Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Swiss Army Knife for PC First Aid

I recently ran into trouble that prevented my PC from booting. Long story short: I heard about ‘Live CDs’ with Windows or Linux operating systems, that would allow a PC to boot from a CD straight into a live, working operating system, without having to install it. Hints are welcome!

Here goes - it gets even better than that. YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer), which you can download from http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/, is a multiboot installer for flash drives.

It is of course free, and works great, provided that your PC (like most modern ones) can boot from a flash drive (USB stick or memory cards like SD cards), and that you have allowed this option in your BIOS settings. I’m not going into details here because this solution is an approach that is not for the faint-hearted, with which I mean that it’s probably not suitable for just everybody. Then again, if you want to go down this road, you’re probably not a starter.

YUMI enables you to install one or more operating systems’ ‘live’ images (images that don’t require installing but can be booted into and that are operational right away) on a flash device, and it makes that flash device bootable and installs its own menu on it.

In other words, if you would use YUMI to make a bootable SD card with Ubuntu 11.10 and one of the Puppy Linux distributions, as well as a BartPE live Windows XP environment and the Acronis Rescue CD for scanning for malware, it works like a breeze. There are literally dozens of other images you can install with YUMI, and your practical limitation will be the size of your flash device.

All you need to do is select the drive on which you want to install the goodies, and either point the program to the image you already downloaded, or ask it to first do that for you (YUMI ‘knows’ about a plethora of images and their download locations), and repeat this until you’re satisfied that the flash drive contains all the images you want or will ever need. And if later on your inspiration would desire an additional one, you can add an image to an existing flash drive.

When needed, you can then boot your PC from that flash drive, which will show YUMI’s menu, from where you can choose the actual operating system to boot, and that’s it.

Sweet? You betchas.

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