Small Linux Distros For Every Occasion - Page 2

By Carla Schroder | Posted Oct 15, 2007
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GParted-Clonezilla Live*

GParted is the best partitioning and filesystem-creation application there is. Put it on a bootable medium and you can manage most Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, or Windows partitions and filesystems. Add the dd-based Clonezilla for cloning, and you have the ultimate power tool for new installations, restores, and replications.

Clonezilla is an intelligent partition or disk-cloning program that works on any filesystem, because it operates at the block level. On supported filesystems (which are pretty much the same batch as GParted) it copies only used sectors. On unsupported filesystems it can't tell which ones are used, so it does a block-by-block copy. Either way you get your clones.

Download the torrent from TuxDistro. (The other download sites don't seem to exist.) Visit GParted LiveCD for instructions on creating a bootable USB stick. This uses the same download.

Our Excellent Ancestors: Tomsrtbt and SuperRescueCD

Tomsrtbt, "the most GNU/Linux on one floppy disk" was the first bootable live Linux on removable media. After all these years it is still useful. True, most computers these days don't even bother with a floppy drive, but for machines that still have them it's a great rescue diskette. It needs only 8 megabytes of RAM. It comes with everything you need for networking and copying files over the network, which is probably the #1 job for a rescue device. It has filesystem utilities, including Windows filesystems, and basic networking troubleshooting commands, so you can perform a surprising number of tasks from this tiny ancestor of bootable live Linuxes. Tomsrtbt has saved the day for me more times than I can remember.

H. Peter Anvin's SuperRescue CD was the first live Linux CD. Mr. Anvin is the primo bootloader guru, as well as a significant inventor or contributor in a number of projects. Super Rescue CD is based on Red Hat 7.2, so it's of limited usefulness on modern systems. But it's a nice tool for older systems; it only needs 24 megabytes of RAM and it handles older hardware without hassles. If you want X Windows, just type startx at the prompt and you get KDE. It's a funny-looking older KDE, but still the real deal.

SuperRescue CD pioneered on-the-fly compression/decompression, which is how you stuff 1.7 gigabytes of operating system and applications onto a single CD.

Fixing Horked MBRs

When you're multi-booting or installing a new operating system onto a used system, sometimes the MBR (Master Boot Record) gets all messed up, so you need to wipe it out and start over. You can do this with the dd command. Be sure to use your own drive name for the of= value:

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=446 count=1

That preserves the partition table. If you also want to zero out the partition table, do this:

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

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