At 7:15 am today I was frantically downloading Knoppix to create a live CD. After I got it, I stuck the disk in my son-in-law's dead computer. It booted right up in Knoppix. After mounting the hard drive, I was able to access his files. We put the ones he needs right now on a thumb drive and transferred them to another computer. Over the weekend I hope to get all his files off the machine. He was good to go when I went to work at 8:45.
If you don't have Knoppix Live CD, get one! It can save you. And it gives you a chance to try Linux, too. You just might find that you like it.