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Linux Emergency Recovery Disks

written by: •edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 7/8/2011

Before you go about formatting and reinstalling Linux on your unbootable Linux system you should consider repairing the Linux installation using a recovery disk. This approach offers many advantages like recovering your lost data or restoring your system without a fresh install.

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    What’s your first reaction when you run into a sever issue with your system? For example, say everything was running fine when you last used your system and suddenly it won’t boot. Maybe it is unable to detect one of your disk drives or maybe the operating system got corrupted. Well, first of all no need to panic thinking that all your files and data is lost forever. Most of us have the tendency to reinstall the operating system in such cases, but sometimes we tend to lose data in the process if it involves a fresh install involving formatting of the hard drive.

    But there is a way around it. You can use a rescue disk (or recovery disk) that lets you boot into your system and perform recovery tasks to bring your system back to normalcy, or to recover your data before a fresh install. There are many Linux based recovery disk available today. These recovery disks are typically a Live CD with a minimal operating system containing a set of repair tools to aid in your system recovery. Lets take a look at some of the common Linux based recovery disks.


    SystemRescueCD is a Live CD based on Gentoo Linux, and is intended to be used to repair an unbootable system or to recover data in the event of a system crash. It contains tools such as GNU Parted and GParted that are used to partition disks or to re-size partitions, fdisk to edit partition table, TestDisk to recover a lost partition, Memtest+ to test the memory of your computer, archiving and unarchiving tools, web browsers etc. It also includes support for various common file systems.

    Trinity Rescue Kit

    Trinity Rescue Kit is a Mandriva Linux based Live CD that performs recovery and repair operations on Windows or Linux systems. It can be run in three different ways, from a bootable CD, from a USB drive or from network over PXE. It contains data recovery tools, tools to edit partitions, SSH and Samba servers, tools to recover lost partitions, rootkit detection tools etc. It also contains various tools aimed to be used for recovery of a Windows system.


    RIP in RIPLinux stands for 'Recovery Is Possible'. This Live CD contains a set of system maintenance and recovery tools that can perform common recovery tasks like recover lost partitions, recover deleted files, managing partitions etc. However, it can be a little tough to use for the beginner.

    PLD RescueCD

    PLD RescueCd is a Live CD based on PLD Linux. It can be booted via a bootable CD, boot floppy, hard disks, USB drives or even from a network via PXE. It can be used to rescue malfunctioning systems and perform common recovery tasks.


    KNOPPIX is a popular Linux Live CD distro that can also be used as a rescue disk. Its a full fledged operating system on a Live CD containing a set of tools that can be used to recover data, repair a system, analyze networks and security etc.

    Ubuntu Rescue Remix

    Ubuntu Rescue Remix is a Live CD (also capable of running from USB drive) based on Ubuntu. It has a command line only interface and contains a set of tools to perform various data recovery tasks.