Need help creating a custom Linux LiveCD
December 22, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Like a dumbass I took my work laptop off the corporate domain and now I can't log in. Helpdesk can't find the admin password for the machine so it's stuck until I travel to the office and they can re-image it (I'm remote). Until then I'd like to be able to at least boot into Ubuntu (or some such) and browse the web.

Okay, so obviously a Linux LiveCD will give me what I want. Here's the rub; I'd like to be able to do this without having to reinstall my Firefox extensions every time I boot up. Being a complete Linux noob isn't helping me here. So here are my questions:

- Can I boot into Ubuntu via a LiveCD, set things up the way I like, and then burn another LiveCD (from within that instance of Ubuntu) that keeps that configuration? Possibly following something like this guide?

- Is there some other method to create a LiveCD that meets my requirements without having to install a Linux distro on my harddrive? I'm all Windows, Both at work and at home.

Dumbed-down instructions are a plus. Thanks!

P.S. Infinite bonus points if you can tell me how to recover the admin password on an encrypted HDD... ;-)
posted by jluce50 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on the encryption of the drive, the password utilities on the UBCD might be able to unlock it for you. Probably not, though.
posted by TomMelee at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2009

Simplest option may be installing linux on a cheap USB flash drive. One simple option I've played with in the past is Pendrivelinux, which provides a windows installer for a variety of distros, including the most recent Ubuntu which will save most of your changes when you shutdown.
posted by Good Brain at 11:42 AM on December 22, 2009

Depending on your corporate IT and HR policies, you might want to be careful about trying to unlock your laptop. If you're handing sensitive stuff, some businesses may treat that as a fireable offense, no joke.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2009

Download Hiren's Boot CD (version does not matter, available on all popular torrent sites.) Boot from the CD, select the 'Active Password Changer' utility, select the Administrator account, and choose a new password. Aside from download time, the process requires roughly 60 seconds.

As others have noted, this may be against corporate policy.
posted by biggity at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2009

...whoops, missed the "encrypted hard drive" bit.
posted by biggity at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2009

I've used Remastersys to create a custom LiveCD / LiveUSB. It works quite well, really.

Installing directly to USB is prefereable if you can do it. I haven't tried that myself.
posted by krilli at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2009

Ah, but you probably need to do a full install of Ubuntu to be able to reimage it with Remastersys.

I'd start looking into doing a full-usbstick-installation. Should be entirely possible.
posted by krilli at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2009

Response by poster: The USB installation does look promising. I'm not sure if I can boot from USB on this laptop (it's an old Lenovo T42), but I'll check it out...
posted by jluce50 at 12:37 PM on December 22, 2009

download a copy of KON-BOOT and log in as administrator with any password you want. done deal.
May want to get your help desk's permission first.

(Never mind the cartoony graphics on the site, the tool is pretty awesome)
posted by AltReality at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

You should be able to boot from a plain old liveCD and then run a PortableApps version of Firefox from a USB stick. Assuming there is a linux portable app of firefox.
posted by chairface at 12:40 PM on December 22, 2009

In what manner did you take the machine off the domain?
posted by gjc at 5:53 PM on December 22, 2009

FWIW I think I have booted Ubuntu from an USB stick on precisely a Lenovo T42. At least it was a very similar machine.
posted by krilli at 7:26 PM on December 22, 2009

In what manner did you take the machine off the domain?

I think where gjc might be going with this question is that you should still be able to login.

I have a work laptop that pretty much lives at home for remote access / support purposes, and I can log into it no problem without VPN or anything like that. It just remembers the last credentials. If I do VPN in, or bring it to work, it updates itself and relearns things like changed passwords etc.

Windows, of course.

Anyway, this probably doesn't help you since you've already had your help desk involved. Assuming your help desk knows what they are doing.

Seconding USB Linux.
posted by intermod at 7:58 PM on December 22, 2009

Best solution is what you've proposed. Get an Ubuntu LiveCD. Stick a thumbdrive in as well. Tell the LiveCD to put your home dir on the thumbdrive. This is called LiveCD persistance.

On subsequent boots, Ubuntu will see your homedrive on the usb stick. You get to keep your Firefox extensions (cough Adblock plus cough) between reboots.
posted by zippy at 12:11 AM on December 23, 2009

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