1. Windows XP won’t boot on my dad’s laptop. It starts booting… then restarts half-way through. Safe-mode, debug-mode, last known working configuration all fail.
2. Using the Windows XP install CD in recovery mode fails. Which means I’ll have to re-install Windows. But he has data he would prefer not to lose (he has backups from within the last month, I think).
3. Attempting to re-install Windows XP without formatting the hard drive fails.
4. Booting from any CD other than the Windows XP install CD fails (I tried Fedora Core 4 rescue CD, Trinity Rescue Kit, Knoppix Live, and Ultimate Boot CD.
5. The BIOS on the Dell laptop is cheap and doesn’t support booting from the network or from a USB drive.
1. Boot from an old version of a Trinux rescue disk because it was the only floppy-based Linux distro with NTFS and networking support I could find.
2. Statically compile the dropbear ssh/scp client on a system with a 2.4 kernel.
3. Copy the ssh/scp client to the laptop by hosting it on a webserver and using wget.
4. Use scp to copy all 5GB of data from the NTFS drive to my computer over the network.
5. Format the laptop hard drive and re-install Windows XP.
6. Selectively restore important data.