Target audience: first time GNU/Linux users.
meaning that it has what can be considered as a "best-of" of GNU/Linux software. Don't be deceived by the fact that it all holds on only one CD:
Simply stick the CD ROM in its drive, reboot and the fully system will load up without touching your computer's hard drive at all!
The neat thing is that Knoppix is perfectly capable of reading your hard disk and even writing on it. Knoppix can read/write FAT32, but it only can read NTFS) and since it comes with a very good office suite (called "Open Office") which is fully compatible with the Microsoft Office Suite you can become immediately productive and remain compatible with most of your colleagues. If you find out that you don't like Knoppix, simply take out the disk from the CD drive and reboot and you will return to your Windows computer exactly as it was before.
The only thing which will look very different to you is the application with the icon "sea-shell in front of the screen" on your task bar: this launches the 'Konsole' terminal emulator. You have probably heard that GNU/Linux users love the 'command line' console and many even prefer it to graphic user interfaces. While this might look like the old DOS console, it is something very different, much more powerful and extremely flexible which you will probably learn to appreciate, but for the time being, you can simply ignore it: if you want an all-graphics GNU/Linux, Knoppix and KDE will easily satisfy you!
You should definitely click and play around with the 'control center' application which allows you to configure your desktop and, if needed, configure KDE. It is rather self-explanatory and we shall not go into details here (for this, or for any other KDE-related topic, read the excellent KDE help center handbook, found under 'help').
click on the 'little house' icon.This will take you to your 'home directory', a really important place: this is were you will store your data and this is where the computer will store much, but not all, of its data about you. The next step is to take look at the GNU/Linux filesystem. The Knoppix filesystem.
For example, your 'home directory' is not located on your hard disk, so if you keep your data there and then switch off your computer, it will all get lost! This is no reason to worry, there are a couple of very easy things you can do to avoid this problem, but we will look at them later. All you need to know is that your filesystem is a little atypical, even if very similar, to a regular GNU/Linux filesystem.
As in Windows, Konqueror will make it easy for you to delete or rename a directory. Anything 'below' your home directory is yours. However, if you click on the arrow 'up' you will find yourself in the 'home' directory for all users, not only for you. Actually, what you will really see is only one directory, called 'Knoppix', and this is your directory. Again, this has to do with something specific to Knoppix: by default, Knoppix assumes only one user called, predictably, 'knoppix', and there are no other users' home directories in the /home directory. There is a home directory for all users in which each user has his/her own home directory. The main home directory is called '/home' and your home directory is called '/home/knoppix'.
Now this make perfectly good sense. If you have have two hard drives on your computer, a CD burner, a floppy drive and, say, a DVD drive, why would you want to have them all in different places? Knoppix simply creates one central gateway to all these peripherals and calls it '/mnt'.
For example, now that you know where your floppy disk can be found, you can copy (with Konqueror, simply drag-and-drop) all your data from the home directory unto your floppy disk and not risk losing your documents when you shut down your computer. Furthermore, by clicking on your 'hard disk partition' icon you can have access to all the files on your hard disk even if your Windows version has totally crashed! Should your Windows operating system completely crash all you need to do is stick your Knoppix CD in your CD drive, let Knoppix boot up, click on "hard disk partition" and all the "irrecoverably lost data" (lost for Windows only!) will reappear like by magic (and by the way, the subdirectories which Windows protects by a user password will also become fully accessible). Of course, if the cause of your crash is faulty hardware (a physically damaged hard drive or diskette) Knoppix will not be able to read it.
If you press on the 'K' icon in your task bar and scroll to the KNOPPIX menu, you will get to a set of very useful tools to configure Knoppix.
The first two are simple to use applications to configure your printer and network card. The latter three need a couple of words of introduction.
makes it possible to create a home directory which will not be lost after a reboot. For this, you will need a storage medium such as an external hard disk or a USB memory stick.
is particularly useful if your computer does not have much memory: it will create a file on your hard disk which will store some of the data used by Knoppix to run. When you are done working with Knoppix, you can safely delete this file. The only thing which you will need is DOS partition (again - NTFS will not work).
allows you to save your configuration (keyboard, printers, etc.) on, for example, a floppy disk. Knoppix will work just fine without all these options, but it will work faster and better with them.
Knoppix is about as safe a system as can be, not only because it is GNU/Linux, but also because it is a live-CD. By default, GNU/Linux is already a pretty safe system, but having a live-CD makes it close to indestructible simply because as long as your Knoppix CD is not physically damaged there is no way any virus, worm or hacker can do any damage to your computer. Well, not quite, but almost. While Knoppix is up and running a virus or hacker can, theoretically, mess with your system. But the damage will only persist as long as you do not reboot. Next time you start Knoppix it will reinstall itself with no trace of whatever damage was done. Well, theoretically, one could conceive of something done on your 'persistent home directory' (assuming you created one) but that is exceedingly unlikely simply because '/home' is not a very interesting place to be for a hacker or a virus: they, typically, will try to sneak in those directories which are re-created each time Knoppix is loaded. You do not need to look into all these issues right now, but at least you can have the very comfortable feeling that you are running as system about as secure as conceivably can be!
You are unlikely to ever need to worry about passwords while trying our Knoppix. However, some applications might ask you for either a "user password" or a "root password" so we need to mention this here. This is one area were Knoppix is outright weird when compared to other versions of GNU/Linux: Knoppix passwords are locked by default. This means that you are not given any password by the system. Without going into the reasons for this, you need to be aware of a very simple trick which allows you to set a password for you (the user called 'knoppix') and for 'root' (which you can think of as the system administrator). Here is how it goes:
Click on 'K' at the lower left hand corner of your screen, scroll to KNOPPIX and then click on the 'root shell' icon. This will open a back screen with a strange looking prompt:
root@ttyp1[knoppix]#Just type in the command 'passwd', you will be prompted to 'Enter new UNIX password:' and 'Retype new UNIX password:'. Enter whatever password you have chosen for the administrator and that's it. For the 'knoppix' user, just do the same thing but type in 'passwd knoppix'. You can then close the window by either typing 'exit' or clicking on the 'x' icon on the upper right corner of the window.
Just remember one thing: Knoppix, and all of GNU/Linux, is case-sensitive. This means that 'knoppix', 'Knoppix' and 'KNOPPIX' are all different command or different users or filenames! Make sure to remember this when you create or enter a password.
With all this you have all the information you need to get a good start with Knoppix. Should you have any further questions, you probably will, go to http://www.knoppix.net and read the documentation, the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) or post your questions in the appropriate forum. You will find plenty of friendly and competent people willing to help you with any additional questions you might have.
Based on an article by Andrei Raevsky (firstname.lastname@example.org). Original found at:
may be related to wanting to have some personal configuration items (like self-created desktop icons) remembered for automatic recreation at subsequnet startups.