Hack 27 Use the Knoppix Live Installer

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figs/beginner.gif figs/hack27.gif

While Knoppix includes a lot of great software, everything you need simply won't fit on one CD, but with the live-software installer, you can install extra packages directly to ramdisk .

Starting with Version 3.4, Knoppix has the ability to install new software while running from a CD. If you need a virus scanner [Hack #78] , you can install it directly to the home directory, and it works without touching your hard drives .

Click K Menu KNOPPIX Utilities "Install Software while running from CD," or to launch the Live Installer, run:

 knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$  knx-live-inst.sh  

You should see a disclaimer that states that this is still an experimental feature (Figure 3-7). Don't worry. In my tests, the program doesn't have any problems.

Figure 3-7. Live installer disclaimer

In the next window, you can choose from a variety of programs to install (Figure 3-8).

The live installer automatically downloads the program you choose from the Internet, installs it, and creates a menu entry under K Menu KNOPPIX Extra-Software.

Figure 3-8. The live installer supports a variety of programs from virus scanners to Flash plug-ins

There are a number of programs you can install:


The live installer uses the famous apt-get program to deliver the most up-to-date software that is available in the Debian archive. This program is a needed dependency for most of the other live installer programs and is automatically installed if needed.


A nice virus scan program that can be used on the command line. Knoppix adds an easy-to-use GUI (Figure 3-9). Section 7.9[Hack #78] covers how to use this package.

Figure 3-9. The Knoppix F-Prot GUI

Flash plug-in

Many web sites need Flash to be viewed correctly. While one could argue that this is bad design, arguing won't help you view the site. Knoppix does not ship the Flash plug-in due to legal reasons, but with just one click, the Flash plug-in is automatically downloaded from Macromedia and installed in all available browsers.


A nice status monitor, it was one of the "I need it, but it's not on Knoppix" programs, so it was added to the live installer.


KBabel is not useful to everyone. It is used to translate .po (portable object) files. The live installer itself uses this program for its language support, so it has been added mostly to support the live installer.


If you have a Microsoft Word Document ( .doc ) and you view it with OpenOffice.org, but the fonts just don't look right, get the Microsoft True Type Core Fonts. Then restart OpenOffice.org; the document uses the native fonts you just installed, and they look exactly like they did on the Windows machine.


With this program, you can install the Nvidia graphics card drivers while running from the CD. It downloads, compiles and then installs the drivers automatically. Then you can enjoy the full power of 3D-accelerated graphics with the tuxracer and tuxkart games . This program is also covered in detail in [Hack #28] .


Before Knoppix had nforce2 support with native kernel drivers, many people complained about the lack of support for their network card. While one could argue that a live installer for such a driver is pretty useless, because you can't download a network card driver over a nonsupported network card, there are tricks to downloading it. (See Section 3.8.1)


You liked Lemmings? You'll love pingus . It's a very nice game with very sweet penguins . It just has one disadvantage : it is too quickly beaten because it doesn't have many levels.


An HTML editor that has full support for management of big projects with syntax highlighting and many preformatted attributes that you can choose and drop into your code.


An ICQ client based on the QT Framework that features contact lists on the server, SMS, pictures, and most other ICQ features.


A nice racing game. Unfortunately, it was never finished.


A fun 3D racing game in which you guide a penguin down an ice track full of obstacles.

3.8.1 Caching and Reuse

If you've taken advantage of the installer, you've probably downloaded almost 30 MB of apt-get files and nearly 10 MB for tuxracer . The moment you reboot, everything is gone and must be downloaded again. There should be a way around it, and there iscaching.

All programs installed by the live installer are stored in a local cache in ~/.knx-live-inst/cache/ . Each program is stored in its own AppDirs ( ~/Software/program_name ), and wrappers to all binaries are stored in ~/.dist . AppDirs is a concept taken from klik [Hack #30] . In ~/.dist/var/lib/apt/lists , you can find huge lists of installable packages. To store the cache and the lists, back up the ~/.knx-live-inst and ~/.dist/var/lib/apt/lists directories and restore them at the next boot, or use a persistent home directory [Hack #21] . With either method, all programs are run after a reboot as if nothing has happened .

If you save your configuration [Hack #21] , you must reinstall those programs, but you won't have to download the programs again. Automatically reinstall programs from the cache with the noninteractive command-line mode for knx-live-inst.sh :

 knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$  knx-live-inst.sh -ni  

A short help page and a list of available programs appear.

To demonstrate the noninteractive mode, install f-prot :

 knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$  knx-live-inst.sh -ni -s f-prot  

To automatically (re)install all programs that are available from the cache, type the following command:

 knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$  for i in ~/.knx-live-inst/cache/*; do   knx-live-inst.sh -ni -s $(basename $i); done;  

3.8.2 History of Live Installation

Live-installation scripts are relatively new to Knoppix. The first live installation script was for the Flash plug-in, and it was published just last year in March of 2003. The post can still be found at http://www.knoppix.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1495.

Later, several other scripts were written that installed other programs. The similarities of these installers were analyzed and put into a command-line all-in-one program. Starting with Knoppix 3.4, this all-in-one program was enhanced by a GUI and is the live installer you can now use.

Fabian Franz

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Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Year: 2004
Pages: 166

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