I’ve been reading about Knoppix for quite some time, and being a fan of GNU/Linux and specifically Debian, thought it has been terribly remiss of me to have not tried it before now. (FYI, Knoppix is built from Debian parts)
And I have to say, it is absolutely the easiest and quickest way to have Linux running on any of my home boxen (It will get run up on a variety of the defunct and offline boxen at the office later today…). For anyone familiar with Linux (or many *nixes for that matter), you have a working desktop within literally seconds of popping in the CD and booting (The longest start-up time was on my puny laptop with 128M ram – about 90 seconds).
Combine the Knoppix CD with a stick of USB memory (to store /etc/* files and/or /home/*) and you immediately have a completely customised environment-to-go.
If you haven’t tried it already, you simply MUST try it out.
I have been slowly piecing together a few tools that run on Win32 and piling them up on a USB memory stick. Primary among these tools was a copy of PuTTY and a private key for secure auth to my Linux boxen littered around. I’m now planning on replacing that with a Knoppix CD and a roaming /home on the memory stick.
The primary concern I had with the Win32 based kit was security. I have no way of knowing the security status of a host I plug by drive into – apart from virii/worms/etc, keyloggers and file collectors are a serious concern. In the above scenario, all it would take is for a host to copy my private key and keylog my pass-phrase… Knoppix overcomes most of that security issue simply because you never touch the original host OS – just shut it down and boot the CD. There is still a small exposure for the above flaw, but it requires more complex and specific hardware that is rarely seen.
Yesterday, my favourite carry-along was a memory stick. Today, it has a new best friend: the Knoppix CD. “Tomorrow” when booting from a large USB stick is common-place, the USB will again stand alone – but that is a little ways off yet 🙂