The best Linux system repair distribution gets better

If there’s a better system repair kit than the Gentoo-based SystemRescueCD Linux distribution, we haven’t seen it yet.

The new 0.4 version of SystemRescueCd was released on Oct. 4. This new edition focuses on disk partitioning, Vista support, and data rescue tasks. In the past, we’ve found SystemRescueCD to be the best of the best when it comes to repairing troubled systems. We see every reason to believe that this version will be even better.

This edition is built on top of a customized 32-bit Linux kernel. This kernel is named rescuecd. It also includes built-in support for the Reiser4 file system.

There is also just enough of a 64-bit kernel, rescue64, to use chroot on a 64-bit Linux system. The chroot system call changes the root directory of the current process and all child processes to a given path. For repair purposes, it is used to boot into an unwise unbootable system.

If you’re a Windows user, don’t let the fact that this is a Linux-based repair tool keep you away. SystemRescueCD has long excelled at repairing Windows systems. With new support for the Vista “Offline NT Password & Registry Editor” and improved support for NTFS drives, SystemRescueCD is better than ever for what ails your Windows PCs.

Another major improvement is that you can now use PXE network booting. With PXE, you can boot a troubled PC remote over your LAN into SystemRescueCD. This is great, for example, for a help desk repairing systems scattered over an office or campus. To get this to work, the PCs will need to be set to use wake-on-LAN and network boot. That’s been a standard PC feature since 2001, but it usually must be made active in the BIOS before you can use it.

The distribution is also just easier to boot up, period. In the past, you often needed to manually set boot parameters for a successful boot-up. It wasn’t difficult, but it could be time-consuming. Now SystemRescueCD is much better at analyzing its hardware environment and automatically booting with the appropriate configuration and drivers.

Starting with the version before this one, 0.3.8, the distribution also added serial communication tools: minicom-2.2, an ANSI terminal program with ZModem support; gtkterm-0.99.5, another popular terminal program; and ckermit-8.0.211, a set of communication programs usually used for file transfers. These are invaluable for those times when you have no other way to get into a broken computer except through a serial port connection.

Sometimes there are upgrades that you can ignore. The improvements aren’t big enough or upgrading the program is too much trouble. But, then there are updates that are so important or add so much to a program, you must make the upgrade. SystemRescueCD is a must-upgrade for anyone who does computer repair work.

Source & Author: Steven J. Vaughan Nichols, DesktopLinux


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