Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sorting out problems on a Windows PC using a Live CD

Carrying a Live CD with you can come in very handy if you help Windows users. I have often been able to help people backup their crashed Windows PC using a Live CD and an external hard drive or iPod. But surely there is more that you can do than simply copy files over? Let us take a look at a few options now.

(A Live CD allows you to boot into Linux, in this case Peppermint, without having to install it on the PC. Take out the CD and reboot and you have Windows back. Easy as pie, and it is usually not risky either.)

1. Recover a lost Windows password

Your friend / relative has forgotten their Windows password. No need to get excited, boot from your Live CD. Now we need to install a program, so connect to the Internet then open Software Manager.

Search for chntpw and install it.

2. Virus scan a Windows PC

Your friend / relative has a PC that has been crippled by viruses and you can't fix it from within Windows. Boot from your Live CD, then connect to the Internet. Now you need to decide which anti virus to use.

2.1 ClamAV
The best known free anti virus on Linux. Open a Terminal Window and type:

  • sudo apt-get install clamav clamav-daemon clamav-freshclam clamtk
  • press <ENTER>
  • follow the prompts
To run, click Menu, run then type clamtk then press <ENTER>

2.2 Kaspersky
Go here and download the .deb version, follow the guidelines on the website.

2.3 Avast!
It looks like Avast! used to have a Linux version, but I can't find it now.

2.4 AVG
Go to this page, then click on ACG Anti Virus Free for Linux, click on the .deb version. You should be able to install it by double clicking the downloaded file.

3. Test hardware

If you doubt the condition of your CPU try CPU Burn-in, for RAM issues try MemTest86+ (there is usually an option to boot into this when booting from the Live CD) and gsmartcontrol (install it in Software Manager) can check the health of your hard drives. Peppermint comes with a tool called Disks (click Menu, Preferences, Disks) which also has SMART data and Tests that you can run.

Did I miss something? Mention it in the comments please.