Originally Posted by motorollin
I had thought of booting from a read-only medium, but this would likely be slow to boot (if it was a CD) and as you said, I wouldn't be able to save anything.
You can install some LiveCDs from a USB drive. I had Knoppix installed on a HDD which sat in a USB caddy. It was a little fiddly to install that way, and I forget exactly how I did it, but it was quite OK. The boot time wasn't as good as a non-live distro, but it wasn't bad.
I think non-journalling filesystems are generally worse at recovery.
If you want to force flushes to disk all the time, I think there is a mount option, sync. The mount manual page says this is only available for ext2, ext3 and ufs at the moment. The description is "All I/O to the file system should be done synchronously.". This might give you some more protection from corription on poweroff. I'm not sure.