7 useful Linux Live CDs

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”)

The program is designed to securely erase a hard disk until data is permanently removed and no longer recoverable, which is achieved by overwriting the data with random numbers generated by Mersenne twister or ISAAC (a PRNG). The Gutmann method is included with DBAN. DBAN can be booted from a floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive and it is based on Linux. It supports IDE, SCSI and SATA hard drives. DBAN can be configured to automatically wipe every hard disk on a system that it sees, making it very useful for unattended data destruction scenarios.


Inquisitor is a software suite used for hardware diagnostics, stress testing, certification and benchmarking platform. Minimal steps that can be undertaken for purposes of testing or benchmarking are called “tests” in Inquisitor and are implemented as simple Unix shell scripts that run other (binary) programs and collects their results. In its simplest form, test outputs only binary result: success or failure.


Stresslinux is a Mini Linux designed to test a computer’s hardware by running the components at high load while monitoring their health. It is designed to be booted from CD-ROM or via PXE.


Ophcrack is an open source program that cracks Windows passwords by using LM hashes through rainbow tables. The program includes the ability to import the hashes from a variety of formats, including dumping directly from the SAM files of Windows. These tables can crack 99.9% of alphanumeric passwords of up to 14 characters in usually a few minutes.


BackTrack is a Linux distribution distributed as a Live CD which resulted from the merger of WHAX and the Auditor Security Collection, which is used for Penetration testing. It allows the user to include customizable scripts, additional tools, configurable kernels in personalized distributions, and includes over 300 security tools.

perfSONAR Network Performance Toolkit

Based on a customized version of Knoppix perfSONAR Network Performance Toolkit delivers network performance software developed by Internet2. NTP offers a complete network performance suite.


Clonezilla is a free software disaster recovery, disk cloning and deployment solution. Clonezilla Live allows a user to clone an individual machine. A particular partition or entire disk can be cloned to another medium. This can be saved as an image file or as a replicated copy of the data. The data can be saved to locally attached storage, an SSH server, Samba Server or a NFS file share and then restore them at a later date. Do you know of any other live CD that should be included in this list?