Hd Install HowTo

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Some Background information about a Knoppix HD install

You can install Knoppix to a hard drive, if you wish, though installation is not required for productive use. Knoppix is designed & intended to be used as a GNU/Linux LiveCD and not a HD installed Linux distro. A HD installed Knoppix will give you a running GNU/Linux system but it is not easy to support or administrate and add/remove of software is complicated and is best left to GNU/Linux experts. Examples of such issues can be found in the Hdd Install / Debian / Apt forum. If you a new user and not a GNU/Linux expert & want a HD installed system then skip the LiveCDs and go directly to a distro designed to be installed to a HD, for example Debian 3.1r0a (sarge). Feel free to ask about other distros in The Lounge forum.

Once Knoppix is installed on a hard drive, it's no longer a Knoppix LiveCD but a Debian based GNU/Linux system. Something to note is that Debian developers/users/mentors do not consider Knoppix installed to a hard drive to truly be Debian. They will not support Knoppix users & will tell them to go to Knoppix.net for support. You can ask about alternatives to a HD install and get advice on other distros in The Lounge forum.

knoppix-installer was written and maintained by Fabian Franz but now appears to be collaborative effort between Fabian, Klaus Knopper, and Kano of Kanotix. See Knoppix Installer for more detailed information.

Beginning a Knoppix HD install

WARNING! There is ALWAYS some risk of losing data. Please ALWAYS make sure that you have a working backup of your important data prior to experimenting with ANY new software, no matter if Windows, Linux or anything else.

That said, if you want to do the HD install, you should get Knoppix version 3.4 or later, preferably the most recent Knoppix release. You should make sure there is some empty space on your hard drive so you can create at least 2 Linux partitions, one for the System (minimal 3 GB, 5GB recommended) and another partition for for Swap ( minimal 200MB, 500MB recommended) during the installation process. It is VERY important that the swap space partition is of type "Linux Swap space" (or equivelent"). A partitioning program, qtparted, is integrated in the knoppix-installer. It is possible to resize a NTFS partition with qtparted but again there is ALWAYS some risk of losing data.

Boot off the Knoppix disc. At the KDE desktop, in the konsole command line window enter the command:

sudo knoppix-installer

In the knoppix-installer, the arrow keys move focus and space bar selects options. Be sure the root partition is among the first 4 partitions on the drive, formatted with ext2 or ext3, and is set to "active." The swap partition must be formatted with "linux-swap." Installation and subsequent booting will not continue otherwise.

Do not use "knx-hdinstall" anymore. "knx-hdinstall" is no longer maintained, use "knoppix-installer" instead.

Knoppix HD Install Flash Video

See also a Macromedia Flash video for installing Knoppix to the HD made by irongeek. This Flash video is a good resource that lets the user see how a HD install is done. It is not a substitute for reading this HowTo as it does not cover the risks or the different types of HS installs.

Types of installation

  • Debian (hd swap name user userpass rootpass host services boot)
    • Prefered method of HD install.
    • Just carries acpi, noapic, nosmp, pci, pnpbios and noapm forward on the kernel command line
    • Allows multiple users
    • Bears the closest resemblance to a "normal" debian installation.
  • Knoppix (hd swap services boot)
    • A copy of the liveCD on hard disk
    • Works exactly as the cd based system does except apt-get can be used to add more software and the system is no longer read-only.
    • DOES NOT ALLOW MULTIPLE USERS! You are automatically logged in.
    • Carries kernel command line to new system (i.e. Cheat codes) except for vga, initrd and BOOT_IMAGE
  • Beginner Default (hd swap name user userpass rootpass host services boot)
    • Uses Knoppix Hardware detection
    • Allows multiple users
    • Carries kernel command line to new system (i.e. Cheat codes) except for vga, initrd and BOOT_IMAGE

The general consensus seems to be that most problems and confusion arrive with people using the knoppix or beginner type of installation. The debian type install is now the default choice & is prefered. More experienced users will probably want stay with the debian type install. Users not familiar with setting up hardware or maintaining a GNU/Linux system may not want to do a Debian style install and instead choose the beginner or knoppix types. If you choose beginner or knoppix, be aware that you are still using the auto-configuration so you can change your cheatcodes, the flip-side is that changes you may think you are making permanently will be overwritten when you reboot. It is the balance of convinience of hardware setup (especially if you change hardware) versus having a more regular installed linux (debian) system.

Blind Installation

It's possible to install Knoppix on a PC's hd without a monitor, see Hd Install Without a Monitor HowTo

Updating HD installation

You can do a

for i in $(COLUMNS=240 dpkg -l | awk '{print $2}')
echo dpkg-repack --root=/KNOPPIX "$i"

(The following worked for me with Knoppix 3.7 2004-12-08: create a bash script and sudo sh bashscriptname)

  echo ""
  for i in $(COLUMNS=240 dpkg -l | awk '{print $2}') ; \
    do  echo dpkg-repack --root=/KNOPPIX "$i" ; \
        dpkg-repack --root=/KNOPPIX "$i" ; \
        mv *.deb /mnt/hdxn ; \
  # where hdxn is your destination partition 
  # for the packages (needs 700 MB free)
  echo ""
  read -p "Finished; press Enter to exit"
  echo ""

to create packages from a running KNOPPIX CD to a writable harddisk partition, and install/update these packages with dpkg -i.


Using the Knoppix repository at http://developer.linuxtag.net/knoppix/ plus the standard debian mirrors is easier, though. See also : http://jaqque.sbih.org/kplug/apt-pinning.html

Installing Gnome

To install Gnome, you have to comment all the lines in /etc/apt/sources.list except the unstable ones. Then issue the commands as root:

apt-get update
apt-get install gnome

In order to have gnome-session working you must execute the following command and choose metacity and/or gdm:

update-alternatives --config x-window-manager

Optionally you can also install galeon, evolution, etc. 'gdm.

See also DebianWiki entry for Installing GNOME.