These days there are hundreds of Linux-based operating systems that you can boot from a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive without installing anything to your hard drive. This lets you try out an operating system without replacing your current one — and it may also help you repair a broken operating system by booting from removable storage to run a disk scan, repartition a drive, or make other changes.
One of the first popular operating systems to come as a LiveCD was Knoppix. It was the first Linux operating system I ever took for a test drive, thanks to its no-commitment setup. Years later, the developer is ready to release Knoppix 7.0.
Actually, Knoppix 7.0 is already available — but you need to pick up the April issue of Linux Magazine to get it. In a few more weeks, Knoppix 7.0 should be available for anyone to download.
The latest version of Knoppix supports 32-bit and 64-bit computers, features the Firefox 10 and Chromium 16 web browsers, and you can choose a KDE, LXDE, or GNOME desktop when you boot the operating system.
Most of the changes in version 7.0 are less visible, and are focused on improving boot speed and overall performance.
Knoppix isn’t necessarily the operating system I would recommend for someone looking to replace Windows or OS X. But it offers a great way to try Linux without committing to using it 100 percent of the time, and it’s a decent Linux distribution to keep on a disc in case you ever need to repair your hard drive or primary operating system.
For the most part, I’m just happy to see my first Linux distro is still alive and kicking.