Is it Knoppix or PCLinuxOS time?

Not yet tired of windows? Well, read on to find out the next gen O/S out there…

* New capabilities – creating a remastered custom Live CD/DVD and booting from a USB flash

Let’s see where do I start…

Well, my machine crashed – it’s a new Acer – http://global.acer.com/4152 NLCI (4150 or 4650 series) laptop- and the problem was maybe some virus, because the ntoskrnl.exe was corrupted, and the drivers just stopped loading after a few seconds of boot time, bringing the hard disc to a halt and the screen to a frozen white screen (talk about the old blue screen being upgraded by MS!!!)

Time to look around for a boot-able and repair kit right! I tried – got an XP cd and installed XP onto a different partition – but the next day – that too went into the same loop like the above.

Then, I found out that maybe the hard disc may have got some permanent damage – thanks to all the travel lately.

I look around for a solution other than DOS obviously and I find the best free O/S ever!

Knoppix — the free open source Linux O/S that boots and runs from a CD/DVD (like PCLinuxOS 2007), with automatic hardware detection, recognizing all the devices – Graphics Card, Sound Card, USB, CD, DVD, RAID, Modem, Lan Card, printer-scanner(hp all-in-one), pcmcia cards, sd card(gateway works with PCLinuxOS), bluetooth(works with PCLinuxOS), wireless(works with PCLinuxOS),modem, external camera, webcam – you name it and its a solid system that detects, installs and boots fast (PCLinuxOS 2007 boots in 30 seconds), and runs quickly on ordinary hardware! It can even mount my NTFS hard disc in read mode (ntfs-3g driver supports read and write of NTFS files) to copy files to my USB so my critical files are saved in no time. Of course, part of the recovery process is being able to write CD and DVD’s which Knoppix (and PCLinuxOS) supports with a right click menu.

Knoppix – a flavor of Debian Linux – http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html or http://www.knoppix.net/ – is a 640MB bootable Live CD with a collection of GNU/Linux s/w, which brings up a Windows like user interface, connects to the internet (after a minor config) through a DSL or Cable modem and voila – I’m online via Mozilla, Opera or Konqueror. Knoppix 5.1.1+ is a debian flavour of the Linux O/s with the Linux kernel 2.6.19+ , KDE 3.5.5+/GNOME 2.16+, ntfs-3g and it has all the flavours of a true windows system with OpenOffice2.1+ – (Word-documents,Excel-spreadsheets,PPT-presentations) , PDF reader, kaffeine (media player) and GIMP (for those mspaint users), picasa from google, a host of ntfs data recovery tools and good card games!

PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4is a free open source Linux O/S (flavor of Mandrake/Mandriva Linux with Linux kernel 2.6.22.10+, KDE 3.5.7+/GNOME 2.16+, Open Office 2.3+, 3D windows support), has all the above software modules, and it is much better than the Knoppix version as of PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 versus Knoppix 5.1.1 – since PCLOS can be remastered and installed on a usb flash drive very easily.

Live CD Knoppix (like Live CD PCLinuxOS) uses on-the-fly decompression to load into memory, the required modules, from bootable CD/DVD, so the CD is locked by knoppix and you can’t use it for writing or DVD viewing although they have the CD/DVD writer software and the movie viewer software and I can use an external DVD/CD writer/reader to perform CD/DVD burns/reads. You can install the PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Live CD to a USB flash drive The other pluses to these Live CDs are: There is already an available messenger – thanks to secure GAIM (now Pidgin) – which can connect to Yahoo, Google Chat, AOL, etc. among others. Kopete is better than other messengers due to WebCam support, but need Knoppix/PCLinux installed to the hard disc. You can also create custom bootable CD/DVDs/USB flash, since the default live CDs are built for a read-only O/s (from the CD) with default options.

Want to listen to quality music? – using StreamTuner on Linux you can listen to live internet streamed (128 to 256kbps) quality radio on xmms, from around the World for free!!!

Security – you can install the necessary Mozilla addon’s and the shorewall or firestarter firewall to boost your experience.
VLC, Gxine, Amarok and Mplayer are very good multimedia programs covering all the needed experience.

Acrobat 8 is available for Linux for the pdf community.

Open Office or Star Office are not perfect but are decent Linux office solutions.

If you are wondering about install time – there is none – since the OS just boots of a CD/USB, you can use all the features of a full fledged O/S, and if you need, you may install the O/S to hard disc in 10 minutes.

So what are the minimum requirements of this new O/s (Vista beware!)

· Intel-compatible CPU (i486 or later),
· 32 MB of RAM for text mode, at least 96 MB for graphics mode with KDE (at least 128 MB of RAM is recommended to use the various office products),
· boot-able CD-ROM drive, or a boot floppy and standard CD-ROM (IDE/ATAPI or SCSI),
· standard SVGA-compatible graphics card,
· serial or PS/2 standard mouse or IMPS/2-compatible USB-mouse.

Before you comment, please note:

  • I know I could have called Acer – http://global.acer.com/ support – since my laptop is within warranty – well, I didn’t call because I needed internet connectivity – not further delays and postal issues with mailing my hard disc out.
  • Knoppix and PCLinuxOS have very good multi-session KDE3.5+/GNOME 2.16+ windows environment which I wanted compared to a lite-r environment like DSL Linux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ – that’s another topic – 50MB linux – usb/mini-cd boot) – another reason not to go for a usb boot was the laptop bios was not upgraded by the manufacturer and the way to upgrade bios is only through a working Windows XP !! Latest: I finally got a usb floppy drive and got my BIOS upgraded, also I created a custom Live CD of PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 and copied it to a USB flash which is now bootable (don’t forget to install th MBR) and working for Acer 4152 and Gateway MX 6124 laptops.
  • I downloaded Knoppix 3.6 from a friends cable connection and burnt the CD in 10 minutes and was online on my Acer 4152 NLCI laptop in 15 minutes: Latest: I downloaded Knoppix 5.1.1 Live DVD and PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Live DVD – PCLinuxOS rates better with custom Live DVD/USB flash boot support.
  • All of the needed drivers and software including Gaim, Office(Word,Excel,PPT), PDF viewer, printer-scanner drivers, rss reader, were on the CD so nothing to install – unlike ms windows, where a plain o/s is useless!!!

Knoppix 3.6 Problems and PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Advantages:

  • The laptop CD/DVD drive is being fully used/locked and I cannot eject it – when I log into the Knoppix Live O/s. This is by design, since the modules are dynamically loaded from the CD. You can burn custom CD’s by downloading the necessary softwares by apt-get
  • I downloaded PCLinuxOS 0.93 and later upgraded to PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 and they install to hard disc easily with a single click, also they have a neat way to create a custom Live CD/DVD, which can be created in 20 minutes flat using mklivecd/k3b
  • Webcam with messenger is an issue with gaim – PCLinuxOS 2007 fixed this problem with a new version of Kopete and many more web camera tools.
  • WPA Wireless security is not supported with default ndiswrapper, you may still have to use the windows wireless card drivers – otherwise PCLinuxOS 2007 makes secure wireless a breeze, with support for secured 128 bit WEP.
  • The apt-get feature (combined with Synaptic of PCLinuxOS) of most Linux flavors (yast in OpenSuse) is great to keep your specific O/S features upto-date and remove broken packages. The control you have over your custom machine software is simply great.
  • I can’t access the SD Card inserted in the proprietary Acer Laptop Texas Instruments SD/MMC Card Reader – but I can connect the Kodak digital camera via USB and the photos can be uploaded. Latest: PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 has a fix for many Gateway laptop SD card reader issues in their support forums for most SD cards and multi card readers.
  • I can’t read MS Visio documents (but this in development and I will use visio converted to jpegs till then).
  • Open Office is not yet a very mature software and cannot reasonably compare to MS Office 2003 in either features or printing of Excel documents.
  • PCLinuxOS 2007 has Beryl which is a decent 3D windows manager with nice 3D windows effects – but 3D windows is still not a very refined concept and I would suggest uninstalling the compiz and beryl 3D software.

Well, that’s it from me, see ya… Keep your Knoppix CD/DVD or PCLinuxOS CD/DVD/USB ready…. as we say in Linux there is true consumer choice even though I personally vote for PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4

Oh ya.. Knoppix supports clusters and a multi-computer version is out called “ParallelKnoppix” which converts a host of windows machines into a Linux Cluster Farm. Descriptions are here – http://idea.uab.es/mcreel/ParallelKnoppix/ http://www.knoppix.net/wiki/Cluster_Live_CD

Howto? – Another useful site to learn to use Linux – http://www.linux.ie/articles/tutorials/

Some more flavors that receive good desktop Linux reviews are

Other good sites with helpful linux links:

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6 Responses to Is it Knoppix or PCLinuxOS time?

  1. Anonymous says:

    When i was in similar situtation i tried Ubuntu Linux. The CD i got is live cd cum installation cd. The UI is also very user friendly.
    –Madhusudan

  2. Sanjay M says:

    wow thats pretty interesting… I’m really curious to try out these new OSs sometime!

  3. Charles Vaz says:

    I’m currently using the latest PCLinux OS 2007 Release 3.

    I have tried Ubuntu, kubuntu, Suse 9.2, 9.3, 10.1 and Mandrake but I wasn’t happy with the feature set. Also, some of these had serious issues and were not customizable.

    Most Linux systems fail to impress 1st on looks, 2ndly almost ALL require immediate downloads of additional programs & dependencies which is a pain.
    I’m not saying that a LiveCD should have all features – but yes all distro’s should come with a LiveCD which when installed to hard disc should be able to be customizable easily and then a new custom LiveCD should be able to be created – this is possible in PCLinux.

    Also, I feel that a mix of Gnome and Kde programs is a must – not Kubuntu or Ubuntu seperate!!!

    All the distro’s should provide apt-get, synaptic features – as a default – like PCLinux OS.

    – My 2 cents 🙂

    Latest: Install Linux in half an hour

  4. PCLinux 2007 compared to Xandros

    Xandros is another good flavor of Linux described at ExtremeTech

    Xandros is not freeware.

    PCLinux 2007 is currently free.

    PCLinux 2007 has all the applications available which run under Xandros – wireless network profiles, a music manager with iPod & MP3 support, photo manager, video players and internet telephone via Skype,etc.

    PCLinux 2007 too runs off a LiveCD – where you can browse the internet, do your work and also (if needed) install the O/s parallely to the hard disc.

    PCLinux 2007 also has no problem resizing the Windows partition to make room for an install.

    PCLinux 2007 has great LINUX security and the all important internet firewall – free!!!

    PCLinux 2007 too has all the basic “Windows” applications – Find, Control Center, File Manager, DVD/CD/Video/Audio player(Kaffeine, Xine, Xmms, Amarok, Real Player), 3-D Windows GUI Themes(Beryl), CD/DVD burning(K3B), iPod-PDA-MobilePhone manager and Addressbook-Calendar sync tools, html/web-page editor(NVU),multiple web browsers (Opera, Konqueror, Mozilla-Firefox), Instant Messengers (Kopete, Gaim, Skype), Photo manager(Picasa), Radio Streamer(StreamTuner,Xmms), Acrobat (pdf reader), Printer software (hplip, cups), Open Office(Word, Spreadsheets, Access and other Databases’ viewer, Impress-Presentations), Image Editor (Gimp) and Network connectivity(secure 802.11b/g wireless, LAN, Cable, DSL, VPN, phone-modem), other plug-n-play software for USB Pen Drive, Digital Cameras, Printers-Scanners-All-In-One’s, External Drives.

    All this and a great auto update tool(Synaptic), which also checks for broken packages automatically and here’s the clunker – a built-in foolproof LINUX kernel security further boosted by a configurable firewall(shorewall).

    And yes, LINUX now has a read-write NTFS driver , apart from the normal disc tools(fsck-disc check), so PCLinux can read and recover your toasted windows partition.

    PCLinux has all these “Windows” software grouped into Accessories, Internet, Open Office, Games, Multimedia, System, and more Applications – to make the transition easier.

    Note to Gamers – As of now, PCLinux 2007 doesn’t give you the thrills here!!!
    Also, PCLinux OS doesn’t support most multi-SD/MMC-memory card readers.

  5. Are we ready to use Linux in the Office?

    Maybe in a few months or a couple of years, there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out.

    By the way, there is a decent OCR program from Google which is open source – Tesseract which gets decent reviews compared to the “native” Linux OCR software – Gocr.

    This is a good article on “Putting Together A Linux Office” with Suse Linux Server.

    Main issues are:
    * Some drivers are still not available
    * Migrating to Open Office is imperfect
    * Linux Server Vendor support doesn’t compare to other O/S Vendors

  6. Charles Vaz says:

    Some more reviews on PCLinuxOS 2007 with a comprehensive list that replaces equivalent Windows Applications at The Perfect Desktop – PCLinuxOS 2007
    Also, I’d like to add to the previous comment, that PCLinuxOS 2007 is a perfect replacement for the home machine and for Small Business Centers and Internet Browsing Centers – totally free OS with applications!!!
    So, need a good list of applications?
    Thanks to the above author at howtoforge.com, the list is here below with my modifications:
    Graphics:
    [x] The GIMP
    [x] Picasa
    [x] F-Spot(Picasa is a better application!!!)
    Internet:
    [x] Opera
    [x] Firefox
    [x] Flash Player
    [x] gFTP
    [x] Thunderbird (maybe!!!)
    [x] Evolution (maybe!!!)
    [x] aMule (maybe!!!)
    [x] Bittorrent client (maybe!!!)
    [x] Azureus Bittorrent client (maybe!!!)
    [x] Gaim or Pidgin
    [x] Skype
    [x] Google Earth (maybe!!!)
    [x] Xchat IRC (maybe!!!)
    [x] VncViewer (secure ’ssh’ remote login to other windows/linux/mac)
    Office:
    [x] OpenOffice Writer
    [x] OpenOffice Calc
    [x] Adobe Reader
    [x] GnuCash (maybe!!!)
    [x] Scribus DTP
    Sound & Video:
    [x] Kaffeine
    [x] Amarok
    [x] Audacity audio editor (maybe!!!)
    [x] Banshee (maybe for nomad?)
    [x] MPlayer
    [x] Rhythmbox Music Player (maybe!!!)
    [x] gtkPod
    [x] XMMS
    [x] dvd::rip
    [x] Kino
    [x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor (sound-juicer streaming CD ripper)
    [x] VLC Media Player
    [x] Real Player
    [x] Totem (maybe!!!)
    [x] Xine
    [x] K3B
    [x] GnomeBaker (maybe!!!)
    [x] Multimedia-Codecs
    [x] firestarter (additional Firewall)
    Programming:
    [x] Nvu
    [x] Bluefish (maybe!!!)
    [x] Quanta Plus (maybe!!!)
    Other:
    [x] kmobileTools (sync mobile phonebk)
    [x] VMware Server (maybe!!! – There is a also a PCLOS VmWare client now!!!)
    [x] QFaxReader (for TIFF files)
    [x] gkrellm (system monitor)
    [x] TrueType fonts
    [x] Java
    [x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions
    Needless to say Synaptic would help you search and install the latest version of these software. But if you find a few difficulties, need optimization and configuration options, head to the PCLinuxOS Support Forum

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