Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving
Continued from Part 25: Quantum Axcess
I have referenced a number of times now some of my experiences with Knoppix, which prompted me to see if I could still find the original CD-R disc I used back in the day. It turns out it was Knoppix 3.4 released in May 2004 that obsessed me as a child, providing me with some of my earliest steps into a larger world. Not only that, but the CD-R disc it was burned on still reads even after all of these years. Considering the volatility of such media, this surprised me.
Named for its creator Klaus Knopper of Germany, Knoppix is a derivative of Debian which pioneered the modern Linux live media experience at the turn of the millennium. While the honour of being the first Linux live CD goes to Yggdrasil close to a full decade earlier, it was Knoppix that truly showed how powerful and effective Linux from a CD could be to the masses. In fact, everything that Knoppix manages can best be described as no small miracle.
Operating out of system memory by use of a RAM drive, the fact that Knoppix does not even flinch at my paltry 512 MB of RAM is impressive enough. Adding to this feat, most of my hardware was detected and configured without the need for any prompting from me. The only exception to this was the DRI module for my Rage 128 Pro graphics card not being loaded by default, but this was easily addressed by passing the "knoppix xmodule=r128" boot option during start up.
Lack of disk space forced me to be selective when installing Red Hat Linux 7.3 to my hard drive, meaning I just stuck with the default Gnome 1.4 desktop environment and the applications contained therein. As such, getting myself reacquainted with KDE 3 again proved to be a treat. Included here are versions of KAtomic, KAsteroids, KBattleship, KBounce, KMahjongg, KReversi, and KSokoban. There is also the fun if sometimes off putting Potato Guy software toy.
Alongside the bundled KDE games were a few familiar faces. Included on the CD was The Ace of Penguins card game suite as was also featured in 100 Great Linux Games, and I could at long last play and win the final 1.0.0 version of Frozen Bubble that refused to build for me on Red Hat Linux. Level 70 proved its potency once more, although I did spend longer tackling the final level of the game this time. Perhaps Level 70 should be moved to be the penultimate level instead.
Another favourite included with Knoppix 3.4 is iMaze, a client/server pseudo-3D deathmatch game inspired by MIDI Maze for the Atari ST. Alongside multiplayer, iMaze even sports support for computer controlled bots called ninjas through the use of a separate application, which go on to show that even smiley faces can be terrifying. There is just something sinister about their sacharine visages stalking the primitive single level landscape, even if they do get stuck on edges.
Other games bundled on the disc include GNU Chess, gTans, Netris, XBattle, XBoard, XBoing II, XGalaga, XKoules, and XSkat. Also present is Falcon's Eye, which runs just about as well I remember it did. In a similar boat is Chromium B.S.U. which produced a black screen on launch. Clearly some games are better suited to running off of live media than others. Enigma meanwhile gave me I/0 errors, but that may just be the CD-R showing its age at last.
Having gotten 3D acceleration to work, I decided to do my usual OpenGL test by loading Quake III Arena from the hard drive, which launched without complaint. I did encounter the same graphical glitches with shadows and marks on walls that I had experienced with Red Hat Linux 9 however, demonstrating beyond a doubt that there was a regression introduced into the driver upstream. Beyond this Quake III Arena ran beautifully from Knoppix.
This qualified success got me wondering if could at long last also play the ultimate 2005 release of Cube, which did indeed also start up just fine. No graphical glitches were apparent, although the performance did seem to suffer in comparison to the earlier Cube release I had been playing. Whether this was due to increased graphical demands in the latest version of the game, or simply the fact I was running it from a live environment, I am unsure.
While my principle interest in playing around with Knoppix was that of nostalgia, having a later Linux distribution on hand with support for applications on the other side of the glibc 2.3 boundary may well come in handy going forward. This is far from the only compatibility issue to have frustrated my attempts to get certain games to work in the past, but after having just previously dismissed the possibility of getting one of them running, I suddenly had a major breakthrough.
Carrying on in Part 27: Lost Souls
Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving