Last night I attached my external backup HD via the USB port and fumbled through the data move without the mouse pointer on the screen, it worked perfectly! I had to right click on the external HD icon and select "change read / write mode" and select “yes” before the system would let me write to the external HD. I just highlighted the files on the internal HD and used "copy to" to move them. I moved just over 80G in about 2.5 hours, pictures, movies, files etc.
I then rebooted the Knoppix CD to see if that would help with the mouse pointer, it was visible for a while. It still disappears but restarting Knoppix resolves the problem for a while. Sure would have been a big help getting to know Knoppix if it would have shown up on the first try but I am not complaining at this point.
I was not able to get the thumb drives to work but I didn't spend much time trying to figure that one out as the other method worked.
Knoppix was easy to use and saved me on this one, time to get a new HD and a backup HD and start re-building. Here is a link to a user’s manual for Knoppix, it was helpful as well.
Thanks again for all your help...