Ten Knoppix Add-ons

15 Aug 2004

If you have a high speed internet connection, then Knoppix hard drive install is a kick ass way to install debian. But after the hd install is over there remain a few things to do. Here is a guide. Warning: not for newbies!

1. network configuration

If you connect through a LAN, then issue this command:

bash# netcardconfig

If you connect using xDSL, then use the DSL configuration tool from the Knoppix menu.

Knoppix isn't very good at configuring dial-up modems. Especially winmodems. So you may need to manually install and configure the modem. See my short story about three winmodems. Also, remember to set up kppp with the ISP account information.

2. Configure apt.

apt is the automatic package management tool for debian. Apt is great – it's why I switched to debian. So the first thing to do is configure apt. apt uses a list of debian package sources, the list is at /etc/apt/sources.list. Knoppix will install a sources.list file but this default file specifies a debian server in Germany. If you live in a different country you should change to a server closer to you. You can read the list of mirrors at this page. For members of BGLUG, here is a copy of a good sources.list file.

While you are working on the /etc/apt/sources.list file, add these lines to the end of the file (you'll find out why later):

deb ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat/ testing main
deb ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat/ unstable main 

After fixing the sources.list file you must connect to the internet and update the apt cache:

bash# apt-get update

This next step is possible but not recommended. You can update to the most recent version of all installed packages by using this command:

bash# apt-get -o Dpkg::=--force-confold upgrade

This command should upgrade between one hundred and five hundred packages, using the old configuration files. Unfortunately, lots of new stuff that you probably don't want will be added to the initialization directories, so after the packages are all installed, you need to manually trim the /etc/rc2.d and /etc/rc5.d directories. Just remove the scripts for services you don't want. For instance, if you don't want to run the Apache web server, then delete its initialization script.

3. Set the correct video card

Knoppix almost always uses the VESA X11 driver. If you want to use advanced features of your card, then you must change to native drivers manually by editing the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file. The drivers you need might be installed, but then again they might not. If you have an nvidia or ATI radeon card you could download and run the install scripts from kanotix.com. The graphic card install scripts are near the bottom of the page.

Sometimes knoppix doesn't get the monitor just right. Especially on old non-DDC monitors. Then you might have to google your monitor model for an XF86Config modeline.

4. email config

Configure the email client with the ISP email information.

5. Install mplayer

Remember in step one you added those two lines to the /etc/apt/sources.list file? Now you can install mplayer:

apt-get install mplayer-686 mplayer-fonst 

If you have an older machine, you might install the mplayer-386 package instead.

6. Mozilla plug-ins

Mozilla is great, but most new users will want some basic plug-ins: pdf, flash, quicktime, etc. You can read the mozdev.org Mozilla plug-in support page for a description of various mozilla plug-ins. I think the pdf plug-in is already installed with knoppix. You can install flash and mplayer plugins like this:

bash# apt-get install mozilla-mplayer flashplayer-mozilla

7. Configure the printer

Knoppix installs CUPS, which is the overall printing architecture. But Knoppix only installs a few printer drivers. Most importantly, Knoppix doesn't install cupsys-driver-gimpprint. If you have an inkjet printer you will probably need this driver, and you should do this:

bash# apt-get install cupsys-driver-gimpprint

Then aim your browser at http://localhost:631/ and add the printer.

8. Install the latest version of Open Office.

Upgrade to the most recent version of Open Office like this:

bash# apt-get install openoffice.org

9. Fix the desktop

Knoppix uses kdm. I usually enter kcontrol and configure kdm to automatically log in as a user when it boots up. Knoppix uses kde. The default knoppix kde desktop is a bit crowded so I like to customize these features to the specific user's requirements:

KDE is really slow on older computers with slow CPUs (less than 500 Mhz) and slow hard drives (that is to say, 5400 rpm drives). On such computers I change to fluxbox, which is installed with knoppix. To change from KDE to flux box, just select it in kdm and login. Once selected, fluxbox will become the default window manager for that user. I edit the fluxbox menus and install a decent theme. Look to freshmeat.org for fluxbox themes.

10. Install MS Core TrueType Fonts

Knoppix comes with a good selection of fonts, but if you are reading documents produced by Microsoft Windows clients, then you will need the MS Core True Type fonts:

bash# apt-get install msttcorefonts

Andrew Howlett, 15 August 2004

Thanks to mzilikazi for contributions and corrections.