Hacking the HP NX5000 BIOS whitelist

01 Dec 2010

A few years ago my grad school was looking to dispose of a bunch of old HP Compaq NX5000 laptops. Before they made their way to the junk shelf I pinched one of the few only fully working computers. For quite awhile the laptop has served as my Windows computer whenever I have a project that calls for certain software. For example, I used this laptop quite a bit on the SolPix project when I needed to write software to monitor the PV charge controller. Since then, the laptop has laid to waste until a teenage family member asked for a laptop for Christmas. I figured this was a opportunity to put the laptop to good use. There were a few annoyances with the hardware so I hopped on eBay and purchased a few parts to spruce the computer up.

I purchased some new RAM and a wireless card to give the computer some life outside of the 802.11b world. The stock wireless card was a mini PCI Intel WM2100B device that wouldn’t associate with my 802.11g network. In other words, the laptop is kinda useless in this wireless day and age and needed an upgrade. I ended up getting my hands on an Intel 2200BG mini PCI card thinking I could swap the cards and have an instant upgrade. Oh was I so very very wrong. This was before I was aware of Hewlett-Packard’s evil scheme to whitelist certain hardware you are allowed to install in the laptop. While the 2100B card was just happy sleeping peaceful inside the laptop’s belly, the computer threw a fit when I installed the 2200BG card. Upon boot I received an error reading:

Error Message: 104-Unsupported wireless network device detected. System Halted. Remove device and restart.

I very quietly screamed to myself, then searched feverishly online for a solution. According to forums it seemed like the BIOS itself was preventing me from installing any hardware except certain hardware included in a whitelist within the BIOS. There appeared to be several ways of handling this problem but the only one that seemed most promising was to edit the BIOS so that it would allow my new hardware. Much easier said than done. I know how to use a hex editor and what to search for but actually making the changes was causing my head to spin. Luckily, I found a piece of software called ADDCC v3 that looked like it would handle a lot of my concerns. It is not for the faint of heart as you will need to be comfortable working in hex and having a basic understanding of checksums and binary. You can find the software in a post in the following forum as well as lots of testimonials and cries for help:

http://www.wimsbios.com/forum/topic9388-150.html

Here is a more direct link. Download “ADDCCV3HPCOMPAQDECOSOURCECODE.rar”:
ADDCC v3 on RapidShare

The Rapidshare link includes a few videos and a poorly written manual is included with the software. I believe it was originally created by a German developer so the English is rough to read but it’ll get you by.

Instead of going on and on about the process and how I did it, I thought I’d simply share the new hacked BIOS for the HP Compaq NX5000 where I had removed the 2100B card from the whitelist and added the 2200BG card. For those interested in the details, here are the two hardware IDs of the cards I worked with.

Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG mini PCI Card (NEW)

PCI\VEN8086&DEV4220&SUBSYS27018086&REV05\4&39A85202&0&20F0

Intel PRO/Wireless 2100B mini PCI Card (OLD)

PCI\VEN8086&DEV1043&SUBSYS25278086&REV04\4&39A85202&0&20F0

You will need to download the following software to proceed with flashing your BIOS if by chance you have the same laptop model as me and wish to do the same hardware swap. I must warn you however that I do not take any responsibly in your actions if by chance this bricks your laptop. You take all responsibility, so proceed with caution.

HP Compaq NX5000 BIOS F.0E hacked
HPQFlash Patched, no signature checking

Run the HPQFlash application with the ROM.cab file in the same directory, flash the BIOS, allow the computer to restart, and cross your fingers.

If you end up using my hacked BIOS and have had any level of success, please let me know. I’d like to hear if this hack has helped anyone else.