View Full Version : Newbie-trying to make a poor man's install work

04-01-2005, 11:48 AM
Need help in getting a knoppix 3.7 poor man's install up & running. I downloaded the ISO image and the checksum is fine w/mdb but I'm unable to get it burned to CD (@#$% CD writer doesn't support 700 MB media, it's one of those HP 8100's that will only see about 680 MB per disk). Tried to make a poor man's install to a dual boot system using grub (other system is Win XP pro, on FAT32 partition), but boot halts with a message "can't find knoppix filesystem, dropping you to a (very limited) shell", and doesn't recognize keyboard (it's a USB model).
Is there a script somewhere I can change to make the grub loader find the filesystem? :?

04-06-2005, 08:38 AM
I'm sorry you've been waiting for a reply - I'll give it a whirl.

However, people who hang out on forums get a perverse kind of thrill from answering questions that aren't actually asked. :wink: So yes, there probably is another Linux distro that would work better in your situation.

I'm thinking of Debian's sarge release in particular. I'm a little prejudiced - I recommend it kind of often - but I'm really impressed with how far the Debian people have progressed in making a distro that's easy to install and maintain.

Other people have other favorites, of course. Kanotix gets mentioned a lot, but that's also a 700-MB CD. Ditto for Mepis and, I think, Mandrake - I got dizzy following their trail of links to find the downloads. SUSE has a net-installation option; Ubuntu is getting huge attention right now, and its download is less than 600 MB - but I haven't tried it any of these.

But I do use Debian sarge and Progeny Debian (which is almost entirely Debian sarge). Both give you a desktop environment that's about the same as Knoppix. But they default to Gnome rather than KDE, and their installation comes to about 1.3 GB vs. 2+ GB for Knoppix.

But KDE is available too. And so are "more than 8710 packages," according to the Debian website. Of course, these are available for Knoppix too because Knoppix is primarily a blend of three Debian releases (plus some homebrew stuff, especially for hardware detection). With both Knoppix and Progeny you'll most likely want to change the default sites for downloading more software to the Debian location nearest to you.

To get Progeny you download one CD of 650 MB. There are two main ways to get sarge - one is to download three CDs of 640 MB. (There's lots of stuff on there besides the default desktop environment.)

The other way to get sarge is to download one CD of 108 MB, called the net install, the sarge installer, or the (new) Debian installer. This brings you up to a base system with no GUI, and then it downloads and installs the rest for you - plus anything else your heart desires from the Debian site.

Downloading everything to come up to the sarge desktop environment takes as long as downloading another full CD, but there's a big difference if you have a connection that sometimes fails in the middle of a CD download. The net install fetches hundreds (and hundreds!) of inidividual packages, and if the link drops, you can just resume it and continue on your way.

Okay, next - I'm the self-proclaimed person to point out that Knoppix isn't intended to be installed to hard drive. Klaus Knopper wanted a portable work environment without carrying around a laptop. He wanted to just pop a CD into any random computer that happened to be near him, wherever he was.

So first, that means that Knoppix has superior hardware detection because the CD never knows where it will wind up next. Second, there's 2 GB of software compressed onto one CD, so the CD is a little ... large. (It's rumored that a DVD version is in the works.)

Third, the main way to upgrade Knoppix is to download the next CD release - and in fact, 3.8.1 is due out soon. Fourth, the carefully hand-fitted combination of software can come from anywhere the Knoppix team thinks best. Sticking to a single release of Debian, for example, just isn't a requirement.

That means that, fifth, it can be harder for users to upgrade the existing pieces of Knoppix and add more software to them. But that's okay if the intent is to put out live CDs rather than a distro that gets installed to HD. And sixth, the tools to do the installation aren't as mature as in distros that always get put on hard drives, and they don't get as much attention as the main stream of Knoppix development.

Now, I say all of this to distract you from realizing that I've never done a PM installation and know almost nothing about it. :D I do think that another distro might meet your needs better unless you really need the amazing hardware detection of Knoppix.

But if Knoppix is still the way you want to go, and if nobody who actually knows what they're talking about chimes in to show me the error of my ways, then I'll gladly look into the PM method because it gets mentioned a lot on the forum.

Okay? :D

-- Ed

04-07-2005, 04:22 AM
Thanks, for the detailed reply, I actually have a decent connection so the net install method for Debian looks good, I'll give it a try. Actually, while this went on, I downloaded DSL, which is a 50 MB distro that ran pretty well, but logically has few packages to go with it. I think that anyway might not need such a complex hardware detection, most of mine is pretty common, so most if not all distros would work fine in that sense, and as long as the CD image is =< 650 MB should not be a problem
Thanks again

04-07-2005, 05:30 AM
Hey, great! :D

There's one rough spot with the sarge installer - it really wants to install GrUB for you. I don't know whether it'll detect the GrUB you already have installed because I put sarge on a machine with LILO.

But regardless, if it asks whether you want to install GrUB, don't hit <no>. When the installer goes down that path, the software breaks and gives you annoying error messages. :evil: You can recover from it and continue installing, but it's still a pain.

So instead, hit the button marked <back>. That'll take you back to the main menu of installation steps, and there you'll see options for installing LILO and also for not installing a bootloader. Take that one - it works.

Good luck, and post again if you have questions or problems!

-- Ed

04-07-2005, 03:41 PM
Don't know that it would help but mite see if this program will let you burn the image
http://terabyteunlimited.com/utilities.html then BurnCDCC™

04-13-2005, 06:37 AM
There's instructions around that tell how to run the ISO image directly.

04-13-2005, 09:40 PM
The instructions to do a Poor Man's Install accessing the ISO are at:


04-15-2005, 06:14 AM
Hi, I'm new here, but have some questions.

I currenly have Mandrake Official 10.1 installed on my laptop, however, too many things do not work and it really limits my access to do anything meaningful. I'm a total noob, however I am feeling too limited by Madrake.

I'm trying this knoppix and loving it. But I want to install it onto my hard disk. Am I to understand the current version of Debian is the same as the current version of Knoppix (3.8.1)? What are the differences? The hardware detection was a breeze and getting on the net with knoppix was the easiest of any of the other distributions I have tried. Actually I tried the live cd of Mepis and Ubuntu and could not get on the net with either. With Knoppix I succeeded on the first try.

If Debian is just an installed version of Knoppix then I want to install Debian. Any suggestions on what to do. I am running a dual boot system on my laptop. The second partition of course being Windows XP. Will Debian install itself over the existing partitions made by Mandrake or do I have to reformat that partition and then re-partition?

Any and all help will be appreciated. Please help keep me out of windoze hell.

04-15-2005, 05:40 PM
Debian is not just an "installed version of Knoppix". Knoppix is based on Debian, but as pointed out above, its a mix of packages from the various branches of Debian, and some software written by the Knoppix team. The point is that for someone new to Linux, get yourself a distro that is meant for someone with less experience. Mepis certainly fits the bill, as does Xandros, Ubuntu, and some others.

Also, Mepis should fit on a CD Rom with less than 700 MB capacity in my experience. That's a nice distro that is really worth a look.

04-26-2005, 10:13 AM
I happen to have made such a script, which installs Knoppix toHD (poor man's install) AND MAKES THE toHD PARTITION BOOTABLE.

If you want to find out more and/or get the script, see the forum topic:


If you need anything regarding this script, you can contact me at: cristi.savu@aquila.ro