I have my files on a second hard drive (disconnected for now). This drive was connected to a system infected with Virus:W32/Virut. I have formatted my main hard drive and reinstalled Windows XP. Now I want to connect the second hard drive to get my files (mostly text-based and no executable. However, I am not sure if connecting the drive and bringing windows up is safe. So I prefer to first bring up a dos like environment to transfer the files to the main hard and then format the potentially harmful drive. Is there a tool to do this?
The problem with a Windows virus is that it is "generally toxic" for Windows, which cannot really touch it safely. So the solution is to use something else than Windows to recover your files. I suggest Linux, namely the installation CD for Ubuntu. If you boot on this CD (or USB key), you get a live Linux system with which you can access the disks and copy your text files; no need to install anything.
Practically speaking, Linux is mostly immune to Windows virus (and Windows is immune to Linux virus, too, but there are not many of those).
There is an ongoing risk with your plan - your files may still pose a risk. There are various malware which can look like a non-executable file but that actually are, or will reinfect when accessed using an unpatched viewer.
I would second @Thomas's suggestion to use linux for file transfer, but also to run antivirus over all these files once they are on your rebuilt system - even if they look like non-executables.