Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Linux done right

After reading my recent experiences with installing Linux, Gary W. Longsine (of illumineX -- awesome company) recommended that I have a look at Knoppix.

From the web site:

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, the CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it.

So, I grabbed a copy of the ISO distribution, burned the ISO to a CDR using Disk Copy and shoved it into a random PC (a Dell) at the office and restarted the machine.

It just worked.

Not a single configuration question, no need to ever touch keyboard/mouse during the boot....

It includes a fully configured KDE based desktop environment with a complete set of applications; web browser, office apps, games, WINE, etc.

All without writing to the hard drive. However, the NTFS formatted filesystems did mount as icons on the desktop!

My only complaint is not directed at Knoppix, but is a fault of X11; copy/paste, text manipulation, etc... show quite a bit of inconsistency across applications (much more so than OS X) and it takes a while to get used to. But that has improved greatly as Linux-on-the-desktop has evolved.

If Knoppix were to build in a simple installer app that wipes the hard drive in the system and installs the same preconfigured system that is included on the CD, I suspect they would quickly become a leading distribution (not really a distribution -- Knoppix is a tightly configured Debian Linux system).

I'll have to add a Knoppix CD to the bootable OS X CD I carry with me.

I'm quite impressed.
2:58:34 PM