Every SysAdmin should have some contingency plan for when things go wrong. Many Linux distributions come with "Rescue" boot option included on the Install CD. RedHat has been doing this for a while now, and I have used it from time to time, mostly to re-run lilo, or make a modification to a fouled up /etc/fstab.
Since most people have to deal with Windows systems, there has to be a way to get at these systems when things go awry. I used to carry around a slew of boot floppies, and CD's from site to site, if someone was having trouble booting the system, after messing with a system file. Since most systems now come with bootable CD-ROM's, having all those floppies for each version of Windows is a admin nightmare in itself. I have been using a system call RIP "Recovery is Possible" for mostly repairing damaged linux machines, I wondered how much of this boot cd could be used to help fix Windows machines. As it turns out, this boot cd is very capable for fixing a wide variety of systems, based on what filesystems the kernel supports. Check the homepage, but most every filesystem for any IA32 machine is supported.
I had not visited the site in a while, and was working on a system for a friend at work, and decided to visit the page to see what was new. The author always had two versions of RIP: a CD version, and a floppy for those systems that don't have a CD-ROM that boots. I keep a copy of the bootable floppy, too, but find that I have not had the need to use it in a few years. The new CD version is brand new, as of September 22, 2003, and contains lots of useful features. The README file is well worth reading, as it also explains how to add other features to the RIP system, as well as adding other bootable images. Once I read the README, I decided to start making images of all my boot floppies, and start copying them to the RIP system. I just finished trialing this, and it works as expected. Once the CD is booted, a GRUB menu is displayed, with all the possible boot options. In addition to the excellent Linux recovery system included in RIP, which includes a wide variety of device and networking support, you can also customize your own areas of the RIP system, to as much as the CD will hold.
You could also make a bootable DVD, but since DVD's are still not as common as CD's, it's probably best to keep with the CD format for now. I now have all my boot floppies, and a great Linux bootable recovery system all on one CD! My next step is to gather all the popular Windows drivers that are needed for installing things like NIC's, graphics cards, etc, and put them in an area on the CD, so that I don't have to carry around so many driver disks. The RIP system is about as flexible as you need it to be, so I highly recommend keeping this CD in your toolbox. Be sure to read the README.
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More Articles by Bruce Garlock © 2015-04-05 Bruce Garlock
If Linux can skate by the patent and copyright issues, its growth in the corporate world will continue no matter what business dislikes about the GPL. (Tony Lawrence)