Klaus Knopper answers your Linux questions

Missing Taskbar

Klaus:

Just wanted to tell you that Knoppix 7.3 is outstanding and my favorite of the bunch. I have even installed it on an 8GB flash drive because I could, and I have it installed on my Linux machine along with Mint 9. I have noticed that sometimes when I boot my flash drive, the taskbar doesn't appear, so I just open up the Knoppix folder on the desktop and access the applications folder. I have discovered also that using the Ctrl+Alt+Backspace combo will restart it and the taskbar will appear.

I must also take this opportunity to thank you for Knoppix in general and the data recovery tools therein. I learned of them from my purchase of the Knoppix Hacks book from O'Reilly. I couldn't recover any data but learned more about the condition of my affected drives.

After being exposed to Linux back in 1999 and blindly diving in with no assistance, I have learned much and continue to learn as I finally decided to tackle the command line. Thanks again for an excellent live distro!

Jefferson

The sometimes missing taskbar and, in some cases, even missing window borders are some small glitches in the Compiz 3D window manager and LXDE, which I used in Knoppix 7.3. You already discovered the workaround: Usually pressing the mouse buttons just anywhere on the desktop also brings back the LXDE panel, and Compiz can be restarted from the KNOPPIX | Restart Compiz menu.

In Knoppix 7.4.1, I updated Compiz to the current development version 0.9.x and also recompiled LXDE, so these problems from earlier versions have disappeared. You might want to check out the new versions (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Knoppix desktop.

For system or disk recovery, I recommend the two excellent command-line-based tools TestDisk and PhotoRec from Christophe Grenier [2]. Although professional data recovery is normally not an easy task and requires in-depth knowledge of filesystem structures in complicated cases, these two tools make it easy to cover a wide range of scenarios for recovering from data loss (Figure 3). As a general rule: Always use a fresh disk to which you restore data, and never write to the original disk.

Figure 3: TestDisk sample.

I also prefer the command line because error messages are easier to spot and interpret, and typing commands and options directly gives you complete control over what's going to happen. You don't rely on icons or buttons that are subject to misinterpretation or were thought by developers to be more intuitive than they really are.

If you have ever clicked away an annoying graphical dialog with OK, and a few seconds later realized you did not even read what it said  – and it may actually DO something uncontrollable now  – you know what I'm talking about. ;-)

The Author

Klaus Knopper is the creator of Knoppix and co-founder of LinuxTag expo. He currently is a Professor, Dipl. Ing., at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern. If you have a configuration problem, or if you just want to learn more about how Linux works, send your questions to: klaus@linux-magazine.com

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