Completely new HD based HowTo page

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HOWTO set up Knoppix to run from harddisk. Knoppix 6+ version

There are 5 basically different ways to run Knoppix 6.X

  • Off the CD/DVD, the "classic", fall-back-to method
  • Off the CD/DVD ISO image on disk
  • From flash/USB media
  • From harddisk copy of Knoppix, "Poor man's install"
  • From full HD install of Knoppix, "Knoppix, Debian-style"

Running Knoppix from flash/USB media or from poor man's install to HD is very similar in all respects. In both cases, it is a matter of 1) copying the KNOPPIX system files to the root directory of a partition and 2) finding a workable booting solution. Persistent store is created as needed, and copied around together with the Knoppix system.

Except for speed differences, there is nothing you can do with a poor man's install that you can't do with properly formatted flash media, and with increasingly larger capacity flash media (16+ GB), the methods of setting them up and running from them may become similar to hard disk. Also, an external USB harddisk is a preferred way of backup and mobile data storage, and it may easily be set up for booting Knoppix, be several methods.

Knoppix is a "file system agnostic" Linux version. It can be run from different media, like

  • FAT16/32 - typically used on flash media (like USB sticks, CF-, SD- and micro-SD cards), but also perfectly usable for hard disk partitions when there is no need for >4GB files.
  • NTFS - used on hard disks and larger flash media
  • Ext2/3/4 - native Linux file system, can be used anywhere (For Ext4 boot, a small adaptation is needed for Linux 6.4 and earlier.)
  • ReiserFS, the preferred file system for full Linux HD installs
  • ....

Overview of HD installs

Knoppix 6.X runs very well from harddisk by either install method. In poor man's install, the way of booting is virtualy identical to removable media, and I think it is also very similar in Knoppix 6.X full HD installs. The main differences are 1) that there is no persistent image union-mounted any more 2) all programs are uncompressed to a partition mounted read-write (rw).

Knoppix 6.X being very close to standard Debian re program packages, a full HD install resembles standard Debian even more. The structure of such an install is described in Debian documentation, and it is fully possible to convert a Debian install into a Knoppix version - a pure 64-bits version of Knoppix was created that way.

A basic install only relates to the root and swap partitions, but may easily be modified to include several partitions. Knoppix 6.X has a "passive" attitude towards volume (partition) mounting, in that nothing is auto-mounted. This can easily be modified, bit for safety reasons, it may be good only to mount partitions when they are to be used.

The poor man's install is also in effect very close to standard Debian, uses the same packages, and may be modified for multi-user situations. Also, the union-file system mounting of the compressed and persistent image allows for exactly the same kind of file administration as in ordinary installs, and for hard disk use, one may easily expand the persistent image beyond the 4GB limit on FAT32.Furthermore, on newer processors, the decompression of programs upon running goes so fast that there is not much noticable difference running compressed or uncompressed. The large differences in this respect is with CD/DVDs, and to som extent with slow flash media. Even with external USB harddisks or fast external flash memory, there is, generally, little slowing down compared to full install after the system has been used for some hours.

When running full HD install with 0wn, booting is taken care of automatically, but it does not necessarily give the best setup for multi-booting. Poor man's installs done fully manually does nothing about booting, and booting could be handled separately, for optimal multi-boot setup. Poor man's installs don't need any booting modifications to be used, when not instructed otherwise, Knoppix will in fact search for them at bootup, and boot the first that is found.

Full HD install

This is performed by a program called 0wn (Zero Work Needed). It requires 1) a swap partition set up and 2) A ReiserFS install partition. It can be installed to a prepared HD, or setup the HD itself. The safest use is to have everything prepared for 0wn in advance.

Poor man's HD install

This is, basically, just copying the KNOPPIX system files to an existing partition. Standard is to place them in the root directory of the partition, but elsewhere is also possible, using cheat codes.