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I need to access a hard drive which is 100% Linux, probably Debian. I will put the disc in as the second hard drive in a WINXP machine. How can I boot into this Linux disc? I know very little about Linux but my company needs to know what is on that drive.

At present I cannot access the drive, except in WinXP administrative tools which shows that is Linux. How do I boot to it?
You probably don't want to boot to it (....unless you put it back into the original machine, the boot is likely to fail {or the startup scripts change} if booted on machines with different equipment) ...

What I would do instead is boot a Linux CD that can mount it so you can see what is on it.

Knoppix is a bootable Linux CD system that is based on debian ... so it is likely that you can read the disk if you download and boot the latest Knoppix CD.

You would then open a terminal window and do this:

fdisk -l /dev/hdb (if it is the Primary slave) or fdisk -l /dev/hdd (if it is the secondary slave) or fdisk -l /dev/hdc (if it is the secondary master).

The output should look something like this:

Disk /dev/hdb: 60.0 GB, 60022480896 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 7297 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

  Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/hdb1               1          17      136521   83  Linux
/dev/hdb2              18         267     2008125   82  Linux swap
/dev/hdb3             268        7297    56468475   83  Linux

If there is a small partition it is probably /boot (where the kernel is) you can look at this later (in my example it is /dev/hdb1 {which is partition 1 on primary slave})... you don't have to worry about the swap partition at all .... if there is only one large partition (as in my example) then it is more than likely the root partition ... where all the stuff is likely at.

Once you know the partition, you need to create a mount point (some place you are going to mount the drive so you can look at it) ... I would use /mnt/debian do this in the terminal window:

mkdir /mnt/debian

Now you can mount the drive and see what it contains with this command:

mount /dev/hdb3 /mnt/debian

(I used the example {/dev/hdb3} in my command, you should use what you determined to be the root directory from your fdisk commands)

If the mount command works without any errors, you should be able to browse the drive using konqueror from start menu of knoppix (go to /mnt/debian - everything under that is the drive). If you have errors in mounting, you may need to specify the filesystem on the root partition...but the standard ones should be detected when trying to mount (reiserfs, ext2, ext3 and maybe xfs).

Here is a good link for recovering data with knoppix. Here is the knoppix FAQ.
Thanks! I'll try what you suggest. I did manage to boot onto the drive but got "permission denied" messages when I tried to read it. Hopefully your system will work

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