Using Knoppix to turn a dead windows machine into a web browser.
We sometimes run into Windows machines with a failed hard drive where it just doesn’t pay to replace the hard drive and rebuild the system.
You could simply scrap or junk the machines. However, there is an alternative.
You can make a Knoppix Linux boot CD. Knoppix is a self contained linux operating system on a CD or DVD. Knoppix contains some tools such as an open source version of office and a web browser. Since the system runs from a CD or DVD, you can’t easily save things such as your configuration, bookmarks or files. However, you can save some things to a memory stick or through your network.
The first step is to obtain the ISO image to build the Knoppix CD or DVD. You can go to http://knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html for the main Knoppix page. When you go to download, you are funneled to an option to download via a download manager. While this method brings some revenue to the Knoppix project, I have not had good luck with download managers. Instead, I looked for the link to the mirrors. That was found at http://knopper.net/knoppix-mirrors/index-en.html.
I found a US link with an HTTP download. Once I had the ISO file, I burned that to DVD using Power2go. Any DVD burner capable of burning an ISO file should work.
Once I had the DVD, I went into the configuration settings for the machine and set it to boot from the CD.
If everything goes well, you should see a text menu with about a dozen choices. You can choose Graphical Programs. The interface is very similar to Windows XP. You should find a browser.
You can get more information from the documentation at http://knoppix.net/wiki/Main_Page
It is possible to save your configuration and files to a USB drive. http://linux.activityworkshop.net/trying_it_out/storing_settings.html has some information to get you started.
There are dozens of uses for a Knoppix based machine. For a very small investment in time, you have a machine that can browse the internet and do MS Office like tasks. Some possible uses would be
- A web browser for the Garage or shop.
- An extra workstation for the kids when they are all doing homework at the same time.
- Since the CD can’t be infected with a virus, this could be a workable solution for small hotels or B & Bs to give guests internet access.
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