As we learned in our last episode,
our patient is a Compaq Armada M300 notebook with some sporty
aftermarket upgrades and a disavowed Windows XP license, meaning I
can't log onto the system because I don't have the password and the
tech I got the laptop from can't legally provide it to me, because he's
written off the license. I wanted to scout out the hardware specs on
the laptop by circumventing Windows, and posted said request into Tech Q&A.
The TR community was very helpful in their suggestions of how to
circumvent Windows passwords (criminals, the lot of you), but neither
my budget (I'm too cheap to buy
a password cracker) nor my meager technical skills (I can't read NTFSerror codes) were able to break through the problem. However, JamesRL wins the prize of showing me the solution I didn't even know I was looking for: The F10 key.
Apparently, holding the F10 key during the boot cycle will get me into
the BIOS, which will allow me to view the hardware specs without everinvolving the OS. Who knew? (Everyone but me, obviously.) TheChas also gets a shout out for pointing me the towards the Ultimate Boot CD,
which I haven't yet used but has already convinced me belongs in my
personal utility library. I may be a n00b, but at least I come prepared.
So, what did the F10 key tell me? This much, at least:
Processor: Intel Pentium III, 600 MHz
Processor stepping: 3 (I have no idea what this means)
Cache size (L1/L2): 32/256 KB (I have no idea what this means)
Memory size: 320 MB
ROM date: 03/15/2002 (I have almost no idea what this means)
ROM family: 686R (I have no idea what this means)
Video revision: ATI 4.184 (I have almost no idea what this means)
Keyboard controller date: 03/08/02 (I have almost no idea what this means)
There were also some serial numbers provided, but even I'm not fool
enough to post those in this blog (not yet, anyway). Thus, given ourhardware limitations, we are left with our next big question: Which Linux distro do we choose? There have already been some votes for knoppix, some votes against Red Hat and Ubuntu. Let the great debate begin!
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.