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Useful Linux Tools

I just came across a problem myself that Linux installer will only see one of my disks after making a RAID array. And I didn't think of downloading any tools that are useful to have when working with Linux. So starting a list of what would be useful tools for when working with Linux.


List of Useful tools:


1. bootable usb/dvd with liveCD/DVD or other bootable Linux distro


I keep a pack of CDs and DVDs with all sorts of utilities and tools for booting from. A few of my favourites:
  • SpinRite -- expensive, but will fix any spinning hard drive that can possibly be saved. Very useful for restoring data that wasn't backed up (which should never happen, but it isn't an ideal world!) and even repairing ailing hard drives, allowing you to bring back into service drives that would otherwise be thrown out!

  • SystemRescueCd -- my favourite utility distro for booting from. I use it to create partimage backups<sup>*</sup>, to format disks (graphically or from its command line) or just have a look at what's on a system if I don't want to boot it up directly. You can even install it on a server for network boot.

  • GRUB on CD -- my copy is out of date now that we have GRUB 2, but is still useful. If you have a Linux system which is fine, except that someone (Windows install?? [img]<___base_url___>//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img] ) overwrote the boot loader, then you need something to 'kick-start' your Linux install and get it booted. If you know GRUB commands well enough, a bootable GRUB CD can help you get into a system whose bootloader has been trodden on. Once you're in, you can reinstall the boot loader and order is restored.

  • Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper (Beta) -- not strictly Linux-related, but a vital utility. If at any point you are responsible for cleaning up an infected Windows system<sup>#</sup>, this is a useful Windows live CD you can boot from, update malware definitions via the internet or a USB drive, and then scan the target machine. Because you're booting from the live CD and not the infected Windows install, you can have a greater degree of confidence that the malware removal will be successful.

* Someone remind me to write a tutorial on how I backed up a system with partimage, from one SystemRescueCd live instance to another, over SSH. It solved a very specific problem -- we had disk space on machine 2, and wanted to back up machine 1 to machine 2. However, there was no internet connection and no ability to install new packages on machine 2. So, I booted SystemRescueCd on machine 2, mounted the disk with enough space, set it up as an SSH server, then swapped the disc into machine 1, booted it, mounted machine 2 over SSHFS and backed up with partimage from machine 1 to machine 2, over the network. The situation was a little esoteric, but might be interesting or useful for others to see what I did sometime.


# The only real solution to cleaning an infected system is to wipe it and reinstall. It's not an ideal world, though -- sometimes that isn't possible. This does, as I say, give you a greater degree of confidence that you can clean a machine of malware.


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