Live Knoppix Is Very Nice Desktop Linux
Cheat Knoppix 4 to Improve Performance
Part 1. Cheat Code Basics and the ALSA Cheat Code
Mike Angelo -- 8 Janaury 2006 (C) -- Page 1
The problems were addressed by using Knoppix cheat codes. Today's article is presented in terms of the older HP OmniBook 6000 laptop computer. Nevertheless, the Knoppix cheat-codes discussions and tutorials in this article should be applicable to most any computer with which you can use the Knoppix live Linux CD or live Linux DVD.
Regarding the sound problem, MozillaQuest Magazine Technical Editor Aric Campling ringed in. He pointed out that Knoppix uses Open Sound System (OSS) drivers by default. Aric suggested using Advanced Linux Sound System (ALSA) drivers to solve the audio problem.
Using the ALSA drivers took care of the audio problem. Moreover, dropping the default OSS drivers and changing to the ALSA drivers was easy to do using a Knoppix cheat code.
The performance problem was addressed by using two Knoppix cheat codes. The first performance cheat, tohd=/dev/sda1, let's you copy the Knoppix live Linux CD onto a USB key. We used a 4-GB Kingston DataTraveler Elite Flash drive (USB key) for that.
The second performance cheat, fromhd=/dev/sda1, let's you use that USB key when running the Knoppix live Linux CD. Interestingly, this cheat also releases the CD drive too. So, you might want to do this performance cheat just to free the CD drive.
The details of using these performance cheats are discussed further on in this article in Part 2. Performance Improvement Cheats -- but first the basics. They are covered here in Part 1. Cheat Code Basics and the ALSA Cheat Code.
Incidentally, if you like you can chain several cheats at the boot: prompt. For example you can direct Knoppix to do both the ASLA cheat and the performance cheat. That's covered in Part 3. Advanced Cheating.
You can setup the USB key you use for the performance cheats to store your configuration files, data files, and so forth. Doing that makes your Live Knoppix Linux very portable. Make sure you read that section. It's covered in Part 4. Computer on a Disc and a USB Key.
Knoppix Cheat-Code Basics
The sound problem is discussed in Hack #7 in Knoppix Hacks - 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools (By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, 2004. Link in the Resources section.). The Knoppix cheat code, knoppix alsa, forces Knoppix to use the ALSA drivers instead of the default OSS drivers.
When Knoppix is booted from its live CD or live DVD, a splash screen appears. Under the splash screen there is the standard, Linux, boot-parameters prompt, boot:. This is where you have the opportunity to insert special instructions to the boot and start up processes.
Typically, you start the boot-instructions string by telling the Linux loader what Linux kernel to boot. For today's tutorials, the Linux kernel choice is the Knoppix default Linux kernel. You indicate that choice by typing knoppix at the boot: prompt.
Normally, you would not type anything at the splash screen and boot prompt -- other than hitting enter in order to continue the boot process. You only insert boot-prompt parameters if you want to deviate from the default, boot parameters. Here we insert boot parameters because we want Knoppix to use the ALSA drivers instead of the default OSS drivers.
The Force-ALSA Cheat
If your sound system is working OK when you use the Knoppix live Linux CD or DVD, you do not need to use the force-ALSA cheat. Moreover, it's likely you should not use the force-ALSA cheat if the sound is working. (If it is not broken, why fix it?)
The cheat code to force Knoppix to use the ALSA drivers is alsa. So type a space and then alsa following the kernel choice, knoppix, which you already typed in at the boot: prompt.
Now, your boot-parameters string should be knoppix alsa. This command-line string tells the Knoppix boot loader and startup process to use the default Knoppix Linux kernel and to force the system to use the ALSA drivers.
To make sure you are all set for sound once booting and startup is completed, open the KDE Info Center and select the Sound info panel. To do that, click the K Menu icon on the task bar, then System > Kinfo Center > Sound.
In the Sound information panel you should see ALSA listed as the installed driver. You also should see the name of your sound card or controller under Card config. For the HP OmniBook 6000, it is the ESS Maestro3 controller. Please see Figure 1.
However, if the Sound information panel reports no sound card configured (Figure 2), then you need to run the alsaconf configuration procedure. To do that, click the K Menu icon on the task bar, then System > Admin > alsaconf. Then follow the prompts.
After you have finished with the alsaconf procedure, recheck the Sound information panel in the KDE Info Center. It should report your sound card or controller under Card config. Please see Figure 1.
Our goal here is to show you how to use the alsa cheat rather than how to configure sound or use sound in Knoppix. Any further discussion about configuring the sound for your Knoppix system or using sound is beyond the scope of this article. FYI, Linux Multimedia Hacks (By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, 2005. Link in Resources section.) has 100 audio and sound related hacks.
Look for Part 2. Performance Improvement Cheats tomorrow. It's a great tutorial that shows you how to speed up Live Knoppix. And it shows you how to free the CD drive or DVD drive that you use to run Live Knoppix too.
Then after Part 2, look for Part 3. Advanced Cheating and Part 4. Computer on a Disc and a USB Key. You will learn about more Knoppix cheat codes and how to chain several cheat codes together in Part 3. And then in Part 4, you will learn how to put together all the stuff you learned in Parts 1 through 3 to make a very portable Live Knoppix setup. It's really very slick.
We discuss Live Knoppix more fully in our article Give the Gift of Knoppix Linux and a Book for Less Than $30 -- Knoppix for Dummies. and Santa's 2005 Picks for Linux and Windows Computer Gifts.
If you want to chat about Linux in general try the #LinuxLounge channel on EFNet IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
Knoppix Hacks - 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools, By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00787-6. $30
Linux Multimedia Hacks (By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, 2005)
Other Knopppix, Debian, and Live CD/DVD Books
Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible, B. Harris and Jaldhar Vyas, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-7644-5. $40.
The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques, Martin F. Krafft, ISBN 1-593270-69-0. $44.95
Knoppix For Dummies, Paul G. Sery, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-9779-5. $29.99
Point & Click Linux!, By Robin Miller, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131488724. $30
Test Driving Linux: From Windows to Linux in 60 Seconds, David Brickner, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00754-X. $25
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