SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of Linux system utilities such as GParted, fsarchiver, filesystem tools and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It can be used for both Linux and windows computers, and on desktops as well as servers. This rescue system requires no installation as it can be booted from a CD/DVD drive or USB stick, but it can be installed on the hard disk if you wish. The kernel supports all important file systems (ext3/ext4, xfs, btrfs, reiserfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs), as well as network filesystems such as Samba and NFS.
SystemRescueCD features includes:
- GNU Parted and GParted to partition disks and resize partitions, including FAT32 and NTFS.
- fdisk to edit the disk partition table.
- PartImage: disk imaging software which copies only used sectors.
- TestDisk: to recover lost partition and PhotoRec to recover lost data.
- smartmontools: a S.M.A.R.T.
Downloading and writing a CD
First download the ISO file for your architecture. Most people use the x86 edition that supports 64bit (AMD64 / EM64T) processors. Once you have downloaded the ISO image file, check the checksum. Next write a CDROM using the ISO file as a CD image or install SystemRescueCd from the ISO image to an USB stick. Read Downloading and burning for more details.
Booting from SystemRescueCd
Insert the SystemRescueCd device and boot your system. Keep the default boot entry or choose an alternative option from the list. You can press TAB to modify the boot options if you are booting in BIOS mode (blue screen), or you have to press e if you are booting in UEFI mode (black screen).
You may want to add boot options such as copytoram to copy the system to RAM or setkmap=uk to select a keyboard layout. Use spaces between options. Finally press Enter when you are ready to boot. Additional options are at documented on the following page: Booting SystemRescueCd
Main boot options
Here are the most common boot options:
- copytoram: copy the files to RAM, which allows the SystemRescueCD boot device to be removed after boot time. Programs will also load faster.
- setkmap=xx: Specify keyboard: ‘us’ for USA, ‘uk’ for british, ‘de’ for german, …
Some additional programs are also included on the media, such as memtest to run a memory test. You can get more details about alternative boot programs.
Working in the console mode
Mount partitions in order to troubleshoot a Linux or a Windows system installed on your disk. You can mount linux filesystems (ext4, xfs, btrfs, reiserfs) and FAT and NTFS partitions used by MS Windows using ntfs-3g with a command such as mkdir /mnt/windows ; ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /mnt/windows). You can backup/restore data or operating system files.
Midnight Commander (type mc) is able to copy/move/delete/edit files and directories. The vim and nano editors can be used to edit files. Read the list of the main system tools you can use and the documentation related to these programs.
Six virtual consoles are available. Press Alt+F1 for the first virtual console, Alt+F2 for the second one, …
Working in the graphical environment
If you need graphical tools you can start the graphical environment by typing startx. The graphical environment allows you to work with GParted (partition manager), to use graphical editors (Geany or Notepadqq), to browse the web and use terminals such as xfce-terminal.
Setting up your network
SystemRescueCd can connect you to your network. This functionality allows you to make a backup over the network, download files, work remotely using ssh or access files that are shared on a Unix server (with NFS) or on a MS Windows system (with Samba).
The most convenient way to configure your network is to use the Network-Manager service. It provides a very user friendly graphical tool to configure the network. It makes the network configuration much easier especially if you are attempting to connect to wireless networks. This tool is available as a small icon in the task bar next to the clock when you are in the graphical environment.
If you want to configure the network by hand you can use command line tools such as ifconfig or dhclient but you may have to stop the Network-Manager service first using systemctl stop NetworkManager
If your system has supported hardware, the network interface card (NIC) was auto-detected, and the driver loaded. The interface needs to be assigned an IP address and a default gateway.
Errors during the boot process
Various issues can cause SystemRescue to hangs or fail with unexpected errors during the boot process. Please do not report these as bugs unless you have verified the frequent causes of these issues:
- Boot medias such as CD, DVD, and USB stick are often unreliable and bad blocks will cause problems. You can try another media to see if it makes a difference, and you can enable verification when you burn/copy the ISO image to make sure data written to the device can be read and match the original.
- Damaged RAM will cause all type of programs to behave unexpectedly. Computers memory can be tested using program such as memtest which is included with SystemRescue.
- You will also get problems if the system runs out of memory. So make sure your computers has at least 2GB of memory if you start with the default boot options or 4GB if you cache the system into RAM.
Writing the ISO image file to a CD/DVD
On Linux you can use either command line tools such as cdrecord/wodim or graphical tools such as k3b, brasero or xfburn.
BENEFITS OF SYSTEM RESCUE CD
System Rescue CDThe disk is packed with tools to help you manage or repair partitions, back up your data or clone your drives in case of a failure, and supports a wealth of file systems (even network file systems like NFS) so you can work with just about any file on any drive anywhere.
Five Best System Rescue Discs
The Trinity Rescue Kit is a customized Linux distribution that’s designed specifically for troubleshooting and reviving ailing systems, whether you’re running Windows or Linux. It fits nicely on a CD (or a USB stick if you prefer) and once booted gives you tools to reset lost Windows passwords, scan hard drives for viruses and malware, clone drives, recover lost partitions, even open up the drives as network shares so you can get files off of them and to other computers on your network. It’s completely free, although a donation to the developer behind it is always appreciated and keeps the project alive.
Hiren’s BootCD is pretty legendary, and anyone who’s ever worked in support or systems administration has probably used it at least once (or has several version of it lying around still.) The rescue disc is aimed squarely at repairing Windows systems, and includes a wealth of tools to that effect, including antivirus tools to scan your hard drive, anti-malware utilities to clean out spyware and adware, even rootkit detection tools. Hiren’s BootCD can also help you repair, adjust, or re-flash your system’s BIOS or wipe your CMOS, clean out temporary files and folders, securely erase files, back up your data to another hard drive or to the network, update and back up hardware drivers, scan your system for hardware failures, repair lost or damaged partitions, and much much more. We’re only scratching the surface here. It’s completely free and always has been. Even if there are other tools in your toolkit, Hiren’s BootCD should be among them.
The Ultimate Boot CD is another tool you’ll probably find in most technician’s disc binder. The Ultimate Boot CD is designed to troubleshoot Windows and Linux systems, and comes with a wealth of hardware testing, hard drive management, and partition troubleshooting and repair tools. The UBCD packs memory testing, CPU testing, and drive testing tools all onto the same disc, and even includes some BIOS management tools as well. If you’re having serious PC problems, the CD also includes a number of drive cloning and data recovery tools to help you get your files off of a problematic hard drive and somewhere safe. If you’re looking for a specifically Windows-targeted version of the Ultimate Boot CD, there’s always the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, a rebuild of the disc that uses BartPE to create a pretty fully functional version of Windows XP once booted—and is also packed with many of the same troubleshooting tools. Both are free, but donations to the creators are always welcome.
Knoppix is a bootable Linux live CD that gives you a fully functional operating system once booted. You can use Knoppix to get familiar with linux (although it is highly customized) or just to boot to media other than your hard drive for troubleshooting, but in either case Knoppix is a whole OS—not just a customized interface to give you access to diagnostic and repair tools. It comes packed with a web browser (Firefox), Open Office, GIMP, and more, just in case you want to use it to get things done. Knoppix’s greatest benefit is its flexibility, and it can be customized to suit almost any need—you can download it and build your own installation with the troubleshooting tools you use most often, package it up, and then burn it to a CD or DVD yourself. If you’re a developer, the DVD version of Knoppix has even more extras for you. If you do need to use Knoppix for troubleshooting, there are data recovery and cloning tools built-in to make it easy. It’s free, and you can donate to the cause if you want, but since it’s completely open source, the developer notes that your time, code, and input is a more ideal way to contribute.
The aptly named System Rescue CD is a linux-based rescue disk designed to troubleshoot Linux and Windows systems and servers. The disk is packed with tools to help you manage or repair partitions, back up your data or clone your drives in case of a failure, and supports a wealth of file systems (even network file systems like NFS) so you can work with just about any file on any drive anywhere. The disc also comes with replacement bootloaders, system file editors, network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools, and disc burning tools so you can burn while you use the disc. There are also antivirus, anti-malware, and rootkit detection and removal tools. It’s completely free.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the winner.
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