BOOT CAMP 403 (20/12/05)
PC RESCUE part 1
One day you will switch
on your PC and nothing happens. Sod’s Law says it will be the day you need to
work on or print out an important document, read or respond to an urgent email
or access a web site.
You have several
choices, pack up your PC and ship it back to the vendor, call in an engineer or
try and fix it yourself but none of these are going to get you out trouble
straight away. There is another alternative and that’s to pop in a ‘rescue’
disc that will allow you to continue working more or less normally.
Over the next couple of
weeks I’m going to show you how to create and use two such discs. Not only will
they revive a dead PC but the first one will also provide you with a complete
operating system that includes a Word compatible word processor, the facility
to transfer, copy and print files stored on your hard drive, browse the web
send and receive emails connect to a scanner and network, open and view images
and even play some cheesy games, in fact almost all of the functionality of
Windows and it will buy you the time needed to complete your work so you can
get your PC repaired when it is convenient to you.
The second disc has more
limited functionality but it can be used to perform diagnostic tasks that will
hopefully help you to identify and repair the fault, but more about that in
Needless to say neither
disc can perform miracles nor will they be much help if your PC is suffering
from a major hardware fault with the motherboard, memory or power supply -- see
Top Tip -- but if, like most PC disasters, the problem lies with a corrupt
Windows installation you are in with an excellent chance.
The first rescue disc
contains a compact version of the Linux operating system, called Knoppix. It is
a free Open Source application, it runs directly from the CD-ROM and your PC’s
memory and doesn’t make any changes to your hard disc drive but assuming the
drive is still operational -- and in most cases it is -- you can still access
most of the data it contains.
In order to make a
rescue disc you will need a PC with an Internet connection (preferably
broadband) and a CD/DVD writer so my advice is to do it now, whilst your PC is
working properly, don’t wait until it is too late!
Step one is to download
the program onto your PC. The file in question is an ‘ISO Image’, which
requires a slightly different technique to create a useable disc but if you
have standard CD/DVD ‘burning’ software like Roxio and Nero it’s not a problem.
Step one is to open your
browser and go to http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html,
click the Download icon, scroll down the list that appears to choose a UK or US
download site (they are towards the bottom) and select one like ‘ftp.mirror.ac.uk’, click
the Accept button and click the download file ‘KNOPPIX_V3.9-2005-05-27-EN.iso’.
It is important to select the correct file; the site
contains several language variants of Knoppix and you are looking for ‘EN’ in
the file name, which indicates that it is the English version. Note also the
file size, which should be 712592Kb (around 712Mb), so you can take it as read
that it is quite large and could take an hour or two to download on a fast
broadband connection -- if you are using a dial-up connection I suggest you ask
someone with broadband to do it for you. Once the download has completed load a
blank disc into your CD writer and open your CD burning program.
If you are using Roxio Easy CD/Media Creator click Make a
Data CD and this should open Easy CD Creator, on the File menu select New Data
CD (or Create/Record CD from CD Image) and a dialogue box will appear. At the
bottom, next to ‘Files of Type’ click the drop-down menu arrow and select ‘ISO
Image files (*.iso)’ then locate the Knoppix download, double-click the file
and in the next dialogue box make sure that Write Method is set to ‘Disc at
Once’ and ‘Close CD’, click OK and the burning process will begin.
For Nero Burning go to
File > Burn Image and on the Files of Type drop down menu select ‘All File
(*.*), double-click the Knoppix download and click Open. On the next dialogue
box that appears check the following is selected: Type of
Image: Data Mode 1, Block size (Bytes): 2048, Image header (Bytes): 0 &
Image trailer (Bytes): 0). Click OK, make sure that ‘Write’, ‘Finalise CD’ and
‘Disc at once’ are all checked and click Write.
Depending on the speed
of your CD writer and burning software it should take between 5 and 10 minutes
to create the disc, once it has finished eject the disc, label it and put it
into a case or slip cover ready for part 2 when we will be looking at how to
NEXT WEEK - PC Rescue
Organisation Image file (aka ISO 9660) a file filing system used on recordable
media structured to support an operating system
Family of freely
distributed computer operating systems used in a wide variety of applications
from simple desktop workstation to high-end server
minimal licensing and broad, often free distribution, which users are
encouraged to help develop
Here’s how to tell if
your PC is a suitable candidate for the Knoppix rescue disc. Firstly it must
use either Windows 9x (95, 98, SE, ME), 2000 or XP. It must have a bootable CD
drive, most do, but some laptops with external drives that use a USB connection
probably won’t work. In order to use the rescue disc the PC must at least be
able power up to the boot screen, before Windows starts to load but it doesn’t
matter how far it gets after that.
Don’t forget there are hundreds more great tips in the Archive at: www.rickmaybury.com.
© R. Maybury 2005, 1212