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Thread: Windows Died, Can Knoppix wipe it Out and Take its Place?

  1. #1
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    Windows Died, Can Knoppix wipe it Out and Take its Place?

    Hey, my sister's a college student and somehow her Windows got destroyed on her laptop. It says Windows can't start because Windows/System32/Windows (or whatever it is but it looks like the main system to me) is missing or corrupted and it wants her repair disk which she can't find or I would have reinstalled it. So she decides she wants a whole new laptop and gave hers to me. Even if I could fix it she said I could keep it. I remembered playing with a Knoppix CD a friend sent me a few years ago (when my WinME was blue screening every few days) I don't know much, just enough to get Knoppix working on a PC, which I've already done and it works great, I got 6.4.4 DVD, and her Laptop is a Dell Insprion I believe? Anyway, it seems to be all good, I just don't know how to wipe/clean the drive, and I've read that it's not a good idea to put Knoppix on the HDD, but I'm a bit confused by all the different ways to get Debian. I just grabbed the ISO, checked the checksum and burnt it and had zero problems. Is Debian that easy to do? And can I do this without using the commands? Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
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    Hi.

    Knoppix really isn't intended for hard disk install, it is intended as a Live CD or DVD. While some people who are very good at Linux say they can sorta make it work, I believe that you will be much better off with a Debian install than a Knoppix install.

    There is plenty to be confused about when first trying to get and install Debian. I'll try to cover some points but feel free to ask. The good news is that the computer has been given up on anyway, so you are free to try installing as much as you want without much risk.

    First of all, there are multiple versions of Debian available. If I remember right (and I likely don't), they are refereed to as Stable, Unstable and Experimental. They also often go by the names of Toy Story characters, such as Woody. However, as the versions change the Toy Story names change, but Debian Unstable is always the current "unstable" version. The key thing to understand here is that Stable doesn't mean the same thing as you might expect. It means "Really Old". Unstable, on the other hand, is much more stable than anything that Microsoft ever released. I would only use "Stable" if I was going to build a server that had to run 24/7 and wanted to minimize my chances of problems. But "unstable" is dependable and will have much newer hardware support and features. I suggest that you start with "Unstable". And if you want the latest and greatest and don't mind that you might come across a bug or two you could try the bleeding edge Experimental release (but I really don't think this is the best choice for a Linux novice unless you find that you have hardware that isn't supported in the more mature "unstable" release.

    Another point of confusion is how to get it. Debian is released in many formats, from a full set of DVDs or ever a rather large set of CDs, to something called a "business card" disc to a "net boot" disc. As long as you have a high speed Internet connection available, I suggest the net boot disc, and skip all of the larger discs. Net boot will get you all you need from the Internet, and you will not later be pestered about inserting CD #3 or whatever into the drive when you want to install something. I would only suggest installing from the CD or DVD set for people who have no Internet connection. Even then you only need the first DVD or the first one or two CDs, the rest of the discs contain software you are not likely to install.

    When you go to download your net install CD you will find that there are versions of Debian made for many different computer processors. The i386 version works for most PC users, and it is the version that Knoppix is based on. If you have a 64 bit CPU (and most laptops do now, I'll leave it to you to research exactly what is in your sister's laptop), then you could get either the AMD 64 bit version or the Intel 64 bit version depending on which CPU is in there. I don't know all of the pros and cons of going with one of the 64 bit versions (others are welcome to discuss that), as I have stuck with the 32 bit i386 version so far. It works fine on 64 bit computers.

    When installing you are asked a few questions. Debian has learned a lot from Knoppix and you no longer should get asked things like the I/O interupt information of all you hardware. It was things like this that made people want to install Knoppix rather than Debian years ago, but those days are gone. You will be asked about the disk, in your case I would think that you should let Debian just use the entire disk. And you will be asked about making a server, a workstation or perhaps other configurations. It is important here to select "workstation", this will set you up with a GUI and other things that you expect. Debian will, of course, wipe off the crud and let you install fresh on that hard drive.

    Don't be afraid to play around with the install. Now is a great time to play around with it, you can always reboot the net install CD and try again if something isn't how you like it. That is a bit harder to do after you have the OS installed and you are comfortable with whatever changes you make.

    A fresh install of Debian will not have all of the programs that Knoppix includes. But you can install any of them with a simple apt-get command. And there is a lot more good free software available on the apt-get system that wasn't included in Knoppix, so you have a large library of free software to select from. Apt-get tends to break Knoppix installs, but is a fantastic tool for Debian installs.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Harry Kuhman; 05-14-2011 at 04:15 AM.
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    Verifying of md5 checksum and burning a CD at slow speed are important.

  3. #3
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    Zaiella, what I mostly do myself, is to take out the whole Windows disk from the pc, and set up a new one for Linux or dual boot use. In your case, you risk having problems with the disk, as the Windows crash may have resulted from disk problems in the first place. In your case, I would have set up a good size FAT32 partition first on the new disk, and then used the "install Knoppix to flash" option in Knoppix/Preferences to make a quick poor man's install to that partition. Then you are up and running simply and swiftly, and you can explore further opportunities from there. If you are real serious about "full size" Linux use, standard Debian is, as noted here, a very viable alternative. But very much of the different possibilities you already have in Knoppix now, so it is a good and simple place to start. If you start with that FAT32 partition (will probably be called /dev/sda1), you can install Windows to it later if you wish (it might be converted to NTFS during install), while still having left parttions for Linux on the disk.

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    Thank you both for your advice. I do want a replacement for Windows on that PC. I have no idea of its specs. I hear that Ubuntu is in the Debian family and is a bit more user friendly, so I might give that a try as well if it's got an ISO. I wanted the Harddrive clean of the dead Windows (Sis said she's already gotten everything she needed off the HD)

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    Ubuntu is a popular place to start

    I think Ubuntu is in some ways further downstream from standard Debian than current Knoppix is, but that should not matter much - it is a very popular distro, and I think it is a good place to start - though I have not used it much myself, and not lately. If you don't care about the contents on the disk, and you think it is good enough, you can let the Ubuntu installer take care of the setup.

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    I think I might do that. I just looked at a video for the newest release of Ubuntu and it looked great. May I ask why you think it is downsteam? From my Knoppix DVD and that video, it looked like they were pretty much on the same page, as far as I could tell. I would use Knoppix in a heartbeat if it could go safely on the HD, and right now Debian seems intimidating because it looks like so much to download. Maybe one day I'll be using one of them though.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaiella View Post
    .... and right now Debian seems intimidating because it looks like so much to download....
    You seem to be ignoring what I took the time to say. Debian, if installed from a net install disc, only needs an innitial download of 100 megs or so. Far less than Ubuntu, Kubuntu or the other confusing things to pick from. Of course, it will download more during the net install, but no more than a basic Ubuntu install, maybe less, and it manages it all so you really don't have any reason to be intimadet about that. If you are downloading a lot of stuff to install Debian you are doing it wrong (and qwill create even more work for yourself in the long run) unless you are a Linux expert and really know what you are doing.

    Maybe you would be happy with Ubuntu, but popular doesn't equate with good. By that standard Windows could be considered good. I looked at Ubuntu a while ago, but found no merit over Debian. Can't say I've tried to keep up with every release, but I was unimpressed enough to not bother.
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    Verifying of md5 checksum and burning a CD at slow speed are important.

  8. #8
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    Sorry, Harry, I read everything you said, but when you said Netboot disk I thought of this http://www.debian.org/CD/live/ I don't know what how to set up a Network boot server (or what a hybrid ISO is, but that looks like what I'll end up using. And I know that page says Stable release, and I can't find the Unstable, but I also go here http://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/ snd don't know which of those to choose. Do you know where the Unstable DVD ISO is? (I don't have Blank CDs just DVDs)

  9. #9
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    I caused a lot of the confusion myself. Not only with the net thing but also with the flavors. As I said, I was off on the naming, it is Stable, testing and unstable. The version that I recommend is testing, but it can be hard to find on the confusing Debian website. If you just click a link to download a small CD I expect that you will get the Stable (OLD) version. I need to do something for a few hours but will try to find and post the right link later.
    ---
    Verifying of md5 checksum and burning a CD at slow speed are important.

  10. #10
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    <span style="background-color: #99FF99;">Is the stable version really that old? Could I not just update all the stuff? I don't really need anything fancy, I don't even know if there's a good graphics card in that laptop. How old is it?</span>

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