Sometimes you needs tools that can indirectly allow you to verify that a machine is working. In this case I wanted to boot a HP Tablet TC1100 to allow me to check that the hard disk and the files within are accessible (ie the disk is working to some extent).
So I used slax 6.10 in this case – the site which has more information on this issue and other Linux USB matters is http://www.pendrivelinux.com/. You could pick any number of distros but Slax caught my eye.
As per the article http://www.pendrivelinux.com/2006/09/20/all-in-one-usb-slaxzip/ you’ll need
A 256MB or larger USB flash drive (I used an Integral 4GB)
HP-USB Format tool (Optional) – google for it
7-Zip or other archive extraction tool
A Windows Host to perform the USB install
and follow the instructions as given to
Download the HP-USB Format tool and format your flash drive using the Fat or Fat32 option Download the SLAX for USB .tar file
Using 7-Zip extract the files from the slax-6.0.3.tar to the root of your USB stick
Navigate to the boot folder on your “USB device” and click bootinst.bat (Click Continue if the Exception processing error appears)
Follow the onscreen instructions to make the device bootable
Once the USB install script has finished, reboot your computer and set your BIOS or Boot Menu to boot from the USB device Save your BIOS settings. On the next reboot, you should have a successful launch of your USB SLAX Linux compilation.
However this is where the owner of a TC1100 may have difficulties since it may not be immediately obvious where or how to set the bios options since the TC1100 bios is not exactly the most comprehensive in terms of options anyway.
The first thing however is to make sure that you have the latest bios for the TC1100. I noted at least 4 differences once I had updated using the bootable floppy option that HP provide using the USB floppy drive I mentioned before. Google TC1100 Bios and you should get a link – the file details are
Version: F.0F (6 Jun 2005)
Operating System(s): Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
File name: sp30961.exe (1.5 MB)
Run that program to make the bootable diskette.
On the TC1100 – boot the machine and then press the Toggle Key to get a menu when the option is displayed – the first option takes you into the BIOS setup. Go into Tools and ensure that under Device options that the removable devices is listed first – using Ctrl and the + key to move options up the list !! Save the bios changes on exit.
Once the bios is updated – turn off TC1100 – plug in the Slax USB key – boot and press the toggle wheel and go back into the setup. This time under hard disks press the plus key to see the internal disk and the USB key you are using – select the USB key and move it above the internal disk. Then move the category Hard disks to the top of the list. Save the bios changes on exit – reboot and press the toggle key – this time select the second option and ensure that the first boot device is hard disk and that another hard disk appears further down the list. Select that and watch the usb Key boot to the slax menu where you can choose full GUI or text boot. I also used the Memtest option to verify the machines memory.
Once Slax is booted you can get a good look at the internal disk and its contents – copying items off if required…..