On why you should always have a Linux live cd handy

Early last week I managed to make my WAMP server unusable. Well, I didn’t – a Windows “update” did by somehow toasting something leading to an inability to boot. The immediate problem wasn’t so much that the server was dead to the world, but that I couldn’t access a directory of teaching materials (scanned texts) that I need for the coming semester and would be hard-pressed to get re-scanned on time.

After getting no help from our IT person (no surprises there), I tried to find the original installation CDs but to no avail (moving office tends to lead to loss of stuff, I find). Realizing that I would have to eventually install another OS, I first tried to access the directory and thus save the data with some management software. Problem was, I could see the files but not transfer them over to a USB drive (the software refused to recognize the external drive).

To the rescue came PuppyLinux. Downloaded and burned an 60 meg ISO using my Macbook. Booted the dead box from the CD. Mounted the Windows partition and the USB drive. Copied the files. Done. All in less than 35 minutes.

Now just need to install that other OS as the machine is returning to being a desktop. ASU offers faculty a 30G LAMP solution with redundancy and backup so that’s where I’m heading.


2 thoughts on “On why you should always have a Linux live cd handy

  1. Times used to be you’d keep a dos boot disk with just enough OS on it to keep the thing going while you grab the files off it you need.
    Another cheap trick is to keep an external disc enclosure or a drive sled handy.

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