Knowing Knoppix/Knoppix for the first time

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Knoppix for the first time[edit | edit source]

“The most important design issue... is that Linux is supposed to be fun.” -- Linus Torvalds

Overview[edit | edit source]

The purpose of this section is to get you started into Knoppix for the very first time. This section skips nearly all of the options for starting Knoppix. The options for starting Knoppix are explained later.

Hardware requirements[edit | edit source]

The recommended hardware is as follows:

  • Pentium I 350 MHz processor (recommended minimum).
  • 128 Mb RAM.
  • Either: IDE or SCSI bootable CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Or: 3.5" floppy drive plus non-bootable CD-ROM or DVD drive.
  • SVGA compatible graphics card (most cards supported).
  • Monitor capable of 800x600 pixel resolution.
  • Serial mouse, or PS/2 mouse, or USB mouse.

Starting Knoppix[edit | edit source]

There are two stages to starting Knoppix:

The first stage[edit | edit source]

The first stage is to get to the boot prompt. The boot prompt lets you customise the Knoppix startup process. For example, you can specify at the boot prompt what screen resolution you want Knoppix to use. To reach the boot prompt, you use either the CD/DVD or the floppy disk. What about some instructions for use with USB???

The second stage[edit | edit source]

The second stage is to run Knoppix itself. This requires the CD/DVD. Knoppix follows the instructions given at the boot prompt to complete the startup process.

The first stage[edit | edit source]

Getting to the boot prompt[edit | edit source]

To get to the boot prompt, follow these steps:

  1. If the computer is already on, insert the Knoppix CD/DVD. If the CD/DVD drive is set to auto-run, information explaining about Knoppix will appear. Restart the computer.
  2. If the computer is off, turn it on, then immediately insert the Knoppix CD/DVD. To play for time, press the Pause/Break key immediately after turning your computer on. On many PCs and laptops, this will pause the BIOS, giving you more time to insert the CD/DVD. Then press the Pause/Break key again to resume startup.
  3. Most newer computers will automatically check for a bootable CD/DVD in the first drive. The Knoppix boot prompt should then appear. The boot prompt is the last three lines at the bottom of the screen. If your computer can't display the white and blue Knoppix logo, you will get a blue background instead.
  4. On some computers, you must press a key for the “boot device menu”. The boot device menu is used to tell the computer which drive to boot from. A prompt saying which key will display the boot menu will appear on the screen just after you turn the computer on. For example, on some Dell desktop PCs, press F12 when prompted, press the Down Arrow key until “Boot from IDE-CDROM” is highlighted, then press Enter.
  5. At the boot prompt, press Enter to boot Knoppix accepting all the defaults (including the German keyboard/language.) If you do nothing for 60 seconds, Knoppix boots automatically. To boot Knoppix with another keyboard/language, see the section “Which language?” below.
If you have two CD/DVD drives, and one of them is a CD/DVD Re-Writable drive, 
put the Knoppix CD/DVD in the other drive.
Keep your writable drive empty if you can.
This will let you try out the CD/DVD writing features in Knoppix easily at a later time.

Help at the boot prompt[edit | edit source]

Press F2 for the help screen. The help screen is a summary of the boot prompt options. Pressing F2 or any other key cancels the timer, so Knoppix will not automatically boot.

Quick help[edit | edit source]

Question: How do I get out of the boot prompt?
Take the disc out of the drive, then restart your computer.

Question: How do I use the boot floppy?
Turn off the computer. Insert the Knoppix boot floppy disk. Turn the computer back on. The computer should boot from the floppy drive. Then the Knoppix boot prompt should appear.

If that doesn't work, enter your computer's Basic In/Out System (BIOS) setup. The key to press that takes you into the BIOS setup is usually shown on the screen just after you turn the computer on. Visit the boot priority screen (it may have another name such as boot device menu). Set the BIOS to boot from the CD/DVD or floppy drive before the hard disk drive. If unsure, check with your motherboard or computer manufacturer.

Question: The computer has two CD-ROM drives. Why does the Knoppix disc boot in one drive but not the other?
Some BIOSes can only boot the first CD-ROM/DVD drive. To work around the problem, start up from the Knoppix boot floppy disk. Then you can put the Knoppix CD/DVD in either CD-ROM/DVD drive. If you are really determined, switch the CD-ROM/DVD drive order so the drive you want to boot from is the first drive.

The second stage[edit | edit source]

Starting Knoppix proper[edit | edit source]

To start Knoppix with the United Kingdom keyboard/language:

  1. Type this at the boot prompt:
    knoppix lang=uk
  2. Press the Enter key on the keyboard.
  3. Knoppix will begin loading with the UK keyboard/language.

Which keyboard/language?[edit | edit source]

The most important option at the boot prompt is the keyboard/language. More correctly, the keyboard/language option sets the locale. A locale is a collection of regional settings including keyboard layout, language, time format, date format, currency format and paper size. Some language translations may be incomplete.

The locale options are named using the International Standards Organisation two-letter country codes (ISO 3166 and ISO 639). The locale options are:

Code Keyboard/language
de German (default)
be Belgian
bg Bulgarian
ch Swiss
cn Simplified Chinese
cs or cz Czech
dk or da Dansk
es Spanish
fi Finnish (incomplete)
fr French
he or il Hebrew
it Italian
jp Japanese (limited)
nl Dutch
pl Polish
ru Russian
sl Slovenian
tr Turkish
tw Traditional Chinese
uk United Kingdom
us United States

Automatic hardware detection[edit | edit source]

Knoppix will then try to detect the various items of hardware in your computer. How long it takes depends upon the speed of your machine. Here are some examples to give you an idea of what to expect:

Processor RAM CD-ROM speed Time needed
Intel Pentium 4 (2.6 GHz) 512 Mb 48x 40 seconds
AMD Duron (1 GHz) 256 Mb 32x 45 seconds
AMD Athlon (600 MHz) 128 Mb 24x 1 min 30 seconds

The X Window System[edit | edit source]

Next, it will briefly say “INIT: Entering runlevel 5” and then Knoppix will try to start the X Window System. The X Window System is the graphics display.

If you have a supported graphics card, you will see a black cross on a grey stippled background. This means the X Window System started successfully.

The K Desktop Environment[edit | edit source]

Knoppix will begin loading the K Desktop Environment. KDE runs on top of the X Window System. The progress of loading KDE will be shown in the middle of the screen. When KDE has finished loading, the welcome page will be loaded.

When the welcome page appears, congratulations! You have started Linux, the X Window System, and the K Desktop Environment successfully.

Quick help[edit | edit source]

Question: Why does KDE come up in German?
You need to specify the keyboard/language at the boot prompt. For example, for the UK locale, enter knoppix lang=uk at the boot prompt.

Question: It says 'cloop: read error', what does that mean?
There is a problem reading the Knoppix CD. You either have a faulty CD-ROM drive or a damaged CD. To test the Knoppix CD, enter at the boot prompt:

knoppix testcd

This will make Knoppix check the media for errors. If you know that the Knoppix CD is good, this error usually means a faulty CD-ROM drive.

Question: I get a blank screen when the X Window System comes up, why?
Knoppix is trying to use a screen resolution that your monitor doesn't support. For example, Knoppix may have detected your graphics card is capable of 1024x768 pixel resolution, but your monitor can't cope with that. Try setting a lower resolution at the boot prompt. For example, enter:

knoppix lang=uk screen=800x600

This will make Knoppix use a screen resolution of 800 by 600 pixels when it starts the X Window System.

Question: Why does the screen go blank when the kernel boots?
This problem usually occurs with low cost TFT (flat screen) monitors. The kernel is using a framebuffer console, but the monitor is incompatible with it. Turn off the framebuffer console. At the boot prompt, use the option “vga=normal”. For example, type:

knoppix lang=uk vga=normal

This will turn off the framebuffer console and the penguin logo.

Question: Why doesn't the mouse work?
This could mean you are trying to use a PS/2 mouse in a 9-pin serial port through a PS/2-to-serial adapter. Some PS/2 mice do not work when plugged into a 9-pin serial port. Try a real serial mouse.

Question: It says “Initrd extends beyond end of memory”.
Your motherboard is reporting the RAM size incorrectly. Specify the amount of physical RAM in your computer at the boot prompt. For example, if you have 128 Mb of RAM, enter at the boot prompt:

knoppix lang=uk mem=128M

Question: It says “Could not find the KNOPPIX filesystem, sorry. Dropping you to a (very limited) shell.”
Try booting with:

knoppix ide2=0x180 nopcmcia

If that doesn't work, it means your PCMCIA CD-ROM drive is not supported. There is a workaround. In Windows, copy the directory called “KNOPPIX” from the Knoppix CD to the root of a local FAT formatted hard drive partition (e.g.: drive “C:”). The copy will take some time to complete. Then start Knoppix and specify the partition that you copied the KNOPPIX directory to, using the “fromhd=” boot parameter. For example, boot with:

knoppix fromhd=/dev/hda1

If Windows is not available, use a single-floppy Linux such as “tomsrtbt” to do the copy, however that is beyond the scope of this book.

Getting out[edit | edit source]

Now that you've got Knoppix up and running, feel free to have a poke around. Everything is read-only, so you're unlikely to do any harm to your computer. To exit Knoppix:

  1. Click the “K” menu in the bottom left corner.
  2. Click “Logout”.
  3. Knoppix will begin shutting down.
  4. The Knoppix CD will be ejected.
  5. Remove the CD and close the tray.
  6. Press Enter on the keyboard.
  7. Knoppix will attempt to turn off the computer automatically. If it doesn't turn off automatically, it is now safe to turn off the computer yourself using the power button.
For a quick exit, press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. This “three finger salute” kills the X Window System.
Killing the X Window System takes down KDE and all its open applications.
Knoppix will then shut down automatically.