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backing up a new laptop

My son just got himself a Lenovo thinkpad with wifi, ethernet, a tablet, 
and Windows XP.  For reasons I will not go into here, he wants to make 
sure his Windows XP system remains functional even though he prefers 
Linux, and plans to dual-boot between Windows and Gentoo.  (I'm the 
debian user, and this is of concern to me, so it's not *totally* 
off-topic on Debian-user).

There is no CD drive on this system (reduces the weight), but it 
will boot from USB drives.

He should be able to connect to my LAN, which has large NFS-accessible 

What he wants to do is make a complete backup of his hard disk (possibly 
partition by partition) before he does anything to install any linux, 
makes any real use of windows, and especially before he connects to the 
net using Windows.  He's not stupid.  There is a Windows rescue 
partition on the disk, but we're not naive enough to believe that it 
will be unaffected by real trouble either.

My question is:  what recommendations do you have as to appropriate 
tools for this?  Presumably some kind of Linux live CD, but what 
flavour,  and what software from the live CD.  We also have to be able 
to restore from this backup when the entire machine is hosed, of course.

If necessary, I can disconnect the entire LAN from the wider net while 
we make this backup.

There is 45G of free space on the hard disk, and the hard drive is said 
to be 60G, whatever that means.  This suggests there is of the order of 
15G if actual information, split bwtween Windows and the rescue 

-- hendrik

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