It's never been easy to install Linux, but Fred Langa explores the best available tools and finds reason for hope.
And there's a downside to any zero-footprint operating system: Session- and configuration data is transient, because nothing is written to the hard drive, and nothing can be written to the read-only CD itself. It's not easy to make changes to the Knoppix setup; and whatever changes you do make will be lost on reboot. (There are ways around this, but they're not simple, and they involve defeating the zero-footprint nature of the default version of Knoppix.)
But as a way to demo Linux, or as an educational CD, or hardware tester or rescue system, Knoppix is really excellent. What's more, its automatic hardware-detection and configuration routines are outstanding. I truly hope they presage a far-reaching improvement in the way many Linux distributions set themselves up.
Morphix is a modularized version of Debian/Knoppix. Like a power tool with interchangeable bits, the core or main Morphix module can be married to any of several additional modules that are optimized for a specific purpose--heavy graphics use, gaming, a speedy LightGUI version for use on slower hardware, and more http://morphix.sourceforge.net/ modules/mydownloads/ .
The Morphix site http://morphix.sourceforge.net offers a variety of preconfigured, zero-footprint, boot-and-run CD images, based on the major module types. This makes it very easy to switch Morphix variants--you just switch CDs and reboot, with no additional configuration needed. As with Knoppix, the entire setup-and-run process takes just a couple minutes.
But unlike Knoppix, Morphix also can easily be installed onto a hard drive, avoiding the performance bottleneck of running the operating system from a CD; and also making it simpler to save custom configurations; or to assemble exactly the modules you want if none of the preconfigured versions suit your needs.
As such, Morphix is a hybrid--it can be either a preconfigured, zero-footprint operating system, or a highly customized full install in any of several variants.
But another kind of hybrid--SuSE's Live-Eval--falls in between the zero-footprint and full install options: It's an example of a small-footprint Linux.
SUSE 8.2 Live-Eval Knoppix and Morphix are both relatively new flavors of Linux, but SuSE http://www.suse.de/ us/index.html can trace its roots all the way back to 1992 when a group of German university students started the Society for Software and System Development (Gesellschaft fur Software- und System Entwicklung).
SuSE Live-Eval http://www.suse.de/ us/private/download/ suse_linux/index.html is a hybrid, small-footprint version of Linux that runs almost entirely from a bootable CD. Like Knoppix, SuSE Live-Eval doesn't require any partitioning of your hard drive. And although some minor user input is required as the setup progresses, SuSE's hardware-detection routines are reasonably automated and well done.
The entire setup is complete in about five minutes, and delivers a fully-configured Linux environment, running a desktop designed to be instantly familiar to Windows users, and already equipped with many tools such as Office-type applications, Web browsers, E-mail tools, games, developer tools, and more. The package of preinstalled and preconfigured software isn't quite as complete as Knoppix's, but is still instantly useful, as delivered.
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