Harv's Hamshack Hack FAQ

I downloaded the .iso file and burned it to a CD. I tried to boot with it. Nothing happens.

When you burn the file to CD make certain that you use the "Image" functions. If you use the regular file copy functions, your CD will be just another copy of the .iso file you downloaded. These make super nice coasters! You want some "structure" on your CD. Look for a function named "Burn CD Image", "Create Disk from .iso", or something of that sort. Whatever the function is called, it will sort out all the directories and files and set them up in the right order on your CD. If you list the directory of a properly burned CD, you should see a "boot" folder, a "KNOPPIX" folder, several "autoboot" information files, and some .html files. Older versions of Windows NERO looked for files with an ".img" extension rather than the ".iso" everyone else uses. You may have to fuss with that change in file naming.


Can I install "the Hack" on my hard drive?

Although facilities for this operation are available on the CD, I have never attempted to do it. Aside from this fact, there are still some good reasons NOT to install "the Hack" on your hard drive.

Knoppix is a really nice flavor of Linux. "The Hack" is meant to be just an introduction to Linux. It is a very stripped down version of the Knoppix original. Experienced Linux users will view "the Hack" as a very limited and limiting imitation of the real thing. Better to download the original version of KNOPPIX and install that. Then, you can install your own selections of software and set them up according to your specific situation. The choices I have made probably don't meet your exact needs anyway. Why live with me on your hard drive?

The knx-installer is still available on this CD. Do a Google for more specific and up-to-date instructions applicable to your hardware and situation.


Everything comes up in German. How can I get English language support?

In this edition of the "Hamshack Hack" we're using the very latest version of KNOPPIX. This is version 3.8. At the time I started working on this compilation, "3.8" had been available for download for less than 24 hours. This is about as sharp as the "bleeding edge" gets. Expect the unexpected.

No English language default version is available at this time. The default language is German in Knoppix 3.8. You can get English language support by using the following "cheat-code" at the boot prompt:

boot: knoppix lang=en

Because the system is using a German keyboard configuration at start-up, the "=" sign is found on the shifted "0" (zero) key.

You can also get French language support, just substitute "fr" for the "en". Likewise for Spanish, use "es" instead of "en".


My screen blanks/goes black while "the Hack" boots. What's it doin'?

This happens on one of my machines, too. Knoppix is NOT trying to hide anything its doing. Its just trying to figure out the "best" way to use your video card. I use the following "cheat-code" so I can watch what's happening.

boot: knoppix lang=en vga=normal

The "=" still resides on the shifted 0 (zero) key at this stage of the boot-up process. You can string several of these "cheat-codes" together, as you need them.


All the text on all these pages is too damn small!

Give a right mouse click in the area of the page that is too small for your eyes and glasses. You'll get a "context menu". With "Firefox" one of the choices is "This frame". From there, you can choose "Open Frame in a New Window". Then just use "CTRL +" and "CTRL -" to make the print suitable for your eyes and glasses. Ain't retirement grand! I just take my bi-focals off and run without them. That is what seems to work best for me. YMMV.


How can I save all the info/parameters I've entered?

After you've entered all the parameters into the various programs like gMFSK and qTel, etc. I'd be nice if you didn't have to to do it all over again, next time you booted up "the Hack".

Never fear! Linux is here!

With Knoppix, you can create what is known as a "Persistent Directory". You can store this directory almost anywhere ... on your hard drive, on a floppy, or a USB dongle device. Click on "Tux", the little penguin in the task bar at the bottom of the screen, pick "Configure" from the menu and then "Create Persistent Disk Image". You'll get a list of choices of where to store your Persistent/home directory file.

When Knoppix boots, it looks in a file on the CD called "/etc/skel" for instructions on how to build the desktop. Since your information has been not been written back to the CD file we'll have to tell Knoppix to find it in a different location. We do that with a "Cheat-Code". You've probably already used a "cheat" to change the language environment. We'll just add another one now

boot: knoppix lang=en home=scan   at this stage the "=" sign still lives on the shifted 0 (zero) key

Note: In v.06 of the Hack, the "home=" is no longer necessary. Knoppix will do the search and find the file automatically at boot time.

"home=scan" will tell Knoppix to look on all the storage devices it knows about for a file called "knoppix.img". It will use this file to rebuild the "home" directory with all the parameters you've entered.

If this file becomes corrupted for any reason, you can safely remove it and create a new one. Try making a copy of the file with your initials as an extension. Then if you need to blow off the original, you can replace it with your copy just by changing the extension back to ".img". Keep a copy of this file laying around as a backup ... just in case.

See also FAQ #11


What happened to COM1? Do I have to change all the cables?

If your hardware and connections worked well with Windows, there should be no reason to re-arrange any of the cables or connections. Knoppix/Linux has very likely already detected and set up your printer on the parallel port and already knows that something is hanging off your serial lines.

Linux just calls your serial connections by different names. Under Linux, COM1 becomes /dev/ttyS0 and COM2 becomes /dev/ttyS1. Please note the UPPER CASE "S" ... case always matters in things *nix. Linux (as member of the family) is no different.


What the heck are "/dev/dsp" and "/dev/audio"?

Your sound card puts out an analog signal on the speaker wire. This is what you plug into the mic jack of your radio. The sound card also puts out a digital signal for use by other devices and programs. The sound card doesn't really have to know how each of the other devices work or how they will use the data. All they have to do is agree upon some rules and then play by them. The sound card dumps its data stream into a file called "dev/dsp" (and also "/dev/audio"). When a program like gMFSK decides to chew on some noise, it looks in "/dev/dsp" for a tasty morsel. Same with KPSK ... it likes to dine at "/dev/audio". You can point the various programs at which ever location seems to work best.


My modem doesn't dialup. It worked fine under Windows!

Knoppix does a fair job of detecting and setting up an ethernet connection to your router, etc. But, you'll have to set up a modem dialer connection in pretty much the same way you did in Windows. Click on "Tux", the little penguin in the task bar, choose "Network/Internet", then pick "Modem Dialer", then click on "Configure" and then on "New". At this point, a "Wizard" will open ... you can follow the bread crumbs from here.


I use a Microsoft Wireless Intelli Mouse explorer (Optical, USB) and the mouspointer won't move.

Open a Root-Console (Control-Alt-F2) and enter the following:

modprobe -r usbmouse

modprobe hid

Pressing Control-Alt-F5 will bring you back to KDE.


The "Persistent Directory Image" doesn't seem to work on my machine.

On Windows machines using NTFS file systems ... this means NT, 2000, and XP ... Linux can not (yet) write to NTFS type systems. However, it can read files there. Knoppix/"the Hack" will not be able to store the persistent directory file on drives of this type. One solution I have thought of ... though I have never tried it (I don't own a Windows machine) ... is to create a new partition on the drive and format it as FAT32 (Win98), ext2, or ext3. Both Linux and NT/XP/2000 should be able to read and write to this partition. It could be just a small space, perhaps 1 gig. No more.