the installation of xp was in ntfs im sure thats important.
It is. That is the root of your problem (no pun intended). Linux has a great deal of trouble reading NTFS ... it was only with the last kernel revision that this became possible for an average user. The chances are pretty good that your knoppix CD doesn't have the latest kernel, so recovering files from NTFS (and burning DVDs) are probably not possible using that method.
this is my first experience with linux and im really not sure what im doing wrong but i have to retrieve some home movies and pictures i took.
Well, don't despair!
As Adam1130 pointed out, the easiest way to recover those files is to pull the hard drive and put it in another PC that is running Win2K or XP. If that isn't possible, we can try to find a LiveCD (a bootable linux CD such as Knoppix) that can read NTFS and burn DVDs ... but this may not be possible.
i was told to install xp on another drive or partition (is this even possible?)
It might. In fact, if you had a registered copy of XP, you might be able to repair / reactivate the OS. If you don't, I think you might be hosed. I'm fairly sure that MS wouldn't let someone reinstall a trial copy on top of a trial copy. I'm not sure about that, though.
***understanding the rules of this board i am not soliciting activation workarounds just data retrieval.***
In your case, one might consider using a registered copy sans net access long enough to boot your PC, backup your data, and then format the drive. This is skirting the edges of the law, I guess, but you aren't intending to pirate the software ... just recover your data and then destroy the install.