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Old 05-14-2014, 02:18 PM   #1
Laertiades
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Install Linux on system with locked hard drive


I have a netbook which has some kind of lock on the hard drive. I think the lock was put on by the bios. The system asks for the password to unlock the hard drive before boot. I can go into the bios and alter settings. and I can boot (I am using the Arch Linux usb boot media). I am unable, however, to format the harddrive (when I try to save the changes from fdisk it spews error messages for about 30 seconds then stops). So, is there anything I can do to completely erase the harddrive including the password or restore it to defaults? Thanks in advance.
 
Old 05-14-2014, 02:24 PM   #2
business_kid
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It sounds like you have a password protected BIOS, or you lack permission to get into the drive at all for some reason.

Is UEFI enabled? Have you the machine from new? Can you get into setup? Exactly what happens?
 
Old 05-14-2014, 02:43 PM   #3
EDDY1
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There are sites that sell the dfeault factory password to remove a forgotten password. They also say that they guarantee it works.
 
Old 05-14-2014, 02:45 PM   #4
Laertiades
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thanks for reply. What happens is: When I first turn the computer on, The second screen which comes up says "American Megatrends" and displays bios and cpu info, and at the bottom it says "Hard Disk locked, enter user password". It allows me to press escape to skip. When I skip I can go into the bios and make changes and continue as normal. For example, I can change the boot device to usb and boot up linux and do anything which doesn't involve the hard drive. It doesn't seem to be a BIOS password. I don't see anything which says UEFI. The machine belonged to my sister and I believe her son did this as a prank. Thanks for your help.
 
Old 05-14-2014, 03:01 PM   #5
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Prank huh?

People steal laptops so much that a demand for protected systems forces OEM's to make some pretty good hard drive locking. Only the cheap protection can be bypassed. Many need a factory recovery. Send it to the factory maintenance center and they can unlock it. Tell your prankster they need between $35 and $100 for this task.

Last edited by jefro; 05-14-2014 at 03:03 PM.
 
Old 05-14-2014, 03:19 PM   #6
Laertiades
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EDDY1- Thank you for the response. I did some googling and found some "backdoor" passwords which didn't work. I also flashed CMOS to no avail. jefro, thanks for your input, I will look into it. I guess I will mark this as solved, inasmuch as, it seems that there is nothing Linux can do to help me. I appreciate the suggestions and input.
 
Old 05-14-2014, 03:46 PM   #7
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The hard drive password is unrelated to the BIOS password, is typically saved in the drive's EEPROM and therefore can not be removed by erasing or reformatting.

Removal may or may not be possible depending on the computer/drive manufacture. Your only recourse might be replacing the drive if the son does not remember or confess.

I did find this utility but have no idea how well it works.
http://www.hddunlock.com/
 
Old 05-15-2014, 11:03 AM   #8
Zagzyg
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Angry

I had a Dell with I think an IBM Travelmate, Travelstar or something hard drive, and that drive was password locked. When the laptop died from an over consumption of coffee , I tried a great many things, but it seems only basically another similar machine with the same release of the BIOS would actually talk to the drive and accept the password to again unlock it (I knew the password). I tried with a number of very similar laptops at a friendly shop in London, but still couldn't get it to unlock.

From memory, the BIOS talks to the drive a boot, and thus prompts the user for a password and sends that to the drive. Something along the lines of 3 failed attempts and drive locks until another reboot. The manufacturer claimed no way to unlock the drive except via the password at boot, and was no help regarding the inability of other similar machines to unlock the drive.

I got as far as reading up the drives API documentation thinking to attempt to write a mount routine of some sort for it, and then decided that the data was backed up anyway, and a 60GB drive by then was worth peanuts, so it's rattling around in a draw somewhere.

So basically, if the drive is similar to my experience, if you don't have the password, the drive will remain basically hardware locked. Even if you find the password, if you have upgraded the BIOS it may no longer work.
 
Old 05-16-2014, 05:03 AM   #9
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I have come accross that in the wild. In a windows house hard drives were being slung around like confetti at a wedding (Because we kept filling them with images) and the one Dell could not take another drive - ever. Reads the Drive serial number, I was told. Don't know how true that was, but my boss was the IT manager.
 
Old 05-16-2014, 06:56 AM   #10
JeremyBoden
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What happens if you reset the BIOS?
Possibly by removing the CMOS battery overnight???

Otherwise, replacing the motherboard should fix it...
 
Old 05-16-2014, 05:16 PM   #11
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I would contact the OEM before I bought a new motherboard. Some of these schemes get quite secure. The hard drive and motherboard have to be matched.
 
Old 05-16-2014, 06:53 PM   #12
EDDY1
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If it's a hd password you should be able to change hd.
To verify that password is on hdd then try putting in another machine to see if you can access any info on it.
 
  


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