FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Just when you think they’re dead

At work we get our new PCs imaged before they are delivered to the organisation. This is pretty common practice in modern companies, especially ones that realise that their IT support staff are busy enough installing apps and diagnosing/repairing faults.

My issue comes from the recent batches of PCs that came into my work recently. This is the first batch of Windows 7 machines and has been a massive learning curve for most of us, especially when there has been little obvious testing before the machines were sent to the sites.

As much as I could rant on about the lack of planning and how myself and my colleagues have been firefighting instead of providing a great service to our customers, that is not what this is about.

The reason for this blog posting is that I received a system that was imaged and configured for another organisation. The logical thing would be to send it back for our supplier to resolve but I have been asked to re-image the machine. Simple enough request you’d think, until you realise that the machine in question has had a BIOS password set, and you’ve probably guessed that it’s not our password and the settings are not correct for our defined security policy.

One of the issues with the BIOS is that the boot from Network (PXE Boot) has been switched off, so I can’t even image the machine with our defined image until we find out what the password is.

So I investigated how to reset the password and after trying ‘backdoor’ passwords and removing all power and internal backup power to no avail, I found a utility from the Hardware manufacturer that could record the settings from a machine that had the correct settings, store them to replay them on the faulty machine.

Now here comes the zombie bit…

The program will only work on DOS.. I thought in the age of USB pen drives, Windows PE, Windows 7 and Windows 8 just round the corner that DOS was dead and buried years ago..

Luckily I dug up my stash of old floppy disks and was able to hunt down an external (USB) floppy Drive that the new PC detects. I still have some old decaying Win 98 install floppies In my stash so I copied one and amended it to work with the program. So I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to beat the security and I can get back to what I’m paid to do.

Why are PC hardware manufacturers not providing utilities that work under Windows? I would suggest that they should provide a CD image, but how would a user be able to save the settings file to restore on the other system? I guess a network interface would be required?

I’m sure that Apple don’t turn round and ask you to create system 7 images to update their hardware.. when will hardware vendors realise that it’s time to move past DOS. Most people don’t even know what it is/was, or maybe that’s the reason.. To prevent novice users from using what is after all an administrative tool designed for deployment and configuration of PCs?

Anyway it’s been a blast from the past with floppy disks, even an LS120 SuperDisk drive (Immation) which didn’t work. I guess this is the reason that DOS disks are still available for Microsoft’s TechNet downloads (which I don’t presently have a subscription to) , and it has kept me in touch with my past.. even though I prefer to be looking to the future.

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