you to move the window to another desktop. Then, switching to that application shows you the desktop cube animation. Holding Ctrl+Alt and using mouse, you can rotate the cube yourself. It is similar to what you can find in Zorin OS 10.
|Desktop cube in Knoppix 7.4.2|
Knoppix 7.4.2 has a lot of other desktop effects: closing, minimizing or maximizing of windows happens with one or another sort of visual effect rendered by Compiz. Somebody probably likes that. I don't.
Once booted, Knoppix 7.4.2 takes tiny 130 Mb of memory. That's really impressive, isn't it?
|Resource usage of Knoppix 7.4.2|
Network connectionI tried Knoppix 6.4 on the same laptop 4 years ago, and the OS did not find the wireless network card that time. The result was much better this time with version 7.4.2. The card Realtek 8191 SEvB has been recognised and configured automatically.
I clicked on the network manager icon in notification area, chose my home network, typed in my security code and then connection was established. Well done.
Keyboard layoutKnoppix 7.4.2 comes with tones of software. More on that later. At this moment of time I'd like to mention that among all that software I did not find a tool to configure keyboard layouts. Basically, you only have one default layout.
That's a shame, since many LXDE-based distributions don't have a problem with multiple layouts and a switch between them.
Network driveKnoppix comes with a huge set of software... Stop, I have said this before. Let's put this idea aside for the timebeing.
However, there is a Knoppix section in the menu that sports several Knoppix-specific applications. One of them is named Scan/Mount Network Shares. It does "what is said on the tin". For the second time in my life I was able to browse the local network and connect to my shared network drive using only mouse! The first time was with Linux Mint 17.2 KDE.
All shared folders and files were shown with correct Russian names as necessary.
Well done Knoppix!
ApplicationsThere is a lot of software in Knoppix. Yes, it is time to pick that theme up now.
If you read carefully the Knoppix web site, you will soon realise that distribution author tried to push as many software as possible in the ISO image. That is 10Gb in un-compressed and 4Gb in compressed state. Is it a lot? No. IT IS HUGE!
You have all sorts of nice and wonderful, weird and ugly software here. They come not only from LXDE or generic sources. There are many KDE applications too. If you've ever tried to install a KDE-specific application in a non-KDE distribution, you should remember that this takes a lot of KDE packages. Almost whole KDE desktop environment comes with any KDE tool as dependencies. Can I ask developer a question? Why don't we boot into KDE then? Why bother with LXDE? Or, at least, why don't we have a choice of desktop environments?
Another question I would like to ask here is what is the purpose of having all that software in one place? I found no logic in having several browsers, torrent clients, developer tools, productivity suites, graphical editors under one roof.
I know some distributions that have a similar concept: Emmabuntus and Zorin OS Ultimate. Emmabuntu's task is to deliver Linux to areas with poor or no Internet connection. It is clearly stated in their mission. I found nothing similar for Knoppix (and Zorin OS too). It simply comes in a "get all that in one pack" mode without proper explanation of the reasons.
I think most distributions took the more reasonable way. They deliver one application for each particular task. If user wants more applications, or wants to replace any default one, then repositories are always open. Knoppix has a different idea then.
I will not list all the applications in this article, of course.
The only other thing that I would like to mention before going to the next section is that Knoppix 7.4.2 comes with Iceweasel 32.0.3 browser. The browser comes with a range of plugins installed and enabled. In particular, there is a Script blocker plugin. What does that plugin do? It makes your web unusable. No modern site nowadays work without scripts, and blocking them means putting a mortar wall between yourself and the Web. Even the default search engine, Google, does not work while you have that plugin enabled. Do you mean that? I don't want to say that you need to allow all the scripts, but you should have a reasonable approach. Don't block them all.
MultimediaKnoppix 7.4.2 comes with all necessary multimedia codecs. You can watch videos and listen to MP3 music.
Youtube videos will work for you both in embedded pages and on Youtube page directly, despite a message about missing Flash when you try to navigate there.
|Multimedia in Knoppix 7.4.2|
ConculsionI faced no particular issue when working with Knoppix 7.4.2 in Live session. It was responsive, quick and more or less reliable.
Though, I still struggle to find a place in the Linux world where this distribution would fit the best. I wrote my thoughts above.
Maybe you can give me the answer to these questions?
Video used on screenshot - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggc_yEsspUk