Knowing Knoppix/Alternatives to KDE

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Alternatives to KDE[edit | edit source]

Knoppix has six alternative desktop managers. These let you run the X Window System on a computer that doesn't have enough RAM for KDE. They also save loading time, because they load much more quickly.

Ice Window Manager[edit | edit source]

A small and fast window manager in the Microsoft Windows style.

Ice Window Manager screenshot

Window Maker[edit | edit source]

A simple and elegant window manager with a very solid feel.

Window Maker Window Manager screenshot

Fluxbox[edit | edit source]

Similar in style to Window Maker.

Fluxbox Window Manager screenshot

Xfce[edit | edit source]

Xfce stands for “The Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment”.

Xfce Desktop Environment screenshot

Lars Window Manager[edit | edit source]

An alternative window manager. In Lars Window Manager, almost everything is done with the keyboard instead of the mouse. Lars Window Manager is designed for programmers that spend most of their time working with text.

Lars Window Manager screenshot

Tab Window Manager[edit | edit source]

Tab Window Manager screenshot
See also: Guide to X11/Window Managers/twm

TWM is designed to use as little RAM as possible. If you start Knoppix on a computer without enough RAM to run KDE, it will run Tab Window Manager instead.

In Knoppix 5.0.1, the twm menu is missing, but a command line (console) window does start. With a capable computer (at least 256 Mb RAM), the easiest shortcut to an app launcher is KDE's Kicker. Invoke it like this:

$ kicker &

^ The dollar sign $ is the default sign of the command line; the ampersand & serves to separate Kicker from the console to free it up for other uses. The screenshot to the right shows the same method with The GIMP.

TWM does not appear to be included in CD versions of Knoppix 6.0 or later, as these have solely defaulted to LXDE. That won't run with any efficiency in computers that have less than 256 Mb of RAM memory.

Starting an alternative window manager[edit | edit source]

once knoppix has loaded you can go through the configuration options, to switch between various window manager(except beryl).

Use one of these commands at the boot prompt.

knoppix desktop=icewm          # IceWM
knoppix desktop=wmaker         # Window Maker
knoppix desktop=fluxbox        # Fluxbox
knoppix desktop=xfce           # Xfce
knoppix desktop=larswm         # Lars Window Manager
knoppix desktop=twm            # Tab Window Manager
knoppix desktop=beryl          # Beryl with kde

For example, to start Window Maker in the UK locale:

knoppix desktop=wmaker lang=uk 

Accessing disks and partitions while outside KDE[edit | edit source]

You may have noticed there are no desktop disk icons when you are using an alternative to KDE. Luckily, you can still use KDE's disk management tools, even when you are outside KDE. For example:

  1. Start Knoppix into Window Maker.
  2. Click the “XTerm” icon, which is on the right hand side, second from the top. Enter this command:
  3. Wait while “KDiskFree” starts.
  4. Right-click the icon of the disk or partition you want. Click “Mount”. Right-click the icon again, then “Open in file manager”.
  5. The files on the disk or partition will be displayed.
Important: KDiskFree mounts in read-write mode, not read-only.

Text mode[edit | edit source]

Text mode is the fastest way to start Knoppix. Text mode is meant for those who are familiar with the UNIX command line interface. There are many excellent books on the subject, such as “Sams Teach Yourself UNIX in 24 Hours”.

Starting[edit | edit source]

To start Knoppix in text mode, enter this at the boot prompt.

knoppix 2

For example, to start with UK keyboard/language, with DMA for faster hard disk access, and without PCMCIA because you're not working on a laptop computer, enter:

knoppix lang=uk dma nopcmcia 2

Leaving[edit | edit source]

Enter this command to exit Knoppix:


Localisation[edit | edit source]

Text mode is called “runlevel 2”. When started in text mode, Knoppix uses the “C” locale. The C locale is defined as the “default” locale for applications, meaning that their strings are displayed as written in the initial code, without passing through a translation lookup. Just plain old ASCII. Literally, the “C” locale turns off localisation.

To enable localisation, specify the locale that you want to use with the “lang=” option. For example, enter this at the boot prompt to load Knoppix in text mode with the UK regional settings:

knoppix 2 lang=uk

Adjusting the keyboard layout[edit | edit source]

To switch to a UK keyboard layout, type this and press Enter:

loadkeys uk

The keyboard map will be changed to UK layout.

Accessing disks and partitions[edit | edit source]

Use the “mount” command. For example, to mount the first partition on the primary master IDE hard drive:

cd /mnt
mount hda1

The files on the device /dev/hda1 will be mounted to /mnt/hda1. To view the files on the partition:

cd hda1

The files will be displayed. To learn more about navigating and copying files in text mode, refer to a UNIX manual or text book.

Disks and partitions are mounted read-write by the mount command.

Identifying hardware[edit | edit source]

Use these commands to get hardware information:

Command Shows
lspci PCI devices
lsusb USB devices
cat /proc/cpuinfo Processor information
cat /proc/meminfo Random Access Memory details
cat /proc/scsi/scsi SCSI device information
dmesg Kernel messages
Press Shift + Page Up to see the lines that have scrolled off the top of the screen.
Press Shift + Page Down to go back down again.