Ever been caught without that rescue disk, and thought that everything was lost, and that you have no choice but to reinstall the operating system? Well donít do it just yet. In this article weíll introduce you to tomsrtbt, a bootable diskette that will allow you to salvage and/or repair files regardless of your operating system. (This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Plug-In).
Apple has done away with it for years now. My BIOS scornfully refers to it as a legacy device. Yes, Iím talking about the poor 3.5-inch floppy. It wasnít always so. There was a time when the 3.5-inch reigned supreme. It was much superior to the 5.25-inch-- especially if you remember the 1541 Commodore external drive. I still shudder at the thought. And then there was the cassette tape that you used with the ZX-81. (Now Iím really showing my age!)
In any case, I recently had occasion to be very thankful for this legacy device. My dual boot Win2K/Linux Red Hat 7.1 wouldnít boot into Linux any more; probably something to do with that SCSI card I recently added. ďWell,Ē I thought, ďitís simple enough to use my Linux boot disk and see if I can sort out the problem.Ē But no such floppy could be found.
Allow me a quick aside to Windows-only readers. Donít change the channel. There is something here for you, because even though the Windows operating system canít view a Linux partition, Linux can see Windows. Iíll let you draw your own conclusions about this fact, but one thing this means is that you can use Linux to salvage or repair Windows files.
To get back to our main problem, and to paraphrase an old expression, it looked like I was ďup the effluent stream with no means of propulsion.Ē Okay, so I could boot from the installation CD. But in the spirit of not forgetting an auld acquaintance, letís see what we can do with only a floppy drive. Besides, as youíll see, an irresistible temptation presented itself to me along the way.