Once you are comfortable using Knoppix for your desktop, you might find yourself booting onto the CD more often. While you can create persistent settings and a portable home directory to mount, at some point you might decide you would like to use Knoppix full-time by installing it to your hard drive.
The Debian GNU/Linux distribution, on which Knoppix is based, is becoming much more popular, but the Debian installer can be daunting even for the experienced Linux user. Some of the more complicated parts of the install ask questions that the new Debian user might not know the answers to. Knoppix handles all of the hardware and network configuration for you and comes with a great selection of applications, so it wasn’t long before people began asking for a way to install Knoppix on their hard drives. As Knoppix’s hard-drive installer has progressed, it has become known as the quickest and easiest way to obtain a Debian testing/unstable installation.
The Debian distribution has three main branches that are used to ensure high security and stability on one end, and rapid inclusion of new programs and updates on the other. These branches are:
Stable (currently nicknamed Etch)
The Debian stable branch contains packages that have been rigorously tested with the other packages in the branch over a long period of time and is considered incredibly stable.
Testing (currently nicknamed Lenny)
The Debian testing branch is a blend of the stable and unstable branches, and it consists of packages from the unstable branch that have been shown to be stable for some time. Once the packages in testing have been tested enough, Debian will declare the testing branch the new stable branch.
Unstable (nicknamed Sid)
The Debian unstable branch contains newer packages in a more rapid state of flux that have only been moderately tested to work well together.
Some people mistakenly believe that the packages within the unstable branch are buggy. While packaging bugs and instability are more common in the unstable branch than in testing or stable branches, the packages in the unstable branch still undergo a fair amount of testing before release, particularly for large, popular packages such as desktop environments and X. It is commonly held that the packages in the unstable branch are as good as any you would find in other Linux distributions, if not more so.
You often hear Debian branches referred to as Etch, Lenny, and Sid. These nicknames refer to the stable, testing, and unstable branches, but change with each Debian release. For example, Etch is the name for the Debian 4.0 release. For as long as Debian is at 4.0, Etch will also be synonymous with the stable branch. However, with the next Debian release, Lenny (the current nickname for the testing release) will be declared stable, and will then become the nickname of the new stable branch. A new name will then be assigned to the testing branch. The advantages to this distinction are that you can choose to follow either a group of packages such as Lenny, which means you will eventually be running the stable release, or you can choose to follow a branch by its name. If you are using the testing branch, you can continue to use the testing branch even when the Lenny packages become stable.
The exception to this naming rule is the unstable branch. It will always have the nickname of Sid (after the boy in the movie Toy Story who broke all of the toys), and that name does not move up the list as packages stabilize.
This chapter discusses the state of the current Knoppix hard-drive installer, knoppix-installer, and provides a few installation scenarios that provide a complete guide to installing Knoppix on a single-boot setup and as a dual-boot setup with Windows. As you’ll soon see, installing Knoppix is easy even for new Linux users.