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I have read only good things about KNOPPIX.
Then my coworker suggested I try Mandrake. Which I did try and found to be more stable on my machine.
The bottom line is that the difference between Mandrake, RedHat, and Knoppix will be in what they chose as the default versus what you need/expect. One install pkg could influence your opinion of the OS when it shouldn't - at least not without trying a couple more. Linux is a fantastic OS albeit more than I have time to learn. I prefer to leave it to my network friends. :)
It did a great job at recognizing my hardware, and did it really fast including my NIC and DHCP account, and my sound card. That really impressed me.
Of coerce it runs slower than Linux would from the harddrive, though I guess it would be less noticeable if you had a really fast CD ROM.
One thing I wish is that there was a thinner window manager option, KDE is beautiful and it will be the desktop MS users will be most comfortable with, but with it all running off of the CD it would be nice to have the option of a light weight window manager like Fluxbox.
If I were on the road I'd have to take one of these CDs with me.
For the sake of it I tried the CD on an old slow Compact Prisario 1245 with 32 MB of ram. Knoppix built a pseudo 'swap partition' to handle the lack of ram. As expected, it was really slow, but *everything* worked including USB internet adapter, and touchpad.
That install script is really tucked away (/usr/local/bin/knx-hdinstall).
The author of the article had a language problem, which I avoided by adding Lang=us at the initial booting off of the CD. That is one thing that wasn't clear from the article, it looks like the installer will carry over the settings you feed the CD boot. I also got mousewheel support which isn't usually auto detectable by adding it to the initial boot.
It looked something like this:
BOOT: knoppix wheelmouse Lang=us
The only other thing I did differently is that I allowed the installer to install KDM (I'll probably replace it with wdm later). The process was actually faster than installing Mandrake.
I wanted to learn how bootable CDs work and once a base system was running, I added stuff that I needed for my personal use, like hardware auto-detection and automatic start-up of a pre-configured desktop. When you are teaching computer classes, the PCs for students are not always installed in the way you need it. So, having a bootable CD with me with a complete installation, made a lot of things easier. Also, considering the fact that notebooks can get stolen or broken easily, carrying a bootable CD around is way less of an effort.