Knowing Knoppix/Other applications

Knoppix includes many other useful and fun applications. There isn't space to describe them all fully here. In this section are some of the highlights to look out for.

GraphicsEdit

The GimpEdit

Gimp 2.2.8 in twm (Knoppix 4.0.2)

The GNU Image Manipulation ProgramWikipedia article (The Gimp) is a wonderful graphics editor. It is for painting, image editing and photo retouching. Many people think The Gimp is the greatest thing after Linux itself.

  • To start using it in KDE, click K menu -> Multimedia -> Graphics -> The Gimp.
  • In twm, click on the desktop, hold down the mouse button for the Main Menu and follow through Debian > Apps > Graphics > The GIMP.

The screenshot thumbnail shows Wilber, the Gimp's mascot. Wilber was created by Tuomas Kuosmanen, also known as “Tiger T”. Underneath is the Gimp Toolbox, and a Brushes dialog.

ImageMagickEdit

ImageMagick 6.0.6 in twm (Knoppix 4.0.2)

ImageMagick is the mainstay of classic Knoppix versions (those older than 6.0) and typically takes less resources than The GIMP, so resource usage depends on actual image size.

ImageMagick contains many image editing features, which for an advanced user manifest in the number of command-line utilities; For common users, it uses an X GUI for showing and changing images called IMDisplay.

InvokingEdit

  • KDE: K menu > Multimedia > Viewers > ImageMagick
  • twm: Main Menu > Debian > Apps > Viewers > ImageMagick
  • From the console ImageMagick is invoked with the display command.

CharacteristicsEdit

In Knoppix, ImageMagick typically starts up with a default image and a file open dialog. To access functions outside opening a file right away, the user must close the filepicker and click once on the default image, which will open the Commands window.

Thus clicking on an image (not just the default image) opens or closes the Commands window.

ImageMagick uses a very basic graphical user interface (GUI), much of which consists of the Commands window, function menus and manipulation dialogs, all of which must be operated with a mouse.

Clicking a function button opens a command menu, but moving the mouse cursor away or clicking on other windows does not close menus (at least in twm). A user can have one menu be closed by clicking on another menu button to access functions there; to close a menu until further use, the user must click on the "Image Magick" logo in the Commands window.

Closing an image window from a window manager also closes ImageMagick.

CaveatsEdit

In Knoppix 4.0.2 it is impossible to make screenshots with ImageMagick (or through a command line with display) because of a bug.

Typically, screenshots can be made through File > Open > Grab, but that won't work; editing the File Open textarea's content from /ramdisk/knoppix/x: to something else won't help and the program will yield this error text:

unable to open image `/ramdisk/knoppix/x:': No such file or directory :
[empty space for text]

The solution is to use either of the following alternatives in order of resource usage (the list is slightly subjective):

  • KSnapshot, which uses underlying libraries of KDE and its framework. Invoked through
  • KDE: K Menu > Graphics > Screen Capture Program
  • twm: Main Menu > Debian > Apps > Graphics > KSnapshot
  • Command line: ksnapshot
  • The GIMP;
  • and —

X Window DumpEdit

X Window Dump, or xwd for short, is a command-line app for making screenshots. Being the least resource-intensive of all, it dumps an image of either a targetted window or the whole screen. The simplest way to invoke the program:

xwd -out imagename.xwd

This changes the mouse cursor to a crosshair pixmap for targetting a window or a free area (the desktop) for the whole screen. The dumped screenshot can then be converted to PNG with ImageMagick. For more on xwd and making PNG screendumps from the outset, see Starting Sessions#Making screenshots from the Guide to X11 wikibook or the xwd man page.

In twm, one can write the command in the rxvt console whilst not yet executing it, then iconify the rxvt window and move its icon to an accessible area. The user can then bring up a desired visual setup for the screenshot, move the mouse over the rxvt icon (and not de-iconify it) and then press enter.

This works by way of an rxvt window being able to receive input even when iconified, with the mouse cursor hovering above the icon either on the desktop or in the TWM Icon Manager. — Such behaviour in Knoppix has been observed to be specific to rxvt only.

Caveat

In Knoppix 4.0.2, xwd is unable to capture the main OpenOffice.org window or the root window showing the main OO.o window, if screen color depth for Knoppix has been set to 16 bits (65,536 colours) with the depth=16 startup parameter. Attempting to make a screenshot at that color depth will yield an error. This may be because of OO.o's use of gradients in its user interface.

The solution is to try to make a screenshot with GIMP or to run Knoppix with color depth of at least 24 bits; monitor and video adapter combinations not supporting such a set-up are few and far between.

Office applicationsEdit

OpenOffice.org office suiteEdit

OpenOffice.org 1.1.3 in a setup similar to Knoppix 3.7 (Mandriva Linux 10.1Mandrakelinux at the time)

OpenOffice.org is the slowest but most powerful office application in Knoppix. OpenOffice.org combines word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, and databases in one huge package.

On older computers, OpenOffice.org versions 2.x and earlier may take several minutes to start, because the application takes its time loading language aids (dictionaries and thesauri). Every successive version of the package has more language aids with it.

For instructions on how to disable writing aids and other optimization tips, see the Performance Tips chapter from the OpenOffice.org book.

As part of framework changes, language aids are integrated in the form of separate extension modules with OO.o 3.0 and later and language modules' default amount reduced as a result (as usual, every language-specific installation of OO.o still includes the modules specific to its respective package).

Starting with Knoppix 6.4.3, the distribution has switched to LibreOffice, a functionally equivalent fork of OpenOffice.org.[1]

InvokingEdit

To begin using OpenOffice.org:

In KDE

Click K menu -> Office -> OpenOffice.org -> OpenOffice.

In twm

In Knoppix 4.0.2, OpenOffice.org is absent from the default menu; This means that other window managers in Knoppix lack the relevant menu hooks, too. A user can start OO.o from the command line, or rectify this situation by adding the following preformatted text to the local .twmrc file:

• Add text (boldfaced here for emphasis) into the section (within curly brackets) of the Debian submenu:

menu "/Debian"
{
  "Apps" f.menu "/Debian/Apps"
  "OpenOffice.org" f.menu "/Debian/OOo"
  "Games" f.menu "/Debian/Games"
  "Help" f.menu "/Debian/Help"
  "Screen" f.menu "/Debian/Screen"
  "System" f.menu "/Debian/System"
  "XShells" f.menu "/Debian/XShells"
}

• Then add the following (avoid pasting inside other menu sections):

menu "/Debian/OOo" {
"Writer" f.exec "soffice -writer -nocrashreport &"
"Web" f.exec "soffice -web -nocrashreport &"
"Calc" f.exec "soffice -calc -nocrashreport &"
"Impress" f.exec "soffice -impress -nocrashreport &"
"Math" f.exec "soffice -math -nocrashreport &"
"Global" f.exec "soffice &"
}
^ Using the -nocrashreport flag for soffice alone causes OO.o to launch with Writer; -global or -nodefault command-line flags are thus not necessary.
In a computer environment with a limited amount of useful (RAM) memory, using the -nocrashreport command-line option disables invoking the crash reporter, if it happens that OO.o crashes and OO.o's document recovery mechanism and crash reporter are invoked at next program start.
The crash reporter would ask for confirmation to send crash data to Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle in 2010). If the crash reporter does appear, then it's best not to send crash data, because Knoppix has moved away from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice and it's pointless to send crash data about earlier OO.o versions.

• Save .twmrc and restart twm.

Command line
soffice [-writer|-web|-calc|-impress|-math] [-nocrashreport]

^ Flags in square brackets to start different OO.o apps are optional.

KOfficeEdit

KOffice is a simple office suite, for word-processing, spreadsheet, drawing, presentations and other tasks. Unlike OpenOffice, KOffice is quick to start. To begin, click K menu -> Office -> KOffice, then click the program you would like to use.

KOffice is present in Knoppix versions of up to 3.1–3.3 and 4.0.2–5.3.1. CD variants of these versions of the distribution might not contain it.

GnumericEdit

Gnumeric 1.6.3

Gnumeric is a powerful standalone spreadsheet application. Like KOffice, Gnumeric is quick to start. To begin, click K menu -> Office -> Gnumeric.

Gnumeric is present in Knoppix versions up to 3.1–3.3; 4.0.2–5.3.1 and 6.2.1–6.4.4 (the latest version). Modern CD variants might not contain it.

AbiWordEdit

AbiWord is a simple word standalone processor. To get started, click K menu -> Office -> AbiWord word processor. Compared to OpenOffice Writer and KOffice, abiword is lighter with less bloat.

WineEdit

Wine is an application compatibility layer that allows programs written for Windows to run in Linux. Its self-explanatory meaning has become a recursive backronym, which is Wine Is Not an Emulator.

Knoppix has typically included a contemporary snapshot of the program's releases, which are more outdated with every older version of the distribution. While Wine can run a large variety of Windows applications, then there are some that won't run with it, and some apps that may run with varying degrees of success.

InvokingEdit

One way to invoke a Windows program though Wine is through the command line:

$ wine /path/to/application.exe

Assuming an existing Windows installation on a hard drive, programs can be run from there by mounting the hard drive:

$ mount /mnt/hda1

and then invoking Wine to run an application originally made for Windows:

$ wine "/mnt/hda1/Program Files/K-Meleon/k-meleon.exe"
Wine Launch Window.
Wine v.20050725 at Knoppix 4.0.2
^ Because the Program Files folder contains a space, the whole path must be surrounded with double quotes.

In either case, the Wine Launch Window will start, to notify the user of the activity. The launch window can be set not to be shown in the future when invoking Wine.

If Wine hasn't been run before, the Wine launch processes create necessary configuration folders and support files and then launch the requested application (the K-Meleon browser in this case).

After exiting a Window program, Wine will show either a status message that the program closed with success or an error message. A number of seconds may pass between the apparent program exit and the status message.

Caveats present in Knoppix 4.0.2Edit

Depending on a version of Knoppix, Wine might or might not be included in the default menu file.

The following are caveats specific to Knoppix 4.0.2. Wine version 20050725 is a pre-beta release and running Windows software with that may not be easy:

  • The Wine menuitem is not in the default menu file in Knoppix 4.0.2;
  • Shortcut menus of programs that use the native Windows widget toolkit are inaccessible; Commands from the menu bar can only be accessed classic Mac-style: by clicking on a menu item and holding the mouse button down the menu to reach and invoke a command. (This has been observed in the twm window manager.)
  • Standard text find functionality does not work, while alternative implementations do (examples are various find bars);
  • Some newer applications' functionality is hampered: For example, the URL bar in K-Meleon 1.5.4 is not functional — URLs can be entered by editing bookmarks and then accessing those.

Non-permanenceEdit

After using a Windows program through Wine, saving the configuration and restarting the computer with said configuration, launching Windows programs becomes impossible because of very slightly corrupted file paths. A workaround is to delete the .wine configuration directory in the local user folder:

knoppix@[knoppix]$ rm -r -f .wine
^ Where: rm (remove) is the delete command, -r stands for recursive (deletes the folder), -f stands for force [delete], which does not ask for confirmation before deletion (therefore no verbosity).

— After that, it's possible to run the programs again but any Wine settings are then also deleted.

Font issuesEdit

By default, Windows programs' UI texts are displayed in a font called Adventure, which is shown in small type, and is ugly and unsuitable for use in user interfaces. This is because of a bug in Wine, which has been fixed in later versions, but software on a Live-CD distribution is static and therefore requires a workaround described below.

Upon starting a Windows program for the first time, Wine creates Windows-like support directories and files, along with the Windows fonts directory in the virtual "C" hard drive, the path of which in Knoppix is:

/home/knoppix/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts

The above windows/fonts directory is empty and Wine defers to a fallback font, which for some reason is Adventure.

A usual way to solve this issue on permanent Linux installations is to populate the directory with standard fonts, either those made specifically for Windows or with substitutes.

Because of a Live CD's typically non-permanent nature and above caveats, the workaround for a normal user interface font is to create a symbolic link for windows/fonts to a specific font directory created in Linux, but all this is effective only after .wine configuration and support folders and files have been created by running a Windows executable for the first time. Symlinking to a font directory goes like this:

$ ln -s /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-bitstream-vera .wine/drive_c/windows/fonts
^ The dollar $ sign is traditionally the command-line marker; ln is the linking command, -s stands for symbolic, the first path is the target path, the second path is the one from which the target is linked to. The symbolic link can be removed in the fonts directory with a simple rm command.
The result of setting the default Wine font right, where a Windows program's user interface font looks normal

If a user is consistently using Knoppix 4.0.2 with the configuration saving method, then they can add a command sequence with the above command into their window manager menu file, especially because of the non-permanent nature of Wine configuration data.

The following complex, yet handy, example set of commands for the twm window manager assume the presence of an existing hard drive and a Windows installation on it. The sequence of commands first mounts the hard drive, then starts Wine, which will create support folders and files to launch a screen saver, and then links the actual font folders. The Blank Screen screensaver is one of the smallest possible native Windows apps to close with the least amount of user input (moving a mouse cursor in the screen saver window), which means that the program will close almost by itself.

The highlighted part of configuration text is to be added:

menu "/Debian/System"
{
  "Security" f.menu "/Debian/System/Security"
  ""    f.nop
  "Set Wine font" f.exec "mount /dev/hda1; wine \"/mnt/hda1/windows/system/Blank Screen.scr\" \/s && ln -s /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-bitstream-vera .wine/drive_c/windows/fonts &"}
^ The f.nop line following Security inserts a line break. mount /dev/hda1 mounts the hard drive. The colon ; ensures that the next command is started only after the previous command has been completed. Because Blank Screen.scr contains a space, the whole path to it must be wrapped in double quotes; these, in turn, must be escaped with a backslash \ so as not to break the command sequence. The /s option starts the screensaver and not its configuration applet; As the option's trigger character is a forward-slash, which serves to separate directory names in Unix and like systems, then it's also been escaped by a backslash just to be on the safe side. Double ampersands && serve to execute one and another command and the last ampersand ensures the command or command sequence separates from its originator.

Settings specific to TWMEdit

Twm is a window manager, which by the standards of today and at least 21 years back(as of 2011) exhibits non-standard behaviour for a windowing environment, where a program window is rendered only after the user has specified its location by moving the window's skeleton crosshairs to a desired place on the screen and then clicking the main mouse/pointer button.

The following instructions are meant to reduce the amount of user input when running Wine and setting up fonts for it

First off, after launching Wine to run a Windows program, Wine will invoke the Wine Launch Window and then the Windows program itself. This is two instances of moving a pointer and clicking the primary button, which makes four movements. And setting the font right in Knoppix 4.0.2 beforehand will total eight movements.

One workaround is to click the "Never display this message again" button in the Wine Launch Window. The button is self-explanatory.

Nevertheless, the Wine Launch Window also serves the purpose of showing launch status of Wine and some users might want to keep seeing it appear.

Avoiding window skeleton crosshairs by specifying window geometry won't work with Wine, because Wine launches more than one window, and at least one of them is not native to X.

The workaround is in twm's .twmrc config file to have the Wine Launch Window start in iconified form:

StartIconified {
"Wine Launch Window";
}

This will remove the need for the user to place the launch window somewhere. (More windows can be in each following line added by specifying the exact window title or app command with the same syntax.)

Secondly, when setting user interface fonts right for Wine-run apps, a screen saver program is used to invoke Wine itself (See Font issues above). Because it's a screen saver, it requires the least amount of user input to quit the app, which is why it won't require a title bar (for some reason, attached to the screen saver by default), so as to have the least distance between the cursor and the screensaver proper to dismiss it in nearly a click. The NoTitle setting for the screen saver window in the .twmrc file applies here:

NoTitle {
"Screen Saver";
}

The user then clicks to render the screen saver to just move the mouse cursor southeast to close the applet. This should take only a second or two.

Toys and amusementsEdit

KStars planetariumEdit

KStars shows the position of the stars and planets in the sky in real time. KStars can show the view of the sky from hundreds of locations around the world. It also has a catalogue of planets, stars and other objects. To start using KStars, click K menu -> Entertainment -> Science -> KStars.

Frozen BubbleEdit

Frozen Bubble screenshot

Frozen Bubble is an arcade style bubble bursting game for one or two players. The idea is to hit two or more other bubbles of the same colour to make them disappear. To start, click K menu -> Games -> Tetris-like -> Frozen-Bubble.

KSokobanEdit

KSokoban is a gemstone-pushing puzzle game. The object of the game is to move the red diamonds onto the green squares, only by pushing the red diamonds. Move the man using the cursor keys. To begin, click K menu -> Games -> Tactics & Strategy -> KSokoban.

GTansEdit

GTans is a shape-building puzzle game. Move, rotate and flip the shapes to make the larger shape shown on the right hand side. To start, click K menu -> Games -> Puzzles -> GTans.

Installing Applications not included on the CDEdit

About UnionFSEdit

Starting with Knoppix 3.8 and higher, there is a new feature included and enabled by default called UnionFS. This enables ANY file on the filesystem to be changed, and when it is the new file is stored on the RAMdisk, and the system knows not to refer to the "old" version of the file on the CD.

This feature is important to allow you to add software that is not included with the Knoppix distribution easily while running the system from any Internet connected computer (high speed connection recommended).

Installing PackagesEdit

You will be using the standard debian packaging tool, apt-get. Don't worry, apt-get is really easy to use.

  1. First, go to a command prompt with konsole and type in:
sudo apt-get update
  1. What this does is update the listing of available packages. "sudo" runs the command as the super-user, which must be done when working with apt-get.
  2. Next, find the package you want. You can find a searchable listing of all packages available for debian at:
http://packages.debian.org
  1. After finding your package, type in at the konsole prompt:
sudo apt-get install packagename

where "packagename" is replaced with the name of the package you want to install.

As an example, say you want to work with the kdegames package (which includes all the games included by default with the K Desktop Environment). FYI, this package includes a wide range of games, from remakes of classic arcade games, board games, as well as card games.

All you have to do is type at the prompt:

sudo apt-get install kdegames

Miscellaneous NotesEdit

You are limited in the amount of packages you can install by the amount of your physical RAM. When you run apt-get, it will tell you the amount of space the packages take up. Watch how many packages you install, if you have 256 MB of RAM it's probably not wise (but may be possible) to install about 230 MB of packages.

If the lack of packages on the CD concerns you, don't worry. There is now a Knoppix Live DVD, which includes over 9 gigs of software (uncompressed) on the DVD... All your favorite packages are likely included on this DVD!

To install more than one package, simply put a space between each package you want to install, like this:

apt-get install kdegames planetpenguin-racer gnome-games bsdgames


Note to all debian users. Anyone who has used debian before will probably be itching to issue

apt-get upgrade

You are urged not to do this as knoppix has many custom scripts that apt-get upgrade seems to break.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Bodnar, Ladislav (2010-12-24). "Distribution Release: KNOPPIX 6.4.3". Distrowatch. http://distrowatch.com/?newsid=06424. Retrieved 2011-03-17. 
Last modified on 5 September 2011, at 11:24