[UPDATE: Monoppix 1.0 has been released]
Monoppix is a GNU/Linux distribution which includes Mono, XSP, and Monodevelop, and runs completely off a CD. It allows you to get familiar with Mono development in Linux without installing anything on your computer.
Monoppix was based on Knoppix and Miniknoppix and was developed by Roiy Zysman (zroiy at spymac dot com).
- This is not an official release; it is a public preview intended for testing and feedback prior to the official release. 
- I'm a Linux lightweight. I've put a lot of time into testing and the XSP walkthrough, but there may be better or different ways of doing what I've listed. Please comment and I'll correct / update.
What is it?
Monoppix is a Live CD Linux distribution, which means you pop it in your CD drive, reboot, and you're running Linux. It works without installing a thing on your hard drive - it runs completely off the CD and RAM.
I'm really excited about this - I blogged back in April about how cool a Knoppix / Mono distribution would be. Rioy commented back in May asking me what it should include, and we've been corresponding since then. Rioy's done all the work, and I've done the easy stuff - testing, feature requests, and a little IT support (FTP, Freecache, etc.).
I've been most impressed by XSP (Mono's version of ASP.NET). Winforms are not yet supported by Mono (planned for release Q4 2004 according to the Mono release roadmap - see the Mono System.Windows.Forms page for info). Console apps work great, but it's tough for me to get too thrilled about a console app. XSP, on the other hand, just needs to render the same HTML as ASP.NET and it's worked great in my testing.
Downloads / Links
If you're familiar with Knoppix, download the ISO here and get to it.
If not, don't worry, it's a simple process:
1. Download the Monoppix ISO
2. Burn the ISO to a bootable CD
The easiest ways to burn an ISO to a bootable CD in Windows are:
- Nero, using the CD-ROM (BOOT) option
- ISORecorder (free, XP SP2 or Windows 2003 need to use the ISORecorder v2 beta release)
- CDBurn (part of free Windows 2003 Resource Kit, works on Windows XP, command line only)
3. Running Monoppix off the CD
Make sure the CD is in the CD drive and restart your computer. If it boots in your normal operating system, reboot again and change the start device priority in your BIOS to set the CD drive to higher priority in the boot order than the Hard Drive. At the prompt, you'll need to enter a Knoppix cheat code to tell Knoppix what hardware to use. If you're using standard equipment, you're probably okay with just "knoppix" (without the quotes). If you're using a laptop or LCD monitor, "fb1024x768" will probably work.
An introductory Mono CSC Quickstart (by Roiy) is available on the desktop, and is echoed here: CSC Quickstart Walkthrough. I set up a walkthrough on XSP (Mono's version of ASP.NET) here: Basic XSP (ASP.NET) and Monodevelop Walkthrough.
If you're chicken or just lazy, the walkthroughs have plenty of screenshots and can give you a quick overview of what it looks like to develop in Mono on Linux as if you were brave and industrious.
Access to your local files
Knoppix mounts your hard drive and places a link to it on your desktop, so you can execute your .NET / ASP.NET code off your hard drive. Linux only mounts NTFS partitions as read only, though, so if you want to save your work you'll need to be creative (save to a floppy, upload to an FTP, e-mail yourself, create a VFAT partition, etc.).
Virtual PC seems like it would work well here, but the Virtual PC emulated video device is 256 colors so many of the applications were unreadable / unusable. Konsole and Konqueror looked fine, but Monodevelop and Mozilla didn't. I'm guessing the KDE elements can handle 256 colors, while Gnome / GTK apps require higher color depth, but that's just speculation. I never got it working. If you'd like to prove me wrong, here are some links to get you started:
Virtual PC 45 day free demo
Running Linux on VPC
Those Knoppix Cheat codes
Suggestions / Feedback?
You can post suggestions as comments on this post, or e-mail Roiy Zysman (zroiy at spymac dot com). He's on reserve duty for the next week, so if you e-mail him you might not hear back immediately.
I think my biggest requests are mySQL and GTK#. What would you like?
 I've been testing it on 4 Windows machines for months, and thousands of others are using the basic Knoppix distribution. The disclaimer is to indicate that there are features that may not be working or are missing, but since this doesn't install anything on your hard drive it's not a risky venture. Try it out!
 A download manager comes in handy when you're downloading ISO's - I've used Download Express, Others have recommended FlashGet and LeechGet.