Saturday, May 27, 2006

Accelerated Knoppix

I know I've written about this before, so if you've read one of my prior posts on the topic, or if you already are familiar with the concept of a live CD, just skip to the bottom line for the info that is specific to Accelerated Knoppix.  
    We affirm that the world's magnificence
    has been enriched by a new beauty:
    the beauty of speed.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti - Manifesto of Futurism -
That quote is on the homepage for the Accelerated project.  What that means is that computer users can boot from the CD and get a complete operating system and a complex set of applications, ready to use.   It boots if the hard drive has crashed.  It even boots if there is no hard drive in the computer at all.  

There are several uses for a live CD.  Probably the most obvious is that it enables a user to try an operating system or an application without having to install the application on the hard drive.  So if you've never used Linux before, and want to give it a try, you can use alive CD to try it out, with minimal effort, and with no risk of messing anything up.  Or, if you've heard about OpenOffice -- the free alternative to Microsoft Office -- and want to see if it really will open your Word documents, and see if it really is as easy to use as Microsoft Word, you can do so easily.  

Another use for a live CD is for emergency use.  If your computer crashes and you HAVE TO check your email, you can do it quickly with a live CD. (It can't configure a dial-up connection automatically, but it can and will recognize and use a broadband or ethernet connection without specific user intervention.)  Likewise, if your system won't boot, you might be able to recover data using a live CD.  

A more obscure use of a live CD could be to use it for anonymous browsing.  lxnay dEsigN is planning to develop a live CD (actually a DVD) that uses servers to obscure your internet usage.  Plus, being on an unwritable medium, there would be no cookies, no browsing history, or other traces that could be recovered later.

Finally, some folks have used Knoppix to figure out how to configure their Linux systems.  I've done that myself.  When I was first learning to do intermediate-level configuration, I somehow messed up my XF86Config file (one of the files that says "Please do not edit this file" at the top.)  I booted from Knoppix and saw how Knoppix autoconfigured the file, saved it to a USB flash drive, and fixed the problem that way.

By the way, there are live CD's for operating systems other than Linux.  I've never used any of them, though.  

The bottom line: one disadvantage of a live CD is that it can take a couple of minutes to boot.  Accelerated Knoppix uses a new technology to speed up the boot process.  I did not time it, but it seemed to boot in less than a minute.  

Accelerated Knoppix

In the spirit of open-source software, the developers of Acclerated Linux have made available their "LCAT" (Live CD Acceleration Toolkit).  If you want to convert your favorite Live CD distro to an accelerated version.  

The one trick to this distribution is that the default language is Japanese.  In order to get English menus, you have to type  Knoppix lang=US  when it first starts.

So, I will now keep a copy of this at home and at my various offices, just for emergency recovery.