Thursday 8 November 2007

HP Pavilion - Code Purple Error

Problem:

On HP Pavilion systems, while doing a full System Restore, during the first boot, Win XP says it has detected changes to the system configuration and will not proceed. It says you to contact HP Customer Care and says Code Purple. You have no option other than rebooting the system.

Cause - My Guess:

Microsoft's OEM licensing requires that the computers have a unique "tattoo" (an Build ID string stored on your BIOS memory) to which your copy of the operating system software is locked to. While creating the Recovery Partition for your system, during the OEM imaging process (process of installing OS and creating your OS copy on your Harddisk), the OS is locked to run only on a computer with your computer's tattoo. This prevents you from installing the software on another system (even from the same vendor with same specification).

You might be facing this error due to so many causes;

1. Your motherboard might have been replaced - either by your or HP Service.
2. Your motherboard is having a corrupt tattoo.
3. May be you are using the wrong Recovery CDs.

I came up on this error while recovering my HP Pavilion whose motherboard was replaced by HP Authorised Service. Wonder why they did not set the correct tattoo on the motherboard then? They knew while replacing the motherboard that I will not be able to recover my system didn't they?

Solution #1:

You can let HP resolve the issue for you. Reports on the net indicate that they will do it promptly for you but it may take a few days. If your system is out of warranty, it is reported that HP may ask for a nominal service fee. (I have no first hand information on this).

I did not use HP Support to resolve the issue. I hit upon the problem at 9'o clock at night and the tech support guys had gone to sleep. Am not the type who waits for them to wake up - so I did my homework.

Solution #2:

If you want a DIY solution, and don't mind taking some effort, you can bypass this tattoo check yourself. Actually, it is very easy to do. I doubt that it is intentionally so!

When the OS first boots, It runs a batch file c:\hp\bin\ConfigCheck\CFGCHK.bat which does this:

c:\hp\bin\hpdmi r > dmiout.txt
python c:\hp\bin\ConfigCheck\run.py
del dmiout.txt
cd ..
rd /s /q c:\hp\bin\ConfigCheck


So, this is the batch file which insists on your computer having a tattoo! It runs c:\hp\bin\hpdmi to get your Bios String Build ID. Then there is the python script that hangs the system and displays the popup message. All you have to do is remove all the lines from the batch file and make it empty. Or do whatever else you want. (Like say Hi to you?)

Problem is, to edit the batch file you need access to the file and an editor. And your system won't boot up! Starting in safe mode does not work - it insists you to complete setup first.

So you need a bootable CD that lets you do it. You must be able to find many on the Internet but you need one that can read and write the XP NTFS file system on your hard disk. So your MS DOS boot disks are useless. You can use Ultimate Boot Cd, you can also try something from www.allbootdisks.com (I haven't tried them - tell me how it works).

You can also try removing the HDD, adding it to another XP/Linux computer as an additional hard disk and editing the batch file - Tell me if it works.

You need to use a boot disk, go to your system's C: partition, overwrite the edit the c:\hp\bin\ConfigCheck\CFGCHK.bat file and remove all the lines.

If you are using Ultimate Boot CD, you will have to keep in mind that the Linux distros on the disk do not seem to support the NTFS partitions. You will have to use their Avira NTFS4DOS Personal tool under File system Tools menu. On my system, AVIVA crashed when I did a DIR! So I had to overwrite the file from the command line without using the DIR command like this:

ren c:\hp\bin\CFGCHK.bat c:\read.txt
copy con c:\hp\bin\CFGCHK.bat
@ECHO OFF
(Press Ctrl+Z to save file)


The c:\read.txt copy is for you to read later, if you are interested. Now reboot the system and enjoy.

For more info, see this blog post: Code Purple — The Compaq/HP Booby Trap

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