After looking at various CD based recovery tools I decided to create a USB based install which would allow the addition of whatever software was needed in a familiar Ubuntu based interface.
The best base system I found was lubuntu. This provides a light weight desktop environment. Recommend using an 8GB flash stick.
You’ll then be able to use the standard install tools (apt-get) to add recovery utilities.
LVM is not installed by default and may be required when rescuing systems which use LVM. Backups may be located on another server, so you’ll want to install samba and NFS.
apt-get install lvm2 nfs-common samba
Some suggested packages are:
open-iscsi lvm2 nfs-common samba gnome-terminal gedit gddrescue k3b testdisk chkrootkit clama
Being a recovery tool, root was the only useful user. Modify the windows manager to auto login as root
depending on the version of lubuntu you have installed.
Move the temporary filesystems to ram for better performance.
Add to /etc/fstab.
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
Move /tmp to /tmp.old, create /tmp
Move /var/log to /var/log.old, create /var/log
Run mount -a
Move the contents of the .old directories to the new RAM based ones and cleanup the .old directories.