I have old computer with Windows XP system and it started crashing randomly. I need light OS, which can be booted as Live CD/DVD in which I could copy all data from hdd to external hdd.

I have tried few system (ofc ubuntu, but also puppy linux) but they all didn't run (kernel panic while booting) or works very slow.

All I need is OS with drivers for hdd, windows file system (fat, ntfs) and terminal with cp.

  • 2
    It started crashing randomly? Run a memory test. You can select one on SystemRescueCD at the boot prompt. Leave it running until it's completed at least one full pass. Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 22:30
  • Ditto, "old computer crashing randomly" easily equals bad memory, run a test. If it is memory, there is nothing that will work, not a light OS, not a minimal OS ...maybe a supernatural OS... this will eventually, at some irregular interval, produce random problems. So you need to rule that out before you waste time, randomly.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 1:40
  • @goldilocks I did memory test and all is fine. I believe it is problem related to CPU or mainboard.
    – Ari
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 7:10

3 Answers 3


Try something like SystemRescueCD. Should do what you need (copy one HDD to another with minimal overhead).

Also, if the CD/DVD drive is as old as the rest of the system you're booting on, it's likely pretty slow, and booting off a CD is.... going to be even slower. Try installing your rescue system to a flash drive of some sort. It'll be much faster than booting from CD (that's assuming you can boot from USB on an old system).

  • I used RescueCD but I couldn't access any (even external) hdd from there.
    – Ari
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 7:11
  • Were the devices simply not present (i.e. no /dev/sda1 etc.) or did mounting fail? If the device isn't even visible... then I'd go with Vonbrand's suggestion and move the disc to another machine and try to recover data from there. Since you don't have another machine you can plug the drives into, though, you could get an ide to sata converter.... They're much cheaper than a new machine and readily available here in the States. Not sure about Poland, alas. Make sure to look at the SystemRescueCD manual for mounting NTFS partitions in case they have any good advice. Their forums as well.
    – SuperMagic
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 14:17

Have you tried Puppy without the GUI? When you see the "boot:" line, type in:

puppy pfix=nox

This should give you a pretty tiny OS.


Perhaps the solution is to remove the disk and do the copying elsewhere. The symptoms you mention indicate severe hardware problems (memory, perhaps CPU overheating, others), and so copying on the broken machine is risky at best. If it is a laptop/notebook, there are enclosures that make your hard disk into a USB external disk.

  • I don't have any other PC which have mainboard with ATA ports.
    – Ari
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 7:11

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