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What Live CDs Do You Carry Around?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the another-tool-in-the-toolbox dept.

Operating Systems 184

TPC asks: "I recently acquired a small CD case that fits 12 CDs. I figured that it would be useful to always carry around a few CDs to use when helping others with computer issues, or in case something goes wrong with my own computer. However, I'm having a hard time deciding what CDs to pick, and there are probably many hidden gems out there. I'm sure I'm not the first person with this idea, so I ask you: What 12 live (and otherwise) CDs would you carry around?"

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184 comments

Knoppix (3, Insightful)

richardoz (529837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044854)

For me my number 1 disc is Knoppix [wikipedia.org] or Wikipedia Article [knoppix.org]

After that's its a disc with common hardware drivers, Java 1.5, Eclipse, Apache, MySql and PHP

Re:Knoppix (1)

gerbalblaste (882682) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044924)

i also have knoppix as my main, and for the most part my only livecd.

I find that its easier to put common apps and drivers onto a usb stick and use that on windows boxes or in conjunction with the knoppix livecd.

Re:Knoppix (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045094)

Another nod to knoppix here, followed by the Auditor variant (most excellent to turn the work issued notebook into a, well, auditor :-)
-nB

Re:Knoppix (2, Informative)

SausageOfDoom (930370) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046394)

I too carry a Knoppix cd. I also carry net installs of Debian and Ubuntu.

One other thing I have found useful is a copy of hard drive manufacturers' hd test utils - not only do they load up quick and show me what the problem is, but when I get called out to a friend-of-a-friend, it also helps me prove to them that they need to fork out some cash ;)

For reference, the hd tools I carry are Seatools (Seagate), PowerMax (Maxtor), Drive Fitness Test (IBM/Hitachi). I also carry Memtest86+.

One thing I would also recommend is writing the software version and date of burn onto the face of your CDs - helps avoid confusion in the future, and also lets you know when it's time to make a new version.

Re:Knoppix (1)

Daxster (854610) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045306)

..and not just a liveCD, but I'd have a DVD version kicking around too..seeing as it has nearly every program you could ever want as a temporary solution to something.

Re:Knoppix (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045376)

I used to carry a knoppix CD, but after I mislaid my last one I never got around to burning a new one. I just carry around disc#1 of the current Slackware set, which I use to boot from. I can then mount any partitions necessary, then chroot as required. Sure, knoppix might be a friendlier way of getting around, but it's not necessary if you know what you are doing...

Re:Knoppix (3, Insightful)

kv9 (697238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046782)

I just carry around disc#1 of the current Slackware set, which I use to boot from.

SLAX [slax.org]

Re:Knoppix (5, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045514)

Knoppix is nice, but it's a bit big for me. Personally, I prefer the System Rescue CD [sysresccd.org]

It's got the important bits without the extra. Also can load to RAM, which is very nice for working with backups on systems that only have one optical drive. I'm not sure, but I believe it only requires 128mb or RAM or so.

Re:Knoppix (3, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045554)

Whoops, forgot to give you even a cursory description. From the main page:
Description: SystemRescueCd is a linux system on a bootable cdrom for repairing your system and your data after a crash. It also aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk. It contains a lot of system utilities (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic ones (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It aims to be very easy to use: just boot from the cdrom, and you can do everything. The kernel of the system supports most important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), and network ones (samba and nfs).


Note to moderators: please do not moderate this post up, unless it falls beneath the default threshhold - unless the parent post falls below as well. I want this information visible and I simply forgot to add it to the parent post, and do not wish moderation points to be wasted. Thanks.

Re:Knoppix (2, Informative)

Mooga (789849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046186)

DSL (Damn Small Linux) is also a good thing to have if you ever have to mess with a very old computer.
It's not as "newbie friendly" as Knoppix (which is great, of course), bet it can also get the job done and you can probably get it running on any computer made within at least the last 10 years if not 15 or more...

Does it fit on a 80mm mini-CD? (~185MB) (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046518)

If it doesn't fit on the small-format mini-CD, I don't see any reason to carry around a full-sized 120mm CDROM that isn't crammed to the gills. Maybe you need all the tools, maybe not, but they're not in your way, and the only reason to even use CD instead of DVD is that not all machines have DVD drives yet. The mini-CD and the business-card-sized formats may be a bit more practical to carry around.


Alternatively, USB sticks are great, but not everything knows how to boot from USB. Small distros are kind of nice, since 128MB USB sticks come as toys in breakfast cereal boxes these days, but if you're going to pay money for them a gigabyte is probably the smallest worth buying.

Re:Knoppix (1)

rootlinuxusr (1033732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045790)

I agree Knoppix is a must have. Bart PE is another. I like to have Ubuntu, Mepis, an NT Passwd changer, a windows installation, and norton ghost.

Slax (4, Interesting)

eklitzke (873155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046800)

Of course Knoppix is far and away the best Live CD in this area. But it's not great if you want something that can boot from a (reasonably sized) USB drive. Let me explain. I am a "Residential Computing Consultant" at the school I go to, which means that I troubleshoot student's computers, clean up after spyware and viruses, etc. At my job we are issued a 512 MB flash drive. The programs that we are _required_ to have on there (i.e. all the anti spyware, networking diagnostic, and especially Windows patches and hot fixes) take up at least 300 MB. With the remaining space I was able to install Slax and still have ~50 MB left to spare.

I went with Slax rather than something like DSL for a number of reasons. But the main one is that of all the really small live distros, it was the only one I could find with a 2.6 kernel, which translates to better hardware support for all of the weird computers I have to work on (they are mostly one or at most two years old).

We are encouraged to carry Knoppix CDs as well, and they are available in the office, but it's really, really nice to be able to have a live USB drive. Plus only a relatively small amount of the total software on a Knoppix CD is for data recovery and so forth, and all of the essential tools in this area are present in most of the small distros like Slax or DSL.

my list (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044870)

minipe is a must for windows installs
knoppix is a must for linux
keep a fedora boot cd (or other common platforms in your line of work)
windows XP install cd (for recovery- or substitute with appropriate windows server version)

You can probably get away with those and the boot cds for any OS you are likely to work on (Solaris install cd, IRIX insttools, whatever)

Re:my list (2, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045472)

At our shop, we use:

Knoppix CD & DVD

the Insert distro

BartPE {tweaked to include Symantec Ghost and XP keygrabbers}

MemTest x86

the Win95C, 98, 98SE, 2000, XP Home/Pro/OEM/SP2 Cds, with DOS on floppy...

{yes, we STILL get the occasional 286....}

Live? (5, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044874)

"Different Stages" by Rush... but that's obviously not what you mean.

Re:Live? (1, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044888)

I prefer "The Song Remains the Same". I throw a Gentoo LiveCD into the same case.

Re:Live? (2, Interesting)

davecarlotub (835831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045486)

I prefer "The Song Remains the Same". I throw a Gentoo LiveCD into the same case.


I work in a Windows shop and I use the Gentoo install-x86-minimal-2006.1 [gentoo.org] CD regularly to pull files from old crashed Win2k hard drives. It's nice, for me.

Re:Live? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047070)

I don't know what kind of miserable human would mod your comment off-topic, HBI. I thought it was funny and the Gentoo comment on-topic.

When I read the headline I was thinking Humble Pie, Rockin' the Fillmore.

And I carry a bootable Ghost CD that's saved my butt a few times, too. And Gentoo.

Re:Live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045126)

stages? man... that's poor use of space. that's a fourth of his case already gone!

I would say Exit... Stage Left would be better.

Re:Live? (0, Offtopic)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045194)

Only the first two discs are really important. Not to say the third disk should be overlooked but... 2112 in it's entirety and the boys had a chance to mature their live set a bit more? Fantastic. ESL is good too though.

Re:Live? (1, Offtopic)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045184)

James Taylor for me, thank you. One you listen to the Live CD(s), you can't go back to the doctored and primped studio stuff. No that there's anything wrong with Rush...Hold Your Fire is my favorite (non-live), but that was from my "era", so it may be a particularly biased choice.

Re:Live? (0, Offtopic)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045408)

Ah yes, "Hold Your Fire", the local minimum between the local maxima of "Grace Under Pressure" and "Presto". "Power Windows" is an inflection point.

"Hold Your Fire" is also the limit of Rush as Alex Lifeson approaches underutilized.

Re:Live? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045520)

Exit Stage Left myself.

With the extra space I carry:

The latest Sabayon DVD (because it looks cool and I can show off XGL/AIGLX to all the people that think Vista is cool and/or unique)

A Gentoo CD because I never took it out when I moved to Sabayon.

WHAX for when I'm going to be close to some kind of restricted hot-spot.

A bootable CD with Ghost on it.

And of course a Knoppix/Ubuntu/Mepis or whatever the cool live CD is for the week.

(not to mention a bootable USB thumb drive. It goes a bit faster and allows me to save the data back to it)

Re:Live? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17046044)

I'd carry the 2 CD version of AC/DC Live.

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, Damnsmalllinux, UBCD (5, Interesting)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044876)

My favourites are Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, Damnsmalllinux.org, and the Ultimate Boot CD [which my Dad loves for the hard disk utilities].

I plan on ordering Ubuntu discs from ShipIt, and handing them out at the Vista launch event on January 9th.

Re:Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, Damnsmalllinux, UBCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045548)

awesome!!! all the best! i like ubuntu a lot!

Re:Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, Damnsmalllinux, UBCD (1)

J0nne (924579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046986)

If you still have to order them, you'll never get them in time. Ship-it is way too slow.

I guess you'll have to burn them yourself. You probably won't need a lot anyway, you'll be kicked out soon enough ;).

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044882)

mandatory tool to have in your toolkit [eunet.no] if you deal with Windows machines.

Re:Offline NT Password & Registry Editor (2, Insightful)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045396)

I'll second that one. Every once in awhile when the CEO loses his post-it note with his new password on it, it pays to be able to reset it quickly and painlessly. I have been using that disc for a couple of years and I love it.

I usually keep a copy of the UBCD [ultimatebootcd.com] around to test out SMART failures, flaky memory, etc. and fix boot problems and other miscellaneous junk.

Apart from those, I also have to give the nod to Knoppix or the STD Knoppix for other types of recovery.

700 megs of lesbian MILF pr0n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044890)

thats as live as it gets bitchezzzzz

Security.. (1)

Swordless Samurai (982348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044896)

I'm not going to lie... I have a CD Case Like yours, small that I use for LiveCD's. Most of My CD's are Security Distro's Suck as Whax or knoppix-STD. The reason I have so many is because in my travels I come across many types of laptops and computer and some of the base distro's work better with certain hardware.

BART PE, others (4, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044936)

For Windows emergency repairs: A CD made with Bart's Prebuild Environment [nu2.nu]

For Mac OS X emergency repairs, a Mac OS X bootable disk

For everything else, a bootable Linux disk with the tools I think I need that day.

For general use, TheOpenCD. This also has a Windows partition so I can show my XP-loving friends the joys of Free-as-in-beer-and-liberty software.

Re:BART PE, others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045286)

For Windows emergency repairs: A CD made with Bart's Prebuild Environment

It's always bothered me that it's not open or documented how they built that. I'm too paranoid that it's got a root-kit in it to use it.

Re:BART PE, others (1)

mathew7 (863867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046140)

1st of all, PEBuilder is just a builder. It has some provided apps for the minimal interface, but the rest is from your Windows CD. If those provided apps would be rootkits, there would be lots of negative feedback, because many of those who use it in rescue ops are experts in Windows.

Kill disk (2, Informative)

ipooptoomuch (808091) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044940)

Kill disk which simply has very advanced (read:paranoid) data destruction techniques (read:write lots of 0's over and over then replace with 1's) for when you need your entire hard drive wiped in about 10 minutes for when the riaa knocks down your door because you have a 1 TB array of hard drives serving free mp3s to small children.

Re:Kill disk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045692)

I have to scrub disks at work, we have to use methods that meet DoD level standards.

Somehow I doubt it's possible to do 7 passes on 1TB worth of disk in 10 minutes.

Our arrays take much longer.

Re:Kill disk (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046922)

If you're living in a country where copyright infringement is a criminal offence, 10 minutes is too slow. 10 seconds is probably too slow.

Thermite is probably the best solution.

Re:Kill disk (3, Interesting)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047086)

Thing about that is that it's pretty obvious that the drive has been wiped. I wonder if anyone has made a DVD which could securely erase a drive and then install an image of a small (by modern standards) OS like Windows 98? You could create an image which looks used, with a few documents, browser history, etc. Maybe even some deleted files for any analysis to turn up. In a short amount of time, you could probably really make it look like the machine had been used as a 98 box for a while. (Plenty of idiots buy much nicer hardware than they need).

The only live album you need: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044942)

Live At Leeds.

Seriously, it's the only one you need.

Who carries around CDs anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044994)

I have ISO images of stuff I might want to use that I can stick on a USB drive, or in a pinch burn onto a CD. But carry around physical CDs? I'm trying to reduce the weight in my laptop bag, not increase it with stuff I'll use once a year, if ever!

Dear god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045016)

What Live CDs Do You Carry Around?


I may be here for News for Nerds, but carrying live cds? Jesus Christ, how big of a dork do you think I am?

The very notion makes me shudder.

UBCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045020)

The Ultimate Boot CD [www.ultimatebootcd.com] has lots of handy tools for recovery from all sorts of disasters.

List (4, Interesting)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045064)

  1. Knoppix

    Never know when you need to pull files from a disk with a FUBAR boot sector

  2. AV Disc

    Need your disk with AVAST, Ad-Aware, and other virus removal tools

  3. Windows XP

    Sometimes a re-install is just easier

  4. Fedora

    Just in case you have an open-minded subject prone to viruses, you can get them using Linux. (Of course, this takes multiple disc spaces.)

  5. MS Office

    To fix those pesky Office corruptions

  6. Open Office

    Once again, for those open-minded folks who wouldn't really know the difference anyway.

  7. Misc software

    Adobe, Quicktime, Firefox, Opera, J2RE, etc. Those pretty much handle any random computer problems most people have.

live cd musts (1)

fleaboy (657517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045088)

Anonymous OS, Simply Mepis 6.0, Freespire, Linspire, Damn Small Linux, ""on a usb for doze, Vector live, PCLinux OS

6 blank CD-Rs and 6 blank DVD-Rs (2, Informative)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045136)

It is certainly different for me nowadays. I used to always carry around boot discs and driver discs of various descriptions. Installation of software is a much less risky process since the advent of Win2K/XP, and with safe mode, the likelihood of not being able to boot a computer is much reduced.

Also, with near-ubiquitous internet access these days, the chances of not having a critical driver is almost zero. And any particularly hard to get drivers I keep on my laptop.

So now I pretty much just keep blank CDs/DVDs with me, and make backups of important data if I'm installing hardware.

Re:6 blank CD-Rs and 6 blank DVD-Rs (1)

kakalaky (902350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046042)

You'll be just fine as long as you never have a hd fail or a nic with no driver, but we all know that never happens.

Re:6 blank CD-Rs and 6 blank DVD-Rs (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046880)

Why not just put knoppix etc on a CD-RW. Then you can make it a blank if you really need a blank ;).

Anyway, I have Knoppix and the "reset windows password" boot cd in my bag.

Used to also carry around ClusterKnoppix and Knoppix STD.

Mix of Linux and Windows tools (5, Informative)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045146)

Here's what I have in my CD case, in approximate order of how regularly use them...

Memtest86 [memtest86.com]--because the RAM in the cheap PCs I come across sucks. Some of the other tool CDs have this one as well, I like to get the latest one regularly here. Good for stress testing, and even handy for figuring out things like whether the RAM is running correctly in dual-channel mode.

SystemRescueCD [sysresccd.org]--I particularly like the partition editor and imaging utilities. Been weaning myself off Partition Magic/Drive Image even for Windows work with these two.

Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] live CD and DVD. The CD works in more systems, the DVD version is a completely usable system with a lot of stuff in it. What most impresses me about the Ubuntu live disc is that I can download packages over the network and install them, even thing that run as services, from the live environment. I actually got PostgreSQL installed and some database tests completed, all without a single Postgres file on the media.

Knoppix [knopper.net]--Some days, your first choice in Linux live CDs just doesn't work on a random machine; that's why I still carry around this one as a backup.

Bart PE [nu2.nu]--A bit of a pain to build the first time, but very handy for fixing Windows machines.

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor [eunet.no]--this one has been less useful lately, as I've been running into NTFS partitions it really doesn't want to write to. My fallback position is to use this to generate a new SAM file, then copy it over with a BartPE disc.

RedHat [redhat.com] Enterprise 3 and 4 CDs. While not technically live CDs, you can do a lot with booting into this environment, and I deal with enough people running RedHat versions that they're worth carrying around. I still keep one of the older versions around so I have something running the 2.4 kernel to tests against; occasionally I'll run into some old hardware that 2.6 pukes on, while 2.4 still works great.

Re:Mix of Linux and Windows tools (2, Interesting)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045250)

You do know that memtest86 is on knoppix cds? just type memtest at the boot prompt ^_^

But nice selection, I have a custom built windows XP home edition OEM slipstream too, it loads most major MOBO drivers, has ability to load nvidia and ati offerings too, as well as firefox, spybot, adaware (used with permission), java vm, dotnetfx, about 80 windows updates since sp2 and videolan player. It also has a few 3dmarks, some game demos and sp2 saved in a (not copied at install time) directory. Fits on a 4.2G dvd fine :)

"ultimate boot cd" (has bartPE, offline pw editor and memtest on one disk) and knoppix v4 (some low end vid cards from nvidia and ati have refresh rate problems with 5) and v5 round out the basic stuff, have seagate tools and disc wizard handy too in case I need to get physical with a HDD.

Re:Mix of Linux and Windows tools (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045638)

You do know that memtest86 is on knoppix cds? just type memtest at the boot prompt

It is also on ubuntu live cds, right there on the boot menu.

Redundant! (in a gay voice) (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045302)

Two of those are quite unnecessary. First, memtest86, because it's included on the Knoppix CD (type memtest at the boot prompt). Second, SystemRescueCD, because Knoppix has a full recovery suite including the most recent partition editors and ntfsprogs, which, combined, can nearly replace PartitionMagic.

The rest of it I can see, except for the NT Password thing. BartPE can, I believe, do all that rescue and more, and it actually works on XP SP2.

Re:Mix of Linux and Windows tools (1)

mokeyboy (585139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045682)

SystemRescueCD--I particularly like the partition editor and imaging utilities. Been weaning myself off Partition Magic/Drive Image even for Windows work with these two.
This is an invaluable resource. Resize partitions to allow dual boot, reset Windows admin passwords, surface verification scans of failing HDD's, backup HDD to USB disks, scrub HDD's on warranty swap etc, etc. The more use, the more uses I discover.

Depends on what you fix... (2, Informative)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045154)

Knoppix is my personal favorite, but I deal with a lot of linux/unix x86 hardware which can be easily fixed using this software.

However if you deal with Windows systems, look to keep "The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows" in you list. http://www.ubcd4win.com/ [ubcd4win.com]

LinuxDefender Live is also another good one to have.

LiveCd?!? (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045244)

LiveCD is what... buzzword for bootable?

Re:LiveCd?!? (2, Informative)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045382)

LiveCD is what... buzzword for bootable?


No, it is bootable but the live bit is because you can run a live OS directly from the CD. Not just boot the machine into DOS but have everything from web browsers to office suites.

Re:LiveCd?!? (2, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045430)

Pretty much. It's also sometimes more specifically used to describe Linux distros you can download and burn to a CD and then boot off of... sort of a try before you install to the HD dealie. Not that you HAVE to install to the HD. In this case, LiveCDs can be useful for computer recovery.

I have to use a Knoppix LiveCD every time I have to reinstall Windows, which will erase grub, for instance. From there I can reinstall grub and regain my triple-boot-ability.

Portable Win32 apps (3, Informative)

wrecked (681366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045252)

I keep a CD of Kanotix [kanotix.com] around at all times. It's a Knoppix variant, but I find that Kanotix has a cleaner look and feel. It's also better for a HD install, since it uses only Debian-unstable packages instead of the mix of testing and unstable that Knoppix uses.

However, I'm going to my parents' home for the Xmas holidays, so I'll be using their WinXP machine. I happened to have a USB flash drive lying around, so I packed it with portable FOSS Win32 packages from , including FireFox, Thunderbird, GIMP, OpenOffice etc. These packages install everything, including dlls, into an application folder and are executed directly from the USB drive. The added benefit is that you can copy these packages from machine to machine simply by copying the application folders; there is no need to run an installer every time or alter the Registry. [portableapps.com]

1 disk (4, Informative)

TheBeardIsRed (695409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045270)

For me, there's one disk. It's a beast. It's also of questionable legality. That being said, when shit hits the fan i don't mind if 'legal' and i are on opposite sides of the fence at zero hour. Nobody cares when their servers aren't working. Note, this isn't a link, just a good description (so you can find it yourself... hint: newsgroups)
Hiren's Boot CD [ntlworld.com]

Re:1 disk (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045686)

Most of those are free utilities. As for the commercial ones, there are NUMEROUS free alternatives that will work just as well, if you'd just put a little effort into looking for them, rather than thumbing your nose at the law.

Re:1 disk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17046936)

Perhaps, but the point is that this disk has already been created with all the tools on. It would take you many hours to replace all the commercial tools with their free equivalents. Try using it some day and you'll see how much work it would take to setup a live bootable version of every tool.

Sometimes there aren't free equivalents, e.g. if you need to use your hard disk manufacturer's low-level custom format tool for some reason.

Re:SLAX (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045628)

Slax is my the CD of choice. I use Damn Small Linux, Knoppix and Ubuntu. Knoppix is the most powerful, Ubuntu is the highest polished and is a pleasure to use and Damn Small Linux is just plain 'ol good. However, Slax spends the least amount of time in the Cup Holder than all three of the other Live CDs together but gets more work done. Whether I'm reinitializing a boot partition, changing a script or adding/removing files from a HD Slax's raw power is in most cases what I want. Fits nicely on a flash stick too.

I don't carry it around on a CD (3, Informative)

Utopia (149375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045300)

I have USB stick loaded with WinPE for cleanup or maintenance tasks.

Throwing Copper (2, Funny)

_damnit_ (1143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045338)

Great album. Won't help much with fixing your Mom's computer though.

Re:Throwing Copper (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045504)

You are correct. EXCELLENT album.

"Birds of Pray" was a disappointment. "The Distance to Here" is my favorite.

Re:Throwing Copper (1)

rjforster (2130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046380)

Not to me. I really like Birds Of Pray. V was the disappointment to me.
Saw them this summer on tour. Fantastic.

Current Knoppix DVD... (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045404)

in an amored (lightly...) CD case. Also an USB stick with a RIP Linux on it. Nothing else.

What's a CD? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045458)

I carry a bootable 1gb USB drive (which is nearly full... should've gone for at least 2gb, maybe 4gb). I have Damn Small Linux (the embedded version) on it at the moment but I had a working BartPE too at one point.

I don't typically boot off of it though. Usually just launch the many Windows tools I keep on it. Although DSL Embedded comes packaged with qemu for both Windows and Linux along with respective batch files for each OS to launch qemu with the bootable DSL as the guest os... which is really neat. :)

Re:What's a CD? (5, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045728)

I carry a bootable 1gb USB drive

I do not carry diagnostics on a USB flash drive. In an instant they can be silently corrupted without you knowing. They don't have a write protect. That alone makes them unusable to carry from client to client. You need idiot proof diagnostic media so an accidental reboot does not permit the worm on a system from hitching a ride with you to your next client. I only permit write protected media for all my diagnostics. A floppy with the write tab punched out or glued open, a single closed session CDR, or DVD is OK, but a writable USB drive is not OK to use by service people at my site.

Virus-cleaners need to be on Read-Only (2, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046562)

I agree with you about not using writeable media on dangerously untrustable systems, so your virus-cleaners and similar tools need to be read-only. There *are* some write-protectable flash drives these days - I think I've mainly seen them as Compact Flash, so you'd need a USB CF-card reader, but those are trivially cheap. However, CDROM media is basically free, and the person whose machine needed cleaning probably needs to have you leave them a copy :-)

Very Useful (1)

treak007 (985345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045540)

A very useful live-cd to carry around is knoppix-std because it contains a good collection of tools you never know when you will need. An even more useful live cd is the Gparted live disk. It contains just the bare minimum (an older version I had contained a shell, a text editor and gparted), but can be perfect for fixing a lot of different problems. Also, it never hurts to keep a dvd of an install disk, especially one like ubuntu 6.06 because the installer actually runs off the live disk, so it gives your full desktop environment.

Live CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045564)

"Throwing Copper" wasn't too bad... it was left in my MP3 directory by an ex-GF, and I'm slowly getting used to it. Not worth carrying around the actual CD, though.

I've been a computer repairer forever.... (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045606)

I've been a computer repairer for like 4 years and I just carry a 1 GB USB drive with installers for Spybot S&D, Ad-aware SE, Avast, Zone Alarm, and Everest home edition (not available anymore). Anything else I can usually fix manually. I also have some great utilities like winsock fix and the removal tools for common viruses. And of course, an installer for Open Office cuz that takes forever on DSL and everyone whines about not having office. I also have a rarely used free RAM tester. Plus I have internet shortcuts to any websites I always want to go to on-site like driverguide.com in case I forget the address. Also, pre-written instruction files for common tasks so I don't have to re-type them every time someone asks (you'd be surprised how often that comes up). If I knew of an alternate to the windows task manager other than spybot, I'd have that on there too. So there ya go, a bunch of stuff you probably never thought of but will save U tons of time and headaches from a computer repair expert who actually has repaired people's home computers. Look at the absolute crap that has nothing to do repair above this post and mod this one up already!

gentoo (1)

butane317 (998898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045676)

I always have an x86 and an amd64 Gentoo LiveCD laying around, but that's because I run Gentoo on all of my computers. It has memtest86 built in!

Mines (1)

wolf369T (951405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045714)

Knoppix, Slax, Freesbie, Hiren Boot CD (errr, I know it's not a live distro, or even a legal one, but it's damn useful sometimes)

Mine, of course: Kaella (1)

ycochard (547371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045796)

I carry the one live-CD I initiated and maintain:
- Kaella [linux-azur.org]
It is derivated from Knoppix, all in French. I also have nearby Kubuntu and Mandriva.

A multitude of discs for a multitude of purposes.. (2, Informative)

ThelpDealio (1033736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045912)

I currently carry around with me:
Kororaa XGL live CD v0.3 and 0.2 [kororaa.org]
There is nothing better than to show off the power of Linux to your friends and the non believers. 0.3 is only ATI cards at the moment, while 0.2 supports both. People are usually impressed by this.

Backtrack 1.0 [remote-exploit.org]
The best in security analysis live cd's.

Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org]
Good for older machines :)

Offline NT Password and Registry Editor [eunet.no]
Always good to have when people forget their admin password or something on a windows machine...

Auditor Security collection from the backtrack people. I still have this around because it supports a bit more hardware than backtrack did

Knoppix [knoppix.org]
Good when you are at public terminals and are kinda paranoid...

I also carry around various install cd's for recent versions of linux.

HURD (2, Funny)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045922)

No, seriously [superunprivileged.org]... whenever a system crashes, you can pop it in, and BAM - you get the certain knowledge that, no matter how bad things might be, you're at least one step above absolute rock bottom.

grml (2, Insightful)

black_rob (1016231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046032)

I have a couple lying around, but the one I always pull out is grml [grml.org]. It's focused on text tools --"linux for sysadmins" I think is the phrase they use. It's booted on everything I ever tried it on and has good support for wireless cards. Plus they can fit a lot more on a cd by skipping KDE, and it boots so much faster than knoppix.

Knoppix, UBCD, Ubuntu (3, Interesting)

yppiz (574466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046094)

I carry around Knoppix and the Ultimate Boot CD on USB thumb drives.

I most recently booted a multi-terabyte server off the Knoppix thumb drive to run memtest overnight in an attempt to track down some hardware flakiness.

UBCD is a lifesaver for borked Windows machines.

Ubuntu is the best end-user live CD I've seen. It works well on my laptop, even getting wireless right.

--Pat

Ultimate Boot CD (1)

whereiseljefe (753425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046150)

Ultimate Boot CD (http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/) and a BartPE disk a friend made for me a while ago that I updated... (it's loaded down with partition magic and some other utilities...)

Finnix (2, Informative)

fo0bar (261207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046174)

I carry Finnix [finnix.org]. It's a 100MB livecd with no X, but a command-line interface and a lot of tools for the sysadmin in mind. LVM autodetection, very quick boot (remember, no X), niche network utilities like vconfig/mii-diag/iptraf/etc. Memtest86+ via the boot menu of course. It even has a freedos boot profile for when you need to flash a BIOS.

Oh, and I'm kinda required to carry Finnix, since I'm the author. Oops :)

My List (1)

jakel2k (736582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046218)

Here is a list of CD I find useful for all occassions, (of course keep them up to date):

0. USB key with DSL and required applications, (putty, antivirus, vim, 7zip, adaware, Openoffice...) not all computers can boot USBs
1. Knoppix (has nearly all tools, but slow on older systems.
2. Slax (Quick and fast but not all utils available).
3. DSL (Quicker and faster but not all utils available).
4. Ubuntu (x86)
5. Kubuntu
6. Ubuntu (AMD)
7. Ubuntu (PPC)
8. Ubuntu 5.10 - Server Installation (Light minimal installation.
9. GeexBox - To play DVDs, VCDs...
10. IP-Cop - For the firewall
11. Blank CD - for backup.
12. CD with putty, antivirus, vim, 7zip, adaware, Openoffice...


Pick and replace to your liking. With other Distros you like. You'll need another folder for Windows and related discs.

I don't (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046434)

Rather than try to build a be-all, end all pack I take what's needed for the job. We have a big rack of CDs at work with all our various recovery and maintenance tools, there's at least 30 CDs in that category. However for a given problem it's unlikely to need more than a couple. So I bring what I'll probably need. Just ask the person first. Same deal when I consult. For example last night I got a call for a system that couldn't run Office and AOL at the same time and was performing poorly. That tells me I need anti-spyware tools, Windows system examination tools (like the Sysinternals utilities) and Office service packs. I'm not going to need any live CDs, clearly the system is operational. In the end, Process Explorer was the only tool needed (a program was leaking memory and the system has little of it).

Do your homework first, and you don't need to bring so much with you.

For problems serious enough that I'd want to boot form a live CD, I generally don't do service on site. I take the computer with me where I can hook it up and have access to any and all tools I might need, including a working computer with Internet access. Major reason is that quite often the problem is disk failure. Well in that case I need the data backed up and fast. You do not want ot be trying that off a live CD on a potentially faulty machine. You want that disk in a computer you know is good, with good cooling on it, so you can quickly do a local copy of the important stuff (and the whole disk, if that works).

Unless you are doing work on computers at really remote locations, that's how I'd do it.

If you are just asking what kinds of CDs to have. Well, I dunno, depends on what you have access to, and how much time you are willing to spend. Off the top of my head the recovery CDs that get the most use at work are Windows PE, the Windows XP and 2000 install CDs, Knoppix, Memtest86+, Ghost (few different ones configured for different NICs), Spinrite, the Sysinternals tools, XP SP2/2K SP4/etc, the AV/anti-spyware USB stick (so it can be updated), drivers CDs for various hardware configurations, disk diags for various vendors, and Partition Magic. There's more, I just can't think of them now and those are the ones I probably use the most.

Huh? (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046512)

You want to always carry around a bunch of live CDs? Let me set you straight: Don't!

If your friends ask you for help so often that this is even an option you consider, either learn to say no, or get new friends. This is plain madness!

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