posted by Alexander Antoniades on Thu 5th Dec 2002 21:58 UTC

"Klaus Knopper Interview, Part IV"
Given that KDE 3.1 is supposedly only a couple of weeks away, at the most, how soon can we look for it to be included in Knoppix?

Stability is a priority. So, as soon as I have first-hand reports of KDE3.1 as a stable working platform, it will be included in the public Beta. I don't know when exactly this will happen, but I'm really looking forward to some of the new KDE3.1 features, such as the inclusion of the Ägypten project () for making kmail and other KDE components capable of more comfortable SSL+Gnupg encryption and digital signing features, enhancements to konqueror and maybe availability of some even more user-friendly programs for CD-burning and multimedia applications.

Maybe I will release an intermediate version with KDE 3.1 for internal tests to a few developers on the debian-knoppix mailinglist before the download version is being published.

I also hope that GNOME2 will catch up in the Debian distribution. So far, I need to include some gnome2 libs for newer applications, but still have to use gnome 1.4 as desktop option, because the gnome2 versions were not working right at the time (well, maybe it's just me, I just never got gnome2 to work anywhere... Any help, especially working configuration files for /home/knoppix are appreciated.).

When asked about installing KNOPPIX on the hard drive, you originally suggested people could just copy the CD, but no guarantees, now there is a hard drive install script, how much of an install will there finally be?

/usr/local/bin/knx-hdinstall (written by Christian Perle). It generates a "normal" Debian installation from a running Knoppix CD on your hard disk. It is in a very early state, and just included for convenience. I was not planning on releasing another hard disk-installed Linux Distribution, as mentioned before. So, there is no "Click here to install" button, because it would look like a recommendation. The script seems to work fine, though it does currently not allow multiple boot partitions in the master boot record.

By default all the user accounts are locked down…

That's right, for security considerations. If you use Knoppix on a network, there should be no backdoors or accounts with "default passwords" that could accidentally get you into trouble when starting sshd or any other services. Therefore, there is no valid password for any account by default. You are either already logged in on startup, or you can't login at all.

…is there someway to unlock the root account and turn KNOPPIX into a normal user environment?

Just type "passwd root" on the text consoles, where root is logged in. Besides, the logged in desktop user "knoppix" is one exception that can switch to the root account without a password using sudo, so you can use the rescuing tools and configure system services without having to work as root in your X-Window session. You can also use this feature to set up a password for Knoppix or root, if you really wish to be able to login via SSH from the network.

If you install Knoppix to harddisk using Christian Perle's knx-hdinstall script, this scheme is (like most other Knoppix extensions) changed back to the Debian defaults, and you have to choose a password for knoppix and root during installation.

If you use Knoppix in Terminalserver mode on the other hand, there is an option that should make it impossible to get root on the clients, which are booting via PXE, simply by disabling all setuid programs and letting the text consoles only run under the knoppix user's account. This should be a good setting for Internet cafes or classrooms.

With companies like SUSE, projects like Kroupware and a number of high profile developers, such as yourself, the German Linux scene seems pretty active. What is the state of Linux in Germany?

There are a lot of migrations towards GNU/Linux in companies, schools and also governmental institutes, last but not least because of the added value that the Free and OpenSource software licenses give to the recipients of the software. You can hire a vendor of your choice for software adaptation and customization, you can copy, modify and sell the software in unlimited numbers, plus you are the legal "owner" of the software, as opposed to having only a limited right-of-use for proprietary software. These facts have lead to GNU/Linux being widely accepted, also in mission-critical environments with appropriate support by trusted vendors. Also, for document exchange, it is vital to use open standards, to make sure you will still be able to read an archived document 10 years from now.

So, apart from many active developers who just happen to live in Germany and other European countries, there is also a lot of commercial interest in the development of GNU/Linux based software here, which may be an additional motivation for some programmers to contribute or sell services based on Free Software.

About the Interviewer:
Alexander Antoniades lives in New York City and works as freelance technology consultant, using every last piece of computer knowledge he’s acquired over the past two decades to make ends meet.

Table of contents
  1. "Klaus Knopper Interview, Part I"
  2. "Klaus Knopper Interview, Part II"
  3. "Klaus Knopper Interview, Part III"
  4. "Klaus Knopper Interview, Part IV"
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