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Continuation of Part 25: Quantum Axcess
I’ve referenced some of my experiences with Knoppix a few times now, which prompted me to see if I could still find the original CD-R disc I was using at the time. Turns out it was Knoppix 3.4, released in May 2004, that had owned me as a kid and gave me some of my earliest steps into a larger world. Not only that, the CD-R it was burned onto still reads after all these years. Given the volatility of such media, that surprised me.
Named after its creator Klaus Knopper from Germany, Knoppix is a derivative of Debian, which pioneered the modern Linux live media experience around the turn of the millennium. While the honor of being the first Linux Live CD goes to Yggdrasil almost a full decade earlier, it was Knoppix that really showed how powerful and effective Linux from a CD for the masses can be. In fact, everything Knoppix creates is best described as no small miracle.
The fact that Knoppix won’t even shy away from my paltry 512MB of RAM is impressive enough when system memory is being maxed out through the use of a RAM drive. In addition, most of my hardware was recognized and configured without me having to be prompted. The only exception was that the DRI module for my Rage 128 Pro graphics card wasn’t loaded by default, but this was easily fixed by passing the “knoppix xmodule=r128” boot option during startup.
Lack of disk space forced me to be selective about installing Red Hat Linux 7.3 on my hard drive, which meant I just stuck with the default Gnome 1.4 desktop environment and the applications it contained. As such, getting acquainted with KDE 3 again proved a pleasure. Included here are versions of KAtomic, KAsteroids, KBattleship, KBounce, KMahjongg, KReversiAnd KSokoban. There’s also the fun, albeit daunting at times potato guy software toy.
Alongside the bundled KDE games were a few familiar faces. Was included on the CD The Penguin Ace Card game suite as presented in 100 Great Linux Gamesand I was finally able to play the final 1.0.0 version of and win Frozen Bubble which refused to build on Red Hat Linux for me. Level 70 again proved its strength, although this time I spent longer tackling the final level of the game. Maybe level 70 should be moved to the penultimate level instead.
Another favorite included in Knoppix 3.4 is iMazea client/server pseudo 3D deathmatch game inspired by MIDI maze for the Atari ST. Besides multiplayer, iMaze even sports support for computer-controlled bots called ninjas through the use of a separate application, further showing that even smileys can be terrifying. There’s just something eerie about their sugary faces roaming the primitive one-story landscape, even as they snag on ledges.
Other games bundled on the disc include GNU chess, gtan, Netris, XBattle, Xboard, XBoing II, XGalaga, XKoulesAnd XSkat. Also available hawk eye, which is doing just as well as I remember. In a similar boat is Chrome BSU which produced a black screen on startup. Obviously some games are better suited to running from a live CD than others. Puzzle meanwhile gave me I/0 errors, but that can only be because the CD-R is finally showing its age.
After getting the 3D acceleration working, I decided to do my usual OpenGL test by loading Quake III Arena from the hard drive, which started without complaint. I encountered the same graphical glitches with shadows and markings on walls that I experienced with Red Hat Linux 9, but this clearly shows that a regression has been introduced in the upstream driver. Over and beyond Quake III Arena ran beautifully by Knoppix.
This limited success made me wonder if I could finally play the ultimate 2005 release as well Dice, which in fact also started without any problems. There were no noticeable graphical glitches, although performance seemed to suffer compared to before Dice version I played. Whether this was due to the increased graphical demands in the latest version of the game or simply because I was running it in a live environment I’m not sure.
While my main interest in playing around with Knoppix was out of nostalgia, having a later Linux distribution with support for applications on the other side of the glibc-2.3 frontier on hand might be useful in the future. This is far from the only compatibility issue that has thwarted my attempts to get certain games to work in the past, but after recently dismissing an opportunity to get one of these to work, I suddenly had a major breakthrough .
Continued in Part 27: Lost Souls
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