The 4 best Linux operating systems for rescuing broken computers [Guide]

Dealing with a broken computer? Don’t take it to your local repair shop. Instead, download a Linux-powered operating system that can help save your data and fix your operating system!

Unsure of what rescue OS to use? We can help! Here are the five best Linux operating systems for rescuing broken computers!

1. Rescatux

Rescatux is the ultimate Linux/Microsoft Windows recovery operating system. It’s portable, lightweight, and can run quite well off of a USB flash drive, or CD/DVD.

Rescatux is very popular within the Linux community due to its a great set of features, including the ability to quickly browse many different types of file systems on the computer it’s running on, an easy to use Grub bootloader fixing tool, a password reset tool, and even some Windows-specific rescue options.

Notable Features

  • Rescatux can fix bootloaders of both Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux Grub installations.
  • It can restore the Windows Master Boot Record. It can also re-install the Windows EFI.
  • Rescatux can restore or replace an absent Sudoer file.
  • The live disk comes with file-system checking tools which gives users the ability to fix and clean corrupted hard drives (both internal, as well as external drives, are supported.)
  • Rescatux can reset a system’s password, enabling you to log back into a potentially locked computer. It can also promote existing users to Admin.
  • Is based on Debian, and has an easy to use interface ensuring that even newbies can quickly figure out how to use it.
  • The Rescatux live disk can update the Grub menu of most Linux system installations.
    Rescatux supports both versions of Grub (Grub 1, and Grub 2,) and can fix boot issues with both quite easily.

2. SuperGrubDisk2

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If you’ve run into some seriously annoying Grub2 bootloader issues on your Linux PC, you need to check out SuperGrubDisk2. It’s a light, text-only bootable OS that, when used, can automatically detect operating systems and boot them even when Grub refuses to work.

Overall, SuperGrubDisk2 isn’t an operating system in its own right; its primary purpose is to detect issues with the bootloader on your computer.

Notable Features

  • Can discover any operating system present on the system, be it Linux, Windows, etc. and boot from it.
  • SuperGrubDisk2 works with operating systems in both BIOS/MBR mode and UEFI mode.
  • Thanks to the “Extract entries” feature, users can extract the boot entries of their Grub configuration and boot from it.
  • The “list devices” feature can print out partitions and the hard drives they’re on for users to more easily figure out where their OS is that they want to boot from.
  • Supports enabling Grub features like LVM, RAID, and PATA.
  • SuperGrubDisk2 can mount encrypted disk volumes (LUKS and geli are supported).
  • Includes a basic Linux terminal shell that can be useful for diagnostic purposes.
  • Can search for bootable operating systems on removable Floppy and CD-ROM devices.
  • The size of SuperGrubDisk2 is under 20 MB, which makes it installable on just about any removable device ever, even a floppy disk or CD.

3. Gparted Live Disk

Need to repartition a PC in a jiffy? Check out the Gparted Live Disk. It’s a bootable Debian-based environment for the popular graphical partition editing tool for Linux.

Gparted Live Disk’s primary purpose is to edit partitions, so it’s probably not the first thing you should turn to if your PC is having issues. However, it also comes with a terminal, web browser and other standard Linux tools making it a welcome addition to this list!

Notable Features

  • The Gparted live disk is a full (but slimmed down) Debian operating system and has a terminal interface that has Root access, meaning aside from working with hard drive partitions, users can use it to perform other system-related tasks.
  • Gparted supports most file systems, can recognize both MSDOS and GPT partition layout types.
  • Gparted live has a data recovery feature that users can use to get back lost data.
  • Built-in filesystem checking tool allows users to quickly fix and correct disk errors on a myriad of filesystem formats.
  • Gparted Live can work with both internal hard drives, as well as external USB memory sticks that are plugged into the computer.

4. SystemRescueCD

SystemRescueCD is a Linux-based, portable rescue operating system. It focuses on Linux operating systems only and can read almost any Linux file system.

SystemRescueCD is packed with features. With it, users can do disk partitioning (with Gparted,) tweak LVM hard drive settings, data recovery (via PhotoRec,) hard drive testing tools, file system backup, and much more!

Notable Features

  • SystemRescueCD has a built-in partitioning tool that can be used to set up file systems on a hard drive. It can also be used to correct booting errors with Windows or Linux computers.
  • The SystemRecueCD live disk’s partition editing tool supports many different file systems out of the box, and no configuration is required to read from them.
  • The live disk comes with Disk Archiver, a tool that lets users quickly archive and back up their OS as well as the files on their hard drive.
  • SystemRescueCD has full read-write support for all Windows installations (via Ntfs-3g,) which means it’s possible to use this OS to rescue, recover and backup files on Windows PCs.
  • SystemRescueCD comes with a fully-functional XFCE desktop environment. The environment has many different programs, like a text editor, terminal, and even a web browser.
  • The OS automatically detects your network card and connects you to the internet (wired connections only), so that you can use the built-in web browser for trouble-shooting purposes, etc.


Linux has long dominated the USB rescue operating system market, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any free operating systems used to fix and repair computers that don’t run it.

In this list, we covered some of the best rescue distributions that the Linux community has to offer. What are your favorite Linux-based repair distributions to use not mentioned in this list? Let us know in the comments down below!

About Alex Miller 12813 Articles
Alex Miller is a bestselling Tech author currently working here. His work has received a lot of appreciation from users and is being made to work hard to meet the user's expectations.

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