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Need hardware specs on OS-locked laptop

By Jay Garmon Contributor ·
I've inherited a surplus Compaq Armada M300 laptop that has been agressively upgraded by my employer's IT staff--meaning it no longer conforms to factory specs, and I don't know the first thing about working with a laptop that has no accessible operating system. Officially, the M300 is still running XP Pro, but our tech has disavowed the license and can't provide a password, so I can't so much as log on. I need some way to boot around the OS and determine the exact hardware specs so I can begin preparing a Linux install to pave over Win XP.

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by JamesRL In reply to Need hardware specs on OS ...

BIOS Password or Win XP password.

If you can acecss the BIOS, you can find out the basic HW configuration. I would be very suprised if they used a unique BIOS password, generally they would use the same BIOS password for all their PCs. If all else fails there are techniques for getting access to BIOS information - on old desktops we used to take the CMOS battery out but on laptops, there are recovery passwords that the manufacturer can help you with.

You also need access to the BIOS to reset the boot sequence to allow you to boot from CD.

If this was an XP Pro machine on a domain, a domain admin should be able to log on and add an ID for you.


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by JamesRL In reply to
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by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to

I don't think I can get to the BIOS, at least not as the system is currently configured (or rather, I can't figure out how). In any case, I don't have the budget to be buying a password cracker program, at least not this early in the project. Thanks for the advice, though.

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by statykserver In reply to Need hardware specs on OS ...

Here are a couple of things you might try
http://www.loginrecovery.com/ or this one http://www.thomasmathiesen.com/itak/html/software.html

and if you have an xp pro cd lying around you can try this procedure

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by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to

As to Login Recovery, I'm not sure I want to outsource my password cracking to someone I don't know, especially when it involves sending them a file. The Thomas Mathiesen cracker only works for WinNT/2K, not XP (according to teh site, anyway). Alas, I also don't have an XP CD. I'm simply to ill-equipped (or cowardly) to try any of these techniques. Thanks, though.

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by TheChas In reply to Need hardware specs on OS ...


I suggest that you download and burn a copy of the Ultimate Boot C


Then, boot from the CD and run some of the diagnostic programs to discover your hardware.

As a bonus, the primary UBCD has a number of tools on it to help set up a system for Linux. Including tools to wipe and partition the hard drive.

There is a link to a Windows version on the site too.


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by winikeh In reply to Need hardware specs on OS ...

As long as you are going with linux, try starting with Knoppix (http://www.knoppix.net). You can boot of the CD you make from them and use it to gather the specs you need.

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by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to

Good to know, but I'm not ready to commit to a distro yet.

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by wannab In reply to Need hardware specs on OS ...

There are also password recovery tools you can find here http://www.openwall.com/passwords/nt.shtml some are free some are not, also some may cause registy errors but if you are reinstalling any way it wont matter. Also once you can get into the OS you can install belarc and it can tell you just about all you will need to know about the machine, and as was mentioned above you can get info from the bios as well, so you may not need to do all of this. Also you can create a live liux cd that runs a version of linux, knoppix or any other variant from cd, you can check the distro's out here http://distrowatch.com/ and choose which one you like, I believe most if not all are free, and usually have some tool to do a HDD install.

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by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to

None of the free utilities seemed to match my needs, and I'm not quite ready to spend on a password cracker. Also, I'm not ready to commit to a distro just yet. Thanks, though.

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