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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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Kanotix is a live CD, Debian-based distribution that, as well as running beautifully as a live CD, is also built for easy and intuitive hard drive installation. It installs in just over a half hour (on my Dell Pentium 111, 866 mhz) and recognizes hardware easily.
Up until recently Kanotix was based on Debian sid, but is in the process of moving to a Debian stable base. Still, if the future Kanotix is at all like it has been, I recommend it highly. It boots in under a minute, comes loaded with lots of software apps and, beong Debian, it is easy to install software and upgrade with the Debian apt utility.
Further, the online Kanotix forums at Kanotix.com have a very friendly and helpful community to support you. They have helped me on several occasions, such as when I set up a dual-boot on my system with Kanotix and OpenSuse 10.1.
Try Kanotix out, I have had it installed since May 2006 and I have never been disappointed.
Last, the network card configuration tool has worked perfectly on my Dell, at least.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9
Fastest, best hardware support, biggest and best range of applications of any distro I've tried. Best documentation.
Based on Debian unstable (but not for long apparently). Needing to log in as root for some elementary things such as network connections.
Easy and quick startup - make sure you get the Language selection right!
Easy as long as you know to look for one thing at startup - the startup options that appear straight away. You have to arrow down to English because it times out after 20 seconds and the default startup is Deutsch (German). I made this mistake last week! If you miss that option it will start in German, and the only way to get it to English is to reboot again and make sure you press the down arrow once and hit enter.
After a lot of text flicking by on the screen about things starting up (with the occasional alarming message saying "Fatal", but nothing stopped) I was greeted with a somewhat familiar KDE interface. A webpage opened in Konqueror with a lot of text, welcoming me to Kanotix and providing lots of information about what is included on the CD. Very handy information about Internet and Networking, Live Mode (booting from CD as I am), upgrades, Partitioning your HD, Installation, cheat codes and Shell basics. There was a warning that I might be able to write to the NTFS formatted hard drive - but that I might destroy the data on it in the process. Good to know! This startup guide I is very handy, it looks easy enough to follow, and encourages me to consider installing it.
Familiar territory and lots of features
The kicker is almost entirely transparent by default with a hide button on the right. This is nice, apart from the fact that application windows on the taskbar have black text - this is nearly unreadable with the dark desktop background. I found you can change the look of this from "elegant" to "for transparency" and the labels are readable. Be good if this was on by default. It appears the full feature set of KDE is included, fancy things such as setting your desktop background to a slide show.
The desktop is already populated with icons for the local Hard drive, floppy, CD (well, a gold optical disc icon labelled KANOTIX) the Kingston USB drive I plugged in, and a few other bits and pieces that look useful. It's single-click to open everything. All the icons look splendid and the interface animates prettily without being over the top. All well and good - in fact very nice, I don't have to do anything further to access all the devices on my system.
The interface is really fast with a minimum of wait time for loading things off the CD. Now that I've tried the "light and fast" Vector Linux with the xfce front end, which is indeed fast, coming back to Kanotix and the supposedly heavier and slower KDE - there is no discernible speed difference.
I searched around the K-Menu and found lots of familiar names - I can see that more seems to have been included than DesktopBSD - the Gimp, a huge wealth of internet chat, voip, email clients, web browsers and various other tools for connecting and using the internet, media players and editors including Audacity, a TV viewer... there seems to be an enormous amount of support for hardware including printers, cellphones and palm pilots.
I'm really impressed. I've tried DesktopBSD, Mandriva, Mepis, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and VectorLinux, and see Kanotix has crammed a higher sheer number of applications and utilities than all of these. It also has better startup documentation with how-to for just about everything.
The KOffice suite bundled on the CD is very fully featured. It has limited compatibility with MS Office compared to say OpenOffice - but it is fully compatible with OpenOffice formats, and it's much more fully featured: Kivio, a flowchart designer, KPlato, a powerful project management app, Karbon14, a vector graphics app similar to Macromedia Freehand or Adobe Illustrator, KThesaurus (speaks for itself), Kugar, a report compilation tool, and more...
I keep finding more useful applications. On the K menu is an entry for Debian: Krusader, Lynx, a plethora of networking tools: EGroupware, KDE Groupware, LinNeighbourhood and setup wizards for Novell Groupwise, Openexchange and MS Exchange. There's even an app called KitchenSync!
I did have a couple of small issues with Kanotix. Its error handling for doing silly things like setting graphics resolution larger than what the driver will support isn't so good. I ended up at a weird text-graphics interface to get the mode back in then had to reboot when I did this. But then, I had to log on as root to be able to do such a silly thing in the first place.
More annoying was the fact that I had to log on as root to be able to do anything with the network interfaces. Ethernet LAN would just work by default anyway without doing anything, but with wireless I needed to log in as root to set up to connect to my secure wireless network. It recognised and installed the wireless devices I have on 3 different PCs fine, and supported WPA-PSK encryption unlike other distros including Ubuntu - but for some reason it kept losing the settings when I hit apply. So although it recognised my hardware and supported WPA-PSK encryption, I still wasn't able to get connected. If I was trying to connect to an unsecured broadcasting wireless network I'm sure I wouldn't have had a problem.
Yep, it's better
The instructions that pop up on first boot look easy to follow in order to install Kanotix as a dual boot. It's also, as far as I can tell, the fastest operating on this P3 0.863Ghz testbench machine I'm using. That combined with the excellent hardware support, massive range of applications, and the potential to choose from the literally thousands of Debian packages plus Knoppix packages to add if I so choose really makes this an attractive distro to install and run, more attractive than Ubuntu.
Furthermore - yes the CD has an autorun.inf file for when you insert it into a running Windows machine, just like Ubuntu. Instead of launching a custom browser like Ubuntu, it launches the main page in your default browser - the same welcoming page you get on booting from the CD. It's not as polished and graphics rich as the Ubuntu welcome, but it has more information about how to use and install Kanotix.
For a Windows user looking to come over to the world of Linux, this would have to be my pick of the bunch.