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8 January, 2006
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Live Knoppix Is Very Nice Desktop Linux

Cheat Knoppix 4 to Improve Performance

Part 1. Cheat Code Basics and the ALSA Cheat Code

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 . . . Computer on a Disc and a USB Key

Mike Angelo -- 8 Janaury 2006 (C) -- Page 1

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Editor's Note: This article is entirely too long. So, we broke it down into a four-part series. Each of the four parts seems somewhat independent of the other parts. However, the knowledge and skills you pick up in each part are necessary for all, but the advanced reader, to fully understand the other parts.

You might be able to jump into a specific part and understand it completely. If not, you can start at the beginning of the series and read through to the end -- your choice.

Please check the Article Index below to see how the parts are laid out and what is covered in each part. Links will be activated as each part is published. Ed.

Article Index

[Part 1. Cheat Code Basics and the ALSA Cheat Code]

[Part 2. Performance Improvement Cheats]

  • The Performance Cheats
  • Use a USB Flash Drive (USB Key) to Improve Performance -
  • Selecting a USB Key for a Performance Cheat
  • How the USB Key Performance Cheat Works
  • Let's Do the Performance Cheat

[Part 3. Advanced Cheating]

  • Chaining Cheats
  • More Knoppix Cheat Codes

[Part 4. Computer on a Disc and a USB Key]

  • Persistent Knoppix
  • Conclusion

Resources

"What is KNOPPIX?"

"KNOPPIX is a bootable CD or DVD with a collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. KNOPPIX can be used as a productive Linux desktop, educational CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform for commercial software product demos. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk. Due to on-the-fly decompression, the CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it. (over 8 GB on the DVD "Maxi" edition)." Knoppix Information (Link in the Resources section.)

Knoppix is based on the Debian Linux distribution.

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

Office on the Linux Desktop

OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more

As part of the legwork for our stories involving the Knoppix Linux live CD and Live DVD, we gave the Knoppix 4.02 live Linux CD a spin on a somewhat older laptop. It's an HP OmniBook 6000 laptop computer with a 128-MB RAM and 900-MHz Pentium III CPU. Three major problems popped up:

(1) the sound did not work,

(2) it was slow, and

(3) the Knoppix live CD tied up the only CD drive on the laptop.

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.

  • Here is how this cheat works.

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.

Figure 1. KDE Info Center Sound information panel with sound card detected and configured.

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.

Figure 2. KDE Info Center Sound information panel with sound card not detected and not configured.

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).

irc://irc.efnet.net/#LinuxLounge


Article Index

[Part 1. Cheat Code Basics and the ALSA Cheat Code]

[Part 2. Performance Improvement Cheats]

  • The Performance Cheats
  • Use a USB Flash Drive (USB Key) to Improve Performance -
  • Selecting a USB Key for a Performance Cheat
  • How the USB Key Performance Cheat Works
  • Let's Do the Performance Cheat

[Part 3. Advanced Cheating]

  • Chaining Cheats
  • More Knoppix Cheat Codes

[Part 4. Computer on a Disc and a USB Key]

  • Persistent Knoppix
  • Conclusion

Resources

Books

The Linux books listed below will help to show you why Linux-based, GNU operating system is a better operating system than MS Windows. And they describe and help you to use much of the free software that comes with most Linux-based distributions.

Most of the book links listed below lead you to Web pages about the books that also, there, have links to things such as Tables of Contents and sample chapters. The sample chapters are free and well worth reading.

  • Some Interesting Linux Books

Acing the LINUX+ Certification Exam, Patrick Regan, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131121553. $88

Beginning Linux Programming, 3rd Edition, Matthew and Stones, (Foreword by Alan Cox), Wiley. ISBN: 0-7645-4497-7. $40

Building Applications with the Linux Standard Base, Linux Standard Base Team, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-145695-4

Building Clustered Linux Systems, By Robert Lucke, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-144853-6. $50


Expanding Choice: Moving to Linux and Open Source with Novell Open Enterprise Server, Jason Williams/Peter Clegg/Emmett Dulaney, Novell Press, ISBN: 0-672-32722-8. $30


Fedora 4 Linux All in One, By Aron Hsiao, Sams, ISBN: 0672327074. $40.

Fedora 4 Unleashed, By Paul Hudson, Andrew Hudson, Bill Ball, Hoyt Duff, Sams, ISBN: 0672327929. $50.


Knoppix Hacks - 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools, By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00787-6. $30


Linux Bible, 2005 Edition, Christopher Negus, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-7949-5. $40

Linux Desktop Garage, By Susan Matteson, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-149419-8. $30

Linux Desktop Pocket Guide, David Brickner, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-10104-X. $10


Linux Desktop Hacks - Tips & Tools for Customizing and Optimizing your OS, By Nicholas Petreley, Jono Bacon, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00911-9. $50

Linux in a Nuthsell, 5th Ed., Siever, Figgins, Weber, Love and Robbisn, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00930-5. $45

Linux Kernel Development, 2nd Ed., Robert Love, Novell Press., ISBN: 0672327201. $45

Linux Network Architecture, By Wehrle, Pahlke, Ritter, Muller, and Bechler, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131777203. $50


Linux Programming by Example: The Fundamentals, Arnold Robbins, , Prentice Hall PTR, ISBN: 0131429647. $40

The Linux Process Manager: The internals of scheduling, interrupts and signals, By John O'Gorman, Wiley, ISBN: 0-470-84771-9. $35

Linux Quick Fix Notebook, By Peter Harrison, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131861506. $40

Linux Troubleshooting Bible, Christopher Negus, Thomas Weeks, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-6997-X. $30


Mandrakelinux Discovery 10.1 - Your First Linux Desktop, By Mandrakesoft, Mandrakesoft, ISBN: 2-84798-085-7. $64

Mandrakelinux PowerPack 10.1 - The Full Power of Linux Desktop, By Mandrakesoft, Mandrakesoft, ISBN: 2-84798-086-5. $87


Novell Certified Linux Engineer (Novell CLE) Study Guide, Robb Tracy, Novell Press, ISBN: 0789732033. $60

Novell Linux Desktop 9 User's Handbook, Joe Habraken, Novell Press, ISBN: 0672327295. $35


Official Fedora Companion, Nick Petreley, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-5836-6. $20

Operating Systems, 3rd Edition, Deitel, Deitel, and David, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131828274. $103

Optimizing Linux Performance: A Hands-on Guide to Linux Performance Tools, By Phillip Ezolt, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131486829. $50


Point & Click Linux!, By Robin Miller, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0131488724. $30

Principles of Network and System Administration, 2nd Edition, Mark Burgess, Wiley, ISBN: 0-470-86807-4. $50


Running Linux, 4th Ed., Welsh, Dalheimer, Dawson, and Kaufman, O'Reilly, ISBN, 0-596-00272-6. $45

SUSE Linux 9 Bible, Justin Davies, Roger Whittaker, William von Hagen, Wiley, ISBN: 0-7645-7739-5. $40

Test Driving Linux: From Windows to Linux in 60 Seconds, David Brickner, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00754-X. $25

Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition, Daniel P. Bovet and Marco Cesati, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00213-0. $50

Understanding the Linux Virtual Memory Manager, Mel Gorman, Prentice Hall PTR, ISBN: 0131453483. $60


UNIX Shells by Example, 4th Edition, By Ellie Quigley, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN: 013147572X. $50

Resources


Knoppix

Knoppix Information

Cheatcodes And Hints For Knoppix V4.0


Kingston Data Traveler Elite

Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA)


Knoppix Hacks - 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools, By Kyle Rankin, O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00787-6. $30

Sample Hacks

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


  • Linux Chat and Help
  • Related Linux and Open Source Software Articles


Give the Gift of Knoppix Linux and a Book for Less Than $30 -- Knoppix for Dummies

Santa's 2005 Picks for Linux and Windows Computer Gifts


A Glimpse of SUSE Linux 10.0 and Other Things Brewing at Novell

A Glimpse of OpenOffice 2.0 -- Now Available for Free Public Downloading

Is It Deja Deja Novell All Over Again, Again? -- Ximian/GNOME v SUSE/KDE at Novell


Good Sound, Easy Listening, and Good Value Lexar LDP-200 Digital Music Player and SD Card Reader for Linux, Mac, and Windows


The Many Faces of Linux


In Pursuit of Good Desktop Linux:


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Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

Microsoft PR Does Not Refute Mandrake Linux Better Than Windows

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MandrakeSoft Adds MandrakeClustering to Its Business and Enterprise Products Lineup

Gaël Duval and Mike Angelo Discuss The HP-Mandrake Computer

HP to Ship Desktop PCs with Mandrake 9.1 Linux Pre-Installed - Good News for Mandrake Linux and Fans


Gaël Duval and Mike Angelo Discuss the New Mandrake AMD64 OS

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Mandrake Linux Shows Profit -- End to Bankruptcy Near


Conectiva, Mandrake, and SuSE Say No SCO in Their Code

SCO-Caldera v IBM: Conectiva's Gordon Ho Responds to SCO-Caldera's Linux-Related Allegations


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