Thursday, February 15, 2007

A quick review of Knoppix 5.1, part 1

It's been my dark secret for years that I used Windows 9x, then Windows 2000, then XP, to 'bootstrap' Linux. I'd download an ISO for a given distribution, then use Windows (first Roxio, then Nero) to burn the CD. Then I'd boot into the distro and give Linux a whirl. Up until Suse 10 I never seemed to have the same level of success buring CDs with Linux that I had with Windows. But all that's changed now. Suse is the workhorse that does everything for me now.

Using KDE apps found within Suse 10.2 (and found on other distributions with current KDE tools), I downloaded and burned the Knoppix 5.1.1 DVD ISO and gave Knoppix a whirl. The apps I used were KTorrent to grab the ISO and K3b to burn it. I find the latest KTorrent to be every bit as good as Azureus, and K3b is absolutely great for burning any type of CDROM or DVD.

Why go to the trouble to download and boot the various distributions? Because you learn something new every time, and you get an opportunity to check advances and new features not available with your distribution without having to install anything and breaking a perfectly good installation. I like to keep tabs on Knoppix because it was one of the first 'modern' live Linux distributions available. Knoppix was pretty hot when I first grabbed version 3.1 in 2003. Unfortunately I think Knoppix looks pretty rough around the edges these days when compared to Suse, Fedora Core, and Kubuntu.

Knoppix 5.1.0 was released around late December 2006. Then version 5.1.1 was released in early January 2007, apparently to correct some rather serious flaws. I ran into one of 5.1.0's more serious flaws with the Desktops applet; if I switched away from Desktop 1, I couldn't switch back. There were stability issues as well, but I was able to work around the flaws in 5.1.0 enough to get some screen captures and appreciate some of the applications crammed into the DVD. Knoppix 5.1.1 fixed that flaw and more, as well as making the overall 5.1 release a lot more stable. Knoppix 5.1.1 is the release to burn and boot.

Screen Shots

The following screen shots are a mix of 5.1.0 and 5.1.1. Note that in both cases Knoppix booted into 1280 x 1024 resolution. Unless specifically noted, I will refer to both releases as Knoppix 5.1. I'll only refer to the complete release number to point out something specific to that release, otherwise my comments refer to both releases.

The first screen shot is of Iceweasel (a.k.a Firefox) under 5.1.0. I laughed pretty hard when I saw the 'About' dialog. It still had the Firefox name, and a funky blue-themed logo. I guess this is what you get when you get your knickers twisted over the Mozilla project's branding demands.



Next is Firefox 2.0.0.1 (a.k.a Iceweasel) with the 'official' ice weasel logo running on Knoppix 5.1.1. At least it's consistent now.



I was a bit surprised to be reading German on the Iceweasel intro page, especially as I had downloaded the English DVD ISO.

While still running Iceweasel 2.0.0.1 I decided to hit YouTube and see if I could view any of the videos. The answer, predictably, is no. Being Debian it has no Flash plugin to support YouTube, or any other site that uses Flash.



I'd like to make an observation at this point about the screen captures. The captures look a lot better than the actual images on the screen. The fonts under Knoppix 5.1 are jagged and poorly proportioned in comparison to how Suse 10.2 renders them. Suse 10.2 looks much better on my Viewsonic P90f than Knoppix 5.1.1 does.

The Knoppix 5.1 live DVD is just chock-a-block full of content. As an indication of this I opened up the Development menu and just looked at the selection. You should note that transparency is turned on to good effect.



Next: Sampling Some Development Applications