could it be Knoppix
Monday, January 3 2011
I've mentioned this before, but every couple years I try out various Linux installations in my surplus computer hardware. I've been doing this since early 1998, but the only non-headless installation I've ever produced and then gone on to use was Coyote, the teevee room media computer (which has been in mostly-successful operation for over half a year now). Recently, though, I've taken a keen interest in putting together some sort of MP3-playing box for the living room (if only to open up laboratory desk space that has been occupied for years). That MP3 player will also be running Linux, but what kind? I'd had a lot of luck with the Debian distribution (that's what Coyote runs), but Debian wasn't detecting the USB WiFi card that would be key to the MP3 player's feature set (I wouldn't be putting it in a location to which I could easily run ethernet cable). I even tried getting other USB WiFi dongles, but Debian wouldn't autodetect them. So I tried installing the Linux drivers on those dongles' installation CDs. I'm pretty good at tech stuff, but that job was either extremely complicated or impossible, and I didn't have enough disposable lifetime to figure out which.
So then I went on a survey of other distributions, some of which couldn't even boot the computer in question (a Toshiba 2250CDT, which is a budget laptop built around a 600 MHz Celeron). In the end I found myself most impressed by the latest version of Knoppix, which managed to autodetect a newish 802.11n USB WiFi dongle hot off a slow boat from China. I'd experimented with Knoppix several years ago and found it overly-ambitious and, for lack of a better word, loud. But the latest version seems lean and fast, so I found myself liking it. This could work. Also, Knoppix is built on Debian, so many of the Linux tricks I've gradually mastered apply. (I really hate having to figure out which directories hold which configuration files!)
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