Let’s look at some examples of live CD
Puppy Linux is a really tiny (128MB) distro
that will boot off a live CD or USB stick. It has a clever system that allows
files and configuration changes to be written back to the CD or USB, making it
a portable OS that leaves no footprint on the host machine. It may be a little
sparse and quirky for some, but it gives you a useful operating system in
minutes, and can be used as a complete portable desktop.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ubuntu is
a full operating system which can be installed or run from a CD. The .iso image
is 685MB in size.
By default it comes with many useful tools,
and a full graphical interface. Although it may be a little like overkill for
most situations, I have found it useful when stuck without a working internet
connection. Once, it was the only disk that I had to hand, and it allowed me to
boot up and download drivers for the network card on a stricken Windows PC.
URR is a more targeted version of Ubuntu.
It’s much smaller at 223MB, and it’s CLI (Command Line Interface) only by
default, although you can install a GUI.
This is a nice simple repair solution for
the majority of dual-boot problems. Lost your Windows boot option in Linux, or
not getting Linux after installing Windows?
Once again, it’s a live CD. Download and
burn it to a CD or USB stick and boot the computer with it. It can repair the
majority of dual-boot problems, often with one click. You can also use it for
uninstalling an OS and recovering your disk space without losing access to your
remaining OS of choice.
Pretty obviously, it runs on Linux, but it
can repair Windows boot records. It also offers you a simple desktop GUI from
which you can launch a few tools, including a text editor, a file-manager, a
terminal, and a web browser among others.
doing its stuff
Billing itself as ‘CPR for your computer’,
TRK is a live CD Linux distro that is specifically aimed at fixing problems
with Windows PCs. It has a large number of utilities, and can recover files,
reset forgotten passwords, scan for viruses and many other tasks without a
great deal of Linux knowledge. It runs various tools from a menu-type front-end.
somewhat menacing Trinity menu scree
SysRecCD is another live CD distro that is
more focused on disaster recovery for Linux PCs, but it can be used with
The PartedMagic live CD has grown into a
full-blown distro. This CD image contains a huge number of useful utilizes,
including Parted, Gparted, Partimage, TestDisk, Truecrypt, Clonezilla,
Ghost4Linux, SuperGrubDisk, DDrescue and many more.
Parted Magic desktop, booted from a live CD
It boots from a CD or USB stick into a
graphical desktop with easy access to all of these tools. Armed with this
distro, you can format, clone, repair, erase or recover disks and files.
Magic menus, displaying the wealth of utilities available
UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD)
UBCD is a collection of tools of varying
sophistication, designed to boot an unresponsive system and carry out various
diagnostics and repairs on it. Although it is squarely aimed at Windows users,
it has various boot methods, involving FreeDOS and Linux. The current version
even includes a bootable image of PartedMagic, mentioned above.