Template:Infobox OS Knoppix is a Linux distribution LiveCD. Knoppix is a Debian based Linux distribution running on a CD drive without using the hard drive or installing any files onto the hard drive. Knoppix was developed by GNU/Linux consultant Klaus Knopper.

The popularity of Knoppix is due to many factors. Its extensive hardware detection allows the majority of systems to boot straight into a graphical environment without the need for manual configuration. It connects automatically to most kinds of networks, and includes software both for use as a computer system (notably web browsers,, and the GIMP) and for system repair. The complete graphical environment and networking make it much more comfortable than the previous generation of boot floppies for system administrators repairing systems whose hard drives won't boot.

Knoppix 3.9, the latest public release based off the 3.8 edition handed out to visitors at the CeBIT convention, was released on June 1, 2005. It features KDE 3.4.0, Linux kernel versions and 2.4.27, 2.0 Beta, The GIMP 2.2.7, UnionFS support, a permanent home directory and system config kept on harddisk, and improved hardware detection.



Knoppix has a wide variety of free software. There are more than 900 software packages included. Up to 2 gigabytes can be stored on the CD in compressed form. When a program is used, it is decompressed into a RAM drive. The decompression is transparent and on-the-fly. Knoppix recommends at least 128 mb of RAM in order to accommodate this RAM drive.

Unlike most Linux distributions, it does not require a hard drive installation; the system can boot from a single 700 megabyte Compact disc. One needs a bootable CD or DVD-ROM drive to start Knoppix from a CD. In order to start the CD/DVD, it may be necessary to enter the BIOS Setup of your computer and select the CD drive before the hard drive or floppy drive in the boot order. Insert the CD and restart the computer.

Knoppix may also be installed on the hard drive using an installation script. However, the hard disk installation is recommended only for advanced users, since Knoppix is meant for use from the CD. The installation script is "knoppix-installer" or "knx2hd" from Knoppix 3.3 onward, or "knx-hdinstall" previously. Use caution since this may affect other disk partitions and requires enough advanced knowledge to create partition space for Linux and Linux-swap partitions. By the way the hard-disk install script while a bit difficult for new users, is a great way to get a Debian based distro installed. The only difficult part is the partitioning with cfdisk, but there is a lot of documentation on this. Knoppix is great, give it a try.

Prior to Knoppix 3.8.1, any documents or settings a user created would disappear upon reboot. This lack of permanence for anything a user did made it necessary to save any documents explicity to a hard drive partition or over the network. Another possibility was to save data is to store a user's home directory on a removable medium, such as a USB thumbdrive. This has been changed with the latest version of Knoppix. The new UnionFS filesystem allows a user to write to the boot media (e.g., if Knoppix has been burned onto a CD-RW) if this is allowed. If Knoppix has been burned to a type of read-only media (such as a CD-R) then it is not possible to make permanent changes without writing these changes to a hard drive or removable medium. With UNIONFS, it is also possible to update the software on the boot cd, allowing the user to use APT to update and install additional software. By carrying a Knoppix CD and a USB thumbdrive with them, a user can have the same environment, programs, settings, and data available on every computer they may use.

There are different possible uses of the Knoppix live CD:

  • an introduction to Linux, especially as a desktop operating system
  • advocacy or demonstration at conferences
  • in-store testing whether a computer system is compatible with Linux before purchasing it
  • restoring a defunct system or some of its data
  • running a firewall or router
  • bootstrapping a Debian (or other Linux) installation


Graphic cards

The graphics card device driver is very important in using this distribution as it relies on a Graphical user interface, although most expert users can make use of the command line interface. If your graphic card does not work, it may be that it is new (or exotic) and is not in the knoppix hardware database yet. New cards will usually work under Linux, but they may have to be run using a generic driver (i.e. xmodule=fbdev).

Cheat codes

Automatic hardware detection may fail, or the user may want to use something other than the default settings. For example, the user may want to boot into xfce, or boot a plain console, or proceed without SCSI support. For this, Knoppix allows the user to enter one or more cheat codes at the prompt before booting. If the user doesn't enter a cheat code, or if no key is pressed before the timeout, Knoppix will boot with its default options. Cheat codes are entered in the format "kernel options". Cheat codes affect many auto-detection and hardware options. Many cheat codes also affect the gui. The list of cheat codes is available on the Knoppix mirrors, and can be seen at boot time by pressing F1.


To set a language other than the default (CDs are available with either German or English as the default language), type your language abbreviation at the boot prompt. For English, one would type:

knoppix language=en

Linux (Kernel) 2.6.X

Knoppix has offered the Linux 2.6 kernel as an option since version 3.4; since version 3.8 it has been standard. Older versions of Knoppix default to a version of the 2.4 kernel.


ClusterKnoppix is a distribution based on Knoppix using the Linux Terminal Server Project and openMosix. It is a convenient way to try out clustering.

eduKnoppix ( is an Italian Knoppix variation, aimed at primary schools. It focuses on children aged between 8-15, and thus contains a lot of educational software for kids. The other language supported is English.

Kanotix Linux LiveCD is based on KNOPPIX. The included XFree86 4.3 is from Debian/experimental.

Knoppix STD ( (security tools distribution) is a customized distribution of Knoppix that focuses on computer security tools. It includes GPL licensed tools in the following categories: authentication, password cracking, encryption, forensics, firewalls, honeypots, intrusion detection system, network utilities, Penetration, Packet sniffers, Assemblers, vulnerability assessment and Wireless networking.

Kurumin is a Brazilian distribution based on Knoppix (with support for the English language) that fits on a Mini-cd. It includes standard desktop applications, documentation and an e-book that introduces users to Linux.

The Gnoppix project uses a modified form of Knoppix with GNOME as the default desktop environment.

Quantian ( is a Knoppix-like CD geared towards science, based on clusterKnoppix.

WHoppiX (, whose name is a combination of Whitehat and Knoppix, is another distribution designed for security tasks. Customized by an Israeli security consultant, this distribution makes it possible to verify the security of a network from many different computers and places.

There are also other Linux demo CDs: SuSE and Slackware distribute live evaluation CDs, Coollinux, DemoLinux, Mandrake, Morphix and Gnoppix all have similar purposes to Knoppix. There are also full desktop-oriented distributions based on Debian, notably Linspire (formerly Lindows), Xandros and Libranet.

Hispalinux has an ongoing project, Metadistros, to enable the easy creation of customized Knoppix-like Linux live CDs with an easy installation on the hard disk.

Damn Small Linux, Feather Linux and Flonix are Linux LiveCDs that are very small, mostly under 50MB in size, but fairly robust and desktop-oriented nonetheless.

Games Knoppix ( is a Live CD with a lot of free games based on KNOPPIX with accelerated 3D support for ATI and Nvidia graphic cards.

Further reading

See also

External links

News articles

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