Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Utility Distros

Linux distributions are not just for mainstream desktop or server computing purposes and that is how this list arises. Rescuing failed systems, securing working ones and testing the latter are all part of the mix. Some of these could be used for day to day computing yet it is the specialisms that really become their unique selling proposition.


Penetration testing is highlighted as a major use case for this distro based on Arch Linux, which makes the BlackArch repository available in another way. User-friendliness is part of the offer too since Arch itself very much is DIY in its approach to installation.


This styles itself as a penetration testing distro and is just one of the offerings from a security minded community. Releases are infrequent though, which can mean stability as well as not keeping pace with upcoming security threats.


Whenever I have need to do disk to disk copying of partitions, this has been my go-to tool for that task. The interface is simple and it will boot from an ISO image. That it always proved reliable was essential for trust and I never got left down, even if I kept the old disk for a few days to be sure that nothing went awry.


This distro has a very specific role in life: powering dedicated computer firewall appliances. While I can picture using it on an older machine set aside for securing an internet connection, there does seem to be more to this project than that and the strength of the firewall is sufficient for securing corporate networks as well. The people behind IPFire sell their appliance products too with a rack-mountable option as well as a smaller freestanding one.


This is a special purpose flavour of Linux dedicated to security testing. To keep it legal, the subject for this action needs to be your system or another for which you have permission to be examining…


The basis for this distro is the Nix package management system with its unique approach to system configuration. One reason for that is to support a DevOps or DevSecOps way of working with versioning, reproducibility and reliability all being part of the offer.


It is difficult to know if this has the above name or if it should be called ParrotOS instead, but this is packed full of professional tools for security testing. There are Home, Security, Cloud, Architect and Raspberry Pi editions alongside availability through Hack The Box.


In one sense, this is a collection of server-based offerings for enterprise usage, but things are more specialised than that when you have one platform for virtualisation, another for backups and yet another for email security. The basis is Linux, yet there also is an appliance aspect to these.

Rescatux & Super Grub2 Disk

You have two tools here: the second attends to what boots up Linux systems while the first is a master set for rescuing Linux and even Windows systems. Both will boot off removable media, which is just as well for repairing a non-booting computer.


Clonezilla has a basic interface more akin to console-based software. In contrast, this is compatible with Clonezilla and has a better user interface. The project claims to have other system restoration tricks up its sleeve, but the website appears to be coy about what they are.


There have been so many times over the years when a computer system in my possession has suffered a serious problem that I needed to become proficient in dealing with these outages. That is the premise for this distro and the name gives the game away. That it boots from removable media is a necessity for the kinds of operations that are supported.

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