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 It was very much out of date with security patches, anti-virus, etc, so I ran the Windows Updates – to install 60+ of them.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.

  • Rebecca

    My brother says HP stands “horrible product”. 🙂

  • rex

    Hey Rebecca,

    You know – I’d have to agree. Don’t get me wrong – I love the business I get from their problems, but it does get aggravating!

  • Rebecca

    You’ve cured me from ever buying Horrible Product again!


  • ron

    How do you know have successfully removed the run.py

    • rex

      The file will be removed, and when you reboot to the Windows desktop – it will work.

  • ced

    easy to re tattoo with HP DMI or cpc_DMI utility and information on the PC !!!!

    • charliea

      care to give instructions on how?

  • Bruce B

    Go to the head of the class!

    I can believe how much ignorance I had to wade through to find you.


    I still can believe how simple the fix was. I didn’t even have to remove the HD, because the USB cable set up was plenty long.

    Thanks Again!


  • IHateTattoos

    So this will really work on HPs with MoBo tattoos? I have been looking for months on the internet for information about how to either erase the tattoo or some way to rewrite it so I could install a refurbished mobo into one of my systems without having to have an HP tech poking around on it. I’ll have to try this!

    Has anyone tried this? Please confirm the success of the aforementioned thread.

    • rex

      Yep – while I can’t guarantee it on all HP models, it’s definitely worked for me. Why don’t you just try it?

  • Marie

    I have a Hp M9385A. It is the worst computer ever. Had so many problems with over the last 18 months. You name it, it had it. Now, I have the code purple error. I will NEVER buy another HP product EVER AGAIN. It is ABSOLUTE RUBBISH. I feel better now.

    • rex

      LOLOL – feels good to get it off your chest doesnt it?

      You can fix the code purple error.

  • Danny


    “From: Chris Smiddy http://www.billoblog.com/?p=152#comments (comment 128)
    This fixed my issue in five minutes
    If you have Vista installed on your HP machine that is throwing a fit with this there is a real easy fix which I found. When the error dialog box appears press Shift+F10 to pull up the command line, type the following command without the quotes “edit C:\hp\bin\checkdmi\checkdmi.cmd”, then after the REM lines add the following code without quotes “goto cleanup”, save the file and exit the editor and restart with the following command without quoates “shutdown -r -t 0″ then your set and done.”

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