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Knoppix, or KNOPPIX is an operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

 based on Debian
Debian is a computer operating system composed of software packages released as free and open source software primarily under the GNU General Public License along with other free software licenses. Debian GNU/Linux, which includes the GNU OS tools and Linux kernel, is a popular and influential...

 designed to be run directly from a CD
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

 / DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

 (Live CD
Live CD
A live CD, live DVD, or live disc is a CD or DVD containing a bootable computer operating system. Live CDs are unique in that they have the ability to run a complete, modern operating system on a computer lacking mutable secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive...

) or a USB key (Live USB
Live USB
A live USB is a USB flash drive or a USB external hard disk drive containing a full operating system that can be booted. Live USBs are closely related to live CDs, but sometimes have the ability to persistently save settings and permanently install software packages back onto the USB device...

), one of the first of its kind for any operating system. Knoppix was developed by Linux consultant Klaus Knopper
Klaus Knopper
Klaus Knopper is a German electrical engineer and free software developer. "My nationality from my passport is austrian, not german, though I will absolutely not complain about being listed as "german engineer", because I was born and have lived in Germany all of my life", - says Klaus...

. When starting a program, it is loaded from the removable medium and decompressed into a RAM drive. The decompression is transparent and on-the-fly.

Although Knoppix is primarily designed to be used as a Live CD, it can also be installed on a hard disk
Hard disk
A hard disk drive is a non-volatile, random access digital magnetic data storage device. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the...

 like a typical operating system. Computers that support booting from USB devices can load Knoppix from a live USB flash drive
USB flash drive
A flash drive is a data storage device that consists of flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus interface. flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, and physically much smaller than a floppy disk. Most weigh less than 30 g...

 or memory card
Memory card
A memory card or flash card is an electronic flash memory data storage device used for storing digital information. They are commonly used in many electronic devices, including digital cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, MP3 players, and video game consoles...


There are two main editions of Knoppix: the traditional Compact Disc (700 megabyte
The megabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information storage or transmission with two different values depending on context: bytes generally for computer memory; and one million bytes generally for computer storage. The IEEE Standards Board has decided that "Mega will mean 1 000...

s) edition and the DVD (4.7 gigabyte
The gigabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information storage. The prefix giga means 109 in the International System of Units , therefore 1 gigabyte is...

s) "Maxi" edition. Each of these main editions have two language-specific editions: English and German.

Knoppix mostly consists of free and open source software
Free and open source software
Free and open-source software or free/libre/open-source software is software that is liberally licensed to grant users the right to use, study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code...

, but also includes proprietary software
Proprietary software
Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.Complementary...



Knoppix can be used to copy files easily from hard drives with inaccessible operating systems. To quickly and more safely use Linux software, the Live CD can be used instead of installing another OS.


More than 1000 software packages are included on the CD edition and more than 2600 are included on the DVD edition. Up to 9 gigabytes can be stored on the DVD in compressed
Data compression
In computer science and information theory, data compression, source coding or bit-rate reduction is the process of encoding information using fewer bits than the original representation would use....

These packages include:
  • LXDE
    LXDE is a free and open source desktop environment for Unix and other POSIX compliant platforms, such as Linux or BSD. The goal of the project is to provide a desktop environment that is fast and energy efficient...

     (lightweight X11 desktop environment
    Desktop environment
    In graphical computing, a desktop environment commonly refers to a style of graphical user interface derived from the desktop metaphor that is seen on most modern personal computers. These GUIs help the user in easily accessing, configuring, and modifying many important and frequently accessed...

     [default for 6.0.1]) or KDE 3
    KDE 3
    K Desktop Environment 3 was the third series of releases of the K Desktop Environment . There were six major releases in this series.-K Desktop Environment 3.0:...

    , a more feature-complete desktop (default for 5.3.1).
  • MPlayer
    MPlayer is a free and open source media player. The program is available for all major operating systems, including Linux and other Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Versions for OS/2, Syllable, AmigaOS and MorphOS are also available. The Windows version works, with some minor...

    , with MP3
    MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

     audio, and Ogg Vorbis audio playback support
  • Internet access
    Internet access
    Many technologies and service plans for Internet access allow customers to connect to the Internet.Consumer use first became popular through dial-up connections in the 20th century....

     software, including the KPPP
    kppp is a modem and internet dialer for the KDE system, whose name is an abbreviation for "KDE Point-to-Point Protocol".kppp is generally used to connect to an internet service provider via a modem and phone line, although it can be used in other situations where the PPP protocol is needed...

     dialer and ISDN
    Integrated Services Digital Network
    Integrated Services Digital Network is a set of communications standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network...

  • The Iceweasel
    In 2006, a branding issue developed when Mike Connor, representing the Mozilla Corporation, requested that the Debian Project comply with Mozilla standards for use of the Thunderbird trademark when redistributing the Thunderbird software...

     web browser (based on Mozilla Firefox
    Mozilla Firefox
    Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser descended from the Mozilla Application Suite and managed by Mozilla Corporation. , Firefox is the second most widely used browser, with approximately 25% of worldwide usage share of web browsers...

  • The Icedove e-mail client (based on Mozilla Thunderbird
    Mozilla Thunderbird
    Mozilla Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The project strategy is modeled after Mozilla Firefox, a project aimed at creating a web browser...

  • GIMP
    GIMP is a free software raster graphics editor. It is primarily employed as an image retouching and editing tool and is freely available in versions tailored for most popular operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux.In addition to detailed image retouching and...

    , an image manipulation program
  • Tools for data rescue and system repair
  • Network analysis and administration tools
  • LibreOffice
    LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite developed by The Document Foundation as a fork of It is largely compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, and available on a variety of platforms...

    , a comprehensive office suite
    Office suite
    In computing, an office suite, sometimes called an office software suite or productivity suite is a collection of programs intended to be used by knowledge workers...

  • Terminal server
    Terminal server
    A terminal server enables organizations to connect devices with an RS-232, RS-422 or RS-485 serial interface to a local area network . Products marketed as terminal servers can be very simple devices that do not offer any security functionality, such as data encryption and user authentication...

Hardware requirements

  • Intel-compatible processor (i486 or later)
  • 32 MB of RAM for text mode, at least 64 MB for graphics mode with LXDE (at least 128 MB of RAM is recommended to use the various office products)
  • Bootable CD-ROM drive, or a boot floppy and standard CD-ROM (IDE/ATAPI or SCSI)
  • Standard SVGA-compatible graphics card
  • Serial or PS/2 standard mouse or IMPS/2-compatible USB-mouse

Saving changes in the environment

Prior to Knoppix 3.8.2, any documents or settings a user created would disappear upon reboot. This lack of permanence made it necessary to save documents explicitly to a hard drive partition, over the network, or to some removable medium, such as a USB flash drive.

It was also possible to set up a "persistent home directory", where any documents or settings written to the user's home directory would automatically be redirected to a hard drive or removable medium, which could be automatically mounted on bootup. What is stored there physically is a file called knoppix.img. The file is used to simulate a file system into which files are written for later use. This is transparent for the user. What the user perceives is that it is possible to write files to the home directory.

Union mount
Union mount
A union mount is a mount that allows several filesystems to be mounted at one time, appearing to be one filesystem.Rather than mounting each filesystem at a different place in the directory hierarchy, a union mount overlays the filesystems, creating a unified hierarchy...

 support was added in version 3.8.1 through UnionFS
UnionFS is a filesystem service for Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD which implements a union mount for other file systems. It allows files and directories of separate file systems, known as branches, to be transparently overlaid, forming a single coherent file system...

. This was later replaced in 5.1.0 by Aufs
aufs implements a union mount for Linux file systems.Developed by Junjiro Okajima in 2006 aufs is a complete rewriting of the earlier UnionFS...

 to improve stability. The union mount allows virtual updates to the data on the read-only CD/DVD medium by storing changes on a separate writable medium and then representing the combination of the two as single storage device. The writable medium can be memory (ramdisk), a hard disk, USB flash drive, etc. This means that the user can modify the software installed on the Knoppix system, such as by using APT
Advanced Packaging Tool
The Advanced Packaging Tool, or APT, is a free user interface that works with core libraries to handle the installation and removal of software on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and its variants...

 to install or update software. The storage device containing the changes needs to be present whenever Knoppix is started else only the original data from the disc will be used.

By default Knoppix will scan available storage devices for a persistent home directory, but you can override this scan and provide a specific location with a boot option (see below) such as:

By carrying a Knoppix CD and a USB flash drive, a user can have the same environment, programs, settings, and data available on any computer that is Knoppix-compatible.

Boot options

When using Knoppix as a Live CD, one can use boot options, also known as 'cheatcodes', to override a default setting or automatic hardware detection when it fails. For example, the user may wish to boot into a plain console, or proceed without SCSI support. For this, Knoppix allows the user to enter one or more cheat codes at the prompt before booting. If the user does not enter a cheat code, or does not press any key before the timeout, Knoppix will boot with its default options. For example, to set the language to French rather than the default, one would type:

knoppix lang=fr


Knoppix was one of the first Live CD Linux distributions to gain popularity. There are several factors that contribute to the popularity of Knoppix:
  • Knoppix was one of the first Live CDs available, and is known as the "original" Debian-based Live CD
  • Its extensive hardware detection allows most systems to start Knoppix without any configuration
  • Its ability to automatically connect to most kinds of networks
    Computer network
    A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information....

  • Its utilities for system repair and troubleshooting

Knoppix works on a fairly large number of PCs or laptops, but not all. The automatic hardware detection cannot cope with all hardware, and sometimes the drivers used will not be optimal. Knoppix has difficulty recognizing some cards made before 1998, or motherboards with a BIOS made before 2002. (In some cases, manual configuration with codes entered at boot time can overcome problems with automatic detection.)

If a PC does not have enough RAM to run KDE and other included programs, Knoppix boots up a very limited twm
In computing, twm is the standard window manager for the X Window System, version X11R4 onwards...

 session instead. The only window running in the twm session by default is xterm.


As of April 2008, from version 4 up until 5.1.1, Knoppix has been split into a DVD "maxi" edition (with over 9 GB of software), and a CD "light" edition, both developed in parallel.

The following is the version history of major releases.

{| class=toccolours
| Knoppix version
| Release date
| CD
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 1.4
| 30 September 2000
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 1.6
| 26 April 2001
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 2.1
| 14 March 2002
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 2.2
| 14 May 2002
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.1
| 19 January 2003
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 3.2
| 26 July 2003
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.3
| 22 September 2003
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 3.4
| 17 May 2004
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.5 LinuxTag
LinuxTag is a Free Software expo with an emphasis on Linux , held every summer in Germany. It is relatively large, claiming that it is the largest expo of this kind in Europe, drawing visitors from many countries....

| June 2004
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 3.6
| 16 August 2004
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.7
| 9 December 2004
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 3.8 CeBIT
CeBIT is the world's largest and most international computer expo. CeBIT is held each year on the world's largest fairground in Hanover, Germany, and is a barometer of the state of the art in information technology...

| 28 February 2005
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.8.1
| 8 April 2005
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 3.8.2
| 12 May 2005
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 3.9
| 1 June 2005
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 4.0 LinuxTag-Version
| 22 June 2005
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 4.0 updated
| 16 August 2005
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 4.0.2
| 23 September 2005
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 5.0 CeBIT-Version
| 25 February 2006
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 5.0.1
| 2 June 2006
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 5.1.0
| 30 December 2006
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 5.1.1
| 4 January 2007
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 5.2 CeBIT-Version
| March 2007
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 5.3 CeBIT-Version
| 12 February 2008
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 5.3.1
| 26 March 2008
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.0.0
| 28 January 2009
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 6.0.1
| 8 February 2009
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.1 CeBIT-Version
| 25 February 2009
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 6.2 / ADRIANE 1.2
| 18 November 2009
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.2.1
| 31 January 2010
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 6.3 CeBIT-Version
| 2 March 2010
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.4.3
| 20 December 2010
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 6.4.4
| 1 February 2011
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.5 CeBIT-Version
| March 2011
|- style="background:#ccccff;"
| 6.7.0
| 3 August 2011
|- style="background:#dddddd;"
| 6.7.1
| 16 September 2011
|- style="background:#ccccff;"

The KNOPPIX 6.0.1 / ADRIANE 1.1 is a CD-edition again, and a complete rebuild from scratch. LXDE as default desktop and a very reduced software collection in order to easily fit on CD.
No further development is being done of the traditional 5.x versions.

The KNOPPIX 6.2.1 release, both CD and DVD, and the ADRIANE 1.2 has just CD-edition.

Adriane Knoppix

Adriane Knoppix is a variation that is intended for blind
Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define blindness...

 and visually impaired
Visual impairment
Visual impairment is vision loss to such a degree as to qualify as an additional support need through a significant limitation of visual capability resulting from either disease, trauma, or congenital or degenerative conditions that cannot be corrected by conventional means, such as refractive...

 people, which can be used entirely without vision oriented output devices. It was released in the third quarter of 2007 as a Live CD. Adriane Knoppix is named after Adriane Knopper, the wife of Klaus Knopper, the developer of Knoppix. Adriane has a visual impairment, and has been assisting Klaus with the development of the software. The name Adriane is also a backronym
A backronym or bacronym is a phrase constructed purposely, such that an acronym can be formed to a specific desired word. Backronyms may be invented with serious or humorous intent, or may be a type of false or folk etymology....

 for "Audio Desktop Reference Implementation And Networking Environment".

Adriane Knoppix is intended not only for the blind but also for beginners who don’t know much about computers. It uses the SUSE
SUSE Linux distributions
SUSE Linux is a computer operating system. It is built on top of the open source Linux kernel and is distributed with system and application software from other open source projects. SUSE Linux is of German origin and mainly developed in Europe. The first version appeared in early 1994, making...

 Blinux screen reader
Screen reader
A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen . This interpretation is then re-presented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device...

 with a phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 generator and speech engine for normal output.

Other variations

  • Kaella
    Kaella is a Live CD adapted from Knoppix and modified to work with the French language. It is not a fork because it is rebuilt with each new version of Knoppix. Like Knoppix, Kaella can be installed to the hard drive by running knoppix-installer as root...

    , The French translation of Knoppix.
  • KnoppMyth
    KnoppMyth is a Linux distribution designed for use on Home Theater PCs . As of version R6, it is now called LinHES . The most recent release is based on Arch Linux, though previous versions were based on Debian Linux with configuration scripts from the Knoppix Linux distribution...

    , a distro that attempts to make the Linux and MythTV
    MythTV is a free and open source home entertainment application with a simplified "10-foot user interface" design for the living-room TV, and turns a computer with the necessary hardware into a network streaming digital video recorder, a digital multimedia home entertainment system, or home theater...

     installation as trivial as possible
  • Musix GNU+Linux, specifically for musicians
  • PHLAK, a Live security distribution based on Morphix.
  • Quantian
    Quantian OS is a remastering of Knoppix/Debian for computational sciences. The environment is self-configuring and directly bootable CD/DVD that turns any PC or laptop into a Linux workstation...

    , for statisticians

Unmaintained projects

  • Auditor Security Collection, intended to test the security of networks (merged into BackTrack
    BackTrack is an operating system based on the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution aimed at digital forensics and penetration testing use. It is named after backtracking, a search algorithm...

  • ClusterKnoppix
    ClusterKnoppix is a specialized Linux distribution based on the Knoppix distribution, but which uses the openMosix kernel.Traditionally, clustered computing could only be achieved by setting up individual RSH keys, creating NFS shares, editing host files, setting static IPs, and applying kernel...

    , which uses openMosix
    openMosix was a free cluster management system that provided single-system image capabilities, e.g. automatic work distribution among nodes. It allowed program processes to migrate to machines in the node's network that would be able to run that process faster...

  • Feather Linux
    Feather Linux
    Feather Linux, created by Robert Sullivan, is a Knoppix-based operating system which fits in under 128 MB . It boots from either a CD or a USB flash drive, into a Fluxbox desktop environment. It has a wide range of desktop and rescue software, and can load entirely into RAM or be installed to a...

    , 128 MB image with Linux 2.4, works as a Live CD and Live USB
  • Knoppix STD
    Knoppix STD
    Knoppix STD is a Live CD Linux distribution based on Knoppix that focused on computer security tools. It included GPL licensed tools in the following categories: authentication, password cracking, encryption, forensics, firewalls, honeypots, intrusion detection system, network utilities,...

     (Security Tools Distribution), which focuses on computer security
    Computer security
    Computer security is a branch of computer technology known as information security as applied to computers and networks. The objective of computer security includes protection of information and property from theft, corruption, or natural disaster, while allowing the information and property to...

  • Kurumin, in Brazilian Portuguese
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Brazilian Portuguese is a group of Portuguese dialects written and spoken by most of the 190 million inhabitants of Brazil and by a few million Brazilian emigrants, mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, Japan and Paraguay....

See also

  • Comparison of Linux distributions
    Comparison of Linux distributions
    Technical variations of Linux distributions include support for different hardware devices and systems or software package configurations. Organizational differences may be motivated by historical reasons...

  • Damn Small Linux
    Damn Small Linux
    Damn Small Linux or DSL is a computer operating system for the x86 family of personal computers. It is free and open source software under the terms of GNU GPL and other free and open source licenses. It was designed to run graphical applications on older PC hardware—for example, machines with...

  • Debian Live
    Debian Live
    A Debian Live system is an instance of the Debian operating system which boots from removable media, without requiring installation or previous configuration. Supported removable media include CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives ....

  • Iskolinux
    IskoLinux is a GNU/Linux distribution packaged and maintained by UP Manila's Information Management System as part of University of the Philippines' thrust to migrate to Linux...

News articles

External links