My favorite rescue system is System Rescue CD
. I've never used ntfs-3g (which enables read/write access to MS Windows NTFS partitions) but it has it.
I've also used RIPLinux
, the (R)ecovery (I)s (P)ossible Linux rescue system. It's much smaller, and doesn't have a fancy web site, but it also has ntfs-3g.
And there is also Finnix
, which I have not used, but it's similar and it looks very good.
I don't know about actually installing any of them on the hard drive, though there is some information about installing them on a flash thumb drive.
I think many would recommend Puppy Linux
in your situation. It's very popular and it has information about how to install it on a hard drive on the web site. I've never used it.
If you have the room, install the full-fledged Linux of your choice. I see you are here in the forum for Mandriva
, which is an excellent choice. And of course, there is the ever popular, growing by leaps and bounds Ubuntu
. Just pick one and go for it.