Difference between revisions of "Knoppix Remastering Howto"

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[[Category: Remastering Knoppix ]]
[[Category: Remastering Knoppix ]]
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Revision as of 02:12, 27 September 2005

This is a guide that will show you how to remaster KNOPPIX. (Note: commands should appear on one line, so please maximize the window. If you have any comments/suggestions please post below.)

You may wish to start from an already customized Knoppix, so you don't have to do as much work (such as removing programs). If so, see Knoppix Customizations.

System Requirements

  • CD-ISO
    • at least 1 GB of FREE RAM+Swap total (e.g. 256M ram, and 750M swap AVAILABLE) (unless you use a different compression program - look in this page for compressloop)
    • 3 GB free on a Linux filesystem (ext2/3, xfs, etc.) formatted disk partition
    • 5 GB free RAM + swap (for fullsized DVD)
    • 15 GB free on a Linux filesystem (ext2/3, xfs, etc.) formatted disk partition


Setting up for Remastering

  1. Boot from the Knoppix CD
  2. Open a root shell:
    • Menu: Kmenu->Knoppix->Root Shell
    • Note: All commands below are run from this root shell.
  3. Configure your Internet connection (we'll need this later). If you use DHCP, it should already be configured.
    • Note: Run ifconfig to check.
  4. Find the partition you will use to work on. In this example it is called hda1 . The partition should have a minimum of 3 GB free space
  5. Mount the partition:
    • mount -rw /dev/hda1 /mnt/hda1
    • Note: Make sure that it is read/write or you will get errors when you later chroot. To check: run mount
  6. Create a root directory to work in -- if you put all your files here it will be easy to clean up
    • mkdir /mnt/hda1/knx
  7. If you don't have 1 GB RAM (cat /proc/meminfo (physical+swap)) then you will need a swapfile:
    • cd /mnt/hda1/knx

dd if=/dev/zero of=swapfile bs=1M count=750 mkswap swapfile

swapon swapfile
  1. Make 2 directories, one for your new Master CD, one for the source, on a disk partition. Also, make additional directories under these named KNOPPIX:
    • mkdir -p /mnt/hda1/knx/master/KNOPPIX
mkdir -p /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX
  1. Now, copy the KNOPPIX files to your source directory :
    • cp -Rp /KNOPPIX/* /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX
    • Note: This will take a little while
  2. Copy the main HTML page for the startup page:
    • cp /cdrom/index.html /mnt/hda1/knx/master/
  3. Copy everything necessary files except the ~700 Mb KNOPPIX file.
    • < 3.4:
      • cd /cdrom/KNOPPIX && find . -size -10000k -type f -exec cp -p --parents '{}' /mnt/hda1/knx/master/KNOPPIX/ \;
    • >= 3.4:
      • cd /cdrom && find . -size -10000k -type f -exec cp -p --parents '{}' /mnt/hda1/knx/master/ \;
    • for the DVD Version you have to use -size -15000k and copy the KNOPPIX2 folder like this
      • cp /cdrom/KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX2 /mnt/hda1/knx/master/KNOPPIX/
  4. Now you can "chroot" into the copied KNOPPIX:
    • chroot /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX
  5. If you see errors regarding /dev/null, see the common problems section

You are now chrooted. "/" is actually "/mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX"

Working in the Chroot Environment

Remember that anything you do or create in the chrooted environment will get burned to the CD. If you make any changes (e.g,. to the APT configuration, proxy settings, etc.), make a note to back the changes out before remastering.

Internet Access

To use the Internet you need to mount /proc:

mount -t proc /proc proc

and edit /etc/resolv.conf to add your nameserver or exit the chroot and copy the outer resolv.conf into the chroot folder:

cp /etc/dhcpc/resolv.conf /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX/etc/dhcpc/resolv.conf

to check your chrooted internet connection,

ping google.com

SMB access

Also change smb.conf to your MS group if you want smbd support (MSHOME is XP Home ed. usually, and WORKGROUP is 9x Windows)


Update your package list with apt-get update.

Note: If 'apt-get update fails with "FATAL -> Could not set non-blocking flag Bad file descriptor", you need to make sure your chrooted environment is mounted without the "nodev" option. (see above where it talks about the /dev/null errors when entering the chroot environment for the first time)
Warning: apt-get upgrade is a BAD IDEA. It will, quite probably, render your KNOPPIX remaster unbootable, or broken in some way. A far safer method is to only upgrade packages as necessary.

Before you can add stuff, you will probably need to remove some packages. To get a list of packages installed, type this:

dpkg-query -l

If you are looking for big installed packages then the command

dpkg-awk "Status: .* installed$" -- Package Installed-Size | \
  awk '{print $2}' | egrep -v '^$' | xargs -n2 echo | \
  perl -pe 's/(\S+)\s(\S+)/$2 $1/' | sort -rg

will list the packages with size in descending order.

At least ten times faster is the command

dpkg-query -W --showformat='${Installed-Size} ${Package}\n' | sort -n

and you don't need dpkg-awk or awk or perl; however it does not exclude packages that are not installed. If you have trouble with the above sort command, try using KPackage, expanded all the trees and sorted by the size column to find big packages.

Or, you could use this command to get the qpkg-query speed with the non-installed packages not listed:

dpkg-query -W --showformat='${Installed-Size} ${Package} ${Status}\n' | grep -v deinstall | sort -n | awk '{print $1" "$2}'

It does the same thing as above, I assume. I couldn't get the first one to work because I don't have dpkg-awk.

To remove a package (and all packages dependant on it), type this:

apt-get remove --purge name-of-package-to-remove

To check for orphaned packages, type this:


Want to save more space by getting rid of those pesky orphans (how cruel!), type this (Warning, you won't be prompted yes/no to remove these packages. When you press Enter after this command, those packages will be gone):

deborphan | xargs apt-get -y remove

If you're uncertain about the previous command and want to see what will happen without making any changes, just add the -s option to the apt-get command like this (you can do this with all of the apt-get commands, and it's a good habit to use this option before mass operations like this one):

deborphan | xargs apt-get -s -y remove

Now the good stuff. If you wish to add a package, type this:

apt-get install 'name-of-package-to-install

What, don't know what packages to install? Type this. When the list appears, you can peruse (over 13k lines!) or search for things using /search-term:

apt-cache search .* | sort | less

When you're done removing and adding packages, a good way to clean up is by typing this

COLUMNS=200 dpkg -l |grep ^rc |awk '{print $2} ' | xargs dpkg -P

Also, because the Debian package system keeps a cache of downloaded packages, you may want to run the following to clear out those spare files:

apt-get clean

User Settings

User settings are in /etc/skel. This directory will be copied to make new user home directories.

tip: don't put files in /root they will be only available (at runtime) in /KNOPPIX/root

Autorunning Programs

When you want to autorun some programs, one can create a script and put it in the directory /etc/rc5.d/ (This only loads items before X loads). Read up on the SysV init process for more possibilities.

KNOPPIX Autoconfiguation

interesting stuff in /etc/init.d/knoppix-autoconfig :

  • The X background file is /cdrom/KNOPPIX/background.gif (in knoppix 3.4: background.jpg)
  • As well as floppyconfig, there is cdromconfig which will run cdrom/KNOPPIX/knoppix.sh

X Session Configuration

When testing X-based programs, you will have to

export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0

which will allow you to connect to your normal X session. Alternately (if you need to test window managers), you can create a nested X session. Outside of the chroot, run

Xnest -ac :1

Within the chroot, set your DISPLAY variable

export DISPLAY=localhost:1

Interesting stuff in /etc/init.d/xsession :

  • it ALSO sets background as /usr/local/lib/knoppix.gif

Leaving the Chroot

If you mounted it, you'll need to unmount /proc - very important!

umount /proc

Press CTRL+D to leave being chrooted.

Remastering the ISO

We've finished customizing and ready to burn! First do some cleanup:

  • remove any .bash_history files, tmp files, etc.
  • back out any changes you don't want burned back to the disc
  • rm -rf /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX/.rr_moved

KNOPPIX Compressed Image

Now we'll make the big KNOPPIX file which is an ISO 9660 filesystem compressed for use by the cloop driver:

mkisofs -R -U -V "KNOPPIX.net filesystem" -publisher "KNOPPIX www.knoppix.net" \
     -hide-rr-moved -cache-inodes -no-bak -pad /mnt/hda1/knx/source/KNOPPIX \
  | nice -5 /usr/bin/create_compressed_fs - 65536 > /mnt/hda1/knx/master/KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX

the "www.knoppix.net" and "Knoppix.net filesystem" can be changed to what you want to call the file. You will get an error that it doesn't conform to ISO standards -- you can ignore this. Note that, to run create_compressed_fs, you'll need to have enough space to store the entire ISO in RAM/swap. Ensure you have at least 800M of free space before starting.

In Knoppix 3.4 the create_compressed_fs script has been updated so be sure to use it to obtain the best result. It has a new option -b (best), which enables the best compression by using different compression schemes and tries to optimize that way, but be careful, because that option is slow (10x slower).


If all went well, onto making the final CD-ROM Image:

cd /mnt/hda1/knx/master
find -type f -not -name md5sums -not -name boot.cat -not -name isolinux.bin \
   -exec md5sum '{}' \; > KNOPPIX/md5sums

(this will update the md5 hashes of the files included in the ISO, used for integrity checking) Now to burn the image; for Knoppix <= 3.3:

mkisofs -pad -l -r -J -v -V "KNOPPIX" -b KNOPPIX/boot.img -c KNOPPIX/boot.cat \
   -hide-rr-moved -o /mnt/hda1/knx/knoppix.iso /mnt/hda1/knx/master

for Knoppix >= 3.4 or other isolinux based distributions:

mkisofs -pad -l -r -J -v -V "KNOPPIX" -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 \
   -boot-info-table -b boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin -c boot/isolinux/boot.cat \
   -hide-rr-moved -o /mnt/hda1/knx/knoppix.iso /mnt/hda1/knx/master

(the ISO is stored in /mnt/hda1/knx/knoppix.iso)

Burn the ISO using your favorite tools, and you're ready!


I have had good results remastering working from the CD as root working from fluxbox. Just say "knoppix 2" at the boot prompt and it will boot you to a root prompt where you can then say "startx /usr/bin/fluxbox". I like to use the xterm unicode shell.

Package Management

While working chroot doing the remastering I like to use

apt-get remove --purge pkg-name

to remove packages because before it does anything it will stop and show detials on what it is fixing to remove and let you say "yes or no".

If you don't use the above "apt-get" instructions and have a lot to cleanup and purge, here's the easy way to do it:

 COLUMNS=200 dpkg -l |grep ^rc |awk '{print $2} ' >topurge

That will make a list of all removed packages to purge and then you just say

dpkg -P `cat topurge `

and you're all done.

COLUMNS=200 dpkg -l |grep ^rc |awk '{print $2} ' | xargs dpkg -P

is a one-line version of this. Also use

deborphan | xargs dpkg -P .

Alternatives for Low-Memory Machines

You don't really need 1G swap as there are two new tools to create compressed filesystems. Here are some candidates to make compressed fs:

  • Valentijn's rewrite [1]
  • Quozl's port of compressloop for Knoppix 3.4 [2]
  • Quozl's distributed compressloop (use more than one processor to speed things up) [3] or [4]
  • Justin's patch [5] (link broken) I also just wrote a distributed cloop compressor(or for smp) It's in that same directory.

Test CD Image Without Burning a CD

If you have a spare partition with at least 700MB free space formatted with ext2, ext3 or Vfat, you can use this for test by booting from a floppy disk. A floppy boot will look for a partiton with /KNOPPIX/ in the root, and the compressed image /KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX. Instead of using the sub-directory /mnt/hda1/knx/master/KNOPPIX/ as described above, it should be called /mnt/hda2/KNOPPIX/ . The root index.html will then be located at /mnt/hda2/index.html and the compressed image will be at /mnt/hda2/KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX . Now you can boot from floppy and use /mnt/hda2 as your image. For further information see Hd BasedHowTo.

If you don't have an extra partition or you don't want to do so much for it, you can use Qemu ( see [6] ) with the ISO image like this:

qemu -m 128 -cdrom /temp/knoppix-custom.iso -boot d -user-net

You even do not have to build a hard disk image before, just install Qemu and try this. Amazing!

Booting Knoppix images with GRUB

  • First copy /boot of the Knoppix cd to your boot partition (or even your dos partition). I named mine boot.knoppix

Copy the /KNOPPIX directory to your root directory* of any hard disk. You may place it somewhere other than the boot partition. (ext2/3, reiserfs, vfat are supported)

  • put the following in your /boot/grub/menu.lst:
title           KNOPPIX
root            (hd0,0)
kernel  /boot.knoppix/vmlinuz 2 fromhd=/dev/hda4 lang=us
initrd  /boot.knoppix/miniroot.gz
  • notice the fromhd parameter: it's the location of the /KNOPPIX directory
  • reboot and have fun.

Helpful Scripts

This is the recommended directory layout for remastering KNOPPIX:

. (invoke ../remaster from here)
|-- master (invoke ../../umountbootimage from here)
|   |-- KNOPPIX
|   |   |-- KNOPPIX (compressed image)
|   |   |-- boot.img (boot floppy image)
|   |   `-- (other files snipped)
|   `-- index.html
`-- source
`-- KNOPPIX (this directory can be chrooted into)
|-- bin
|-- boot
|-- cdrom
|-- dev
|-- etc
|-- floppy
|-- home
|-- initrd
|-- lib
|-- mnt
|-- none
|-- opt
|-- proc
|-- root
|-- sbin
|-- tmp -> /var/tmp
|-- usr
|-- var
`-- vmlinuz -> boot/vmlinuz-2.4.22-xfs

the following script "remaster" will do the remaster process for you. Use as root, or you will end up with wrong access rights in the image.

The script has last been tried out on Debian sid on 2004-04-02.

#!/bin/bash -x
# This script builds a new KNOPPIX ISO image.
# Copyright (C) 2004 by Marc Haber <mh+knoppix-remaster@zugschlus.de>
# License: GPL V2


rm -rf $SOURCE/.rr_moved

mkisofs -R -U -V "KNOPPIX.net filesystem" \
-P "KNOPPIX www.knoppix.net" \
-hide-rr-moved -cache-inodes -no-bak -pad \
-exclude-list $EXCLUDELIST \
. | nice -5 /usr/bin/createcompressedfs - 65536 > $CLOOPTARGET

rm -f KNOPPIX/md5sums
find -type f -not -name md5sums -not -name boot.cat -exec md5sum {} \; >> KNOPPIX/md5sums
mkisofs -pad -l -r -J -v -V "KNOPPIX" -b KNOPPIX/boot.img \
-c KNOPPIX/boot.cat -hide-rr-moved -o $TARGET/knoppix.iso $MASTER

The following script will loop-mount boot floppy image and initrd image for modification. The umount function will build a new initrd image and put it back on the boot floppy image.

The script has last been tried out on Debian sid on 2004-01-13.

#!/bin/bash -x
# This script will loop-mount boot floppy and initrd image
# Copyright (C) 2004 by Marc Haber <mh+knoppix-remaster@zugschlus.de>
# License: GPL V2
unset CDPATH || true

# if not root, re-invoke self as root
if  "`id -u`" -ne 0 ; then
export LOCUSER="$USER"
export LOCHOME="$HOME"
if [[ "${SHELLOPTS/xtrace/}" != "$SHELLOPTS" ]]; then
sudo bash -x $0 $@
exit $?
sudo $0 $@
exit $?
set -e


mountbootimage() {
if ! modprobe loop; then
echo >&2 "ERR: cannot load loop module"
exit 1

if !  -e "$BOOTIMGFILE" ; then
echo >&2 "ERR: no $BOOTIMGFILE found"
exit 1

if  -e "$nofile" ; then
echo >&2 "ERR: $nofile already exists"
exit 1

mkdir -p $BOOTIMGDIR

mkdir -p $INITRDDIR

umountbootimage() {
dd if=/dev/zero of=$INITRDDIR/nullfile || true
rm $INITRDDIR/nullfile
< $INITRDFILE gzip --best > $INITRDGZ


syslinux KNOPPIX/boot.img

case "`basename $0`" in
echo >&2 "ERR: called with unknown name `basename $0`"
exit 1

Tips around apt-get to install/update/remove applications

(by gnarvaja)

  • If you booted from CD, even on a HD install (example: Pivot Install) instead of copying the original CD and KNOPPIX directory to the HD, you can use them directly from their mount points.
  • Another alternative is to mount an ISO image of the original CD as a loop device and mount the KNOPPIX image as a cloop device. You will save close to 2GB of space. Script to mount from an ISO image:
# Assumes that the current directory is the working space
# original.iso is an image of the CD we will be using as master
mount -t iso9660 original.iso ./oldcd -o ro,loop
# initialize the compressed loop device
losetup /dev/cloop1 ./oldcd/KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX
mount -t iso9660 /dev/cloop1 ./KNOPPIX -o ro,loop
  • Get apt-spy and use it to modify the sources.list file with the best mirrors for your particular region. This will speed up the downloading. Backup the original sources.list just in case.
  • Another technique is to modify sources.list. Replace the string .de. in the ftp addresses (ftp.de.debian.org) with the code corresponding to your country. Examples: USA -> .us. (ftp.us.debian.org), Brazil -> .br. (ftp.br.debian.org). Check the Debian site for debian.org mirrors in your country.
  • Remember to uncomment the linuxtag ftp addresses to get the latest and greatest from Knoppix
  • Use apt-get update to get the lists with the latest releases and patches. Do not update a package if you don't need to, it may lead to the use of additional disk space (precious commodity when you want to keep everything below 700MB) and you may brake something else without knowing. Abuse the -s option to simulate the installation.
  • Before doing the update, I modified my default releases to testing, that means that the software I'll be using will have a good balance of stability and features. Knoppix uses unstable by default, which is too risky for my personal taste.
  • Get [apt-get install] locale and configure it with the locales you are going to use. It will save lots of space when downloading applications with plenty of locale modules and localized manual pages.
  • I use aptitude to get/remove applications, it is character based so it works with init 2. As you mark packages for install/update/removal, it will tell you how much disk space you will save/use, try to solve depencies problems and give you plenty control to fix them manually when possible.
  • When installing applications it is likely that your /etc/rc?.d directories will have new entries, many of them unwanted or unplanned. Make sure you check them and remove the new entries based on your preferences. I usually leave /etc/rc2.d and /etc/rc5.d as close as the originals as possible and modify /etc/rc3.d and /etc/rc4.d to test new stuff. Example: You may want to have ntfs installed, but not necessarily running by default. Same with apache, mysql and many others.
  • When removing/purging applications, they may leave behind non-empty directories. Usually this is announced by aptitude, apt-get or any other installation utilty. Make sure to check the messages and manually remove those directories.
  • After you are done, aptitude may leave some files behind. Here's a clean up script I use:
# !/bin/bash
# Clean package files generated by aptitude
rm /var/log/aptitude
rm /var/lib/apt/lists/*debian*
rm /var/lib/apt/lists/*knoppix*

Common Problems

See also

If my howto is too confusing, or you'd like a second opinion, check out charan's very nice remastering howto: http://gnubox.dyndns.org:8080/~sunil/knoppix.php. Another Howto is at http://www.stirnimann.com/mystuff/doc/knoppix.txt

There is a wizard, which knows all the unpacking, compressing and CD-recording steps mentioned here. It also shows a shell where you can update the uncompressed KNOPPIX system using debian's standard software installation tools. It is called mmkcdrom and part of the plugscript package: [7]

Yet another HOWTO, for shell freaks, is at http://quozl.linux.org.au/knoppix/

Be sure to check out the Knoppix Customization Forum for ideas and help with remastering.


Thats it. This is an updated version of my previous howto. This is not meant for linux beginners, you will need to know your way around linux to get this to work. I'll update this as corrections/improvements/etc come through.


Thanks to aay, charan, Tech2k, and #knoppix for some corrections and tips and ideas. Feel free to edit or add to this howto. Note about swap: