Windows/Linux: MoviX2 puts a tiny Linux system on a disc or thumb drive that boots up and plays almost any video file you burn it with, making a handy tool for demonstrations or less-than-capable computers. Yes, yes, we know—most people can simply use VLC Player, or burn a video to DVD. If you need to play a video on a system without a DVD drive, though, or make it seriously simple for someone to watch ("Put disc in drive. Restart. Done"), MoviX2 fits the bill. Terminal-savvy Linux and Windows users can hack together an ISO with their video of choice if they'd like, or use one of the graphical options at the project site—Windows users should grab MoviX2 and the most recent package ending in .exe and follow these instructions, while Linux users can just grab the latest MoviX2 files. Need more help? Check out the MoviX2 documentation, and you'll find it's not too hard to get a disc imaged and burned with a bundled MPlayer—which means it handles a whole heck of a lot of formats and codecs. MoviX2 is a free download for Windows and Linux systems only.
Tagged With boot disk
All platforms: If you're experiencing frequent errors and crashes on your computer, a bad stick of RAM is often the culprit. Free diagnostic boot CD Memtest86+ checks system memory for errors without pressing a key. After burning the tiny downloadable ISO image (less than 2MB ) to a disc (we recommend ImgBurn for this task), you can use it to boot any computer directly into the standard memory test. More advanced tests can be run under the configuration screen, but the standard test should detect most memory errors. Armed with that information, you can replace or swap out the offending memory stick.
The creators of versatile CD/DVD burning tool CDBurnerXP have posted a guide in their forums to using the program to create a live-booting Windows XP (or 2000/2003) disc. It's a multi-step process that involves a lot of settings to tweak, but at the end you should have a Windows desktop that loads straight from the boot. If you're going to roll your own live-boot XP, you might want to get familiar with trimming it down to the bare essentials for faster loads, or slipstreaming your installation to avoid Windows Update nags that will, frankly, never go away. I haven't given it a thorough test yet, but online forum users seem to give it the thumbs up. Let us know your experience with live-booting XP in the comments. Creating bootable Windows 2000/XP/2003 Disc (CDBurnerXP 3)
Windows and Linux only: Free bootable image creator UNetbootin automates the downloading, imaging, and installing of Linux distributions onto USB thumb drives, creating a persistent, boot-anywhere desktop. We've previously featured rather involved guides to putting Linux on a flash drive, but UNetbootin does it all for you, from downloading the right ISO to setting up a USB stick as a bootable Linux drive. It can also convert almost any bootable ISO, so if you've got an old, smaller thumb drive not seeing much use these days, you can use UNetbootin to install a partition editor, a file-recovering live CD, or the Windows password-cracking Ophcrack. UNetbootin is a free download for Windows XP and higher and Linux systems. UNetbootin
Linux.com writes up a helpful guide to creating your own custom system recovery boot disc using an Ubuntu 8.04 CD image, a little command line work, and a few recommended emergency tools, including the partition format/restore tool GParted, e2undel, a file recovery tool, and anything else you might need if your hard drive, RAM, or anything else on your system suddenly decides it doesn't want to work. The guide requires a good bit of command line work, but it also lets you add whatever programs you'd like to have when you come back from the brink, and helps you strip out programs you don't to boot faster. For a similar (but pre-compiled) hard drive-fixing tool, check out Gina's guide to using the System Rescue CD. Build your own ultimate boot disc
The release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 is coming up, and APC magazine has published a guide on how to create a bootable XP SP3 CD. The tutorial uses Bart's Boot Image Extractor and Nero Burning Rom, but emphasises that you should wait for the official release of SP3 - as the beta's product activation code is bugged and won't accept any key you type in. Oh, and - it'll be a while - SP3 has no official release date yet, but is expected in the first half of 2008. Anyone out there using the beta of SP3? Let us know how you're finding it in comments.