6 Cool Uses of Linux Live CDs

One of the good (or bad) things about Linux is that there are a lot of different distributions and almost all of them come in the form of live CDs. For the casual user, you might be wondering why in the world you need a live Linux CD when you have a functional operating system installed in your system. Here are some of the reasons why you should always have a Linux live media, and it might even save your computer’s life.

1. Try Out Linux First Hand

Obviously, the first reason to use a Linux live media will always be to try out the Linux operating system and to get a taste of what it is before actually installing on your system. There are so many flavors out there, and you can download almost all the Linux distributions from their official sites.

Once downloaded, you can create your own live media either by installing it in a CD/DVD or on a thumb drive using free software like Unetbootin. If you get fond of a Linux distribution, you can dual boot your system with both Windows and the Linux Distro of your choice.

Install Ubuntu on your computer.

2. Recover Lost Data

If you cannot boot into your existing operating system or if your Windows OS is just dead, then recovering important data would be your top priority. In those scenarios, you can download and install free software like TestDisk directly onto your Linux live media so that you can quickly recover your lost data.

Besides the installable software, there are full-blown Linux distributions like the Trinity Rescue Kit, which are specifically designed to help you recover and repair lost data and partitions.

Trinity Rescue Kit: CPR for your computer.

3. Bypass Windows Restrictions

If you have files or folders that are hidden or protected with the policies and restrictions placed by the Windows system, you can open the built-in file manager on the Linux live media as a root user to easily bypass those restrictions to access the files and folders.

Besides getting access to the files and folders that are restricted or hidden, you can also try to recover or reset lost or forgotten Windows user account passwords.

4. Use as Temporary SSH Server

SSH (Secure Shell) is an important utility which lets you control a remote system through a simple terminal window. If you want to quickly configure a temporary SSH server, using Linux live media would be a great choice.

By simply installing free software like OpenSSH and configuring it properly, you can have your own functioning SSH server. Though installing SSH on a Linux distribution is easy, the installation and configuration instructions for SSH servers may vary depending on the distribution you are using.

Install OpenSSH on Linux.

5. Find any Hardware Problems

If your existing operating system is frequently crashing, then it might indicate hardware problems on your Windows machine. Though you can get all the hardware details using the built-in device manager, it is hard to analyze all that hardware for problems.

To deal with this problem, there are a range of individual tools like memtest86+, CPU Burn, etc., to test your existing hardware. All you have to do is load the live Linux CD and install the software using the terminal. Again, depending on which Linux distribution you are using, the installation instructions may vary.

Besides individual tools, the Linux ecosystem has a full-blown operating system like Ultimate boot CD to diagnose your PC hardware problems.

Ultimate Boot CD in action.

6. Scan PC for Virus or Malware

If your Windows system got infected and is blocking you from performing necessary actions like scanning and removing the virus, then you can use the Linux live CD to quickly scan and fix the target system.

There are several popular and free antivirus programs like BitDefender, CalmAV, AVG, etc., that can scan for any Windows viruses through the Linux computer. Just install them as per the instructions provided on the official site and you are good to go.

BitDefender Antivirus Scanner for Unices


That’s all for now and besides the things I’ve shared above, there are several other things you could do using the Linux live CD like disk partitions, secure browsing on public spaces, using as a temporary VNC server, etc. So, even if you have never used a Linux distribution, always have a live Linux CD with you as it may save a lot of time and may also protect your system and data when needed.

Hopefully, that helps and do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using live Linux CD.

Vamsi Krishna Vamsi Krishna

Vamsi is a tech and WordPress geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and messing with his computer and software in general. When not writing for MTE, he writes for he shares tips, tricks, and lifehacks on his own blog Stugon.