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How to tell what OS is on a PC...

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by IndyGunFreak, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Looking at a PC for a guy... wouldn't boot past the BIOS. I pulled the hard drive, put it in an enclosure, retrieved a ton of pictures, videos, etc. they were worried about. The PC is pretty old(at least 8-9yrs)...

    The guy gave me a bunch of Win98 restore disks, but on the side of the PC, is an XP key.

    How can I tell just by looking at the drive while its in my enclosure, what OS is on the drive? It *looks* like XP.. but I'm not 100% sure, maybe I'm just second guessing because he gave me all these 98 restore CD's(I suspect they are probably from a different PC, but we'll see)

    IGF
     
  2. Green_Manelishi

    Green_Manelishi Knicker Knotter

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    Cripes, I thought I was the only goober that kept discs for OS that I haven't used for years ....
     

  3. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    well, if it's windows 98, it's dos based, so he'll have a dos directory laying around.

    also, he won't have a \windows\system32 directory. and, he'll have a win.com file in the \windows directory (this doesn't exist under xp and above).

    if it's xp, he's have a \system32 dir and no dos dir. the disk may also be formatted as ntfs for xp, 98 won't play with that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
  4. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Totally forgot about that...

    Here's what I think happened... The Key on the sticker on the side of the PC, is off an OEM key.. Checking the PC on the manufacturer page, it was sold with Win 98. He said a guy done some work on it a few years ago. Which makes sense, because I was wondering how it ended up with a 100gig hard drive. I suspect he clean installed an OEM version of XP onto it, and stuck the sticker on the side of the case. The owner of the PC gave me the disks that came w/ the PC.

    Thanks..

    IGF
     
  5. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    makes sense, smart of the upgrade guy also to stick the key on the side of the machine. everybody i know promptly ditches their key and loses their recovery disks :(

    that key should work with any oem xp disk, xp/sp1/2/3
     
  6. srhoades

    srhoades

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    Check the boot.ini file.
     
  7. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Pretty sure.. I've got an OEM CD I'm gonna use to try and restore his PC with tomorrow..

    IGF
     
  8. Isaiah1412

    Isaiah1412

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    Will work if its an NT kernel OS, if its 9x there won't be a boot.ini, but that should also answer your question. You can also boot from an XP install CD and see what version of windows, if any, it detects on the drive.
     
  9. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    On another note.. I'm not 100% up and up on viruses... but does this seem indicative of a rootkit? It hits the BIOS fine, then after that, nothing. I booted a Linux Live CD on the machine. While slow(given PC's age), it worked fine. This leads me to believe the hardware is OK... I'll probably just do a restore first. There was a lot of stupid programs on the drive they've been downloading, and not a single sign of an Antivirus program... so they've probably got something.

    IGF
     
  10. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    after the post, is it just black screen or is there any output at all ?

    that could be a lot of things, but not necessarily indicative of a rootkit. i'd probably check that disk for errors to see if the drive itself may be failing causing corruption in the boot files.

    It's possible the boot sectors are corrupted somehow, that could explain why the bios isn't complaining abut not having a bootable disk (cause it is, just nothing to actually boot on it).

    xp/98 should be able to replace to boot files/sectors without having to to a total re-install via booting from the install disks, should be an option in there somewhere.
     
  11. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    That's kinda what I was thinking... Hardware appears OK.... When I put the drive in my enclosure, I can move data to and from the drive w/o issue. He told me he did some "online scan" and it showed he had a bunch of viruses, and he tried to clear him, and then this all happened. I'm sure by "trying to clear them".. he probably installed some spyware/malware.

    IGF
     
  12. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    I totally agree with your assessment about the virus stuff.

    i'd probably just try and salvage what user data possible, then wipe the disk and start anew, rather than try and get rid of whatever infection(s) is/are on there.

    one last thing, is that since you aren't experiencing any issues xfering to/from the disk with it in the enclosure, it's possible that there is an issue with the ide controller on the motherboard. i ran into that once a while ago with one of my machines, after a while, large files would become corrupt every now and again and i thought it was the disk. turns out, after the mobo failed, that it wasn't and the disk has been pretty flawless attached to a new system.

    so, it's pretty remote, but it could be hardware still. either way, i'd go for the wipe/reinstall first.
     
  13. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    I'm *pretty sure* the IDE controller is good. Before I pulled the drive and put it in an enclosure, I booted an Ubuntu Live CD, and attempted to move their pics, etc(bout 4gigs worth).. but it was just to slow given the slow processor, etc. It did boot however, and I could browse the hard drive, etc. So I'm pretty sure the IDE controllers are working.

    I've had a similar experience w/ thinking a drive was bad, and it was the IDE controller...

    IGF
     
  14. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    ah, ya, then it sounds like that virus 'scanner' they downloaded managed to install a lot of nasty stuff then :(
     
  15. MavsX

    MavsX The Dude Abides

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    this is what i was thinking. Keep up the good work IGF!
     
  16. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    Mission Accomplished. :). Was kinda busy so didn't really have time to mess w/ it till last night. Reinstalled the OS from one of my OEM CD's, reinstalled up to date drivers,... set up and activated avast and spyware blaster.

    They should be good to go till they get a virus next month.. :)

    Edit: one thing that never occurred to me until I was reinstalling this OS(and I never really thought about it before)... The XP installer, doesn't ask for your CD key, until just over halfway through the install.. by then ,its formatted your drive, and prepared it for the new OS. So if your key doesn't work, you're SOL. Seems backwards to me.. typical Redmond thinking I guess... :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
  17. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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  18. kc8ykd

    kc8ykd

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    iirc, with some versions, you can actually just hit next when asked for a key, without entering one.

    at some point later it does require a key and have to worry about passing the winders genuine verification stuff.

    i could be wrong tho, it's been quite a while since i've installed xp
     
  19. filthy infidel

    filthy infidel 100% Infidel

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    Sounds like you're ready for 'magicaljellybean.com'.
     
  20. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    I think to use that though, you have to be actually installed. Since I couldn't boot the OS originally.. it wouldn't have mattered(i think.. I remember using it a long time ago for something)

    IGF