Knowing Knoppix/Finding permanence
“The box said that I needed to have Windows 98 or better… so I installed Linux.” -- LinuxNewbie.org
Knoppix lets you store personalised settings, document files and system settings on a disk. This saves you from having to set up Knoppix from scratch every time you run it.
Important: The functionality described in this article is available only until and including Knoppix 5.1.1 (CD release) and 5.3.1 (DVD release), as all versions of Knoppix since 6.0 don't have it anymore.
Knoppix 6.x releases require saving all of the CD or DVD contents to non-optical media (hard disk, flash drive, memory card), from which to boot the system up. Note that some computers are not configured or able to run operating systems off USB-connected drives or memory cards; some other systems won't boot from very large external storage items. The boot order is configured from the BIOS, access to which may be restricted in some situations (typically computers at and supplied by workplaces).
Creating a persistent Home directory
Personalisation is what makes your computer yours. Personalised settings include application preferences, for example, your favourite KDE background wallpaper. Documents are the files that you create using Knoppix applications, such as graphics and word processed document files. Personalised settings and documents are stored in a special place called your Home directory.
Knoppix lets you keep your Home directory on another disk. This is called creating a persistent Knoppix home directory. It allows you to use a personalised Knoppix account everywhere you go. For example, you can sit down at one computer, do some work, go to another computer, and carry on working.
This works best with a USB hard drive stick, also known as a USB flash drive. These marvellous little gadgets give you hundreds of megabytes of storage, in a space no bigger than a key fob. A USB flash drive is the ideal companion to a Knoppix CD. To create a persistent Home directory on a USB flash drive:
- Insert your USB flash drive.
- Wait for a moment while the drive is detected.
- A new hard disk partition icon will appear on the Desktop.
- Note the name of the new icon. For example, if there are no other SCSI drives in the computer, it will be labelled “Hard disk partition [sda1]”.
- Right-click on the USB flash drive icon.
- Click “Mount”.
- Right-click on the USB flash drive icon again.
- Click “Change read/write mode”.
- It will ask if you want to make the partition writeable.
- Click “Yes”.
- Click the Knoppix menu in the Panel.
- Point to “Configure”.
- Click “Create persistent KNOPPIX home directory”.
- Click “Yes”.
- Choose the partition that corresponds to your flash drive. In this example, /dev/sda1 represents the flash drive.
- You will be asked if you want to encrypt the file that will be created on the flash drive. This is optional, so click “No”.
- Enter how big in megabytes you would like your Knoppix home directory to be. For example, enter “100” for 100 megabytes. Imagine you have a 256 Mb flash drive. This will create a 100 megabyte file on the flash drive, leaving 156 Mb free for other files.
- Click OK.
- Wait while Knoppix prepares the flash drive. If the flash drive has an activity light, you will see it working for a few moments.
- You will be asked if you want to use the entire partition. Click “No”. This will leave existing files on the flash drive alone.
- Wait while Knoppix completes the setup process.
- Knoppix will tell you what you need to type at the boot prompt to use the persistent Knoppix home directory on your flash drive. Make a note of what it says, then click OK.
You must reboot for the change to take effect. Shut down Knoppix and restart. At the boot prompt, type the following command, replacing “sda1” as appropriate:
During startup you should see a message like this:
Mounting /mnt/sda1/knoppix.img as /home/knoppix... /home/knoppix mounted OK.
This means it worked. The USB flash drive will now be used for the home directory of the “knoppix” user.
Important With a persistent home directory on a flash drive, the flash drive will be in use all the time. Do not take the flash drive out until you have shut down Knoppix.
Saving system settings
Saving system settings is called making a Knoppix configuration archive. This stores settings that are saved in the system-wide configuration directory, not in the home directory. For example, it allows you to save your printer setup, so you don't have to do it again next time. To save the system settings:
- Click the Knoppix menu on the Panel.
- Point to “Configure”.
- Click “Save KNOPPIX configuration”.
- Select the system settings that you would like to store.
Personal configuration. If you have a persistent Knoppix home directory, you do not need this. If you do not have a persistent Knoppix home directory, this option covers the personalised settings you have made in programs like the KDE Control Center, and your personalised settings in applications such as AbiWord. It does not include document files, such as saved word processor files. It also does not include cache files from web browsing.
All files on the Desktop. If you have a persistent Knoppix home directory, you do not need this. If you do not have a persistent Knoppix home directory, select this option to save the new disk icons or program icons that you may have created on the Desktop.
Network settings. If you have a persistent Knoppix home directory, and all you are doing is using the KPPP dialler to connect to the Internet via a modem, you do not need this. KPPP configuration is saved as part of your Knoppix home directory.
The network settings saved by this option include Local Area Network (LAN), manually configured dial-up networking (modem), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) settings. For example, if you have set up your network card manually, select this option to save the configuration for next time.
Graphics subsystem settings. This saves settings for the “X Window System” (the graphics display). For example, if you specified a certain screen resolution when you started Knoppix, this option will save that setting.
Other system configuration. This option saves the printer setup and all other system-wide settings.
- Click OK.
- Select the device that you would like to save onto. For example, assuming you have a USB flash drive, and there are no other SCSI drives in the system, choose /mnt/sda1.
- Click OK.
- Wait while the archive is created.
- If it worked, it will say, “Creation of the KNOPPIX configuration archive was successful”. It will tell you the command to use at the boot prompt to load the saved settings.
- Click OK to exit.
To load the saved settings next time you start Knoppix, use the “myconfig” parameter at the boot prompt. For example, assuming you saved the archive to “/mnt/sda1”, at the boot prompt enter:
If it works you will see something like this near the end of the startup messages (Ctrl+Alt+F1):
Checking /mnt/sda1 for KNOPPIX configuration file... Found, now executing /mnt/sda1/knoppix.sh