Host Virtual sponsors Finnix, uses Finnix

Host Virtual, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) provider with 10 datacenter locations around the world and native IPv6 support, is now sponsoring Finnix, providing colocation and bandwidth for primary Finnix services. Finnix's services have been hosted at Host Virtual's San Jose facility for over 5 years, and all Finnix sites have had native IPv6 since early 2010.

Equally important, Host Virtual is now the latest VPS provider to provide Finnix as part of its core platform. Users can easily boot Finnix on their VMs as a rescue image for rescue, repair and maintenance of their OS installations.

Finnix is perfectly suited for VPS providers, and we are committed to working with all VPS providers to implement Finnix as a deployable option for their users.

Finnix in social networks

Finnix now has a page on Facebook, for all your Finnix-related facing and/or booking needs! Please visit today.

There is also a Finnix group on, simply join the group and post with the !Finnix grouptag.

As a reminder, the best place for technical discussions (problems, suggestions, etc) is the Finnix mailing list. Be sure to check the latest release notes first for errata and known problems.

Clarification on Finnix for PowerPC

Please don't sue me, Apple.

The people have spoken. Or at least, the people who use a certain RISC architecture.

I received a lot of mail and comments following the announcement that support for the PowerPC architecture was being dropped from Finnix, and the subsequent release of Finnix 100 as x86-only. Finnix was one of the few LiveCDs in the market with support for PowerPC, and many people use Finnix for administration of PowerPC systems, as I found out.

When I made the announcement, I left some wiggle room, stating, "I'm sure there will be one-off updates throughout the years, but PowerPC support will no longer be a release goal." I'd like to reiterate that this is still the policy, strictly speaking. Over the years, there have been releases that have been delayed due to PowerPC-specific bugs that had to be resolved before a release could be made for both supported architectures. However, after the show of support from PowerPC users, I am happy to announce that the "implied" policy has changed. PowerPC releases may not strictly be a release goal, but I now intend to produce PowerPC releases as a rule rather than an exception.

I've made some upgrades to the main Finnix PowerPC development machine (a G4 Mac Mini -- I have a more powerful dual-proc G4 MDD, but it sounds like a jet engine when running), and I expect, barring unforseen circumstances, that Finnix 101 will be released with both x86 and PowerPC support.

Finnix ISO oddities

After the release of Finnix 100, I did a little housecleaning of the main dev box, and found some old/odd Finnix builds. I decided to gather the various ISOs in one place to preserve for the times. I may release these somehow, but for now I just wanted to make sure they were not lost, and to give you a glimpse of some unreleased software. This list also includes some builds that I know existed and would like to find, but are currently missing.

  • finnix-0.01.iso (circa 1999, missing) - The original build of Finnix. This was only given out to two other people, and is most likely lost forever.
  • finnix-0.02.iso (circa 1999/2000, missing) - Only given out to office staff at the ISP I worked at at the time. Also most likely lost forever.
  • knoppix-3.8.1rf-lvm2-crypt.iso (2005-04-17, 411 MiB) - A straight Knoppix remaster, with LVM2 and dm_crypt support added. This was the precursor to Finnix 84, and what got me interested in reviving the Finnix project back in 2005. Ripped from a CD I found lying on a mothballed Windows server in my employer's office server room, before we moved earlier this year.
  • finnix-84.iso (2005-04-20, 264 MiB) - Another Knoppix remaster, with much of the X environment (crudely) removed to save on space. Nothing in the ISO even mentioned "Finnix". This probably would have been another generic Knoppix remaster, but at one point I decided to revive the name "Finnix". Version "84" was chosen for no particular reason other than it had been over 5 years since the last (and first (and at the time only)) release of Finnix, and a high version number sounded good. This was technically released to the public, but never announced. I threw a torrent up on so friends could download it, but the public never noticed.
  • finnix-85.0.iso (circa 2005, missing) - The next step after Finnix 84, only distributed to office staff. Likely lost forever.
  • finnix-85.1.iso (circa 2005, missing) - Ditto, most likely lost forever.
  • finnix-85.2.iso (2005-09-29, 178 MiB) - Further refinement and chopping from the Knoppix base. At this point it could fit on a Mini-CDR, and was distributed to office staff. Ripped from a Mini-CDR I found in my desk about a year ago.
  • finnix-85.3.iso (2005-10-01, 150 MiB) - Ditto.
  • finnix-86.0-pre1.iso (2005-10-09, 121 MiB) - The first public (pre-)release of "new" Finnix, and the first release since Finnix 0.03 built from the ground up to be "Finnix" (not a Knoppix remaster). Originally distributed via SourceForge.
  • finnix-86.0-pre2.iso (circa 2005, missing) - Originally distributed via SourceForge, but I deleted the SF archives at one point and didn't have a backup beforehand. May exist on mirrors somewhere.
  • finnix-86.0-pre3.iso (circa 2005, missing) - Ditto.
  • finnix-86.1-pre1.iso (2005-11-15, 100 MiB) - Originally distributed via SourceForge.
  • finnix-86.1-le.iso (2005-11-20, 429 MiB) - Finnix 86.1 Limited Edition. A special build containing both Finnix 86.1 and Finnix 0.03. Only distributed to friends/VIPs with a special numbered/signed printed CD. A maximum of 100 copies were planned to be made, only about 30 were distributed. This will probably never be released by me due to its (artificial) rarity.
  • finnix-light-sparc.iso (2007-08-14, 7.2 MiB) - "Finnix Light", an idea I toyed with under the Finnix name, it was merely a kernel and a decked out BusyBox install. The SILO boot profile name was "flight". I abandoned the idea due to the fact that, while I have Sparc hardware to test, it would have been a pain to keep it as a supported configuration.
  • finnix-486-92.1.iso (2008-11-24, 95 MiB) - A custom build of Finnix 92.1, with a 486-capable kernel. Ironically, the Linux kernel at the time had a bug that prevented most 486es from being bootable (probably fixed by now), and the idea was eventually scrapped.

Finnix: Compact Linux distribution for system administrators

In July 2008, Cory Buford wrote a nice review of Finnix for, shortly after the release of Finnix 92.0. Unfortunately, the review did not survive's transition to the Linux Foundation later that year, but I was able to save a copy, and with permission from the author, it has been reproduced here. Enjoy!

Edit (2011-07-02): It appears the review is back. Please see the original review on

Finnix is a live CD distribution designed to assist system administrators in such tasks as system recovery and network monitoring. Based on Debian testing and Linux kernel 2.6, Finnix helps with filesystem and partition manipulation as well as with data recovery, installation of other operating systems, and boot record repair.

Finnix works on both x86/AMD64 and PowerPC systems. The latest release, version 92.0, fixes the Debian SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) vulnerability that was present in previous releases.

One nice thing about the distribution is its small size. Using SquashFS, the entire 300MB distribution was compressed into a bootable distribution just a little over 100MB. Its compact size notwithstanding, Finnix includes the latest technologies and applications for system administrators, including Logical Volume Manager 2 (LVM2), encrypted partitions, and multiple filesystem support.

To start using Finnix, download it from the author's site and burn it to a CD. Since you will likely use this distribution to recover systems -- the main intent of Ryan Finnie when he created it -- booting it as a live CD is the preferred option. If you want to use the CD drive for other purposes, such as using Finnix tools to back up on a CD, you can also load the distribution into RAM; just make sure you have enough RAM -- preferably at least 512MB -- to hold the entire package.

You can also install Finnix to a hard drive using the fairly complex documentation given on the author's site. Another option, once you're inside Finnix, is to run the finnix-thumbdrive script to create a bootable Finnix USB drive.

When you boot Finnix you will see a menu with several options. Although Finnix is designed to automatically detect the type of processor (either x86/AMD64 or PowerPC), you can still choose one yourself. You can run other useful tools -- including Memtest86+, a utility for memory hardware diagnostics -- from the boot menu. If you want to boot multiple operating systems on the system disk, you can use Smart Boot Manager, and for those who miss the DOS command-line interface, you have FreeDOS.

After you select a system, Finnix boots with no problems and with all hardware detected. You are then presented with a simple command-line interface (CLI); no graphical user interface (GUI) is available.

Finnix tools inside

Despite the absence of a GUI, Finnix's wealth of tools and utilities should be enough to satisfy system administrators or others tasked with system recovery. While recovery offerings such as Hiren's BootCD are effective, Finnix can be more flexible, especially when you use the utilities along with proper scripting to their full extent.

Among the available disk and partition manipulation and recovery tools is Partimage, which is comparable to Norton Ghost in functionality but also lets users back up or restore an image from a network server. In addition, Finnix includes the data recovery tool ddrescue.

Finnix offers many options for creating or manipulating filesystems. For filesystems such as ext2 and ReiserFS, there are e2fsprogs and reiserfsprogs, respectively. If you need to access or recover data from an NTFS partition, NTFS-3G and ntfsprogs are available. Also included is hfsutils, which supports Macintosh HFS volumes. Other supported filesystems include Unionfs, Cramfs and Squashfs. For volume management, there is Logical Volume Manager (LVM), which also supports LVM2, and EVMS (Enterprise Volume Management System), which supports NTFS and FAT, among others. Also included is Parted, for extending Linux partitions.

In addition to its disk manipulation and management support, Finnix is host to many monitoring, benchmarking, and diagnostic tools. lm-sensors can monitor system temperature, voltage, and fan status. For benchmarking and diagnostics, memtester stress-tests the memory system and helps find intermittent faults caused by overheating, unregulated power, and so on. To test how well your hard disk system is performing, Bonnie++ is included. For a complete stress test of the system, including the CPU, memory, and IO, a tool called stress is available.

A system recovery distribution such as Finnix would not be complete if it did not allow you to back up recovered data on external media. Finnix supports CDs and DVDs as backup media and includes a range of burning utilities, such as cdbackup, wodim, and dvdrecord, to make this process as fast and easy as possible. Although most of us are used to burning data with a GUI tool, burning data using commands is not that hard as long as you know the proper format, or filesystem, to be used. If you ever have difficulties, you can always issue the man command followed by the utility name for detailed explanations, or just search for the tool on the Internet to find its related documentation. Experienced users can also control SCSI tape drives for backup and restore using the mt-st tool. You can perform incremental backups over the network, and restore files, using rdiff-backup.

Since Finnix is for system administrators, it includes popular and useful networking tools such as Nmap, for scanning and auditing networks, and tcpdump, a powerful network packet monitoring tool. Also included are SNMP tools such as snmp; the IPTraf interactive LAN traffic monitor; network filtering and firewalls such as ipchains and iptables; various VPN tools for PPTP, IPSec, and SSL; and the common network accessibility tools ping and traceroute. Common Linux network interface management commands such as ethtool and ifdownup are included as well, as are tools for enabling network services such as NFS, Samba, and FTP.

I tested the partition management tools, especially Partimage and ddrescue. Although I encountered some problems because I did not use some of the parameters, I successfully created an image of a partition, stored it on a network drive, and recovered some data from a corrupted disk. I also tested the CD- and DVD-burning tools in the command line and, following the detailed explanation of the burning parameters, was able to burn data to a DVD. I found the Joe editor handy for editing configuration files; other editors, such as sed and Zile, are also provided. To see all Finnix's packages, visit the official site.

A system administrator tool

Finnix 92.0 is a useful distribution for system administrators. With many tools covering jobs such as data recovery, hardware diagnostics and benchmarking, network services, and monitoring, this distribution can greatly help an administrator. However, Finnix is not for the average user accustomed to booting up a system and doing things graphically. While Finnix's CLI-based tools are not that complex, one must have the necessary knowledge to fully understand how to use them.

I was satisfied with the packages included in this distribution, especially the filesystem management and recovery utilities, as well as the CLI backup tools. For serious network troubleshooting, I would recommend instead distributions such as Network Security Toolkit or BackTrack, which are specifically intended for such purposes.

Finnix in Second Life

That's right, Finnix now has a home in Second Life. This was mostly used as an excuse to learn the build system. While, personally, Second Life was rather boring from a "visitor's" point of view (I think I initially signed on about 3 years ago, and came back to visit a few times per year), I quickly learned that owning land and building was actually the fun part. So on with the tour...
Continue reading Finnix in Second Life

Finnix Trademark Update

The Finnix trademark has been published in the Official Gazette, a USPTO weekly publication for the purpose of announcing new trademark applications and allowing the public to file oppositions against them if so needed. (Hopefully Finnix is in the clear in that regard.) At this point, Finnix should be a registered trademark within about 12 weeks if everything goes right.

You can download the 113MB PDF here if you want, but here's the relevant screenshot:

Finnix in the USPTO Official Gazette

Finnix 89.0 Soon

The final touches are being applied to Finnix 89.0, and will probably be released within a week. Currently I'm waiting on an update for Memtest86+: 1.70 was released this weekend, but a chipset detection flaw has forced them to announce a release of 1.71 (with the fix) "within a week". This gives me time to do some final testing and finish up a few of the non-development things that need to be done before a release.

Two of the most annoying non-development tasks are actually graphics and GPL compliance. Graphics are pretty self-explanatory: make a boot banner, CD art, etc. GPL compliance basically means I have to gather the source packages for every binary package in the release, burn them to CD, and throw that CD in my document safe for the next 3 years. Of course, nobody has actually asked for these sources yet (when you can just go to and download specific versions yourself), but I do have to keep the sources around, just in case were to disappear one day and someone needed sources to a particular package. The impetus is on me to provide these sources ultimately.