Try as we might, we sometimes get Windows in such a bind that we can’t run it. Virus attacks, trojans, and malware just go with the territory. Don’t feel bad, as even the geekiest of us sometimes get Windows hopelessly wedged, even to where we can’t boot it in safe mode.
If this happens to you often and you’re tired of re-installing Windows or can’t re-install because you don’t have the original disk, we’re going to walk you through the strategies for obtaining a live Linux CD, which you can then boot and get your machine running long enough to fix the problem.
First off, the Windows user will probably be daunted at the huge selection of Linux distros. The difference between one distro and another is actually only a matter of what other software comes installed with it. You’d have to imagine if Microsoft made a “Windows for graphics artists” distribution that came with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Maya 3D included. Or a “Gamer’s Windows” with a selection of the top popular games installed and the latest Direct Draw/sound card/graphics card drivers to ensure everything runs smoothly. Really, that’s all that’s going on with the various Linux distributions.
The top Linux live CDs to recommend for a Windows repair emergency:
- The Trinity Rescue Kit: a whole Linux distro specifically for our purpose of fixing Windows. Amongst it’s many abilities, it can easily reset Windows passwords, includes four different virus-scan products, has full NTFS write support, can even clone an NTFS file system over the network, has an easy script to find all local file systems, and can do recovery and undeletion of files. The only downside here is that it’s a command-line based distro – if you’re not handy with a command line (such as Windows Power Shell), you’re going to be intimidated.
- Knoppix and Mepis: Knoppix and Mepis are both desktop-oriented distros with all the flashy features of the latest KDE desktop, and are both full-service systems for general purposes. The KDE desktop will feel very familiar to Windows users, and both of these distros are specifically aimed at people who are used to Windows. Knoppix has much more software installed on it than Mepis, while Mepis has more focus on high-end hardware support.
- Linspire: Those who are least sure of their computer skills should try the Linspire live CD. Since they openly advertise “the world’s easiest desktop Linux” and recommend it as “perfect for Windows users”, it seems their goal is to come as close to copying Windows as they can without getting sued. The desktop will even give you familiar icons including the file manager named “My Computer”, a Windows-like start menu, and so on.
OK, let’s say you’ve picked your distro and downloaded it. Now you have a file ending in “.iso” on your computer, and you have a blank CD in your hand. What do you do next? That’s where we’ll pick up next time.
- Fixing Windows using a Live Linux CD – part three
- Fixing Windows using a Live Linux CD – part two
- Reasons Why Linux Sucks
- Partitioning for Linux – part 1: the why
- People Who’ve Never Run Linux Shouldn’t Write About Linux