When most people think of the word “tattoo”, they think of the gnarly tat they got on spring break in Panama on a location of their body they would rather forget about. Enough about my troubles (just kidding family, no Panama tattoos here). HP has a different idea of the word. HP, at least when I had to deal with their systems under warranty about a year ago, would have a service technician tattoo a replacement motherboard after the physical install. Some times a Hard Drive DMI update was required as well to get everything copacetic again. When your HP Recovery CDs throw certain errors or your motherboard is not playing nice with your Hard Drive recently shipped from HP, this information could lead you in the right direction or at least help you question HP.
What is Tattooing / DMI And A Code Purple?
DMI stands for Desktop Management Information and is a multiple set of characters specific to your system of which that information can be found on the PC itself. Tattooing is taking information from a system and applying it discretely to the hardware to avoid licensing issues and Microsoft has a hand in its implementation. If the Hard Drive DMI and Motherboard do not match up, it will not work correctly which is why they state to run the Motherboard tattoo process first, then DMI Utility on the hard drive. You are supposed to do this upon installation of a new motherboard or hard drive according to HP. If you see this “Code Purple” after attempting to use your Recovery Disc set, then you have some tattooing to do. You would need to get your hands on the software, but the techspot download link doesn’t work anymore. I’m currently in the process of tracking down a legit copy of the HDD and Motherboard programs. HP will supposedly help for a fee, $249, that is not cheap. There are ways around this though. Either make a backup using a third party like Acronis or Ghost and you will not need to worry about seeing that dreaded error message. Or you can install off of a store bought XP/Vista/7 disc which will not have to look for the DMI, plus you wont get all of the bloatware that HP packages on its default systems.
Tattooing your System
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the Hard Drive DMI Utility and the Motherboard DMI Utility, then you are a step ahead of most. It should be in a secure ZIP which is password protected. Now if you can get the password or get around it, we then get to create some bootable media. After making the bootable floppy or CD/DVD, you need to gather some information off of the computer itself. Information such as the Build ID, Serial Number, HWBOM, RIN, Product Number, etc. You will need all of this information to preform the flash. Use that acquired information to do the flash and your Motherboard should be tattooed. Now you can run the Hard Drive DMI Utility to get it to accept the new motherboard tattooed information.
Peek at the PDF docs that I found for a better explanation: PDF Document on the Tattooing Procedure for a HDD and Motherboard
While there are ways around it like a store bought OS disk or using a third party backup and restore disc, this is a real problem with some older (3 plus years) computers. While working in the forums I have seen issues similar to this which is why I wrote this article, to spread the word. There is also a known issue with recovery disc sets that will not load onto a hard drive that hadn’t had a MBR on it before. There are ways around that as well as a Cyberlink utility to help with that. See the HP Forums Discussion on Tattooing as they discuss this a little as well as what we have talked about above. They also say you shouldn’t have this issue if you replaced the HDD with a new one, just when either using a used hard drive formerly installed in an HP. I know within the last couple years they abandoned the Hard Drive Utility and since none of their links work in the PDF, possibly the Motherboard one officially as well. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with this situation. HP doesn’t do this anymore and hasn’t for a couple years to my knowledge. They are a very respectable company and I still refer people to them to this day. It’s just that the above was a bit of a snafu on their end and Microsoft.