Kill Windows Viruses With An Ubuntu Live CD

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ubuntu live cdToday’s anti-virus solutions are pretty reliable, protecting you from most of the common threats out there in the world. With safe browsing habits, there’s a rare chance that you’d ever get infected with malware. However, there’s never a guarantee that you’ll be completely safe if you are simply careful and run your anti-virus software.

Especially when it comes to zero-day threats, sometimes things just happen to you that you can’t blame on yourself. No matter if it’s your fault or not that your Windows system gets infected, you’ll need a plan to get rid of it before it renders your system completely unusable without serious recovery methods.

If the malware you’ve caught prevents you from touching any sort of tool that might have a chance in removing it, you should probably take a look at using an Ubuntu Live CD.

Anti-Virus on Linux?

While there are a handful of anti-virus solutions available for Linux, they aren’t made to combat Linux viruses. As there are barely any Linux viruses in existence (let alone in circulation), these tools still detect Windows viruses. Essentially, the only difference is that it runs in a Linux environment instead of a Windows environment.

How It Works

The great thing about an Ubuntu Live CD is that you can do anything you want on it, including installing programs, even though it’s just running temporarily in your RAM. Therefore, this means that you can run an Ubuntu Live CD, install an anti-virus solution, and then run a scan on your Windows files. It should then be able to detect and deal with any threats that it finds, without an infected Windows environment running in the background that could possibly block such measures from being taken.

Steps

As I summarized above, the process is quite simple. You’ll first need to download a copy of Ubuntu by going to their website. You’ll have the choice between downloading via your browser, or by using a torrent client. The torrent way is usually faster, but not all networks allow them to be used because many illegal software downloads occur using the protocol. However, it is completely fine for legal downloads such as Ubuntu.

You’ll then want to either burn it to a CD or write it onto a USB flash drive. To burn it to a CD, you’ll simply need to right-click on the .iso file that you downloaded, and choose the Windows Disc Image Burner application. It should then do the rest for you automatically. To write the ISO file onto a USB drive, you can use UNetbootin. If you would like, you may also follow Ubuntu’s easy instructions on their website for burning a DVD or writing to a USB drive, which I recommend at least taking a look at.

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Next, boot up your system from the newly created media. You can accomplish this by entering your system’s BIOS by hitting buttons like F11, Escape, or Delete repeatedly – literally as soon as you turn on your computer. You’ll then want to head over to your boot tab and choose the DVD or USB drive as your primary boot device. Then hit F10 to save your settings and restart. If you wish, you may again follow Ubuntu’s instructions on how to do this.

ubuntu live cd

Once loaded, you’ll want to head over to the Ubuntu Software Center and search for “clamtk“. When it appears, go ahead and install it. Clamtk is a graphical user interface for the Clam Antivirus software, the most popular open-source antivirus solution in existence.

ubuntu live

Although Clamtk has a mechanism to update virus definitions, it only does so once a day, and cannot be initiated manually without going through a setup wizard. Either go through the wizard by going to Advanced –> Rerun antivirus setup wizard, then choosing Manual instead of Automatic. Then click on Help –> Check for Updates to install the latest definitions  — if you’ve never used Ubuntu before, the menus are located in the top panel while the antivirus application is in focus, similar to a Mac. You may also avoid the wizard and simply open a terminal and run:

sudo freshclam

ubuntu live cd

Once the definitions are updated, head over to Scan –> Recursive Scan, and then choose your Windows partition. Wait a while for it to scan all your files and remove any threats, and you should be good to go! Just restart your computer with the Linux media removed, and you should be back in a virus-free Windows.

If you don’t want to use this particular antivirus for any reason, other popular choices include avast! and AVG. In fact, check out the anti-virus section on MakeUseOf’s Best Linux Software page for all recommended anti-virus programs.

Conclusion

Viruses and other malware can become quite a pest because of how difficult they are to remove. However, knowing some very useful tips like this one can help you save a lot of time and get on with using your computer. In case all techniques fail, you can always use the Ubuntu Live CD to back up your files before you restore your system. Also, there’s never a bad idea to taking a look at Linux to see if it could become your new main operating system!

How do you deal with viruses? Do you use Linux for virus removal or backup/recovery tasks? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Internet background with binary code via Shutterstock

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Comments (42)
  • MocoLoco

    When using UNetbootin to install Ubuntu on a USB flash drive, you can set it up to be perpetual (save your files and installed software from one boot to the next boot) by entering in a size on the option “Space used to preserve files across reboots (Ubuntu only):” I would recommend using as big of a USB drive as you can (like 64GB), that way you have plenty of space to install several Anti-virus programs or any other utility that you may want/need.

  • Qwopy

    Great except with ubuntu 14.04LTS I have no search option in the software centre so I cant locate any antivirus software, and the “$sudo apt-get install clamtk” is unable to locate any packages. And the best linux software page has no antivirus software on it anymore.

  • David Commini

    I’ve been told that this is similar to what Geek Squad does (I use to work at a Best Buy and this is what the GS guys told me). As of yet I have had no occasion to try it out… :-(

  • ruth ann

    Thanks for the information, sometimes we need all the help you guys can give us

  • Vishal Srivastava

    I have Kubuntu and AVG. Both work great in combating Windows viruses.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.