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SystemRescueCd is a linux system on a bootable cdrom for repairing your system and your data after a crash. It also aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk.

It contains a lot of system utilities (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic ones (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It aims to be very easy to use: just boot from the cdrom, and you can do everything. The kernel of the system supports most important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), and network ones (samba and nfs).

SystemRescueCD is based on Gentoo and contains a stripped-down set of applications for system rescues. Needs Linux knowledge to operate. So it doesn't include OpenOffice or the Gimp or all of the other productivity applications that Knoppix has. You can get ISOs for x86, Sparc, and PowerPC. The x86 version is a mere 155 MB.  Gui typically does not work (Xorg is installed).

Even better: You can boot and run SystemRescue from a USB stick. Newer systems support booting from USB devices; usually you need to go into the system BIOS to turn this on. It's not completely reliable, however; some systems seem to be allergic to booting from USB devices, so be sure to test it before you need it.

With SystemRescue you can copy files over the network, do serious network troubleshooting, read and write all the major filesystems including NTFS, manage partitions and filesystems, and do secure deletions. SystemRescue comes with my favorite data recovery tool, GNU ddrescue. This is the best utility for grabbing data off a failing hard drive. It is fast for a dd-based command, and smart enough to skip over bad blocks and keep going, looking for good blocks to copy.

The most surefire method I know requires a second local hard drive of equal or greater size; either SATA/PATA or USB. Then boot up SystemRescue and copy the first drive to the second drive. Of course you must replace the drive names in the example with your own drive names:

# ddrescue /dev/sda /dev/sdb

You may copy partitions instead of whole drives. Then run fsck on the second drive to check for and fix errors. Make sure it is not mounted, then run this command:

# fsck /dev/sdb

Add the -a option to tell fsck to automatically fix all errors. Use fsck only on Linux filesystems. For other filesystems you'll need their own native filesystem-consistency-fixing utilities.

Don't confuse GNU ddrescue with dd-rescue. They do the same thing and both do it well, but I think ddrescue is faster and more reliable.

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 a 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.

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[SOLVED] Partimage and ext4

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Thread: Partimage and ext4

  1. January 14th, 2011 #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Partimage and ext4

    I've been using PING (which I understand uses Partimage under the covers) for a little while to back up an ext4 partition. I've just become aware that Partimage doesn't support ext4, so I'm confused as to why it appears to be working (although I've not tried to restore it).

    The Disk Utility (version 2.30.1) on Ubuntu 10.10 reports the partition as Ext4 (version 1.0). However, PING and GParted report it as ext3fs, which may explain why Partimage is processing it. As far as I'm concerned it should be ext4 as that's what I selected during installation.

    What's going on?

    Advanced reply Adv Reply
  2. January 14th, 2011 #2 indytim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Carmel, Indiana U.S.A.
    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: Partimage and ext4

    The last time I checked the Partimage website, it was plainly stated that Partimage does not support ext4 or NTFS. As I recall, there is no plans to move to this support.

    I have been using fsarchiver quite successfully for about 9 months. I supports most common file system types (including ntfs and ext4). Even though it is still classified as "in development" I have found it both stable and reliable. I have restored numerous ext4 and ntfs partitions with no lingering issues.

    If you're interested, I've authored a small "white paper" on the subject. See the Backup Strategy Ver 2 link in my sig. Also not the comment attached to the paper for an important update.

    Hope this helps.

    IndyTim / DataMan

    New Build : Core 2 Quad, 8G RAM, 1.75TB Storage ... it's fun!
    GRUB Partition Linux Backups- Ver2 Easy LAMP Install
    Linux ID 422356 Ubuntu User 15015

[Oct 23, 2011] Weekend Project Rescue Failing Drives With SystemRescue

When a hard drive, CD/DVD, USB stick, or any digital storage media is on its way to the Great Bitbucket in the Sky, GNU ddrescue is my favorite data recovery tool. GNU ddrescue is included in the default SystemRescue image. Before we dive into the fun stuff, there is some vexing naming confusion to clear up. There are two ddrescue programs in SystemRescue. GNU ddrescue, by Antonio Diaz, is the one I prefer. The version on the current SystemRescue release is ddrescue 1.14. There is also a dd_rescue, version 1.23, by Kurt Garloff. dd_rescue is nice, but it's slower than ddrescue and doesn't include as many features.

Just to keep it interesting, Debian Linux adds its own bizarre naming conventions. The Debian package name for GNU ddrescue is gddrescue, and the package name for dd_rescue is ddrescue. But the binary for gddrescue is /sbin/ddrescue, and the binary for dd_rescue is /bin/dd_rescue. Fortunately, SystemRescue doesn't mess with the original binary names, and calls them /usr/bin/ddrescue and /bin/dd_rescue.

Enough of that; let's talk about what makes GNU ddrescue my favorite. It performs block-level copies of the failing media, and so it doesn't matter what filesystem is on the media. You're probably thinking it sounds like the venerable dd command, and it is similar, with some significant improvements. dd works fine on healthy disks, but when it encounters a read error it stops, and you have to manually restart it. It reads the media sequentially, which is very slow, and if there are a lot of bad blocks it may never complete a full pass.

GNU ddrescue is fully automatic and fast for a block-level copy program, and you want speed when a drive full of important data is dying. It seeks out good blocks to copy and skips over the bad blocks. It optionally records all activity in a logfile, so you can resume where you left off if the copying is interrupted for any reason. It is best to always generate a logfile, because every time you power up the failing drive the more likely it is to die completely. Using a logfile ensures that ddrescue will not repeat operations, but will move on and look for new good blocks to copy.

When you are rescuing a failing drive, the first step is to copy it with ddrescue. Then take the original offline, and perform any additional recovery operations on the copy. Don't touch the original any more than you have to. You can copy the copy as many times as you need for insurance.

You need a healthy drive to copy your rescued data to. I prefer USB-attached media such as a USB hard drive, USB thumb drive, Compact Flash, or SD cards. Of course a second internal hard drive is a good option, or this might be your chance to finally use that eSATA port that always looked like it should be cool and useful, but you never found a reason to use it. Your second drive should be at least 50% larger than the drive you're recovering. The troubled drive must not be mounted. The simplest invocation looks like this:

# ddrescue /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1 logfile

Here, /dev/sda1 is a partition on the failing drive. Everything on /dev/sdb1 will be overwritten, and the logfile will be written to /dev/sdb1. You can name the logfile anything you want. You can rescue an entire drive if you prefer, like this:

# ddrescue /dev/sda /dev/sdb logfile

Note that if there is more than one partition on the failing drive and the partition table is damaged, you will have to re-create it on the rescue drive. I copy one partition at a time to avoid this sort of drama.

You can have ddrescue make multiple passes with the -r option; sometimes you can make a more complete recovery this way. You can go as high as you want; I use 3-5:

# ddrescue -r5 /dev/sda2 /dev/sdb1 logfile

Sometimes ddrescue is nearly magical for rescuing scratched CDs and DVDs. The first command copies the disk, and the second command copies it to a blank disk:

# ddrescue -n -b2048 /media/cdrom image logfile
# ddrescue -d -b2048 /media/cdrom image logfile

You can give the image file whatever name you like. While I've never needed to go beyond the basics in this article, ddrescue has a whole lot of other capabilities that you can learn about in the GNU ddrescue manual.

SystemRescueCd 1.1.0 Packed with New Utilities - Features advanced customization and the backing-store filesystem


,,,SystemRescueCd is based on Gentoo and, now, with this version, you can add the packages of your choice using Gentoo's package manager. This is present here by including development tools (like gcc, automake, autoconf, etc.) and specific Gentoo-Linux applications (such as emerge, autoconf, etc.) required in order to install new packages, as all that is installed on Gentoo must be compiled.

SystemRescueCd includes 4 kernels, 2 standard ones (rescuecd and rescue 64) and 2 alternative ones (altker32 and altker64). Now, you have the possibility to compile which kernel you want, to best fit your needs. This is usually performed if you'd like more recent sources or you need another driver, or you simply need various compilation options.

Another clever utility we find in this version is the backstore, primarily used to keep the changes after a reboot. A backing-store is a loopback filesystem containing all the changed files of a system. Every minor file change like a file edit, creation or deletion, is recorded on the backing-store, so you just have to load the appropriate one to return to the state you want.

Now, let's have a look at a list with some of the highlights of SystemRescueCd 1.1.0:

· The two kernel sources, standard and alternative, have been swapped;
· The majority of drivers are compiled as module in the standard kernels (;
· The majority of drivers are built-in the alternative kernels (;
· The necessary development tools (gcc, make, ...) and Gentoo tools (emerge, equery, ...) have been added;
· The nameif option has been added, which can be used to specify the name of each ethernet interface using the mac address (ex: "nameif=eth0!00:0C:29:57:D0:6E,eth1 00:0C:29:57:D0:64");
· Support for backing-store loopback file systems has been introduced;
· Added support for the speakup (support devices for blind people).

You can find more information regarding the new features and updates by visiting the official changelog.

Main Page - SystemRescueCd

New features introduced in SystemRescueCd-1.1.0

Features introduced in SystemRescueCd-1.0.x

SystemRescueCd View topic - Linux disk editor


Firstly, thank you for your efforts in creating such a useful collection in a package that works so well. I love it and think it's a great system rescue tool.

Will you please consider including the Linux Disk Editor ( in the next release of SystemRescue CD. I use it for recovering 'lost' partitions that parted won't even look at (yes I use 1.6.6 from your 0.2.8 CD). I use the statically linked lde-i386, as downloaded directly from SourceForge, and run it from a floppy after booting from your SystemRescue CD.

Incidentally, to really mess up a disk's partitions, just create them with parted, then load Partition Magic and let it 'fix' the 'misalignment' errors it finds, then watch as neither Partition Magic, nor parted will look at the disk again. It doesn't always happen, but sometimes yes. One way to avoid this is if only one person with one set of tools works on a system. Not always possible unfortunately.

To fix this, I use gpart to give me a list of 'possible' partition locations, use linux disk editor to view the contents of the partition tables, and a calculator to determine the 'actual' table locations, then linux disk editor again to edit the tables so they work. Tedious, but such a relief (especially for the owner) when it all works again.
I used to boot a DOS floppy and use Norton Disk Editor, but I much prefer to stay within Linux and use Linux tools.

Thank you for your consideration.

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