Автор Тема: Едно приятно интервю с Клаус Кнопер- разработчика на KNOPPIX  (Прочетена 1877 пъти)


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  • Distribution: debian
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Видях го в Computerworld, но иска регитрация. Домързя ме да го превеждам, но мисля че е интересно:

What is your professional background and how did you first get into Linux?

I studied and graduated in electrical engineering at the Kaiserslautern University of Technology and now teach at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern in Zweibrücken, Germany. While my initial plan was to go into solar power technology, my interests changed somewhat during my first encounter with computers and the Internet, since I found it fascinating to be able to create and modify software and work on projects together with others, using open source licenses that allowed everyone to reuse a vast portfolio of software tools and libraries. My studies were not in vain, of course, I was able to adopt the design and planning I had learned for engines in a similar way for engineering software.

Knoppix was started as an experiment for learning how to boot and run the operating system from removable media, and automatically adapt the software for different hardware and peripherals.

What gave you the idea to create Knoppix, who came up with the name and how long had you been working on it before the first public release?

Actually, I was inspired by a very tiny live distro distributed by Linuxcare as a shell environment with rescue tools. In my thinking, if so many tools fit on a 20MB business card sized media, it should be possible to fit a full sized Linux desktop system on a standard CD medium, so I can always use the software I need for my daily work by just inserting the CD into (almost) any computer, and boot from it. So, the design goal was to get a system for real work, rather than promoting a Linux distro or showing off Linux just as a demo.

In 1999, when I started working on the live system, I was part of the LinuxTag team. We organized the largest - at this time - purely community-driven Linux Expo and Conference in Europe. One of the other organizers was kidding and suggested the name "Knoppix" deriving from my last name, because I personally was not very creative in terms of a "brand name". Since it was just a private project, I actually found that name fitting well and used it from there on.

In 2000, I presented the first working version at the Atlanta Linux Showcase with a paper about "creating a Linux live system on an iso9660 file system", and because of the feedback I got there in order to find errors and improve the system, I decided to make it a public project. Still I kept the name.

Had I known that there would be 20,000+ downloads a day a few years later, I would probably have chosen a more flashy name.

What makes Knoppix unique/special?

It differs from other live distros in the way that it's made for real work, not just testing Linux on a computer and deciding to later install it. Therefore, the "knoppix harddisk installer" is kind of neglected (by Knopper). Installation is not a primary feature, yet it works if you plan to unpack Knoppix to hard disk in order to quickly create a customized and preconfigured Debian installation.

When did you first realize that Knoppix had found its audience and what milestones have you seen since its inception?

In the first year after publication I offered to send out CDs to testers. I stopped this when I realized I would soon be unable to handle the exponentially increasing amount of requests. That is when I decided to let mirrors distribute the ISO images instead.

Why base Knoppix on Debian? Have you ever considered changing to something else?

The first version (up to 1.7) was based on RedHat GNU/Linux. The problem with RedHat at that time was that a major distro upgrade could not be done easily and I ended up reinstalling and configuring everything cleanly from scratch most times.

Later, the Debian developers told me that Debian would be easier to upgrade because of its enhanced dependency system in the DEB package formats, and it turned out to be true. I think that RPM has also caught up a lot in terms of seamless upgradability, but I stayed with Debian since it is a purely community-driven project and not dependent on the goodwill of a single company. It was a good choice, also because Debian is the largest community-driven distro. On the other hand, sometimes I have to workaround oddities in Debian that would be counterproductive to live system usage, but that would probably be the case with other distros as well. While I am not always happy with changes and guidelines in Debian, I still think it's the best choice as a base for a customized distro, for its great variety in architecture support and availability and continuous support of easily installable and upgradable packages for many open source projects.

What desktop environment options do users of Knoppix currently have? Have you thought about adding any others or changing to another default?

I wanted to use something lightweight as the default, so LXDE starts unless you chose another desktop such as KDE or GNOME. However, if the system’s RAM and graphics card are sufficient, I start the 3D Windows Manager additionally to LXDE, because some of its features like magnification, writing on screen and color switching are extremely practical for teaching and fun to see.

Personally, I'm happy with a very lightweight and fast desktop that allows me to work with many applications in parallel, and my memory for file system organization is good enough so that I don't need a "desktop search" or "recently used" guidance that's provided with the larger desktops. However, occasionally, I also install other window managers like larswm, openbox, icewm, when it is specially requested.

Each year at CeBIT, you traditionally release a new version of Knoppix as a special "CeBIT Edition”. What version was made public this year and what makes it special?

Version 7.5 of Knoppix is the annual “CeBIT Edition” and includes several new features and various updates, such as the 3.18.6 Linux Kernel which brings with it improved hardware support, Xorg 7.7 and the inclusion of the ClamAV virus scanner. Package upgrades include the optional KDE 4.8 and GNOME 3.8 Desktop Environments, LibreOffice 4.3.2, GIMP 2.8.14 and two new additions: version 2.72 of the open source 3D graphics and animation software Blender and the Go-Compiler Golang 1.3.3 for Google’s Go programming language.

While Debian has adopted the systemd Linux init system which greatly increases the complexity of system startup and made adjustments to the process difficult, the boot system in Knoppix - which is essentially a single startup script for hardware detection and the launching of critical system components - remains the same because it has its own SysVinit package.

For users wanting to get this version, Knoppix 7.5 was included in the April 2015 German issue of Linux Magazine and in the English version of Linux Magazine. More can be found here. Users can expect a maintenance update, to fix any issues users have reported, to arrive on the project's site in the coming weeks.

What frustrates you most about your current or past releases and how would you change it if you could just ‘snap your fingers’ and make it so?

Eliminate all possible errors with a snap of my fingers. With so much software installed, it's impossible for me alone to test each and every program thoroughly. I run a set of tests to make sure Knoppix is booting on a majority of AMD/Intel-architecture computers and the main features are all working, but occasionally, an undetected error slips through. For this year’s edition, I noticed today that the program "smplayer" is missing a library dependency - something that usually never happens in Debian because of its sophisticated dependency system - but the fact is, smplayer is broken unless you reinstall it. However, most users won't notice the glitch since the standard player is gnome-mplayer.

I'm always worried that something bigger breaks, like LibreOffice or Firefox without me detecting it in the standard software tests before the release. This hasn't happened yet, luckily.

At CeBIT in 2013, you mentioned to me that you were contemplating creating a mobile version of Knoppix to run on smartphones. Given that the hardware you would need for such an endeavor - a powerful CPU, 1GB+ of RAM and a high-resolution display - are becoming commonplace now, do you see yourself diving into porting or creating a Knoppix for smartphones?

The ARM architecture lacks most of the hardware detection possibilities that PCI-based Intel/AMD-systems have, so I would have to create an individual kernel for each and every smartphone, or stick to a single type of phone with known hardware. If there was a real demand for a desktop Linux on smartphones, it would be a motivation for me to create one, but currently I'd rather customize Raspbian for the Raspberry Pi to add some of the Knoppix-features for a Raspi-based desktop system, than attempting to set up a complete build infrastructure like CyanogenMod for a large number of smartphones. Maybe Ubuntu can get into the smartphone software market better, with more programmers who can work full time.

In addition to your Knoppix operating system, you have also developed a software system for visually impaired users called ADRIANE (Audio Desktop Reference Implementation And Networking Environment). First released in 2007 and targeted at blind users “who have no or very few computer skills”, ADRIANE is described as “an easy-to-use, talking desktop system with optional support for Braille, which can be used entirely without vision oriented output devices”. Where did the name come from and what makes it unique or better than the alternatives out there?

The design challenge for me was creating a system that can be learned and used easily without visual feedback, by people who are not “computer experts” and who may not even know to use the keyboard very well. Wikipedia describes the name correctly as a “backronym”, which is again caused by my apparent lack of creativity in finding good brand names. So, I named it after the person giving me the first ideas, inspiration and feedback about a complete non-visual user interface, which was my wife Adriane.

The design should not require an expensive Braille device, which other blind-friendly desktops do, so it can be used directly on standard computer hardware without any special peripheral requirements. Feedback from India and other countries where Braille devices are not yet easily available to users, showed me that I was on the right track with that design. However, many Braille devices are also optionally supported, so if you have one, you can use it for finding and correcting errors in texts, plus additional navigation beyond the standard keyboard inputs.

With all of your work to improve accessibility on Linux for the visually impaired through ADRIANE, what other accessibility improvements do you think need to be made to make open source software more approachable/usable for those with an impairment?

It's less a matter of “special features” for disabilities, rather than thoughtfulness during design and implementation of the user interface, like “What if the user cannot use the mouse, or does not want to? Will all program functions still work when working solely with keyboard-driven hotkeys?”. Implementing intuitive and alternative user interaction methods is always a good idea.

Where do you see Knoppix as a distribution and project in five years? 10 years?

The computer world will change more from the “personal computer” age into the “ubiquitous computing” age, which already started many years ago. So, creating intuitive interfaces between different devices and massive networking, not to forget security and privacy aspects, is one of the main challenges in the near future. Since technology advances rapidly, I can't tell yet where we will be in 10 years, but I believe that non-technical issues like security, privacy, accessibility on one side, and artificial restrictions required by new laws or software manufacturers, will become a more important issue than pure technical features. Which is a pity, since I feel more comfortable with technical problems that can be solved more easily.

If you did not have Knoppix, what would you see yourself using as your default operating system and desktop environment?

I do like the 3D enhanced desktop features of compiz, and am eager to try some newer interaction methods like gestures and mind/thought-controlled input devices, which are now in very experimental stages. However, interacting with computers directly by using a keyboard, will probably stay my favorite “desktop” method for a while.

What do you think about T.A.I.L.S., the privacy-focused live system popularized by Edward Snowden’s use of it?

It's a good reference implementation for showing how to configure GNU/Linux in a privacy-focused and enhanced way. Developments like this are even more reliable when they are not controlled by a single company, but by a worldwide community. However, users need to be informed and should first understand the technology they are using. An anonymizing distro has a different focus than a distro made for secure and authenticated communication, banking, online shopping, accessing local data. These tasks are not always advisable to do over the Tor network.

What other open source project do you contribute to? What kind of work do you normally find yourself doing?

Wikipedia/Wikibooks and Debian, but mainly, I'm teaching software development and engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern.

Do you have any affiliation with http://knoppix.net/ ?

knoppix.net is a third-party website running forums and customization hints which I lack the time to do myself. The Knoppix official website is http://knopper.net/knoppix/ but http://knoppix.net and the official site are friends.

Other than yourself, how many community members contribute to and help you update, maintain and expand Knoppix? Is it a one-man project?

Updating and releasing milestones is done by me, but many ideas and various contributions, bugfixes and improvements come directly from authors whose software is included in Knoppix. So, it's not a ‘one man show’ but a more complex, community project. I release all changes between Knoppix and Debian as GPL code at http://debian-knoppix.alioth.debian.org/ .

As the creator and lead developer of Knoppix, how much time are you able to dedicate to the project with your other obligations? Is it like having another full-time job or have other developers volunteered to step in to take some of the weight off of your shoulders?

Being the one deciding what goes into the “official” Knoppix public release is a busy and dedicated job for me, however, it's not consuming all of my time. Depending on my overall workload, I can well do two to three Knoppix releases a year without getting in conflict with other tasks.

What piece of tech do you find indispensable?

The Internet + strong cryptography.

For those who want to help Knoppix to continue and develop, how can community members support the project, financally or otherwise?

Reporting bugs with possible solutions is the best way to help, so I can improve the software. Helping with translations or contributing code, or deciding to put ones own software under a open source license so it can be incorporated, is also a good idea.

What is next for Klaus Knopper?

Catching up with last years email.

Other than at shows such as CeBIT, are you ever recognized on the street?

No. And I'm quite happy with being unrecognizable.

If a fan of the project came up to you and offered to buy you a beer to say ‘thanks’ for all of your work, what would you order?

***KK: I'd rather send HIM or HER a drink for reporting bugs and saving me the time and work of finding all of them, helping to improve Knoppix.

  ⠈⠳⣄⠀⠀⠀⠀  Debian, the universal operating system.

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