Even if you aren’t really a Linux person, the live CD Linux distribution Knoppix is incredibly useful. If nothing else, you can use it to replace Ghost, Partition Magic, and Nero or EZ CD Creator. That’s $100 worth of utilities for the cost of a download, or, if you don’t have broadband, for $5-$10 from a Linux distributor.If you’re not a Linux person, here’s how to boot and fire up the utilities you need. Once they’re up and running, they’re very intuitive; it’s just finding them that can be difficult.

PartitionMagic:
Boot Knoppix.
Click the shell icon in the toolbar at the bottom.
Type ‘su’ (no quotes) and hit enter to become a privileged user.
Type ‘qtparted’ (no quotes) and hit enter to bring up a free Partition Magic clone.

Ghost/DriveImage:
Boot Knoppix.
Click the shell icon in the toolbar at the bottom.
Type ‘su’ (no quotes) and hit enter to become a privileged user.
Type ‘mkdir /smb’ (no quotes) and hit enter to make a point to mount a network share.
Type ‘smbmount //server/share /smb -o username=myusername’ (no quotes) and hit enter to mount the network share. Enter your NT password when indicated.
Type ‘partimage’ (no quotes) and hit enter to launch Partimage, the closest thing there is to a free/open source Ghost. Save your image to /smb and you’ve got it made. No more paying for Ghost licenses, no more dinking around with boot floppies to try to find the right driver for your NIC and trying to find enough room to cram the ever-more-bloated Ghost…

Nero/EZ CD Creator:
Boot Knoppix.
Click the shell icon in the toolbar at the bottom.
Type ‘k3b’ (no quotes) and hit enter to launch a CD burning application.

Drive wiping utilities:
This assumes the drive you want to wipe is the primary master on your first IDE channel. Unless you really know what you’re doing, disconnect all other hard drives!
Boot Knoppix.
Click the shell icon in the toolbar at the bottom.
Type ‘su’ (no quotes) and hit enter to become a privileged user.
Type ‘dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hda bs=512’ and hit enter.
For something approaching military-grade security, you need to overwrite seven times. Here’s one line to do that. This will take a good, long while.
Type ‘dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hda bs=512 ; dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512’ and hit enter.
To securely wipe floppies, substitute the string “fd0” for “hda0”.