The 8 rescue disks and operating systems I chose to create a ‘Swiss army knife’ on a ‘multiboot’ USB key
Yumi (Your universal multiboot installer) is an application that specializes in burning multiboot USB keys; that is to say, they allow us use the same USB drive to boot different operating systemsshowing us a menu so that we can choose which one we want to run at each moment.
The good thing about YUMI is that it allows us – as long as we have a USB key with the sufficient storage capacity— generate us a custom off-road tool for every need or setback that happens to us in relation to our PC.
doWe are unable to start Windows and we need to restore MBR, save some files or scan hard drive in case malware is causing the problem? doWe need to securely erase a hard drive in our workplace —and, perhaps, clone it first into another with greater capacity—?
Would it do us good to quickly master penetration testing or hardware diagnostics to any team? Do we want to have a complete operating system—with a browser, office suite, media player, etc.—that can be start without installation? Or maybe we just need to have our favorite operating systems handy to install them quickly?
We can do all this with different boot systems available on the Internet, but thanks to YUMI we can take tools that allow us to do it without having dozens of USB keys lying around.
YUMI includes a wide range of officially supported systems (and also allows us to try others not included); however, the key may be to choose well what we want to carry in our ‘Swiss Army Knife’ USB, so that we do not leave any important function unincluded, nor do we engage in iterative duplicity including systems that serve the same purpose.
I will therefore report my particular selection of ‘rescue discs’ and operating systems. A subjective but reasoned selection, so that get an idea of the type of tools we can have on hand thanks to Yumi:
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- Fedora workstation: Fedora is my favorite desktop and general-purpose Linux distribution. Very stable and with a wide selection of software. I include it, simply, for the purpose of installing it on the computer.
- Tails: ‘The Amnesic Incognito Live System’ is a ‘live’ (but also installable) Linux distribution intended for preserve the privacy of communications through the use of TOR technology, ideal when you need to use a device connected to WiFi or LAN networks that you do not manage yourself. An NSA report from 10 years ago called him a “major threat” to his spy mission.
- Backbox Linux: The main objective of BackBox Linux is the perform security tests on computers and networks, thanks to the inclusion of dozens of ethical hacking tools. But its inclusion in my list of essentials is not only due to this (because Kali Linux would also be a great alternative for this function), but also because YUMI allows us, in some Linux distributions (like this one and Ubuntu , for example ) enable data persistence, so that the work done while we’re using it isn’t lost when we turn it off.
- Windows 10: I included Windows 10 for the sole purpose of being able to physically install it on your computer (I prefer it to its successor,** for hardware compatibility reasons**).
- Phoenix LiteOS 11 Pro+: Phoenix LiteOS is a modified third-party version of Windows 11 with the aim of improving its performance and customizing the selection of installed software. It is essential to remember that Microsoft does not endorse these modifications in any way and their use may be dangerous.. If you’re willing to take that risk, I’ll explain why I included it in my selection: because it allows, in combination with YUMI and using a virtualized VHDx disk, run Windows 11 from the USB itself, without the need to install it on the team.
Rescue disks (Windows / Linux)
- PartedMagic: PartedMagic is a renowned “all-in-one” when it comes to spare disks, including tools? both free and proprietary? of disk partitioning and cloning, as well as restoring deleted files, secure disk erase, and several benchmarking and diagnostic tools. Rare thing among Linux distros we face a paid “distribution” (with one-time payment and subscription models), a controversial choice for the free software community, but which many users accept in exchange for guaranteeing the constant update of this tool, which most of its rivals cannot boast of.
- Rescue: Rescatux is a ‘live’ distribution whose mission is to repair installations of Linux and Windows systems: restoration of starts, access (or modification) of passwords. Its great strength is the assistant it includes, baptized with the name of ‘Rescapp’, which will give us access to all the restore options, guiding us through the process even if we are not very advanced users. Some of the most popular free tools that we can find in PartedMagic will also be found in Rescatux (but not the owners).
- WinPE by Sergei Strelec: Unlike the two previous tools, Sergei Strelec’s WinPE is based on Windows 10, more precisely in its lite version WinPE. Next to PartedMagic, the favorite of computer scientists; and, if it is true that its function partly overlaps with this, the fact that it includes many Windows-specific management applications and utilities (including several antiviruses) makes it an indispensable tool in many cases.
What else can we store on this flash drive?
It’s not just about distros and bootable floppies: we can create our own folders in the USB created by YUMI (as long as it is not in one of the folders created automatically by the program), and in these we can save another class of useful tools, from the 14 GB of drivers from the origin of the Snappy driver installer, to portable utility builds like NirLauncher, bloatware removal apps for Windows or “all-in-one” software installation packagese for this operating system, such as Ninite.