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  1. #1

    Locked Down Computer


    Hi,

    I'm brand new here, so I hope this is the right forum.

    My boss gave me her deceased sister's computer, to try to get into it. (She has been trying to get into it for years.) It is running Linux, no one knows what distribution. All we know is that when it boots, it goes right to a screen that wants a password. I have tried holding down F2 while booting to get into Bios, F12 to get to the boot options. I have tried all the tricks listed on the internet, from backspace 28 times to holding down shift, to all but sacrificing a goat. I end up at the same screen each time.

    When this woman died, there was no Linux disc around. I have gone to the Dell website, thinking maybe she bought it preloaded with Ubuntu. Nope. It was purchased in 2009, with Vista as the o/s. We couldn't even find a recovery disc when we cleaned out her apartment.

    We don't want to do a clean install of another version of Linux, because there are files that her sister wants on the computer. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to bypass this password?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Trusted Penguin Irithori's Avatar
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    hi,

    Usual keys to go into bios are f1, f2, f8, esc.
    You would need to go into bios (or at least change the boot order, which usually works via f11 or f12) to boot from an usb device.

    If that is not possible, then you could try:
    1) either: reset the bios. This is done by setting a CMOS jumper (if available) or removing the battery.
    2) or remove the disk and connect it to another computer.

    2) will work, as long as there is no hardwareraid, fakeraid or encryption involved.
    So you can get the files and then reinstall the machine.
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Irithori View Post
    hi,

    Usual keys to go into bios are f1, f2, f8, esc.
    You would need to go into bios (or at least change the boot order, which usually works via f11 or f12) to boot from an usb device.

    If that is not possible, then you could try:
    1) either: reset the bios. This is done by setting a CMOS jumper (if available) or removing the battery.
    2) or remove the disk and connect it to another computer.

    2) will work, as long as there is no hardwareraid, fakeraid or encryption involved.
    So you can get the files and then reinstall the machine.
    I have tried just about every F key and delete and shift. Esc turns off the computer when it finishes booting.

    I have tried taking out the battery, unplugging and holding down the power key to try to reset it that way, but that didn't work either.

    I'm going to have to ask her about taking it apart.

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  5. #4
    create yourself a bootable usb or cd or dvd medium (most any linux distro will do; instructions aplenty on the webs).
    stick it in the computer, and boot from that.
    now you can access the computer's hard drive without any password.

    unless the disk has been encrypted.
    in that case you simply can't. unless you find out the password. that's kindof the whole purpose of encryption...

    you could also take out the hard drive, put it in an enclosure with a usb port, and access the data. but again the same restriction: if it's encrypted, it's encrypted.

    so, in other words:
    if the hard drive is encrypted, you're SOL.
    if it's not, getting the data is trivial.
    If a post is too long and unstructured I might miss important information.
    How to ask smart questions | You can post a link by removing "http://www." from it!

  6. #5
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    1. Boot from a current live CD/DVD linux disc.
    2. Mount the file system on the hard drive on a temporary folder such as /mnt/sysdrive
    3. Backup files from that file system to another device, such as an external HD or thumb drive.

    I do this all the time when recovering systems for my clients. Assuming that the drive itself is not encrypted, this should not be a problem. If you need specific help, send me private email.

    Basically, I was reiterating what nihili said. Disc not encrypted? NP. Encrypted, SOL. However, since it gets to the login screen without requiring a decryption password, you are probably good to go to access the data on the drive.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  7. #6
    I'm thinking the hard drive is encrypted. The screen I get says, "This computer system, system number, is protected by a password authentication system. You cannot access the date on this computer without the correct password.
    Then it asks me to type in the system or admin password. This woman used about a dozen passwords regularly. The trouble is, how did she use them? After three password attempts, the system shuts down. And each known password has dozens of ways to type them.
    I'm SOL, eh?

  8. #7
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Maybe, but try the remote access from a live CD/DVD disc first. It may just be a BIOS boot lock and not full drive encryption. My grandson breaks those (BIOS boot locks) all the time. My attorney gave him a laptop once that was so locked (password or fingerprint accessible only). I gave to him, and in an hour he had unlocked the system and installed Windows 7 on it!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  9. #8
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Sometimes you can reset the BIOS password protections by removing the battery (if a laptop) and holding down the power button for some time (10-20 seconds). Some will require shorting out a couple of contacts on the motherboard (many laptops and most desktops). This is not for the inexperienced. If necessary, take it to a qualified computer repair shop. Most can help you. And, DO NOT call "The Geek Squad" at Best Buy!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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