Why linux live cd are important? How useful is it?

April 4th, 2007 mysurface Posted in df, fdisk, ls, Misc, scp | Hits: 58211 | 18 Comments »

There a plenty of linux live cd, check out frozentech.com, scroll down the list and you will see this line:

Currently displaying 315 LiveCD/DVDs

With various tools such as Kadischi, linux live script, Ubuntu Customization Kit etc, you can easily come out your own live cd. What you required is just the matter of time to fine tune and customized your software included in your live cd.

There are so many questions around the live cd. What have linux live cd capable of? Which linux live cd is the best? How do you efficiently use it? I have my own answer, I think who have created its own live cd, or actually using it would have his story to tell.

Let me tell you my story, with some linux commands examples, that I used along with live cd during investigation and repairing windows machine.

What linux live cd I use?
Slax, http://slax.linux-live.org/

Slax

The reasons I like slax are it is small in size. I usually ask the person who own the ‘problems’ windows machine to download and burn it for me on the spot. After done using it, I just ask them to keep the cd, which uses this way I promote them to use linux. ( Certainly, it fails. But at least they have aware of the alternatives that are better and strong.)

The second reason, it auto mount all the partitions it detects to /mnt/. So that I have no worries of mounting it myself, except mouting external devices such as USB flash disk.

How Slax come to rescue?
So, when windows couldn’t boot up, they called me. All the windows expert around the neighborhood had tried to help. Case 1, windows couldn’t boot up, not even load up with safe mode. Reinstall windows? Have tried to load up windows installer. The install refuse to reinstall and suggest to reformat the hardisk entirely. “OMG! orz my thesis forgot to backup! It is already 90% done” It is really cannot afford to loose it. Case 2, windows resist to boot up, not even showing any errors and windows installer couldn’t load up as well.

With this two cases, I ask them to download Slax iso from the website. Of course, Slax was successfully loaded. They are amazed, and start to ask what is Slax, its my call to introduce them what is Linux and what is live cd.

The first thing I do is to check the hardisk with df, or fdisk

df -h
fdisk /dev/hda

Ask them where they store their data? Assume it is stored at second partition which was mounted at /mnt/hda2. Next I list the mounted directories, trying to search for the files to backup. Things doesn’t goes so smooth, the hardisk is half corrupted. When I do

ls /mnt/hda2

It hangs there…

Okay it is not so bad, because certain directories still can be list, but it took very long and its messy to pin point all the files. To see all the files listed and backup for those can be recovered and needed, I need to store all the list results into a text file, so I do this

ls -lR /mnt/hda2/* > hda2.txt

It took sometimes, but when It is done, I obtained the recoverable list of files, hda2.txt. With that now I can backup! I have my notebook with me, which I have my ssh server installed. Therefore I use scp to copy over the file over the LAN. Another option is to plugin the flash disk and backup.

scp -r /mnt/hda2/thesis mysurface@192.168.1.18:~/backup

Another case was not so lucky, the partition are gone, same things goes to assignment. The partition causes windows installer fails to boot up. Therefore, remove the partition with fdisk.

fdisk /dev/hda

Press m for all the options, list the partition with l, delete with d. To comfirm your changes, write with w, to quit without saving changes with q.

Pretty straight forward, and after doing that, windows installer booting up. I am not trying to criticizes Microsoft operating system or windows users. I am here to show you that what linux live cd capable of, and how you can use it for your system diagnosis, and repairs with just few simple commands.

Alternatives?
There are plenty good live cd, again, check out frozentech.com.

[tags]linux, live cd, rescue disk, windows repair, slax[/tags]

18 Responses to “Why linux live cd are important? How useful is it?”

  1. you deleted second guys partitions?! could of easily be sved, nice reading your feed but no more noob

  2. I used to use Knoppix LIVE CD.

    Here u can see a problem of Linux world. There is simply too many distro. It is good for techie user.

    But for end user, selecting a distro is already confuse enuf for them to stick to Windows.

  3. [...] Linux by Examples uses the SLAX LiveCD to perform some data recovery and repair on a couple broken Windows machines.   [link] [...]

  4. @thiamteck: Knoppix 5.11 (soon, 5.2) could easily be the live CD one ever needs.

    @mysurface: This is interesting, but not demostrative of what’s really possible w/ Slax. You “could’ve” given them a custom CD w/ full NTFS support, AV protection, etc. With a little effort, Slax can be complete computing solution on a CD/DVD. And the one area where Slax exceeds Knoppix is the ease w/ which it can be remastered….

  5. Mr-Roboto:

    True, I do try to create a customized one last time, it was easy enough. The case is I am not computer technician, I just happen to be there to help someone who have stuck with dying xp laptop.

    Slax was just happen to be my first choice because of the size and auto mount.

  6. @mysurface: That’s almost always the case for Linux newbies. They need an OS *now*, to do something non-trivial, like fixing a dying PC. That’s not the time to start learning something new, esp like Linux….

  7. Most of the “Desktop” Linux liveCD distributions (distros) are meant to to be used for trying out or demoing Linux before installing them to your hard drive. Popular distros like Ubuntu, Mepis, and PCLinuxOS are good examples and in my mind are some of the best offerings. I’ve been there and done that. These are great distros, and there are many more! If you’re looking for a Linux distribution to install on your hard drive, these are all great distros, and you won’t be disappointed. Test drive the liveCD, install to your hard disk, and enjoy.

  8. [...] But too bad, scp do not have -u option, to do backup of linux, we can use rsync. Related Posts Why linux live cd are important? How useful is it? There a plenty of linux live cd, check out frozentech.com, scroll down the list and you will see this line: [...]

  9. Good stuff. A great journey begins with the first step….If I remember correctly, the first time I ever wanted or needed DOS was to play gorilla.bas, from that it was to lean Qbasic, so dont worry that people only need linux to save them in times of trouble, they learning it uninentionally, a code at a time

  10. I simply rely on my faithful gparted livecd for backup/repair and partitioning purpose (i mean for my clients windows machine)

  11. USB flash drives should do the trick. CD’s can break and are not that portable compared to flash drives.

  12. But there are still a lots of machines do not support booting up from USB flash drive.

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