Knoppix is a bootable CD 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 Linux demo, 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, CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it.
If one is to believe news from Linux camp one could be forgiven for thinking that world was out to destroy beautiful thing that is Open Source movement. Angry fingers would be pointed in several directions, surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) all in general vicinity of Microsoft. Of course, noises from other side are just as loud (actually quite a bit louder). They, in turn, claim that Linux is ‘unsafe’, hard to use and even harder to maintain, and worse of all, prone to exploitation by hackers (since source code is open source and thus can essentially be seen and played around with by anyone).
I’ve always preferred uncomfortable seat on fence, despite green grass on both sides. Granted, you tend to get sore sitting in such a way after a while, but view from here is great, and argument very clear. The battle between proprietary code (led by Microsoft, no less) and open source (Linux) has been going on ever since Linus Torvalds created Linux and started process that has made it genuine force that it is today. And as is case in such fighting, there are three sides to story: Microsoft’s tale, Linux’s woes and my bit of story. And my part begins with most interesting OS of them all…
What if you had an operating system that ran completely from a CD? That’s right, just one CD. And this CD also contained very useful programs for word-processing, data recovery and system repair utilities, image-editing and internet connectivity, along with excellent audio and video players? What if all you had to do was to boot from this CD and voila, in a few minutes your new OS had taken over your PC. Taken over? Nothing to worry about, as removing OS from your computer was to be as easy as removing CD. Literally.
Welcome to world of Knoppix.
Given fact that we are in midst of multi-gigabyte operating systems that we there would be such a competent one that could be run entirely from a CD-ROM is stupendous. Imagine possibilities. Customized versions of Knoppix OS would mean that you could literally carry a streamlined version of your home PC around with you wherever you went. Need to recover data from a crashed hard-disk? Boot into Knoppix and use system repair and data recovery tools to retrieve your data (burn it to a CD-R, or transfer it via a PC-to-PC connection) and maybe attempt to fix disk as well. Secondly, if you are a web developer who wants to check how sites look from within a Linux environment, all you need to do is pop Knoppix in and check out your websites from Mozilla or Konqueror. Away from office and want to work on customized software specially made for your company? Knoppix, along with a USB drive to store data, turns your crisis into a simple matter of finding a PC. And like all Linux versions, meeting minimum system requirements (see http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html#requirements) would be a snap (82 MB RAM, CDROM drive, SVGA card, Intel compatible CPU (i486 or better)).
There is a lot to be said for Knoppix, especially for its appeal to Linux newbies (or ‘noobs’, as vernacular has it). With no need for an installation (although that is given as an option), and with excellent hardware detection, Knoppix has single-handedly done away with two major concerns for Windows users wanting to try out Linux: A complicated installation process, and problem of finding right drivers for all your hardware. In effect, Knoppix is an excellent choice for someone who wants to try out Linux without having to go through usual hassle. It’s easy to use, and doesn’t mess with your system either. Despite being run completely off CD, it runs pretty quickly as well.