FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT KNOPPIX
(sorted by frequency of questions)
Q: How do I get the CD/current beta?
A: Several possibilities: (Note: listed websites are in German)
a) Download form one of the mirrors listed at
b) You can order the newest CD from http://www.liniso.de/ or
any other CD ordering service listed at http://www.knoppix.de/,
and have it sent to you.
Q: How do I burn a bootable CD in Windows?
A: This question does not really belong into a KNOPPIX-FAQ. Of course the
answer depends on the individual program you are using to burn CDs, but
all common CD-Writing programs should support the option of burning
bootable ISO-Images, you probably just have to find the right menu option.
At the address http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/docs/ and on some of the
KNOPPIX-Mirrors in a directory with the same name, you may find some
examples written as short step-by-step documentations from users who
successfully completed the procedure.
Q: Why is my favourite software xyz not present on the CD? Can't you
add it in future versions of the download version? It doesn't cost
A: Apart from the fact that, even on a 700MB medium, available space
is limited, and DVD burners for bigger images are not very common yet,
there are certain criteria for software licenses in order to be
acceptable for KNOPPIX, totally independent from price or fees.
All licenses must guarantee that the CD can still be downloaded,
modified and copied, free of charge. Licenses that don't allow
incorporation into such a CD can't be accepted by us, at least not
for the freely available/downloadable versions of KNOPPIX. That also
applies to licenses that would force the recipients to sign another
agreement before download, or even pay royalty fees, and licenses that
do not allow the CD to be distributed commercially (for example,
customization, copying and mailing of the CD for an appropriate fee
for the work done, is commercial distribution). Almost all programs
on the CD fall under the GPL or similar Open Source licenses, which
provide a lot of freedom for the recipients of the software (see also
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html). Exceptions regarding software
that may, due to the wish of the vendor, only be distributed in binary
form, are still tolerable if they fall under a liberal license that
allows non-commercial as well as commercial distribution of the CD
without essential restrictions. Please check the license of your
software carefully before writing a recommendation for inclusion in
future versions of KNOPPIX to the developer team.
Q: My computer won't boot from CD. What should I do?
A: Look in your computer's BIOS to see whether it's set to boot from CD
(on most computers you need to push the "delete" key during the RAM test).
If this is already set, your computer may not be able to read the CD (some
notebooks have problems with black-coated CD's, for example). Some
computers will only use the new BIOS settings after a hard reset. If your
computer doesn't support booting from CD, you can create a boot floppy
using the "mkbootfloppy" program.
Q: I downloaded KNOPPIX via WWW/FTP or got a downloaded version from a
friend. My PC will boot off of it, but the bootup stalls after a bit or I
only see the background picture, and nothing else happens. What's going
A: You possibly only got a partial download, or the download was
(silently) interrupted. If this is the case the ISO image is defective,
and the data in the missing parts cannot be accessed (sometimes one can
even "hear" this because of the sound the CD-ROM drive makes due to
repeated read attempts). This is fatal because the directory tree is
written at the beginning of the CD, so it is usually complete. Thus,
you can correctly read the directory tree of the CD. However, reading the
actual contents of the missing parts is impossible (in other words,
accessing the contents fails). Some possible solutions can be found in the
section "What are MD5 files?" and "How can I get the CD?".
Q: What are these strange MD5 files that accompany the ISO CD images?
A: The files with the .md5 extension contain checksums for the actual CD
images. A checksum is a "matching number" for checking files. One can
verify that the file matches its original down to the smallest detail.
When you download both the ISO image for the CD and its corresponding .md5
file, you can verify that your download was complete and that the contents
are unchanged by typing "md5sum -c filename.md5" under Linux/Unix. Further
information about MD5 and programs for various OS's can be found at
http://www.fourmilab.ch/md5/. You can download a Windows(TM) version at
Q: How can I set up my printer?
A: Click on "printer configuration" in the "Knoppix" menu, and use the
Q: What is the root password?
A: There is none; all passwords are locked by default. There are several
sections you can read dealing with this subject in
Q: I see the partitions from my hard disk on the desktop and can access
their contents when I click on them, but if I try to write to them I
always get the error message "access denied". How can I write to my
A: The general philosophy of KNOPPIX is to allow as little write access
as possible. For this reason, existing partitions are either not mounted
or only mounted "read only". If you click with your right mouse button on
an icon, the "read-only" attribute under item "device" can be un-checked.
After this, the partition can be mounted "read-write" (for already
mounted partitions, first click on "unmount"!). CAUTION: writing to NTFS
partitions can lead to data loss, since Linux does not really support this
file system! However, DOS and FAT32 file systems are safe for write access.
In the shell the command "mount -o remount,rw /mnt/<partitionname>" can
allow already-mounted file systems to be "made writeable".
Q: After I've used KNOPPIX, my "other" OS suddenly shows a blue screen
with the message "File kernel.exe not found or defective" and
"reinstall..." shortly after boot.
A: Simply take the KNOPPIX CD out of the CD-Rom drive and restart the
Q: Auto configuration doesn't work on my computer, or the computer hangs
at boot. What should I do?
A: It might work if portions of the auto configuration are skipped. This
can be specified with "knoppix noscsi" or "knoppix nopcmcia". If the
problem can be identified -> please send the exact error message and when
possible a proposed solution using the web form at
http://www.knopper.net/kontakt/! Sometimes the output of
"lspci ; lspci -n" is very helpful, especially if the problem involves
incorrectly identified graphics cards.
Q: My graphics card doesn't work!
A: It may be that very new (or exotic) graphics cards are not in the
hardware database yet. These will still usually work under Linux! You can
at the first boot screen, and the initial un-accelerated XFree86 modes
will produce a usable screen. Version 31-01-2002 and later have a frame
buffer boot option (especially for older notebooks)
(instead of typing in knoppix), which uses a resolution of 800x600 pixels
in frame buffer mode. Regardless of whether these workarounds are
successful or not, support can be built into the next version of KNOPPIX
more quickly if (as in the previous question) the PCI numbers of the
graphics card along with a description can be sent to us via mail
("lspci ; lspci -n").
Q: My PS/2 mouse doesn't work!
A: If the mouse pointer in the graphical user window is erratically moving
around everywhere, the attached mouse is using an exotic protocol. Only
booting into "expert" mode and setting the correct protocol for the XFree
system will help in this case. However, if the pointer appears in the
middle of the screen and doesn't respond to mouse movements at all, you
probably have a board with a known BIOS bug (lately this problem has been
appearing frequently with notebooks). Try to type in
at the boot screen and see if this helps. Alternatively, you can find a
BIOS update for your computer (you may want to do this anyway?).
Q: How do I get support for my wheelmouse's mousewheel?
at the boot prompt. Unfortunately, wheelmice cannot be auto-detected, and
the wheelmouse protocol is incompatible with the standard ps/2 protocol.
Therefore, the "normal" ps/2 protocol (without mousewheel support) is the
Q: My system memory is not fully detected, or the computer hangs shortly
after starting with the message "Panic: cannot mount root file system"!
A: Some boards apparently report the usable memory size incorrectly to
the Linux kernel. Solution: specify the system memory size as an
additional "knoppix" boot option. For example, for 128 Megabytes use
(Note: make certain an upper-case M is typed after the memory size!)
Q: Can one also install the distribution from the CD onto a hard drive?
A: In principal, yes (after all, the "master" system also runs on a hard
drive before it is burned to CD). However there is currently no
installation GUI for this, so installation to a hard drive should probably
only be attempted by more knowledgeable Linux users. Assuming the KNOPPIX
system has already booted, installation approximately follows this
1.) initialize a free partition with the ext2 file system and mount it on
/mnt/knoppix, for example.
2.) cp -a /KNOPPIX/* /mnt/knoppix/
3.) set up /mnt/knoppix/etc/fstab and /mnt/knoppix/etc/lilo.conf for the
new system (Caution: symlinks in /boot initially point to the Ram
disk!), run lilo.
4.) mkdir /mnt/knoppix/home/knoppix && \
chown knoppix.knoppix /mnt/knoppix/home/knoppix
5.) Reboot, try the system out, fix any broken settings.