Knoppix is my Swiss Army Knife that I use for helping others. When people have a computer that has crashed and even Windows won't recognize the hard drive to even do a fresh install, Knoppix has come to the rescue to recover data. I have used it to rebuild the Master Boot Record of hard drives. I have also used it to extend NTFS partitions safely.
Knoppix uses many Unstable and Experimental branch packages of Debian, so it recognizes a lot of newer hardware. Despite those opressive sounding names, Knoppix works great, but I only recommend using it as a bootable CD-ROM.
Do you have much experience shrinking NTFS partitions to add Linux as a second boot on an existing Windows drive?