How Linux saved my computer from Windows Update

If it wasn't for Linux, a Windows Update crash would have forced me to format my drive and reinstall everything.On Friday I got home from work, powered up my HP Pavilion DV6 6055ea laptop and watched as it promptly shut down to churn through Windows Update.

If it wasn't for Linux, a Windows Update crash would have forced me to format my drive and reinstall everything.

On Friday I got home from work, powered up my HP Pavilion DV6 6055ea laptop and watched as it promptly shut down to churn through Windows Update. It got 30 percent of the way through then the blue screen of death (BSOD) appeared.

Blue Screen of Death
Credit: Jack Clark

According to the error message something had gone terribly wrong with igdpmd32.sys. As far as I can tell the file is an Intel graphics driver. I tried to get into VGA safemode, but the BSOD happened again. I then fiddled with the bios, but to no avail.

The SSD that stores the data on the laptop used to be in a Samsung rig, so I grabbed a Samsung recovery disc. None of the bundled Windows recovery options worked and, in fact, some of them crashed as well, creating a thicket of conflicting messages which meant all the usual tools — sfc scannow, Windows StartupRepair and so on — failed to work.

At a loss I thought I'd go into command prompt which came with the recovery disc and have a poke about. Upon firing it up, I was met with this lovely sight.

Samsung's bundled cmd prompt
Credit: Jack Clark

Yes, Samsung's recovery CD's command prompt defaults to South Korean when things get tricky.

After a couple of further hours of poking around in various directories in command prompt and using regedit to try and remotely shut down the .sys file, I was at a loss. igdpmd32.sys was nowhere to be found in the registry apart from being pointed to from an obscure PNPLockdown file. Worse, though I could view it in all its obstinate, irritating glory via DIR (Drivers) in command line, I couldn't delete it from there.

At this point I took to twitter and sbisson suggested I try using Linux to tunnel through to the problematic driver and delete it. I used an old computer to burn a copy of Ubuntu 11.04, then stuck it in the HP Pavilion, booted onto the OS from the CD and renamed the troublesome driver to igdpmd32.sys.old.

Just like that, my computer was back in action. I downloaded replacement drivers from HP's support website, cracked my knuckles and got back to work. Without the Linux CD, I'd have been stuffed.

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