[RM notes: Generally, you should read Colin Charles's document at http://www.bytebot.net/geekdocs/debian-knoppix.html instead of this one, as it's better maintained and more comprehensive. At some date, I hope to refactor material from this piece and Colin's, to make my own version. See also: http://www.crouse.ws/knoppix.html ]

The Knoppix CD-demo disk is not only an excellent, full-featured KDE-oriented desktop system that you can carry with you on a CD, but also is one of the best ways to install Debian for x86.


Recent versions have included a third-party, beta-grade script called "knx-hdinstall", in the CD's /usr/local/bin directory. Here are instructions, mirrored from http://www.freenet.org.nz/misc/knoppix-install.html . Footnotes and comments at the bottom are my own addition, intended to update the instructions text.

-- Rick Moen


Full GNU/Linux Desktop installed in 20 minutes flat!
No more excuses for running W--dows!

Knoppix (http://www.knoppix.org/) is a remarkable Linux 'demo' distribution, in that it can run totally from a CD, without disturbing any existing software or disks on the system it's running on.

Even better, Knoppix can auto-detect hardware as it starts up, and does quite a good job of configuring this hardware.

And still better, Knoppix is chock-full of the best desktop software which GNU/Linux has to offer - office software, games, productivity suites, software development tools, multimedia - you name it!

After seeing a Knoppix demo, many users decide that they'd like to have Knoppix permanently installed on their system. This HOWTO gives a simple step-by-step guide to putting Knoppix on the hard disk, with the added bonus that it will run faster from then on.

This guide covers a couple of obvious points which are strangely missing from the Knoppix website, and will help you to go from first boot to a fully set up GNU/Linux desktop in 20 minutes flat!

System Requirements

To install and run Knoppix on your PC, you'll need:

* Pentium-class processor, preferably 300MHz+
* 64MB RAM
* A spare partition on your disk, min 3GB
* (of course) a Knoppix CD

Installation Procedure

To get Knoppix installed onto your hard drive:

1. Boot the Knoppix CD.

2. When the boot prompt comes up, choose your language. Most of us speak English, so we'll type:

boot: knoppix lang=en [1]

then press ENTER (you don't type the 'boot:' part, of course)

3. Wait till the system is fully launched, including the KDE desktop

4. Press CTRL-ALT-F1, to get a root console. You should see a shell prompt[2]

5. Type: knx-hdinstall

6. Follow the guided installation menus. This will include:

* Creating a Linux partition (at least 2.5GB
* Creating a Linux Swap partition (at least 256MB)
* 'Mounting' the Linux partition as root
* Initialising the swap partition
* Copying all the required files (automatically)
* Setting up networking
* Setting passwords
* Setting up the bootloader (Note: take care with this stage -
it could render your system incapable of booting into
Windows. If you really need Windows, then it might be a good
idea to set up GRUB Bootloader
(http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/grub.html) with a 'chainloader'
entry, so that you can dual boot. Working this out is an exercise
left to the reader - there are too many possible scenarios
for me to cover in this short guide. Also see man grub and
the files in /usr/share/doc/grub)
* Rebooting (without the CD)

7. When you've rebooted Knoppix from your hard disk, click on the KDE Control Centre icon in the launcher at the bottom of the screen (icon of a colour monitor with a card in front of it)

8. Within the Control Center, click on Personliche Einstellungen

9. Click on Land und Sprache

10. Choose the locale and language of your choice [3]

11. Click on Andwenden at bottom of that window

12. Close and restart the Control Center

13. Click on Peripherals, then Keyboard, and choose your preferred keyboard layout (which will probably be US.English. Click OK and close the window

14. Press CTRL-ALT-F2 to get to the root console, and log in as root (using the password you chose when you ran the installer)

15. (Optional) - type apt-get update (followed by ENTER). This will update your list of available packages, and takes about 5-10 minutes.

16. Hey, presto, you've got a fully installed GNU/Linux desktop

From here on in, you'll probably want to fine-tune a few things, set up themes, backgrounds etc. But most of the hard work is already done for you!

And lastly, note that Knoppix is based on Debian (http://www.debian.org/), which is arguably the finest GNU/Linux infrastructure available. To learn more about your system, and how to add/change/remove software, go to the Debian website and read the documents. If you get really stuck, start up X-Chat and log into irc.debian.org or irc.openprojects.net and join channel #debian. That is one busy chat room, with Debian Linux experts present 24/7, willing to help.

RM adds: Once you're done with the above, in order to begin "tracking" one of the three Debian development branches (stable, testing, or unstable), add one of these three sets of lines to your new system's /etc/apt/sources.list lines:

## "unstable" branch = new packages the moment their maintainers upload 'em.
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ unstable main non-free contrib
deb http://security.debian.org stable/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

## "testing" branch = new packages with automated quarantining; slightly safer
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ testing main non-free contrib
deb http://security.debian.org stable/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

## "stable" branch = boring and conservative but stable-as-a-rock
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ stable main non-free contrib
deb http://security.debian.org stable/updates main contrib non-free

Knoppix's installed default copy of /etc/apt/sources.list is very extensive, but relies on Germany-based Debian mirror sites and references (as of 2003-02-26) two unofficial package sites that return errors. You may wish to comment out most of the non-official entries.

You may want to delete the username and groupname "knoppix" created as an artifact of using this method of installation:

# deluser knoppix
# delgroup knoppix

Also, Knoppix's provision of literally dozens of locales settings is excessive for an installed system, and results in much wasted time every time package "locales" gets upgraded. So, do:

# dpkg-reconfigure locales

...and unmark all language/country settings (locales) you expect never to use, mark the ones you wish to add, then select the one locale you wish to be primary. Locales will be regenerated one more time.

You may find other useful ideas in my perennially disorganised list of Debian tips, http://linuxmafia.com/debian/tips . Mind the dust; newer material is generlaly closer to the bottom.

[1] Language option "en" is _not_ listed among those offered on the Knoppix v. 3.1 2003-02-20 image, but "us" and a number of others are. Press F2 at the BOOT prompt, to see a list of the supported boot options.

If you'd like to make Knoppix's installation process even speedier, include "2" in the boot options, to make Knoppix start up in
console-only mode (no X11 desktop, i.e., in runlevel 2). E.g.

BOOT: knoppix lang=us 2

This speeds up the installation by freeing up RAM for the installer's use that otherwise would be grabbed by KDE, etc.

[2] Be aware that the console you get in this fashion wield's root-user authority (and thus is allowed to do anything, including overwrite the hard drive). Within Knoppix's X11 desktop system, all console prompts you open will run as non-privileged user "knoppix". If you're at such a console prompt and wish to escalate privileges, there, to root access, type "sudo bash".

[3] After installing the Knoppix v. 3.1 2003-02-20 image, I found steps 7 through 13, above, to set country/language/keyboard preferences in KDE, to be superfluous. Apparently, these matters now follow what you specified as "lang=" on the Knoppix CD's BOOT prompt.