Mac Mini/G4 Cube Hack

123macmini is featuring a mod in which the guts of a new Intel Mac Mini have been transplanted into a beautifully repainted G4 Cube, seen at right. To attain the “new Apple product box” look, the internal casing was removed and painted matte black. When the core of the computer is slid back inside the clear plastic cube, it looks very much like an Apple-designed piece of electronics, especially with the white illuminated logo.

The real achievements of this hack, though, are the technical ones inside the box. Like the original G4 Cube, the redesigned model had to be carefully packed into quite a tiny space, which is why the Mac Mini was an obvious source for donor components. To overcome some of the storage limitations, the stock 2.5″ laptop hard drive that shipped with the Mac Mini was replaced with a 3.5″ 500 GB desktop SATA hard drive, which brought much more storage and speed than laptop drives currently offer (as well as better video playback and recording, as you’ll see in a moment). However, a small 5v/12v power supply was required to run the new hard drive, as it draws considerably more power than the 2.5″ drive. Wiring in the cube’s touch-sensitive power switch was a bit trickier than the plug-and-play hard drive, and required some rather detailed electronics work and reading up on the data sheet for the sensor. When completed, both the Mac Mini’s power switch and the Cube’s touch-sensitive switch can turn on the machine.

With power and storage out of the way, cooling was the next problem to tackle, as the Mac Mini’s fan didn’t push enough air to cool the whole assembly. A separate Zalman fan — originally intended for cooling video cards — was modified to lower the temperature of the Mac Mini’s CPU. To finish off the mod, an EyeTV Hybrid was attached externally to provide DVR capabilities, as well as Apple Remote integration. This G4 cube hack is one of the best looking and well executed Mac mods I’ve seen in a long time, so you’ll undoubtedly want to check out all the detailed step-by-step pictures.

Mac Mini/G4 Cube Hack

iPod Breakout Card

Just recently, I received my iPod Breakout Card, and I finally finished assembling it tonight. By using a the same JAE manufactured connectors as the official iPod ones, each pin from the Dock connector can be individually run to a much larger pad, making it easy to interact with the iPod. I intend to install a row of pins on each side and allow the entire card to be snapped into a breadboard for easy prototyping.

While I’m not sure what kind of hack I’ll be using it for yet, I do intend to post some code written for the BASIC Stamp II, as I don’t yet have any PIC experience (I should write about the BlackBerry-like devices a buddy and I made years ago using a pair of BSII chips and wifi transceivers! A story for another day…)

You, too, can order and assembly your very own iPod breakout card from Ridax in Sweden. It took a few days for my parts to get to the U.S., but they arrived well packed and ready to be used. This should be the start of some more interesting iPod hacks!

iPod Breakout Card

Mac Meet Xbox: Part 2

Mac Meet Xbox
Welcome to Part 2 of my multi-part introduction to setting up a Xbox-based home media center in a Mac environment. So far, the Mac has been absent, but the Xbox hardware must first be set up to communicate on your home network. This section will cover opening the Xbox, installing the modchip, and loading the necessary firmware.

Void Your Warranty

Cracking the Case

To begin modding, you’ll have to open your Xbox. This will void your warranty. If you send your Xbox to Microsoft for repair after tampering with it, they will refuse to work on it. However, if you have even basic computer hardware skills, then there’s no reason to be alarmed — there is a great Xbox modding community that has developed and will gladly help you out of a jam. I can’t say enough about the importance of like-minded individuals who can help you through impossibly complex situations involving small wires, config files, and unsupported hacks. Like everything technological, Xbox modding is an involved topic, but there’s plenty of help available.

I should note that I’m aware of “softmod” solutions that do not require a modchip, but I’ve found that installing a modchip is the safest and most feature-packed path to choose, especially if you haven’t done anything like this before. In the past, I’ve killed a few Xboxes with a bad flash, and resurrecting them took more time, effort, and research than most would be willing to invest. The Xecuter 2.6 CE Lite chip I recommended in Part 1 sports a number of features to help you avoid this situation, and protect both your Xbox and your modchip from being turned into paperweights.

Screwdriver in hand, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter by cracking the case and dissecting the system. As the Xbox is quite similar to a PC, disassembly should be an easy task if you’ve ever taken apart a computer. The case is held together by six T-20 Torx screws which hold the top and bottom plastic shells together. Peeling back the feet and stickers on the underside will allow access to the screws, as they’re concealed from initial observation. If you prefer, you can avoid leaving a thin veneer of stickiness by simply poking your screwdriver through the stickers instead of peeling them off. With the screws out, the top case can be lifted off the bulk of the components. Three smaller T-10 screws hold down the 8 or 10 GB hard drive and DVD-ROM. After unplugging the power and IDE cabling from both drives, lift them straight out to expose the Xbox motherboard. Eleven more T-10 screws fasten the motherboard to the chassis. Remove them all, including the ones beside the A/V connector, and gently lift out the motherboard. If it gets stuck towards the back (as it often does), lift the front first, while keeping controller port wires out of the way. You can then set the case and power supply assembly aside and focus on the motherboard.

Xbox Versions

Because of the changes made in various revisions of Xboxes, it’s necessary to categorize the Xboxes into groups which are modded using the same procedures. The earlier Xboxes are version 1.0 through 1.5, and the newest is 1.6. The latest version requires the “patch” circuit mentioned above, as well as an alternate source of power (which is readily available all over the motherboard). If you’re following along, you can easily check which version you have just by taking a look at the video encoder chip on the motherboard, right next to the A/V output. If you find that the chip has “Xcalibur” with an Xbox logo stenciled on the surface, your Xbox is a 1.6 and requires the additional circuit.

Installing the Modchip

The installation procedure for the Xecuter 2.6 CE chip is nearly identical to that of the more expensive Xecuter 3 chip, so I’ll provide the installation instructions here. However, you can stop reading at page 16, as the rest doesn’t apply to the 2.6 CE. Team Xectuer does a great job of detailing all the intricacies of installing the chip, so be sure to double-check your work. Also, check out out some of my Xbox Hacks photos on Flickr for some ideas on how to install the front panel switches without cutting into the case.

Installing the modchip will probably be the most tedious part of the project, so be sure to take your time on this step. There will always be questions, so I’ll leave comments open indefinitely on this post.

Choosing a BIOS

Now that your modchip is installed and working, it’s time to choose the code that will allow you to run non-Microsoft software, which includes our target program: Xbox Media Center. This isn’t a terribly important decision, as it will be nearly invisible. However, you will want to look for a few key features: Enabling use of hard drives greater than 137 GB, and the ability to stop the Xbox from resetting upon ejecting. My personal favorite BIOS (and there are dozens to choose from) is the Xecuter 2 build 5035, as it reads all important settings from a config file stored on your hard drive, whereas other BIOSes require you to patch the code and reload them onto your chip.

Unfortunately, this and other Xbox BIOS software isn’t technically legal. Most are modified versions of the official Microsoft BIOS, which, no matter how small, are still copyrighted. Modification and distribution of copyrighted code is illegal, but progress often doesn’t stop in the name of law. The Xecuter 2 5035 BIOS can be found all around the internet. It’s usually distributed in RAR format, so you’ll need either UnRarX or MacParDeluxe to extract the contents (Windows users can use the free 7-zip).

Booting and BIOS Flashing

When you first power on your newly modded Xbox, you’ll hopefully be greeted with the FlashBIOS screen. If your Xbox fails to boot properly, perhaps flashing alternating red and green lights, have a second look at the modchip installation instructions and make sure you followed each step for your version Xbox (taking careful note of the D0 point on your motherboard). If all went well, FlashBIOS’ blue screen will be displayed, and you’re now ready to load the non-Microsoft firmware onto your modchip. The easiest way to accomplish this is via the chip’s network flashing capabilities.

The absolute easiest way to flash the BIOS over the network is using a simple home router, nearly all of which assign IP addresses to any attached device. Connect your Xbox to your router using a length of straight-through Ethernet cable, your Mac via Ethernet or AirPort, and choose Enable Network Flashing from the FlashBIOS menu onscreen. FlashBIOS will bring up the Xbox’s networking hardware and provide you with an IP address to which you should direct your web browser. On the page that loads, you can choose a BIOS file to upload, which will then be flashed. In my case, I chose the X2 5035 “.bin” file and uploaded it to the Xbox. It’s worth noting my much earlier post about slicing and combining BIOS files on the Mac — the Xecuter 2.6 has two 1 MB banks, so you may need to double-over the BIOS to completely fill the bank adjacent to FlashBIOS. After FlashBIOS has written the file to the chip, flick the Bank Select switch on the front panel board, and reboot from the new BIOS. If it worked, you’ll be greeted with “Xecuter Rox My Box” under the Xbox logo. Your Xbox will appear to boot up like normal, or so it seems…

This concludes the second, and undoubtedly most complicated edition of “Mac Meet Xbox.” If you’re following along and having troubles, or simply unsure of a detail, feel free post a comment below. In the next installation, we’ll be covering installtion and formatting of a new hard drive, and laying the foundation for Xbox Media Center.

Resources

Modding a v1.6 Xbox in 10 Minutes (softmod)
Xbox-Scene Forums

Mac Meet Xbox: Navigation

Part 1: Why Xbox + Choosing Chips
Part 2: Cracking the Case + Installing and Flashing
Part 3: Installing XBMC
Part 3.1: Networking in Detail

Mac Meet Xbox: Part 2

Portable Xbox

A creative hacker at portablesystems.net managed to carefully pack the contents of an Xbox console into a portable form factor. It’s yet another project that makes me exclaim “I had that idea!” However, the creator did a far better job than I could do with the tools at my disposal. His hack includes creating a custom vacuum-formed case, hooking up Li-Ion batteries to power the system, and wiring a PSOne LCD to the video output. It’s a masterfully executed hack that sets the standard for his other portable video game creations, and is a must-see for any Xbox hardware hacker.

Portable Xbox

Mac Meet Xbox: Part 1

Mac Meet Xbox
Although this is a little late — the successor to the Xbox has already been released for some time — I thought it would be useful to others to write up a comprehensive guide on modding an Xbox and using it with a Mac in a Windows-centric world. It’s never too late, though, because the Xbox is continuing to drop in price and makes a dazzling home media center that blows the Mac Mini away.

This is going to be a multi-post article, as it would otherwise be an extraordinarily long post. Sections will cover opening the Xbox, installing a modchip, and finally loading and configuring the media center software.

Why Xbox?

And why not a Mac Mini? Why choose an Xbox for a home media center solution, and how does it outperform to the Mac Mini? In a word: compatibility. Right out of the box, the Xbox is a terrible home media solution. In fact, it doesn’t even make an attempt at any media center capabilities, short of ripping CDs. However, when modified and loaded with the open-source Xbox Media Center software, it can play just about any file format you’ll ever encounter in an interface that’s as shiny as Apple’s own. Covering all the bases from AVC/H.264 to Xvid, Xbox Media Center is what makes it happen, and is a stellar example of the kind of quality software that can be produced from a truly dedicated team of programmers. Finding plugins for QuickTime that work as smoothly as Xbox Media Center would be a nightmare. Adding a DVD Playback Kit to the Xbox setup lets you have complete control from the couch, even if you’re just checking the weather or listening to some music from iTunes.

Choosing Chips

Like all modern gaming systems, the Xbox has copy protection and various restrictions to stop people from backing up games and/or running their own software on the system. That has to go. Thankfully, modding Xboxes has been a long, well documented effort, and there is much to show for it. It took only a few months for clever hackers to exploit bugs and holes in the system and gain access to the inner workings, making all sorts of homemade projects possible. Xbox Media Center is among the most popular and well-recognized of the lot.

First on the route to an Xbox-centric home media solution, comes the choice of deciding on the right hardware to enable all the cool stuff to come. Dozens of Xbox modchips are available, many of which require soldering to tiny, tiny spots on the motherboard. If you’re uncomfortable soldering or have an unsteady hand, there are solderless solutions available, but I highly recommend practicing soldering if you intend to get good and continue modding beyond a modchip. Soldering a modchip into an Xbox is far less complicated than with other systems like the PS2, but still requires both patience and skill. Practicing soldering on an old VCR or stereo motherboard is a good way to start (it’s how I learned!). Xbox modchips can run up into the $70 range, but you don’t have to spend a bunch of money to get great features. My modchip of choice — at least until production ends — is the Xecuter 2.6 CE Lite. This model is intended to be soldered in, although a solderless kit is available. Among it’s notable features are included front panel switches, total Xbox hardware compatibility, a backup BIOS bank if you make what would otherwise be a costly mistake, and network flashing. For all the features included, the Xecuter 2.6 CE Lite can’t be beat.

Up Next

That’s it for this edition of “Mac Meet Xbox.” Stay tuned (via RSS, perhaps) for the next installment, which will cover opening of the Xbox and installation of the modchip.

Mac Meet Xbox: Navigation

Part 1: Why Xbox + Choosing Chips
Part 2: Cracking the Case + Installing and Flashing
Part 3: Installing XBMC
Part 3.1: Networking in Detail

Mac Meet Xbox: Part 1

iTunes Art

About two months ago, Apple limited iTunes album art access to users who download a song or album requiring the artwork. While this has no effect on those who simply buy from iTunes, many people — myself included — found it very useful to be able to retrieve 600×600 pixel artwork from iTunes and apply it to music gotten elsewhere. The download scheme has been changed, most likely with the sole purpose of breaking third-party systems that gather artwork automatically. While Apple has every right to do this, it makes adding metadata to a new album just slightly more complicated than it used to be. iTunes has always had great quality album art, even beyond what Amazon provides, and it was great to be able to add that into new music with very few steps.

Back when album art was “easy” to get from iTunes, all one had to do was control-click (right-click) on the album title, choose “Copy iTunes Music Store URL,” paste the link into the field on this site, and click Submit. The high resolution artwork for the referenced album was then displayed, and it could be pasted directly into iTunes’ song information windows.

From the front, the iTunes artwork-grabbing script was easy, fast, and painless. The code side was more complicated, as the given album URL had to be retrieved from the iTunes Music Store, decrypted using a symmetric key (which must have been derived from the iTunes binary), and scanned for image links. If found, the medium size album image URL — the very image seen when an album description page is loaded in iTunes — could then be modified to produce the full size artwork URL.

To see what changes Apple made after I became aware of the situation, I first opened the iTunes Music Store and added the “Free Single of the Week” to my cart (I shop in iTunes using a shopping cart system because I’m indecisive, okay?). I then started up my OS X packet-sniffing program of choice, Eavesdrop, and began watching web traffic over my WiFi connection. Since iTunes uses a web-based store, presumably to slip effortlessly through firewalls, every byte of communication between the Music Store and my computer would be logged for review. Upon clicking the “Get Song” button, a small bit of activity began, ending with a bunch of packets coming my way. My song arrived, but that was the least of my interests as my attention turned to the timing of the data that was sent and received. As soon as the transaction was initiated, my computer first requested a set gzip compressed of font styles, perhaps for display somewhere in the Music Store or new Mini-Store. Nothing spectacular there. The very next request was for the URL http://a1.phobos.apple.com/r10/Music/14/36/a4/mzi.aihenrgv.600x600-100.jpg?downloadKey=1154640230_abe417e7d789521ccd1ccb355b23775a.

Before the album art method was changed, it was possible to load the part of the URL above up to the “?” and ignoring everything after, resulting in the download of the full 600×600 image. The unmodified URL retrieved by the artwork script above was similar to the one requested today, with the slight difference of the size parameter tacked onto the end. In the Music Store, the 600×600-100 shown above is replaced with 170×170-99, and that link still returns a smaller, store-sized version without requiring a downloadKey section.

So, what is this downloadKey that Apple has implemented? Keen observers will note that the first chunk of the downloadKey string contains a Unix timestamp of the instant of purchase/download. 1154640230 is the number of seconds that have passed since the Unix epoch, marking the exact time the tranfer was initiated. The second half is 32 bytes long, which happens to be the same length as an MD5 hash. Unfortunately, hash functions are designed to work one-way only; Getting the original text out of the hash is (damn near) impossible except for brute force attacking it, and that could take eons. Where does that leave those interested in continuing being able to get great quality album artwork from iTunes? Out in the cold, for now. Until someone disassembles iTunes and figures out what data is being hashed, the downloadKey cannot be recreated without first purchasing the song and thus defeating the whole purpose. On top of that, the time marker in the downloadKey is also one week from the date of purchase, likely limiting access to the image for that time period. After the noted time has passed, I’m betting that the access privileges are revoked.

Both the expiration date and the mysterious hash in the downloadKey are probably stored in a database on Apple’s end, and the full size image is served back only if the request has the right hash and is within the noted time period. I can’t even begin to speculate why the time is in the URL to begin with, as the webserver can compare the hash and timestamp of any particular request without revealing the timestamp. Unless the webserver is taking in the timestamp from the URL, I can’t see the purpose of displaying it. If it is being done that way, why even bother if we can freely modify the timestamp anyway? Such an obstacle would be like locking a keypad protected door, but allowing any code to reopen it.

While I’m disappointed to have inconclusive results for my analytic efforts, here are some facts I’ve discovered:

  • Neither the timestamp nor the hash can be changed without resulting in an immediate rejection of the image request.
  • The source computer — the one downloading the song — is able to generate the downloadKey without any meaningful communication to the Music Store. The answer is right in front of us, it’s just hidden. Security methods that allow the “attacker” to hold all the pieces of the puzzle tend not to stay secret.
  • The hash is not an MD5 of the timestamp, nor is it an MD5 of the song itself, as it has not even begun to download at the time of the image request.
  • Both the timestamp and hash change each time the same song is downloaded. The timestamp’s reason for changing is obvious.
  • Unix timestamps can be quickly converted to a readable date by doing php -r "echo date('r',1154640230);" in the Terminal.
  • It appears that the full size artwork must be requested prior to the song download, as it is then applied to each finished transfer. One would expect that the artwork is already in the songs, but it must not be if it’s being requested independently.
  • References to an MD5 function exist all around every instance of “downloadKey” in the iTunes binary. Apple is either most definitely using MD5 for a hash, or they are going to an awful lot of effort to create a wild goose chase. My bet is on the former.

Here are a two downloadKey strings for those interested in pursuing this topic further:
1154640230_abe417e7d789521ccd1ccb355b23775a
1154667369_c0d7aa281b0b0247e094c194ed360659

Short of disassembling iTunes, which is out of my skill level, I think this is far as I can go. Hopefully someone with more skill can pick up here. For now, I’ll have to resort to Amazon and Google Images for album art sources.

iTunes Art

MatteBook

I love Apple’s new MacBooks and would be selling my PowerBook right now in order to help cover the cost of a new portable, but I simply can’t get over the glossy screens Apple chose to install. The MacBook Pro line at least has the built-to-order option of a matte screen, but the “consumer” level MacBook has none. As the glossy LCD is really the only factor stopping me from shelling out for a new notebook this very second, I think it may be time to take matters into my own hacker hands.

After doing some searching, I discovered that LG-Philips manufactures the glossy MacBook LCDs. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Apple uses LG and/or LG-Philips LCD panels in most, if not all of their computer products. The particular model used in the MacBook is LP133WXT, which appears to be a very new model, as a Google search turns up only the page linked to above.

The hack comes into play here, if you search for the first part of the LCD model, LP133, on eBay. To get better results, search for LP133*, where * is a wildcard. This search turns up a number of matte 13.3″ LG-Philips LCDs for auction, mostly from PC notebooks. As the glossy and matte versions are both manufactured by the same company, are the same size, and (more than likely) take the same power, I’m betting that the LCDs would be swapped with no ill effects.

I’ll keep my eyes open for more information as I save up some extra cash for a MacBook. Maybe if I wait, Apple will add the matte option in the near future…

MatteBook

Hacking Dell Redux

A few months ago, I learned of a simple paperclip trick to remove power-on passwords from Dell laptops. I’ve since discovered that it doesn’t work on every Dell (even models that were previously susceptible to the attack), and that extreme measures may be necessary. Also, if the only password set is an Administrator password, it can easily be removed with an internal Dell utility that has found its way onto the internet.

Administrator passwords only hinder certain changes to the BIOS settings such as boot sequence. Often, though, the option to boot the floppy or optical drive is still enabled, so Dell’s svctag.exe can be used. Svctag erases the EEPROM chip (usually a 256 byte Atmel 24C02) and removes the Administrator password along with the Service Tag. Dell’s asset.com can then be used to reprogram the proper Service Tag. Finally, if your laptop is a Latitude C610 or Inspiron 4100, nicset.exe must also be run to re-enable onboard Ethernet. That last bug caused much frustration, as the onboard Ethernet “enable bit” is inexplicably stored on the EEPROM as well. For now, a complete bootable CD can be obtained here. (As this utility is intended to be used by Dell technicians only, I don’t plan on hosting it myself to avoid legal action.)

The absolute most reliable way of removing passwords I’ve found is to make a copy of an EEPROM from an unprotected laptop of the same model. With the GALEP-4 flash/EEPROM programmer and a SOIC to DIP chip adapter (which are quite affordable, unlike the programmer itself), reading the data from an EEPROM is a piece of cake. A copy can then be made onto any number of blank EEPROM chips, available from outlets like Jameco and Digi-Key. The copy can replace the password-locked EEPROM and allow full access to the machine again. As expected, the “hacked” laptop will display the Service Tag of the machine with the source EEPROM, but it can be changed using the steps above for Administrator password removal.

With a little more time and effort, I may be able to figure out how the passwords are stored in the EEPROM, as they’re not simple plaintext like the Service Tag. I suspect Dell is doing a simple mathematical bit operation like XOR to hide the passwords from view, but more experimentation will be necessary to uncover the secret (i.e. if I change the power-on password by one character, does the whole “encrypted” password string change, or just one character?).

Removing passwords from laptops is not a trivial task and often requires complete disassembly, but with patience and the right tools, nothing is impossible.

Hacking Dell Redux

Xbox 360 DVD-ROM Hack

Yesterday, a clever hacker released a modified firmware file for the Xbox 360’s DVD drive which essentially causes it to lie to the console about the type of media off which games are running. This comes not long after the release of a similar firmware for the original Xbox, allowing an unmodified (i.e. no modchip) console to run games off a burned DVD. While both of these hacks are impressive, they currently offer no advances towards running unsigned code, particularly on the Xbox 360. Despite that, I’ll soon picking up a 360 to hack around with. This is the first crack in the wall I’ve been waiting for.

Xbox 360 DVD-ROM Hack

Cloning HP Digital Senders

HP offers a neat series of devices called Digital Senders, which have the capability to scan papers and email a PDF all with the touch of a button. While the newer models like the 9200c work, the older — and discontinued — 9100c is still far more popular in office environments. As with all things digital, they occasionally decide to stop working, often at the most inconvenient time. The most common point of failure in Digital Senders is the built-in hard drive, which is used for storing the operating system, address book, and other critical information. HP offers replacement drives, but they cost a small fortune. Fortunately, the replacements are run-of-the mill 3 to 10 GB hard drives (worth only a fraction of the price HP would have you pay).

If you have more than one 9100c, a spare hard drive, a standard desktop PC, and a copy of Norton Ghost 2003, you can clone the working Digital Sender and bring the broken one back to life. Personally, I’ve had great success cloning 9100c hard drives using Ghost, however it took a bit of work to get that far.

By default, Norton Ghost clones partitions between hard drives while simultaneously resizing them such that the destination uses all available space — a feature usually taken for granted. This is great when moving an install of Windows XP from one hard drive to another, but having the maximum available space is hardly a concern in a Digital Sender. This feature can also cause some cloned drives to fail, as the device expects the partition sizes to be within certain ranges. Thankfully, a simple “-IR” (Image Raw) switch can force Ghost to do a bit-for-bit copy, ignoring partitions and unused data alike. When using this option, the destination partitions remain the same size despite the likely increase in total available disk space. After all, a 5 or 10 GB IDE hard drive is impossible to find in stores, these days.

Using a working 9100c Digital Sender hard drive as a source disk, it’s a good idea to first upgrade the software on it using HP’s tools and reset it to factory defaults in the Shift-Alt-Green, Tools menu. While this is not a necessary step, it’s generally good practice to have the newest Digital Sender software, and to get the configuration as close to the defaults as possible to avoid any conflicts. After resetting it to factory defaults, the Digital Sender will reboot. While the initial RAM test is onscreen, switch it off (similar to pulling the plug on a desktop computer while it’s running POSTs — before the system begins to load and the hard drive gets changed in any way).

With an “untouched” and factory-default 9100c hard drive in hand, it can then be attached to the IDE bus of your computer in Master configuration (the default for 9100c Digital Senders). Then, connect a Slave drive of slightly larger size, as the -IR switch can only copy a drive to one of exactly equal or greater size. Make a Ghost boot disk, and when prompted for any additional switches, enter “-IR”. In the disk creation summary, you can see that ghost.exe is being called by “ghost.exe -IR”. Once the disk is made, boot the computer and use Ghost’s “To Disk” command to copy the 9100c drive to the larger one. Be very careful not to overwrite your good hard drive with the blank one! Since the -IR switch is set, Ghost will pay no attention to partitions as it usually does. Cloning the disk will take a good 10 minutes, since it will be copying several gigabytes bit-for-bit. When done, set the newly cloned Slave drive to Master, and the 9100c should boot off of it without a hitch.

Symantec maintains a list of useful Ghost commands here. Note that the -IR switch is the most “raw” one available, as it does not modify any portion of the data — not even the partition map (as the -ID switch may). For this reason, your clone destination drive must be the same size or larger. A smaller disk simply cannot contain all the data from the source disk, even if the bits technically aren’t used by the Digital Sender.

So far, my experiments have worked with every brand hard drive I’ve tried, with sizes ranging from 5 to 40 GB. This is, of course, after many hours of testing, trials, and errors. If anyone has questions regarding 9100c hard drive cloning, feel free to comment.

Cloning HP Digital Senders