Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

In praise of KANOTIX -- A biased introduction

Filed under
Reviews

There are almost too many Linux distros to count, and many live Linux CDs. So what is KANOTIX, and what's so great about it?

KANOTIX is two things. First, it's a live Linux CD, based on Debian Sid, with plumbing -- excellent hardware detection scripts -- based on the well-known Knoppix live CD. In "live CD" mode, you can do many things, including:

  • Experimenting with Linux without installing it to your computer's hard drive
  • Connecting to the Internet and other computers
  • Fixing broken Linux and Windows installations
  • Computer forensics
  • You can also install the proprietary nVidia driver (although not the ATI driver) while running off the live CD, if you use one of the two latest "preview" releases, KANOTIX-2006-VDR-RC6 (link to ISO)
But KANOTIX's main raison d'être is to be a simple way to get a robust, enhanced version of Debian Sid installed on your computer. In order to do that, it includes an installation program that's fairly simple and straightforward to use. The installer can also be used to upgrade an existing KANOTIX installation.

It also provides the benefits of:

  • Customized kernels, with support for specialized hardware
  • Versions for 32- and 64-bit CPUs
  • Many cusomized scripts (e.g. an easy way to install accellerated nVidia or ATI drivers)
  • End-user documentation, in the form of a FAQ; a Wiki; and an Installation Manual
  • A forum and an IRC channel (link goes to a Web-based interface) for quick answers to problems
A bit of background is in order for those unfamiliar with Debian. Debian is an excellent, if somewhat geek-oriented, version of Linux to use, mainly due to its package management system, APT. I remember trying to install a new version of Pan, the newsreader, on a 7.x version of Red Hat (before the days of Fedora), and getting stuck in RPM dependency hell. Long story short, I ended up having to upgrade to version 8 (which had, thankfully, just come out) in order to get the mess sorted out. Nowadays, with front ends such as YUM, this isn't such a big issue. But the benefit of having an APT-based system is that dependencies are normally all sorted out for you, and running the command apt-get install pan would be all it takes to get pan, and all its dependencies, either installed for the first time, or upgraded to the latest version. (And there's a huge amount of software available in Debian's repositories, around 15,500 packages.)

Debian software comes in three distributions: Debian Stable ("Sarge"); Debian Testing ("Etch"), and Debian Unstable ("Sid"). (The nicknames are based on characters from the movie Toy Story.) As mentioned earlier, KANOTIX is based on Debian unstable. "Unstable" is a bit of a misnomer; generally speaking, it's as stable as any other bleeding-edge distro out there. However, as the Debian Reference notes, "The advantage of using the unstable distribution is that you are always up-to-date with the latest in the Debian software project—but if it breaks, you get to keep both parts. :-)"

And sometimes, changes do break things. For example, X.org was recently updated from version 6.9 to 7.0, with major changes to existing directory structures and configuration files. As any Linux user has experienced, documentation often doesn't keep up with changes, and that's especially true of Debian Sid. Fortunately, the KANOTIX team was there with advice on when it was OK to upgrade and how to upgrade; and they wrote custom scripts to make things work correctly.

Since KANOTIX is based on Debian Sid, you can upgrade all packages to current by running apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade Of course, you can always run KANOTIX without making any updates whatsoever, and just upgrade when a new version of KANOTIX comes out.

Debian has a repuation for being a bear to get working, especially for the newbie. And if CDs are only available for Debian Sarge, how do you install Debian Sid? As they say, you don't; you install Debian Sarge and upgrade to Sid -- or, you can install KANOTIX.

Some are put off by the fact that the KANOTIX forum has a large German section, and that a lot of the conversation on the IRC channel takes place in German. The reason for this is that KANOTIX's largest user base is in Germany, where it's produced. However, the English section of the forum is large and growing, and all the KANOTIX developers speak (and answer questions in) English.

Also, don't be put off by KANOTIX's latest offering being called a "preview" release. It's installation-ready.

So, please try KANOTIX and see what you think. Hopefully you'll end up liking it, and its community, as much as I do.

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • The Atom Editor
    I didn’t set out to write a blog post about a text editor. I was going to write about one of the other awesome projects that the Ops team is doing here at Wombat. Along the way I decided to give Atom a chance again and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed it enough that I thought I would defer my post about automating my “Ops Environment” on a mac (I promise, I’ll do that one soon-ish) in favor of this.
  • Quick Update: ClipGrab and PlayOnLinux Applications Are Now Available For ALL Ubuntu Versions
    ClipGrab is fairly popular application to download video from famous sites of the Internet. It allows you to search video with in application and select to download the video or other way you can copy and paste the video URL to the application to download the video. Since famous video sites are supported by this application, if some site isn't officially supported, you may still be able to download the videos from it.
  • aTunes Enriched Audio Player Now Available For All Current Ubuntu/Linux Mint Versions
    There are wide variety of audio players available for Linux and you may have your favorite one installed on your system. aTunes is not new audio player but its initial release was way back in 2006 and the most recent version was released in June, 2014. In almost two years there is no news on the website or release from developers, well it is open-source released under GPL-V2 license and we don't see any other to carry on the development of this great application. It is written in Java programming language and it's cross-platform available for Linux, Unix, Windows and Mac. It uses Mplayer as its playback engine and supports wide variety of known formats such as: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, WMA and other formats.

QNX 7 Can Be Fitted With A Qt5 Desktop

  • QNX 7 Can Be Fitted With A Qt5 Desktop
    While QNX remains targeted as an operating system for mobile/embedded solutions, a BlackBerry developer in his spare time has fitted QNX 7 with a Qt5 desktop. QNX 6 and prior had a desktop option, but was removed in QNX 7, which was released this past March. QNX 7.0 also brought support for 64-bit (and maintaining 32-bit) Intel x86 and ARM platforms along with C++14 support. For those wanting to experiment with QNX 7, a BlackBerry kernel developer has been working on making this operating system more desktop friendly.
  • Building a BlackBerry QNX 7 Desktop
    Having Qt allowed me to port one of my favourite applications, SpeedCrunch. It was a simple matter of running ‘qmake’ followed by ‘make’. Next, I ported the QTermWidget library so that I could have terminal windows.

Kernel Space/Linux

  • Kernel explained
  • [Older] [Video] Audio on Linux: The End of a Golden Age?
  • State of Sway April 2017
    Development on Sway continues. I thought we would have slowed down a lot more by now, but every release still comes with new features - Sway 0.12 added redshift support and binary space partitioning layouts. Sway 0.13.0 is coming soon and includes, among other things, nvidia proprietary driver support. We already have some interesting features slated for Sway 0.14.0, too! Today Sway has 21,446 lines of C (and 4,261 lines of header files) written by 81 authors across 2,263 commits. These were written through 653 pull requests and 529 issues. Sway packages are available today in the official repos of pretty much every distribution except for Debian derivatives, and a PPA is available for those guys.

Supporting Burning Platforms

  • Surface revenue does a U-boat, and dives

    Revenue generated by Microsoft's Surface hardware during the March quarter was down 26% from the same period the year before, the company said yesterday as it briefed Wall Street.

    For the quarter, Surface produced $831 million, some $285 million less than the March quarter of 2016, for the largest year-over-year dollar decline ever.

  • Acer said to me: "do not use our products with Linux. Find another manufacturer"
    Last year, I bought an Acer notebook and it came with Windows 10. As I didn't want spyware neither bloatware, I got Linux installed and asked for a refund of the OEM license. After a little of talking, they were wanting to charge me US$100 (to remove the license, which I already had wiped, as I got FDE Linux installed) to refund US$70 of the OEM license. This year, wondering to buy a new Acer notebook, I asked them again if they would refund me the OEM license without all the hassle (as they did pay me the US$70, without me having to pay the US$100).