Popular guest writer Mark Schneider, walks you through a computer recovery operation using the Trinity Rescue Kit, which, as he puts it, “saved my bacon”.
Today, I was doing a little maintenance on my daughters Gateway laptop, uninstalling one anti-spyware program, and upgrading another to real-time protection. It seemed to go fine – I ran the Uninstall from Programs and Features in Vista, and enabled the full time protection in Malwarebytes, with the registration codes and rebooted.
When the computer shut down, I noticed it installing several updates. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when the machine restarted, the brown stuff hit the fan. I didn’t have any mouse! Even the Track pad was totally unresponsive. So, I plugged in a old USB trackball mouse, success!
I then clicked on the admin account I keep on the machine and went to type my password – nope, the keyboard didn’t work either. So I rebooted after plugging in my USB keyboard. Windows went through its usual routine and told me the keyboard had installed and was ready to use, except, it wasn’t. It wouldn’t work at all.
Basically, I was hosed! I couldn’t run the device manager from the limited account, or do a system restore. I had to get into the admin account, or I was stuck.
So I did what any red-blooded geek would do, I Googled “resetting a password in Vista”. I came up with usual Microsoft solution, you know the one where you use the password reset CD you made when you set up the computer, yep that one, the one no one ever makes!
Fortunately for me, I also found a reference to TRK or the Trinity Rescue Kit. TRK is a Linux based bootable CD, that can be used for resetting passwords, recovering files and a few other things relating to Windows calamities.
Publisher’s description: Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.
Once the CD booted normally, I typed in “winkey u admin” – this started TRK searching, and mounting all the files in the system. I choose “Enter” in the next dialog, and then typed an “*” confirmed this with a “y”, and this created a new administrator account with no password.
I was able to log into the Administrator account and then began the next phase of fixing the corrupted drivers. This took a little longer than I anticipated. I tried deleting the Track pad and keyboard in Device Manager , both had the little caution signs next to them indicating a damaged or corrupted driver; rebooted but this didn’t work.
I finally resolved the problem by using a restore point. Fortunately, you can get there with just a few clicks of the mouse. So I got lucky; the USB mouse worked, and the TRK worked after some trial and error.
Get the Trinity Rescue Kit here. I recommend it for your toolkit, it definitely saved my bacon.
TRK is a complete command line based distribution, apart from a few tools like qtparted, links, partition image and midnight commander.
Full read/write and rpm support (since build 333)
Easily reset windows passwords (backup and restore option)
Four different virus scan products integrated in a single uniform command line with online update capability
Full ntfs write support thanks to ntfs-3g (all other drivers included as well)
Clone NTFS file systems over the network
Wide range of hardware support (kernel 188.8.131.52 and recent kudzu hwdata)
Easy script to find all local file systems
Self update capability to include and update all virus scanners
Full proxy server support
Run a samba fileserver (windows like file sharing)
Run an ssh server
Recovery and un-deletion of files with utilities and procedures
Recovery of lost partitions
Evacuation of dying disks
UTF-8 international character support
Powerful multicast disk cloning utility for any file system
Two rootkit detection utilities
It is possible to boot TRK in three different ways:
As a bootable CD which you can burn yourself from a downloadable iso file.
From a USB stick/disk (optionally also a fixed disk), installable from Windows, or from the bootable TRK CD.
From network over PXE, which requires some modifications on your local network (version 3.2). Has the ability to act as a network boot server itself, without any modifications to your local network.
Trinity Rescue Kit is now in Version 3.4, and is better than ever before.
Download at: Developer’s site.
This article was originally posted here on March 11, 2010.
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