Debian based CD based distros
It appears that Debian is finally being used in the ways that we have been
wishing for since before Bruce was DPL. YES, there are now some very
impressive Debian-based distributions available from several sources.
The first one I was shown by my neighbor is called Knoppix 3.1 and is
produced by a German group. As a result it comes up in German, but there
is a simple fix that will boot it in English (boot: knoppix lang=us) that
only requires you to know that the equal sign is a <shift 0>.
This CD boot up on any Intel machine, recongizes the hardware, negotiates
an IP address, and provides a very well crafted KDE desktop.
Also included are three pieces of FREE music. The software recognizes the
sound card in most hardware, and only a few clicks of the mouse are
required to play some cool sounds that are distributed under what looks
like a DFSG compliant license (modification a distribution are both
permitted} if you consider a wave file adequate source for music.
While that was pretty impressive, my neighbor showed me "bb" which is an
ascii art demo program with full sound and impressive "ascii" artistic
Open Office is also provided, which allows you to boot this CD up on an M$
machine without any impact on the file system, and edit Word and Excell
documents on that machine without having to suffer the hangs and other
failures I see every day at work.
More than that, I will be using this CD when I need to work at the local
library, and don't wish to leave any "tracks" on their machine. (Several
libraries are worried in this day of terrorism driven government that
their hardware might be confiscated to "preserve" evidence of terrorist
activities [more likely to provide free hardware for the local
constabulary], and this CD could allow them to run esentially diskless
systems. Either a floppy or a zip drive could be provided by the user to
carry away desired information, leaving the libraries hardware void of any
interesting information, with no more reason for its confiscation...)
The other CD I have seen is provided by CheapBytes, and is simply called
DemoLinux 3.01. I haven't figured out who produces it, but it is very
similar to the Knoppix CD except that it does not include the "free" music
that Knoppix does.
The main reason I mention these two excellent Debian "spin-offs" is that
they both do a remoarkable "on-the-fly" hardware configuration for X and
everything is wonderfully integrated and "ready-to-use" to a much greater
extent that Debian is by itself. Those folks working on installation and
configuration of the system could learn a lot from studying these CDs, not
that we need to deliver a CD based release, but that we need a much
quieter and more user friendly installation.
While SUSE uses proprietary code to provide a very "hands-off"
installation, with great hardware detection and no-info X configuration,
there are things that can be learned from this product as well. SUSE is
soo nicely integrated that I have begun recommending it for installation
as Work Station replacements for perviously Windows based shops. The
learnign curve for the user is miniscule, as everything is layed out in a
familiar fashion and Open Office (also provided) provides the look and
feel of the older office suite from M$ which they are already familiar
with. (and the $49 one time purchase price beates the $200 per seat that
my office pays for the priviledge of using Windblows)
I still recommend Debian for server applications. It is still more
powerful and complete that the "professional" package that SUSE provides,
but maybe that is only because I understand Debian configuration better
than I do SUSE ;-)
For those of you who have not seen Knoppix or DemoLinux, I highly
recommend you take a look at them, you will be very proud of the use
Debian has been put to by these distros. (Give me a ping if you need a
Knoppix CD. I'll be glad to toast one for you...)
_-_-_-_-_- Author of "Dwarf's Guide to Debian GNU/Linux" _-_-_-_-_-_-
_- aka Dale Scheetz Phone: 1 (850) 656-9769 _-
_- Flexible Software 11000 McCrackin Road _-
_- e-mail: email@example.com Tallahassee, FL 32308 _-
_-_-_-_-_- Released under the GNU Free Documentation License _-_-_-_-
available at: http://www.polaris.net/~dwarf/