Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8
This actually a review of Knoppix 7.0.3. It’s intended to be run from a CD, DVD, or USB memory stick to provide a portable Linux system. This time I tested the DVD version. This is slow to boot (obviously using USB would solve that) but performance is reasonable once it’s running.
The boot menu gives you the chance to copy to a HD partition with the command “knoppix tohd=/dev/sda3” or whatever. If you do this, the DVD will still be required to boot subsequent sessions, but the command “knoppix fromhd=/dev/sda3” will make it use the HD for a much faster system. The menu of the live session gives you the chance to install on a bootable USB stick. With a USB or HD installation, configuration can be saved. The live session also allows you to make a conventional installation, but that would miss the point: there’s no repository or updates service.
This is a huge disk, with all the software you’re ever likely to want: Chess, Chromium, Gnucash, Inkscape, LibreCAD, LibreOffice, Mumble, Pidgin, Scribus … even the GCompris educational package for young children. There’s a lot of choice: for emails you can use Claws, Icedove, Kmail, or Sylpheed. All media codecs are installed and work perfectly. Flash is available in Chromium, but not in Iceweasel. Running a dozen programs from the CLI gave a few minor warnings. Pidgin crashed on one occasion and LibreCAD lacked its help file. As is all too common with Debian derivatives, I couldn’t enable my USB speakers. I couldn’t check video or wifi support, but other reviewers have not reported many problems.
You have a choice of 3 desktops, which can be selected at boot-up or changed within the live session: LXDE, Gnome, or KDE. The default is LXDE. This and KDE give the tools of all 3, so you get both the KDE and Gnome system monitors, for example. Gnome runs in fallback mode on my hardware, and this has not been properly checked: the panel has black text on a black background! LXDE and Gnome fallback will run in 512MB, but KDE needs 1GB.