What should I use to replace KNOPPIX 5.1.1 as my Linux-based bootable repair CD?

I repair Windows machines often with KNOPPIX; it’s the easiest way for me to get a clean OS running so I can blow away viruses. However, KNOPPIX 5.1.1 shows its age, as it failed to work on a computer I recently went to service due to the computer being “too new.” KNOPPIX 5.2 is a DVD-only release and so is not particularly useful to me. I’m also looking for a USB-based self-contained Linux. The problem is that the number of choices are staggering: SLAX, DSL, MEPIS…it’s hard to pick one. I’d be primarily using it for command-prompt-based repairs on Windows machines, but I’d need X11 and a browser like Firefox available as well. Having ntfsprogs and ntfs-3g are crucial, and having the “dd_rescue” command would be a very good thing as well. Failing all this, having a guide to rolling my own would be a nice thing to have. I’ll be booting this on anything from a Pentium II to a brand new Core 2 Duo, so a RECENT kernel and drivers is fairly vital.

So, what “live” distros should I check out in my search? And please don’t say “Ubuntu.” It’s the worst Linux distro I’ve ever seen in my life, and horribly slow on top of all that.

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