Saturday, September 10, 2005


This article shows how to access a non-booting Linux system with a Knoppix CD, get read-write permissions on configuration files, create and manage partitions and filesystems, and copy files to various storage media and over the network. You can use Knoppix for hardware and system configuration detection and for creating and managing partitions and filesystems. You can do it all from Knoppix's excellent graphical utilities, or from the command line.
Knoppix, which is a complete bootable Linux on a CD, has become my rescue disk of choice. An excellent introduction to Knoppix appeared in developerWorks a few months ago ("Knoppix gives bootable, one-disk Linux" by Cameron Laird).
My old mainstays were Tom's Root Boot, "The most GNU/Linux on one floppy disk," and Peter Anvin's SuperRescue CD, "An overfeatured rescue CD." Both are first-rate Linux rescue disks. One of my favorite show-off tricks is to do a complete bare-metal system rebuild, using only a Tom's Root Boot disk and an Internet connection.
As CD-ROMs became standard on PCs, I wore out several SuperRescue CDs. However, it is based on Red Hat 7.2, which is a great Red Hat but is also an old Red Hat. So, 7.2 does not have the hardware support, such as USB or wireless, found in later distributions.
A star is bornKnoppix, the hot new kid on the block, offers some great features:
  1. First-rate hardware detection and support, including PCMCIA, USB, and wireless

  2. Latest and greatest Debian and KDE

  3. Fast booting, usually around two minutes

  4. Commercially produced disks that can be purchased for a minimal price
That last bit didn't become important to me until I moved to an area with no high-speed Internet. Dial-up only, which made 700 MB downloads rather impractical.
Knoppix incorporates the best of Debian, KDE, and its own system utilities. In this article, we'll look at how to do things both from the command line and using graphical utilities. Be sure to use values appropriate for your systems, such as partition numbers, filenames, and network hosts.
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