This is an attempt to document some of ways to use Morphix. In particular to support a new Morphix LiveCD - MorphingMorphix.
Given the popularity of Knoppix and the vast amount of people working on derivative versions of Knoppix, it doesn't come as a surprise that people have been working to make Knoppix easier to modify and more flexible to use. In early 2003, Morphix was born out of a number of Knoppix remasters' wishes to have a version of Knoppix that was good at what they used Knoppix for: a base upon which to build their own versions using Debian GNU/Linux.
As you have seen in this book, there are a number of ways to change Knoppix to your liking. However, these possibilities have always been, and probably always will be, fairly limited. Knoppix was made for different goals: to detect your hardware as fast and correct as possible, to be a good demonstration of Linux and to include as much common-use Linux software as possible. Morphix's goals however are different: Ease of customization, ease of use, ease of installing. We are a lazy bunch, but thanks to Klaus Knopper we had a solid place from which to work from.
Knoppix, and most Knoppix' derivatives, are fairly monolithic in nature: They are essentially complete ready-made filesystems all compressed into one file. Morphix on the other hand is built up around the idea of modules: you have one module that boots your live CD and detects your hardware, another that contains your live CD filesystem and zero or more extra modules that can contain minor or major changes and additions to the system. This way, Morphix promotes the reusing of smaller, existing modules instead of one large /KNOPPIX/KNOPPIX file. Complicated? Well, a look at a typical Morphix live CD might help. This is the structure of Morphix 0.4-1 LightGUI, one of the Morphix flavours:
<pre> /base/boot.img /base/morphix /mainmod/MorphixMain-Light.mod </pre>
While it seems quite empty, this is how we release typical versions of Morphix. They are quite bare but offer users (or 'morphers', as we call ourselves, as you will notice we have a strange lingo for the uninitiated) more possibilities to change the resulting live CD. We will take a closer look at these and other tricks in the hack \"Morphing Morphix\" later on.
Morphix currently has four ready-to-burn \"combined ISOs\" available for download and a list of extra modules available for whomever needs them. All combined ISOs contain the Morphix installer, a graphical tool for installing Morphix onto your harddisk, and a number of other graphical and command line Morphix tools for various purposes. Each of these live CDs has their own targeted audience—our opinion has always been that we should offer (limited) choice to users and as much choice as possible for developers:
Aimed at lower-end PCs, LightGUI features the XFCE4 desktop and contains a reasonable amount of lighter tools. It was the initial version of Morphix, and the aim has been to keep LightGUI small enough to have it fit on 210MB CDR(W). LightGUI includes Abiword, Gnumeric, Dillo and Firefox. For communication, Gaim and Xchat are included, and for photo processing the GIMP has been added.
Formerly named Morphix HeavyGUI, this flavour was for some time the only conterpart of LightGUI. Including Gnome, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, and the kitchen sink, Morphix Gnome was aimed at office users with more recent machines. Even so, a normal Morphix Gnome ISO still doesn't fill up the whole (650MB) CD-ROM, and recent versions weigh in at around 500MB.
Although primarily focused on GTK/Gnome, the Morphix crew acknowledges that users might prefer KDE instead (and looking at the number of derivatives, a lot of users do!). Morphix KDE contains the whole KDE suite of programs, as well as Mozilla and other applications. Morphix KDE sits inbetween LightGUI and Gnome when it comes to size, and fills up approximately 400MB of space on your CD-ROM.
An odd-ball in Morphix, this flavour contains the very light IceWM and a very large number of Open Source games. BZflag, Frozen Bubble, Freecraft and many, many others are sure to entertain the kids (or entertain the kid in you) for quite a few hours. Normally Morphix Game also includes one or more demo versions or free full versions of commercial Linux games, adding to the fun. Gaming on Linux a rarity? This hasn't been the case for many years, no matter what kind of games you enjoy!
All the official Morphix live CDs contain the Morphix installer, as stated above. This tool allows users to easily install their Morphix (or derivative) live CD onto a hard disk. Often overlooked, the difference between a live CD and a hard disk install is very small indeed. The Morphix installer is also built in a flexible manner so that derivatives can even rebrand the Morphix installer, although the source itself is licensed under the GNU GPL. A graphical partitioner and series of configuration tools have been under development and are likely to be part of Morphix by the time this book comes off the press.
The purpose of Morphing-Morphix is to provide the quick way to start Morphing and making your own LiveCD. Just boot the CD and start Morphing, no need to install tools, compile applications or switch operating systems. All is required is some space on a connected hard drive. The aim is to be able make new Morphix LiveCDs using this LiveCD, as an introduction to Morphix. In fact this LiveCD was made using Morphing-Morphix.
A lot has been said about the number of Linux distributions recently. What others see as a complicated mess, we see as a healthy, messy eco-system. Morphix has quite a few offspring and a lot of them are specially focussed at a single group of people (ranging from Brazilian engineers, non-profit organizations or self-proclaimed Hackers) or are providing a localized non-English Linux distribution (ie. Chinese, Galicia/Spanish, Hindi, Arabic), the list goes on and on. So, if the default Morphix Live CDs aren't to your liking take a look on www.morphix.org for a list of related projects. Even if you start 'morphing' from one of these derivatives, you can be sure of a base to fall back to and a design that will get your project 'live' and updated ASAP.