80. Knoppix makes using Linux
By Andrew D. Wright
The Internet in the year 2006 has become a scary place.
You run a Windows computer without anti-virus protection or forget to
update your software, boom, your computer is taken over by the bad guys
and serves as part of a botnet, a zombie army of home computers which are
the source of more than 80% of junk email among other nastiness.
Odds are that more than half of the Windows users reading this column have
computers which have been compromised in some manner and don't even know
One solution is to switch your computer from Windows to the Open Source
operating system Linux. Open Source means that the software code for all
the programs is both free of charge and open for inspection. Linux is much
less of a target for bad guys because of its smaller market share and the
greater difficulty to infect a Linux system.
The trouble is you really still need more than average computer skills to
setup and run Linux. Linux developers realize this and are working on
improving the interface for more general use.
The developers at Knoppix have a bootable CD and DVD which allow you to
stick the disk in your drive, start up the computer and start using Linux,
simple as that.
It detects your computer's hardware, sets it up for you
and puts you into a point and click interface Windows users will be
instantly familiar with. If you're on a high speed internet connection,
that will be set up automatically as well.
Every piece of software you might want is included - web browsers, email
software, Open Office, an office software suite compatible with Microsoft
Office formats and a host of other programs, everything from games to
graphics editing programs.
The Knoppix DVD contains more software but even
the CD holds an impressive amount.
Want Windows back, simply reboot the
computer without the Knoppix disk in the drive.
The good news is you can use Linux whenever you want without a lot of
hassle or risk of damaging anything.
The bad news is that if you use the standard Windows 2000/XP NTFS file
system on your hard drive then Linux can read your files but not modify
them or write any new ones. If you have a disk drive using the FAT32 file
system standard with Windows 95B, Windows 98 and Windows ME, you can save
Knoppix settings permanently and update the software packages that came
with the Knoppix disk.
You don't need to know anything at all about Linux to plunge in and start
using Knoppix. You'll need a bit-torrent client to download the Knoppix CD
or DVD disk image and you will need a CD or DVD burner and burner software
to write the disk image to a blank CD or DVD. Once created the Knoppix
disk can be used on any x86 compatible personal computer that can be set
to boot from a CD or DVD drive.
It makes for a great backup in case you
need to use your computer and Windows won't start.
Knoppix is not perfect but is under active development.
Windows users will
find Linux naming conventions unfamiliar - your C: drive is called hda1
for example, and setting up hardware
not automatically detected can be problematic.
Once set up though, Linux
computers are low maintenance, secure and rock solid stable, capable of
running for months without crashing or having to reboot.
Knoppix home site:
Note: the Knoppix 5 release does support reading and writing to Windows
2000/XP NTFS hard drive partitions.
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Originally published 19 March 2006