Now I have a real question to ask. Not some random off the topic question either. It is about Software that I can actually use. I would like to have software that I can actually install on my Dell Latitude D520. I plan on using it for various tasks in terms of diagnosing, data retrieval, networking, penetration testing... just for many tasks in the networking and computer repair field. So give me a good list to use!
and different operating systems as well. I will be using Windows 7 Pro as the base OS
First begin with the OS:
Windows 7 would probibly your best fit. If you dont like windows, just install Fedora or Ubuntu or RED Hat.
Cisco offers great tools to build, configure and diagnostic a network. So it would be a great idea to search on ther site. And what you also can do is google for packet sniffing software or Network Diagnostic software.
For the computer repair component... really all you need is a strong understanding of troubleshooting and repair procedures for end user systems. Understand the steps to take and what does what and you don't need any specialized software usually, but something like PC Doctor can be used to double check and find other issues that aren't rearing their head if you're repairing individual units.
Backtrack5 in a vm?
There is a great collection of tools in Hiren's Boot CD. It is a free download, you can then put it on a CD or a USB and boot from it. Google it, it has many many great features.
I'll check it out!
Backtrack on a USB, separate partition (preferably not), or a VM for penetration testing and wireless-whatevering. Hiren's Boot CD on a USB for sure. Recuva for data recovery with a USB-SATA/IDE adapter. Maybe inSSIDer might be useful to you.