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Rescuing Linux Systems--Generic and Distribution-Specific Safety Nets - page 7

Sending Out an SOS

  • July 8, 2002
  • By Bill von Hagen

Tom's Root Boot (available at http://www.toms.net/rb and often known as "tomsrtbt") is a single floppy rescue solution whose slogan is "The most GNU/Linux on one floppy disk". This is actually quite, true, as Tom's Root Boot provides an incredible assortment of Linux and recovery-related tools and hardware support options on a single floppy. Tom's Root Boot floppies are created by using dd to copy a 1.722-MB floppy image (double-sided, 82 tracks, 21 sectors/track) to a standard, formatted floppy.

Aside from the specialized disk format, one of the primary ways that Tom's Root Boot provides such a huge assortment of tools is by making heavy use of Erik Anderson's amazing BusyBox (http://www.busybox.net/). BusyBox is a single binary that provides the functionality of many standard Linux utilities based on the name by which it is invoked. For example, creating a hard link to the BusyBox executable named "ls" and executing the resulting "rm" command causes BusyBox to behave as the standard Unix/Linux file deletion command. Hard links are used rather than symbolic links in order to save space.

Tom's Root Boot uses BusyBox to provide commands such as chgrp, chmod, chown, chroot, clear, cmp, egrep, ifconfig, init, insmod, mknod, mkswap, rm, route, sed, tail, telnet, and many more. In addition, Tom's Root Boot contains small versions of partition access and recovery tools such as debugfs, mount, mke2fs, and tune2fs. Tom's Root boot includes drivers for popular SCSI, PCMCIA, parallel-port ZIP, and network adapters, making it easy to access a variety of devices and even get an existing system up on the network. If you are dealing with a system that you can't repair without recovering, Tom's Root Boot includes tools such as cpio and tar (both actually links to the "pax" archive utility) to enable you to archive data to external parallel and SCSI devices in an emergency.

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