Wrestling with the most stubborn and locked-down machine I've ever used
Tonight I won a month-long battle (ok, with a few pauses in between) against an incredibly locked-down machine belonging to my parents that refused to have Linux installed on it. Careful readers might remember the thread I posted about it on Mastodon. There, I ranted about it and for some tips on how to work around its locks. In the end, though, not-exciting-at-all brute force prevailed.
Here's how it went, simplified:
- Nice, dad finally wants to try Linux, but isn't ready to give up on Windows quite yet? That's cool, we can just dual boot. Let's burn the Linux Mint ISO to this USB.
- Huh, this machine isn't recognizing the USB to boot. Ok, I can go to BIOS and change the boot order.
- Damn, this BIOS is password-protected. How can I unlock it? Do I have to crack it?
- Oh, so dad tells me there's a dummy password in there,
abc. Sweetly enough, it's accepted. Is it really that easy?
- Whaaaaaat?! What sort of BIOS does not allow me to change the boot order?! I typed the password, dude! Is this like an "admin" password versus "user" password thing?
- Aight, screw the BIOS password, I'm going to reset this thing the hard way. Just peel off the bottom lid, take away some components and I should be able to shock this thing back to factory reset...
- ... Except not. Even after a short-circuit the damn CMOS remains intact I guess? At least that's what it looks like since
abcis still here.
- Alright, this has been long and hard enough and I've lost my patience. We're gonna do surgery.
- Extract its hard drive and put it in another machine with same arch.
- Boot that other machine containing original hard drive from Linux Mint USB. Perform installation a-la dual boot with the installer.
- After completion, power down helper machine, extract hard drive, put it back to stubborn machine.
- Power on and without a doubt both OSes are now bootable! Suck it, silly BIOS!
Oh whew... what a downright wrestling match it has been. But the bottom line is that the machine has been liberated and my dad can now test drive it - which he did and told me how impressed with Linux he was, how simple to use it was and etc. Linux wins again!
(Though it was indeed some sort of pyrrhyc victory, at least for my time!)
Have you ever had to work with a very freedom-unfriendly machine like this one? How was your experience? What was the final solution Let me know in Mastodon!
This post is number #32 of my #100DaysToOffload project. Follow my progress through Mastodon!
Last updated on 03/03/22