|OS family||Linux (Unix-like)|
|Source model||Open source|
|Initial release||September 30, 2000|
|Latest release||9.1 / January 25, 2021|
|Available in||German and English|
|Package manager||APT (frontend); dpkg (maintenance)|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|License||Free software licenses|
KNOPPIX (// KNOP-iks) is an operating system based on Debian designed to be run directly from a CD / DVD (Live CD) or a USB flash drive (Live USB), one of the first live operating system distributions (just after Yggdrasil Linux). Knoppix was developed by, and named after, Linux consultant Klaus Knopper. 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 like a typical operating system. Computers that support booting from USB devices can load KNOPPIX from a live USB flash drive or memory card.
There are two main editions: the traditional compact-disc (700 megabytes) edition and the DVD (4.7 gigabytes) "Maxi" edition. The CD edition had not been updated since June 2013 until recently. As of version 9.1, CD images are being released once again. Each main edition has two language-specific editions: English and German.
KNOPPIX mostly consists of free and open source software, but also includes some proprietary software, as long as it fulfills certain conditions.
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 packages are included on the DVD edition. Up to nine gigabytes can be stored on the DVD in compressed form. These packages include:
Minimum hardware requirements for Knoppix:
Prior to Knoppix 3.8.2, any documents or settings a user created would disappear upon reboot. This lack of persistence then made it necessary to save documents directly to a hard drive partition, over the network, or to some removable media, 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 media, which could be automatically mounted on bootup. A single file, knoppix.img, was cached on the rewritable media and used to simulate a file system into which files were written for later use. This allowed the user to transparently write to their home directory.
Union mount support was added in version 3.8.1 through UnionFS. This was later replaced by Aufs in 5.1.0 to improve stability. The union mount allowed virtual updates to the data on the read-only CD/DVD media by storing changes on separate writable media and then representing the combination of the two as single storage device. The writable media could be memory (ramdisk), a hard disk, USB flash drive, etc. This means that the user could modify the software installed on the Knoppix system, such as by using APT to install or update software. The storage device containing the changes needed to be present whenever Knoppix is started, else only the original data from the disc would be used. While Knoppix would scan available storage devices for a persistent home directory by default, a user could dictate a specific location with a boot option (see below) such as:
By carrying a Knoppix CD and a USB flash drive, a user could have the same environment, programs, settings, and data available on any computer that could run Knoppix.
This functionality was only available through Knoppix 5.1.1 (CD release) or 5.3.1 (DVD release). Subsequently, the Live CD paradigm has transformed into portable operating systems that run on external storage.
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 is a 32-bit Debian Linux based distro, but recent releases (including the latest version 7.6) have also been equipped with a 64-bit kernel on the DVD edition, where it will automatically boot up for 64-bit computers, or by using the boot option
knoppix64 manually in the command-line prompt, while
knoppix will boot up the 32-bit kernel. Neither PAE nor 64-bit applications are supported by Knoppix, and more than 4GB of system memory can only be used with a 64-bit kernel.
The DVD edition of Knoppix can also be loaded onto a USB flash drive, with flash-knoppix under the Knoppix system, such that "the KNOPPIX Live System starts and runs about factor 5 faster from USB flash disk than from CD or DVD!". Besides that, the experimental UEFI support is provided for USB flash drive rather than DVD media. 32-bit UEFI firmware can only boot up the 32-bit kernel, while 64-bit UEFI firmware can only boot up the 64-bit kernel. The text interface for UEFI is similar with it for BIOS, one can also press key F2 and F3 to access information on boot options.
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 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, the legacy Knoppix (earlier than 6.0) boots up a very limited twm session instead. The only window running in the twm session by default is xterm.
|3.5 LinuxTag version||2004-06||No||Yes|
|3.8 CeBIT version||2005-02-28||Yes||No|
|4.0 LinuxTag version||2005-06-22||No||Yes|
|5.0 CeBIT version||2006-02-25||No||Yes|
|5.2 CeBIT version||2007-03||No||Yes|
|5.3 CeBIT version||2008-02-12||No||Yes|
|6.1 CeBIT version||2009-02-25||Yes||Yes|
|6.2 / ADRIANE 1.2||2009-11-18||Yes||Yes|
|6.3 CeBIT version||2010-03-02||No||Yes|
|6.5 CeBIT version||2011-03||No||Yes|
|7.5 CeBIT version||2015-03-16||No||Yes|
|7.7.0 CeBIT version||2016-03-14||No||Yes|
|8.0.0 CeBIT version||2017-03-24||No||Yes|
|8.5.0 Linux-Magazin / Linux-User edition||2019-03-14||No||Yes|
The table (to the right) shows the version history of major releases.
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 were developed in parallel.
Up until Knoppix 5.1.1, the CD editions contained a selection of graphical environments, including the TWM window manager, and KDE 3 — a feature-complete desktop environment default in Knoppix 5.3.1 and earlier.
No further development is being done on the traditional 5.x versions.
KNOPPIX 6.0.1 / ADRIANE 1.1 is a CD-edition again, and a complete rebuild from scratch. LXDE was made the default desktop environment, and the edition contains a substantially reduced software collection in order to easily fit on a CD.
The KNOPPIX 6.2.1 release has both CD and DVD editions, and ADRIANE 1.2 only has a CD-edition.
Knoppix 6.7.1 has the last CD version with stable touchpad drivers.
From June 2013 on until March 2019, Knoppix 7.2 was the most recent release with a CD edition. By 2018, its software had become very outdated, as the libc6 2.17 library no longer suffices for installation of several modern packages. The 7.x version range is known for instabilities with touchpads.
Version 7.2 still remains the most recent CD version of Knoppix in wide distribution.
The KNOPPIX 8.0.0 edition was released at CeBIT 2017.
KNOPPIX 8.1.0 was released in September 2017 as the first public release in the 8.x series. The version 8.0.0 has the dual boot, and a choice between three different desktops:LXDE as default option, KDE or GNOME.
Versions 8.2.0 and newer (8.2.x, not 8.5.x) are available on Knoppix mirrors.
Knoppix 8.5 was a DVD version that was not available for download, but was published as an exclusive version only bundled with a physical edition of Linux-Magazin or LinuxUser. Version 8.5 no longer includes Systemd, which was replaced by elogind. Spectre and Meltdown kernel vulnerabilities have been mitigated.
Knoppix 8.6 (and newer) is a DVD version available for download on Knoppix mirrors.
Adriane Knoppix is a variation that is intended for blind and visually impaired 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 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 Blinux screen reader with a phoneme generator and speech engine for normal output.
|Name||Goal and notes||Last version||— dates back to|
|ClusterKnoppix||Uses openMosix.||3.6||1 September 2004|
|Feather Linux||128MB image with Linux 2.4, works as a Live CD and Live USB.||0.7.5||4 July 2005|
|Auditor Security Collection||Intended to test the security of networks. Merged into BackTrack by early 2007.||200605-02||20 June 2005|
|Quantian||Numerical and quantitative analysis. The most recent release is based on Knoppix 4.0.2.||7.9.2||1 March 2006|
|Kaella||The French translation of Knoppix||3.2||19 September 2007|
|Kurumin||In Brazilian Portuguese. Poseidon Linux is a later distribution that was based on Kurumin.||8.6||18 June 2008|
|VMKnoppix||VM tools||5.3.1 Xen3.2.1||27 August 2008|
|Dreamlinux||A Brazilian distribution branched off from Morphix, centers on ease of use and graphics performance.||5.0||1 January 2012|
|BackTrack||Parts based on a merge from Auditor Security Collection.||5 R3||
15 August 2012
|Damn Small Linux (DSL)||Live CD, just over 50MB. Designed to run graphical apps on older PCs, such as on machines with 486/early Pentium CPUs and very little RAM memory.||4.11 RC2||26 September 2012|
The most recent version is 0.7.9.2 dated 26 February 2006 and released March 1, 2006 --- the second Quantian version based on the new Knoppix 4.0.2 release.