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Last week I wrote about a project to create an ultimate boot CD for Windows ("Ultimate boot CD packs in recovery, repair utilities"), which consists of a self-contained version of Windows that runs entirely from a CD and comes pre-loaded with tons of free diagnostic and system-repair software.
The CD, called UBCD4WIN, requires you to have a separately licensed copy of Windows in order to use it, and some people were worried because they didn't have spare Windows licenses.
Fortunately, there's another project -- in fact, it's the one UBCD4WIN was derived from in the first place -- called, appropriately enough, the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD). Since it does not require Windows (or any other operating system) to be created or booted, it's a great repair/recovery solution for people on tight budgets or who deal with more than one operating system, partition type or system type.
The UBCD comes in the form of a 113 MB ISO image. Once burned and booted, it presents you with several tool menus: mainboard testing, hard disk tools, file system utilities, DOS/Linux boot disks, user-customizable toolsets and more. The customizable toolsets require downloading the files that make up the UBCD, changing them and creating a new ISO from them.
There's a second edition of the UBCD, also free, called the full version. This edition contains the INSERT environment, a very small Linux distribution system (derived from the extremely clever Knoppix Linux distro, which runs entirely from a CD).
INSERT contains a whole slew of Linux-specific and Unix-specific recovery and maintenance tools, so if you have a heterogeneous environment or just want to be prepared for dealing with Linux machine repairs, this is a handy addition. It's also a good way to get quick access to a network from a dead computer. The only Web browser it contains is Links, which doesn't work with everything out there, but you can add Mozilla's Firefox, which was omitted by default for the sake of saving space, separately as a custom module.
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- please share your thoughts as well!
This was first published in February 2005