Kanotix Live-CD: Gentle Intro for Beginners - OP/ED
Live-CD: Gentle Intro for Beginners
our "Linux is for Total Newbies" series, courteousy of
Edvin Fajic for reallylinux.com.
You may also find this
related article beneficial: Linux
Works Even for Newbies
you ever wondered what Linux is all about? Are you curious to see
what everyone keeps referring to? Would you like a gentle and easy
way to try out Linux without losing any of your Windows programs and
is indeed an alternative for your current operating system and the
cost is less than one dollar, depending on how much you pay for empty
CD's. I know that we were all all taught to view free things as
"cheap" and that nothing is truly free, especially
software. However, years ago, there was a group of dedicated,
talented programmers armed with a vision to provide free functional
software for everyone in the world. It was a difficult beginning.
skilled users were able to cope with Linux and the many commands
needed to perform tasks and use the operating system. Nevertheless, Linux proved to be a flexible and powerful solution for
many tasks. Within time, what began as a few applications and
programs for use expanded to over seventy two thousand applications
and tools for research, training, business, and home use.
Linux development is at the stage where a beginner does not need to
learn commands or toil in the complex world of technical speak.
Instead the GUIs (graphical user interfaces) help new users perform
almost any task with simple mouse clicks. You want to see examples, then look at Linux GUIs like:
and or this!
giants like IBM, Nokia and H&P are contributing useful device drivers and applications to ensure Linux is effective
even for home PCs. Thanks to easy to learn and use GUIs like the KDE
Desktop (there is also Gnome and Xfce among others) a Windows
user will have an easy time making the adjustment.
most importantly, another excellent option for Windows users has
emerged. Now you can try Linux using Live-CDs without removing
your Windows or installing Linux on to a hard disk. You can discover,
explore and enjoy the power of Linux through such Live-CDs by simply
inserting into the drive and rebooting your PC. There are many
excellent Linux CD images (iso's) that can be downloaded from:
a look at what they are like, you can check many desktop images shown
If you want to try other live CDs then go to:
http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php. These distributions (distros) are
designed for downloading and installing directly over the Internet.
The speed of the download depends on your server and your connection.
you are on a dial-up, I really don't recommend downloading Linux.
Instead, there are many organizations and companies that offer the
distribution of your choice preloaded on CDs for a small fee (often
less than ten dollars). I recommend this method for someone who is
just getting started or wants to try out Linux. Among many good
places to buy a pre-burned Linux CD for a few dollars, one option is:
the many Live-CD versions, I have personally found Kanotix
to be one of the more versatile and functional. Based on the
significant work of Debian, Kanotix offers not only a very
broad range of useful programs pre-configured and ready, it also
provides a very simple method of fully installing Linux if you later
decide to do so.
First, we need to get Kanotix CDs or to download the correct version from:
order to load Linux from a Live-CD, you need to set your PC BIOS to
boot from the CD drive. In most cases pressing a key like F12, or F2,
or the Delete key on your PC prior to Windows starting, gets you to
the BIOS menu. The boot order, which specifies what gets loaded
first, can be changed (to floppy, hard drive, CD-ROM, or network).
Inserting the Live-CD into the drive and then choosing the BIOS boot
option of CD-ROM will begin loading your Linux.
During the boot-up,
you may encounter strange terms like GRUB. No, I assure you this is not something you dig up. GRUB is the boot-loader or program for booting Linux. You will usually be given a menu choice with the option of loading Debian or Kanotix. Choose the Kanotix option, which although not recommended on older systems, runs beautifully even on a 550MHz PC with plenty of RAM.
a few moments you will see an introductory menu. It's important to
choose your language, because by default Kanotix boots in German.
Just more evidence of the world-wide expanse of Linux and the vast
community of engineers who create and support these useful tools.
you have an Internet connection through a DSL or Cable modem, you
should go ahead and ensure the connection is on and ready. After reboot,
you end up with a fully operational Debian Linux loaded with many
The full CD version of Kanotix comes pre-installed with many of the well know packages. However, the new preview version does not include applications like Firestarter or OpenOffice.org. You can adjust the package manager repositories to grab the latest versions from the Internet.
not, Debian Linux is the version that Kanotix is based on and uses.
For years now, the Debian Foundation has allowed this very versatile
and powerful version of Linux to grow and improve. Today the Debian
version runs some of the most popular Linux installations both free,
like Kanotix and commercial like Xandros.
and advanced users alike learn to use Kanotix very fast. The
interface is easy to understand and use, and there are many icons and
other features to help you along the way.
Kanotix offers an easy to navigate desktop that includes many useful features for beginners.
of all, if you're using Kanotix on a Windows system, your Windows disk drive will show up on desktop as a little
icon on the left. You can browse it, recover data from it if Windows fails to
load, get help through the Linux Firefox web-browser or even send
messages with AMSN, an MSN type clone, if your Windows has let you
most powerful option of course, is to be able to use your Windows
documents and files from Linux programs. For instance, you can view
your PDF files or graphics images with Linux programs straight from
your Windows disk. You can also edit your Word or Excel documents
from Linux using the OpenOffice.org programs.
word of caution is that because of HOW Windows writes files to a hard
disk, editing files and then writing them back to your Windows hard
disk may not be advisable.
don't worry there is even an easier way to address this. When I need
to edit or improve my Windows Word file for example, I can boot from
Kanotix, load the OpenOffice.org writer and then edit the file. To
save my updated file I just insert my USB Memory stick (flashdrive)
into the USB connection, and save the new version to the USB stick.
Now I have a portable way to edit and work with my Windows files from
any system anywhere using Kanotix Live-CD.
USB Flash drive is recognized and ready for use on the desktop.
a word of encouragement, if you mess anything up don't worry.
Remember, we are in the Live-CD program. If you need to return to
Windows or restart Linux because of a problem, simply reboot your PC.
You will see just how easy it is to live between the two world's and
gain the benefits of the many Linux strengths. For example, with my
Kanotix Live-CD I have far less security issues to worry about when
surfing the Internet. I also gain some very fun and useful programs
that I would have had to pay a lot of money to get similar ones in
Windows. The Kanotix Live-CD comes with over 100 pre-installed
programs for your use.
NOTE: My own mother, who does not like learning computer things at
all, uses this very same technique. She enjoys the many unique and
fun games that come for free and pre-installed with the Live-CD. When
she wants to enjoy Linux, she grabs the Linux CD and just restarts
one weak point of running a Linux system from the CD is that it is
far slower than if Linux were installed on a hard disk. Therefore, do
not compare the performance of software that must load from a CD than
that loading from your hard disk. But thankfully, Kanotix offers a
solution for this, if you're ready to really use Linux.
Once you have spent time using Kanotix, enjoying the
many useful tools and the easy interface, you may decide to do a full
installation. This is a good step for someone who is serious about
using Linux. If you decide to install Kanotix, the same cute desktop
fish icon will take you to an intuitive and simple Kanotix installer.
The menu is self explanatory, but make sure that you pick the right
hard disk section (partition) to ensure you don't erase your Windows
information... unless that is your intent.
my machine, the main hard drive shows up as sda1.
If you are using Windows on the system but wish to install Kanotix
fully you may benefit by installing it to a Flashstick (a USB memory
stick) or to a second hard disk like a USB or external hard drive.
This ensures you can use both operating systems and diminishes the
risk that you will accidentally erase Windows. Some of the time
people wish to install Kanotix on to an older PC for exclusive use of
Linux, which is a more stable and easy way to do it.
I recommend you
think over the options and take it slow before you do a full install,
backing up your files as a reasonable precaution to any OS install.
creating the root (administrator) password and new user name and
account, you save the installation settings. Now you may install
Kanotix onto the hard drive to get access to Debian servers over the
Internet. This allows you to easily and quickly add many applications
like OpenOffice.org as you wish. I recommended installing this way
from single CD to a full distribution, rather than downloading large
multiple CDs or DVD images of the distributions and then burning
them. Everyone has their preference. You should review some of the
options before making your decision.
the login prompt it is important not to login as root (we can
mess up a lot if we do so, and compromise safety). Instead, please
login with the user account, created during installation. The wizard
will prompt you for the administrator password for crucial tasks,
mostly through the GUI and you can type the password created during
Windows applications, in Linux software is managed through a package
manager. The Package Manager controls how to install and un-install
software from one place. The default Package Manager in Kanotix is
Kpackage, a very good manager.
personally prefer Synaptic package manager and you may wish to use it
also, but it takes a bit of doing. Most people familiar with Windows
and computers can install the Synaptic package manager easily enough.
To do so you first need to open the console (click little black
screen on the bottom task bar) and type su (superuser), you will
leave the user account and be prompted for the root password. After
typing it correctly, you will see a new prompt. In this superuser
status you can use a powerful utility to get packages (applications,
software) straight from console over the Internet. The tool is called
apt-get. You would type exactly this at the prompt:
will tell apt-get to go over the Internet and grab the named
application straight from Debian server. Remember, Kanotix is a
you have Synaptic or you are using Kpackage, you can request that the
package manager install any software available for
Linux with the ease of mouse clicks. This includes very useful software such as Firestarter, a very
easy to use firewall security software. You can and should also get
the latest OpenOffice.org package (word processor, spreadsheet,
database, and presentation software fully compatible with MS-Office). If you want help with your installation just read this thorough beginner article.
Indeed, you can install practically anything through the Package
Managers, but I recommend you not go overboard. Start out with a few
of the key software you know you need and get use to the unique but
reasonable way Linux handles software installation over the Internet.
One thing that will be hard to get over is that every download is
FREE! The work of thousands of great programmers is made available
through their generosity to you and I.
There is so much more that
I wish to say to someone switching to Linux. I encourage you not to
give up, that some things will be different than Windows, but often this is for the benefit of being a more stable or secure method.
If you need more help
regarding Kanotix, there are many friendly Kanotix chat rooms and
community boards. The chat room link from your desktop is an easy
start. Many there speak English and are both knowledgeable and
helpful. You can also enjoy the excellent Kanotix Screencast (requires Macromedia Flash player). Most of all you get to start an adventure into the world of
BIO: Edvin Fajic has been introducing people and organizations to the
power and benefit of Open Source Software in Canada for several
years. He has a broad spectrum of experience with many different flavors and variants, both for business and home use. He enjoys helping demonstrate to others that switching from
Windows can be reasonably easy.
2006 Edvin Fajic, published by reallylinux.com with permission.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this article belong to their respective owners.