As distribution innovations go, Knoppix is a revelation. A bootable CD that provides a completely self-contained and fully functional desktop? All that and it leaves my hard drive untouched? What Klaus Knopper has wrought with Knoppix is all of that and much more. So much more, in fact, that even an experienced Knoppix user may not have discovered everything the compressed CD offers.
I received my first Knoppix CD, the German edition, from Volker Lendecke. Although my limited German language facility made sampling that CD a challenge, I marveled nonetheless as each application launched.
Today, because of the power and flexibility of Knoppix, like many other people, I burn multiple copies of each new release: one for my own use and the rest to give away. Just as giving away Knoppix CDs fits neatly into my advocacy agenda, Knoppix Hacks by Kyle Rankin fits into the O'Reilly catalog as another excellent book. Rankin formally documents what makes Knoppix and its derivatives such important tools for systems professionals.
This well-written book offers a broad range of descriptions and advice about using the capabilities of Knoppix. These are presented as a steady progression of logically grouped hacks. This book is a pleasure to read cover to cover, but it is as easy to use for an individual hack too.
The range of the hacks presented is as impressive as the contents of Knoppix itself, including: boot-time cheat codes, desktop applications, different network-related tools, software RAID and troubleshooting. Steps to remaster Knoppix to create custom derivatives also are discussed. There is no unimportant filler.
The majority of the hacks presented are not completely accessible to the beginner, but adding the required content to do so would so encumber this book such that it would cease to be useful for the experienced user, who is clearly the target for this book.
If you have not experienced Knoppix and cannot download it easily for yourself, then by all means let Kyle Rankin be your Knoppix-sharing friend. Read Knoppix Hacks and explore the included Knoppix CD for yourself. If you already have experienced Knoppix, you should find enough useful hacks among the 100 presented in this book to warrant its purchase.