The best Linux repair and rescue distros can easily resolve issues when hardware failure or clumsy operating wreaks havoc with your installation.
Of course, there’s no shortage of tools and utilities that’ll help users with their broken Linux (opens in new tab) installs. However, like with most things open source (opens in new tab), it is the sheer number of choices that often confuse the average desktop user who might end up choosing the wrong tool for the job.
This is where these specialized rescue distros come into the picture. They not only collate a vast number of healing tools, but they’ll also go the extra mile and help you find the right tool for the job.
We’ve evaluated these repair and rescue distros in numerous aspects. Some of the basic factors we looked at are space for installation, compatibility with 32 and 64-bit architecture, and the existing documentation. We looked at how swiftly the distro’s booting, whether there’s a graphical user interface (GUI) or command-line interface (CLI), and how comprehensive the tools are, among other aspects.
Here then are the best Linux repair and rescue distros we think are currently available.
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Best Linux repair and rescue distros of 2023 in full:
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Best Linux repair and rescue distro for system administrators
Reasons to buy
+ Comprehensive list of tools Relatively small size
Comprehensive list of tools+
Relatively small size
Reasons to avoid
- Command-line interface Virtually no documentation
Virtually no documentation
The Finnix distro has been around since the early 2000s and though the project had been languishing for quite a few years, it’s developer has now actively started working on it with regular releases.
In fact, the project recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary with a new release. The distro has had a complete overhaul and now has a new build system based around Debian Testing.
Finnix is also a native 64-bit distro now and features several enhancements that make it more usable on modern machines. For instance, it now uses GRUB as default bootloader for both BIOS and UEFI systems. There are several other noteworthy features as well including the use of zram swap compression, and improved remote SSH access.
One of the goals of the distro is to keep the size of the final release small enough to fit inside a CD. To that end the layout of the distro is optimized for CD-ROMs, which doesn’t impede when it’s used from a USB, but will result in faster boots from CDs. This makes it suitable even on machines that can’t boot from USB sticks.
Finnix’s tool list is comprehensive, and virtually unrivalled. However, its usability is limited thanks to it being a command-line only distro. New users shouldn’t expect much help from the project’s website as well as the documentation there is pretty old, though the developer has promised to update it as well.
Best Linux repair and rescue distro for inexperienced campaigners
Reasons to buy
+ Point-and-click rescue app Can handle Windows installations as well Intuitive
Point-and-click rescue app+
Can handle Windows installations as well+
Reasons to avoid
- Experienced users might miss some tools
Experienced users might miss some tools
Rescatux ships with a minimal graphical desktop and bundles all the important and useful tools to fix several issues with non-booting Linux and Windows installations.
You can very easily use Rescatux for common repair tasks such as restoring bootloaders, repairing filesystems, fixing partition tables and resetting passwords on both Linux and Windows installs. The distro also ships with tools to rescue data and restore files and can wipe both Windows and Linux installs.
Unlike many of the other distros in this list, Rescatux can boot on both 64-bit and older 32-bit computers.
Upon booting, the distro takes you to the minimal LXDE-powered graphical desktop and automatically fires up its custom helper application called Rescapp. The application’s interface has improved through the releases, and in its latest version hosts several buttons divided into various categories, such as Boot, Grub, Filesystem and Password.
The buttons inside each category have descriptive labels that help identify their function. When you click a button, it brings up the relevant documentation which explains in detail what steps Rescatux will take and what information it expects from the user. After you’ve scrolled through the illustrated documentation and know what to expect, you click the button labelled ‘Run!’ to launch the utility.
Advanced users can bypass Rescapp and fire up a terminal and access the rescue tool directly. Rescatux hosts lots of guides and instructional videos on its websites, and there’s also some documentation to help inexperienced users get started with the distro.
Best Linux repair and rescue distro for advanced users
Reasons to buy
+ Good collection of utilities Ample documentation Ships with lightweight Xfce desktop
Good collection of utilities+
Ships with lightweight Xfce desktop
Reasons to avoid
- All tools are CLI-only
All tools are CLI-only
One of the oldest distros that’s designed to equip system admins with a variety of tools and utilities to help repair and rescue data from Linux or Windows.
SystemRescue has gone through major changes in the last few releases. The distro is now based on Arch Linux and uses an Xfce desktop. Earlier versions of the distro featured an elaborate boot menu that spanned across several virtual consoles. This has been done away with in the newer release. The latest version of SystemRescue now runs the 5.4.71 LTS (long-term support) Linux kernel, It also includes the dislocker utility to allow users to access data on media encrypted with BitLocker.
The default boot option boots into a console which lists a command to configure the keyboard and another to start the graphical environment. The distro contains an extensive collection of tools for system and network analyzes, for hard disk partitioning, for file system handling, for data recovery, for reading out hardware information and for secure deletion.
Note however that the graphical desktop is purely optional as all of the tools in the distro are command-line ones. However the graphical desktop will help inexperienced users access the project’s extensive documentation.
The project hosts a quick-start guide as well as detailed instructions on basic and advanced use. There are also instructions for experienced campaigners, such as the guide on how to make a custom version and backing up data from an unbootable Windows computer.
4. Ultimate Boot CD
Best Linux repair and rescue distro for various computer troubles
Reasons to buy
+ Intuitive menu Can diagnose hardware issues as well Good documentation
Can diagnose hardware issues as well+
Reasons to avoid
- Lacks a graphical environment
Lacks a graphical environment
Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) is different from the other distros in that it ships with no graphical desktop and instead boots to a very well laid-out menu. The customized text-based menus help guide users to the relevant utility for the issue plaguing their computer.
UBCD’s menu might be text-based but it is very well laid out and logically arranged. As you drill down the individual entries display brief but useful information to help identify their function. The clear categories and helpful descriptions mean that the distro can be easily navigated and used by inexperienced users to fix all kinds of issues.
The distribution is loaded with tools. You can use UBCD to query and stress-test hardware and peripherals connected to a system. It can be used to restore BIOS settings as well as restore and backup the CMOS. UBCD enables you to fix bootloaders, recover lost passwords and deleted files. It will also help you tweak the Windows Registry without booting into the installation.
UBCD’s website hosts a fairly detailed FAQ to familiarize users with the distribution. However, the tutorial section is really just a pointer to a long list of user-contributed tutorials curated from the forum boards.
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How to choose the best Linux repair and rescue distros for you?
Make sure to consider multiple factors before choosing the best Linux repair and rescue distro for yourself.
First, you’ll want to check whether your hardware can run the distro smoothly (not all distros run on 32-bit architecture). You’ll then want to check whether the distro has a graphical user interface (GUI) or if it’s limited to a command-line interface (CLI). For those who’re new to Linux or uncomfortable with operating the CLI, choose distros that have a neat GUI.
You’ll want to consider how good the documentation is and if it has been updated recently. Along with that, check third-party documentation, like online forums, tutorial videos, and other helpful material. If there’s not much of this available, you may have a hard time using the distro. Another essential aspect to check is the tools the distro offers and how intuitive and handy they are.
The best Linux repair and rescue distros: How we test
To determine the best Linux repair and rescue distros, we looked at various aspects of different distros.
To start with, we assessed the various hardware requirements, how swiftly the distros were booting on both old and new hardware, and the overall performance. We considered whether they had desktops and GUIs or if they worked solely through a CLI.
We checked the existing documentation and if it had been updated recently. We looked at the online forums on the distro and how active they were. We then considered the tools and their functionality — fixing partition tables, repairing filesystems, restoring files and bootloaders, among others.
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Slackware: The oldest, still kicking. Slackware is the oldest Linux distribution that is still actively maintained and supported.What is the oldest surviving Linux distro? ›
Slackware: The oldest, still kicking. Slackware is the oldest Linux distribution that is still actively maintained and supported.Which Linux distro is most stable for daily use? ›
On top of the list, Debian Linux is the most stable Linux distribution. The great thing about it is that it is user-friendly, lightweight, and compatible with other environments.
- Linux Mint. Linux Mint is a widespread Linux distribution. ...
- Manjaro. Manjaro is a Linux-based open-source operating system that does not entail users to pay a fee or display ads. ...
- OpenSuse Leap. ...
- Elementary OS. ...
- Ubuntu. ...
- Fedora OS. ...
- Zorin. ...
- Crunchbang++ - Minimal Debian-based Linux Distro. ...
- Manjaro XFCE - Best lightweight Arch-based Linux distro. ...
- Sparky Linux - Best need focused lightweight distro. ...
- Linux Mint - Best overall distribution, irrespective of resources.
In the movie Mark is seen using KDE3. Upon closer inspection people have confirmed that is appears to match the version that was available in 2003, when Mark was developing Facebook (KDE 3 appears in 'The Social Network' movie? ).Which Linux distro uses the least RAM? ›
|Distribution||Minimum system requirements||Desktop / Window manager|
|Gentoo Linux||RAM: 32 MB||None by default, but you can install any|
|GoboLinux||RAM: 128 MB RAM 1000+ MB for full graphic CPU: x86_64||Awesome|
|Knoppix||RAM: 32 MB text 512 MB LXDE 1 GB recommended CPU: 486||LXDE|
|Lightweight Portable Security||iceWM|
Debian focuses on stringent testing of the Stable branch, which is "frozen" and supported up to five years. Arch packages are more current than Debian Stable, being more comparable to the Debian Testing and Unstable branches, and has no fixed release schedule.What is the least resource intensive Linux distro? ›
Puppy Linux is a family of Linux distributions that focuses on ease of use and minimal memory footprint. It is designed with a low system load requirement in mind which makes Puppy Linux user-friendly. At the moment Puppy Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions with its users.
Linux has segmented working environments which secure it from the attack of virus. However, Windows OS is not much segmented and thus it is more vulnerable to threats. Another significant reason for Linux being more secure is that Linux has very few users when compared to Windows.
He subsequently wrote a free-software replacement for it called Git. In 2008, Torvalds stated that he used the Fedora Linux distribution because it had fairly good support for the PowerPC processor architecture, which he favored at the time. He confirmed this in a 2012 interview.Which Linux distro has the least bugs? ›
Which one is the most bug-free Linux operating system? Besides Debian Stable (currently at 10 aka Buster), another good one is RHEL or it's clone CentOS which is currently stable on version 8. Ubuntu Server LTS (currently 18.04) is not bad, but I think Debian may be a bit better.Which Linux distro has the fastest startup? ›
- Damn Small Linux is the fastest you can get. ...
- Bodhi Linux runs on a 500MHz processor and needs 128MB RAM and 4GB disk space.
- Puppy Linux is another distro hailed for its speed and size (needs 333MHz processor and 256MB RAM.
- You can always assemble your minimal GNU/Linux distro from LFS, Arch or Gentoo.
Linux is popular on older machines because minimalist distros like the Ubuntu variant Xubuntu run great on PCs with low memory and processor power when modern Windows versions struggle to do so on aging hardware.Which of the following OS is not best on Linux? ›
(d) BSD ,i.e., Berkeley Software Distribution is not based on Linux.What is the minimum RAM requirement for Linux? ›
To run the Linux OS smoothly minimum 1-2 GB RAM is required. The actual minimum memory requirements for the Linux operating system only (without any additional software) are less than these numbers. For example, it is possible to install Debian with 20MB RAM.What OS did Bill Gates use? ›
But here's what Gates did: he bought a program from a small software company called the Quick and Dirty Operating System (or Q-DOS), for the price of 75,000$. Q-DOS was, in fact, a ripoff of Gary's CPM program. He then changed its name to MS-DOS (Microsoft DOS) and licensed it to IBM.What OS did Bill Gates buy? ›
Microsoft purchased 86-DOS, allegedly for $50,000. This became Microsoft Disk Operating System, MS-DOS, introduced in 1981. "Microsoft also licensed their system to multiple computer companies, who supplied MS-DOS for their own hardware, sometimes under their own names.What software did Bill Gates use? ›
His MS-DOS and Windows operating systems, and productivity software such as Microsoft Word and Excel, let Microsoft dominate the early-Internet phase of desktop computing. Gates was the world's richest person in every year but one between 1995 and 2009.Which Linux distro is the most difficult? ›
In fact, even those with a modicum of Linux experience would be challenged by any one of these. Those distributions belonging to Tier 3 include: Gentoo - the most challenging Linux distribution on the market. It's hard.
Puppy Linux is an extremely lightweight distro that has separate editions based on Ubuntu and Slackware. The entire OS is small enough to be run entirely in RAM, which makes it extremely fast and responsive. You can also anchor the distro to your hard disk as well.What is the maximum RAM for Linux? ›
Linux and Unix-based computers
Most 32-bit Linux systems only support 4 GB of RAM, unless the PAE kernel is enabled, which allows a 64 GB max. However, 64-bit variants support between 1 and 256 TB. Look for the Maximum Capacity section to see the limit on RAM.
- Installation is a Hectic Process. ...
- Some Updates Can Break Your System. ...
- Advanced Distribution. ...
- It offers bleeding-edge software that may cause stability issues.
- It has a lesser community than other distributions like Ubuntu OS.
Arch Linux is well known for not just being incredibly stable but for also being considerably more challenging than many other distributions. Because of that, several developers (and teams of developers) have attempted to make Arch more accessible to those without years of Linux experience.What is the strongest architectural Arch? ›
The catenary curve is the strongest shape for an arch which supports only its own shape. Freely hanging cables naturally form a catenary curve.What is the easiest Linux to run? ›
- Linux Mint. Over the years, Linux Mint proved itself to be an ideal distro for not only beginners but everyone. ...
- Zorin OS. Zorin OS is the second beginner distro on this list. ...
- Linux Lite. ...
- Ubuntu. ...
- MX Linux. ...
- Lubuntu. ...
- Fedora with KDE Plasma. ...
- Pop OS.
In terms of security, Linux is considered to be more secure than Windows as it is less susceptible to viruses and malware. Windows, being the most popular OS in the world, is a more common target for cyber-attacks.Why not to use Linux? ›
- A confusing number of choices of distributions, and desktop environments.
- Poor open source support for some hardware, in particular drivers for 3D graphics chips, where manufacturers were unwilling to provide full specifications.
Linux is used by many professionals and companies. Linux developers, IT systems administrators, Linux support engineers, software engineers, technical support, and Kernel administrators use the open-source operating system.What distro does Linus Torvalds use 2023? ›
Torvalds is running Linux on his M2 MacBook with the help of Asahi Linux, a distribution that has been working to reverse-engineer Apple's hardware.
- Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that has three editions - Desktop, Server, and Core for IoT. ...
- Debian. ...
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux. ...
- Linux Mint. ...
- OpenSUSE. ...
- Manjaro. ...
- Elementary. ...
Most of the websites recommend the Linux Mint as Windows the best Windows look like an alternative operating system to beginners. It is Ubuntu based and like the Ubuntu system, Linux Mint is recognized as one of the best Linux distributions. They also provide LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) which is based on Debian.What is the fastest distro ever? ›
Well Puppy Linux is by far the fastest out of all Linux distros out there. Another one that I think is very fast is Chrome OS. For a new os, it is surprisingly fast and very quick when it comes to booting up.What is the second most used Linux distribution? ›
Debian is a free, open source Linux distribution. It was initially launched by Ian Murdock in 1993 as the “Debian Linux Release”. It was the first distribution to be open for contribution to all users and developers.What is the fastest copying software in Linux? ›
- MiniCopier. MiniCopier. MiniCopier is a graphical copy manager. ...
- Ultracopier. Ultracopier. Ultracopier is free and open source software licensed under GPL3 that acts as a replacement for files copy dialogs. ...
- Supercopier. Ultracopier. ...
- rsync. rsync.
It is very unlikely that Linux will overtake Windows as the main operating system."What is Puppy Linux used for? ›
Puppy can be used as a desktop OS, a home file or media server, a fast gaming OS, a rescue OS for fixing Windows and recovering data and it can go everywhere you go - just take your Puppy Linux USB with you! Puppy can be built from the packages of other distros. The currently supported distros are: Ubuntu.What is the lightest OS? ›
The Lightest Operating System: Tiny Core Linux.What are 2 disadvantages of Linux operating system? ›
The disadvantages of Linux include limited software availability, limited hardware support, a steep learning curve, lack of commercial support, and compatibility issues.
- Test a Distro Through Live Boot. ...
- Choose From So Many Distros and Flavors. ...
- Use the OS for Free Forever. ...
- Create Your Own Operating System. ...
- Use the OS Without Needing an Antivirus. ...
- Don't Need to Restart the PC at Each Step. ...
- Use Lightweight Distros to Resurrect Old PCs and Laptops.
The world's worst was Debian, a flavour of Linux, top of the table with 3,067 vulnerabilities over the last two decades. Close behind was Android on 2,563 vulnerabilities, with the Linux kernel in third place having racked up a count of 2,357.What happens when RAM is full Linux? ›
With no swap, the system will run out of virtual memory (strictly speaking, RAM+swap) as soon as it has no more clean pages to evict. Then it will have to kill processes. Running out of RAM is completely normal.What is the minimum processor speed for Linux? ›
700 MHz x86 processor (1.2 GHz x86 processor recommended) or Raspberry Pi 4 or better. To run LinuxCNC 2.8 and Debian Buster from the LiveCD the system should be 64-bit capable.
16 will handle most games you want to make. 32+ is nice for when you need to load multiple levels at once in the editor. I'd had a couple of extremely large world projects and I'd load 10–15 levels at once and quickly pass the 16 gig mark. Given that ram is pretty cheap, there are very few reasons to not go 16.Which is the hardest Linux version? ›
In fact, even those with a modicum of Linux experience would be challenged by any one of these. Those distributions belonging to Tier 3 include: Gentoo - the most challenging Linux distribution on the market. It's hard.What was the first official version of Linux? ›
While still a student at the University of Helsinki, Torvalds started developing Linux to create a system similar to MINIX, a UNIX operating system. In 1991 he released version 0.02; Version 1.0 of the Linux kernel, the core of the operating system, was released in 1994.How old is Debian Linux? ›
The first version of Debian (0.01) was released on September 15, 1993, and its first stable version (1.1) was released on June 17, 1996. The Debian Stable branch is the most popular edition for personal computers and servers. Debian is also the basis for many other distributions, most notably Ubuntu.How old is Ubuntu Linux? ›
The first official Ubuntu release — Version 4.10, codenamed the 'Warty Warthog' — was launched in October 2004, and sparked dramatic global interest as thousands of free software enthusiasts and experts joined the Ubuntu community.Which Linux boot OS is fastest? ›
Ubuntu 11.10 is the king of quick boots. It was the first fully loaded desktop distribution that could claim the 10-second boot time.
Arch provides a ports-like system for building packages from source, though the Arch base system is designed to be installed as pre-built x86_64 binary. This generally makes Arch quicker to build and update, and allows Gentoo to be more systemically customizable.
Windowsfx is a Linux desktop operating system that uses the KDE Plasma desktop environment to create a very Windows 11 look and feel.What was the first Linux virus? ›
Found in the fall of 1996, Staog is the first known Linux virus.What was the first Linux distro with a GUI? ›
In May 1992, Softlanding Linux System (SLS) would be released, which was the first distro to actually include the X Window system that actually ran a GUI environment.What language is Linux written in? › Why Debian is the best OS? ›
Bug-Free: Debian's standard version is highly reliable since it rigorously tests software and libraries. Because of its dependability, Debian Stable is an ideal server operating system. This is one of the grounds why many developers utilize Debian as the foundation for their derivative distributions, like Ubuntu.Should I install Debian or Ubuntu? ›
Debian is known for its stability and has a slight upper hand over Ubuntu. Debian is only upgraded after new features have been thoroughly tested and accepted by Debian's development team so the chances of unexpected behavior and bugs are minimal. For this reason, Debian is often the preferred OS for servers.Is Debian still relevant? ›
Debian is also widely used by software and hardware developers because it runs on numerous architectures and devices, offers a public bug tracker and other tools for developers. If you plan to use Debian in a professional environment, there are additional benefits like LTS versions and cloud images.What is the best old Ubuntu? ›
Ubuntu 19.10 has been crowned the best Ubuntu release of the past ten years.What is the oldest Linux desktop environment? ›
KDE was the first advanced desktop environment (version 1.0 released in July 1998), but it was controversial due to the then-proprietary Qt toolkit used.
All of that makes Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS one of the most stable and secure Linux distributions, perfectly suitable for production deployments across public clouds, data centres and the edge.