HP Code Purple Error with a Tattoo

UPDATE 8-10-2010: Added a post for Vista here.

Many of you have heard me gripe and complain about HP computers before. After working on literally thousands of computers, I have found HP to be one of the worst. Some of the reasons?

  • Most HP towers use proprietary sizes on their motherboards making replacements much more difficult.
  • The tight spacing inside the tower makes repairs a pain and lends itself to ventilation and overheating issues.
  • Driver support on their site is not always accurate to the specific model (problem with Toshiba also).
  • The amount of pre-installed junkware is ridiculous – I don’t care how thin the profit margins are on PC’s.

However, the #1 gripe that I have with HP computers? – On most models they do not give you the original Windows install CD/DVD’s!

The problem with this is huge – HP puts the “recovery” or “image” data on a hidden partition on your drive. If your hard drive physically fails or the recovery partition gets corrupted, then you are totally screwed (not a nicer way to put it). You have to (1) call HP and beg for recovery disks and then wait on them and hope they are correct or (2) you have a purchase a copy a Windows and reinstall from scratch – meaning you pay for Windows twice.

This happens much more often than you would think. I know – I’ve been working on computers for over 12 years now.

HP Code Purple Error

HP Code Purple Error

So what is “code purple” error? Well a customer called with a non-starting computer. Some quick troubleshooting showed a failed power supply – not a big deal right? Wrong. I replaced the power supply and booted the computer back up. It was very much out of date with security patches, anti-virus, etc, so I ran the Windows Updates – to install 60+ of them. It never made it back to the desktop after rebooting – BSOD (blue screen of death) no matter what I did. Hmm – well ok, it probably need a wipe/reinstall anyway.

I booted it to an Ubuntu Live CD and started copying the important data off the drive – pictures, word docs, etc. Once that was done (30 GBs later), I ran the Recovery application using a “destructive” recovery. The application ran for about 20 minutes with no issues. Then I got the dreaded message on reboot:

“Your system has a detected a configuration error. Please report this error to Customer Care using the phone number found in the Warranty and Support Guide that came with your PC. Unless corrected, this error will prevent your PC from operating properly. Turn off your PC by pressing and holding the power button. After a few seconds your PC will automatically turn off. (Code Purple).”

I think I did a Yosemite Sam dance on the floor! Damn HP sucks! For those that don’t know, OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers) will “tattoo” the motherboard with a code that is checked after the recovery reboot. If the code is not found, then Windows will not boot. This is done ostensibly to thwart piracy such as using  Dell XP CD on an HP computer. What it really does is create a pain for the consumer and for computer techs – as usual.

What was the solution? Either try to explain to the customer that they have to contact HP and get recovery CD’s, try to explain to the customer that they will have to buy a copy of Windows, or put a “special” copy of Windows on the computer. I chose none of the above.

What should have been a 30 minute process has now turned into 3+ hours (replace power supply, failed updates, backup data, recovery, code purple issue, remove junkware, install updates, install apps, copy data back). People wonder why I get behind? Thanks HP!


Fix for Code Purple Error


This works on the HP m377n and several other models.

  • Download Ubuntu ISO from www.ubuntu.com
  • Burn the ISO to a CD (use CD Burner XP if you don’t have burning software that will do ISO files).
  • Set your BIOS to boot to CD if not already set
  • Boot to Ubuntu Live..Navigate to Places…(HP hard drive)…hp\bin\ConfigCheck
  • Delete run.py
  • Shut down Ubuntu, remove the CD, restart to Windows

Alternatively, you can remove the hard drive from the HP, plug it into a USB enclosure on another Windows machine (or linux box), and remove the run.py file.