Open Problem: Delousing the Asus C101PA.

Apr. 26 update: This article is obsolete, the pill -- was found; if you have this machine, scroll to the end.

The Asus C101PA Chromebook is a very interesting device: it contains a Rockchip CPU, for which we already have a working deloused Gentoo; it also contains such marvels as a non-blobulous Marvell 802.11 card, a reasonable IPS screen, a 9-hour battery, etc.

However it also contains Google's Fritz chip boobytrap, the firmware write-protect.

And no, it does not have the screw in the same place as the visually-identical rubbish-LCD-crippled C100P. Or, apparently, anywhere at all:


Looks like the typical Chromebook defusing screw, neh?

Well, removal does precisely nothing:


Not even after hard-reset.

And again nothing:


Let's take the thing apart entirely, strip off the speakers, pull the mainboard, peel off the heat sink:


None of the screw pads (aside from the bottom of the first "nope") even have anything resembling multiple contact pads that could indicate a defusing screw.

No place to put crocodiles and rewrite the flash ROM, either! All BGA.

And the complete silence on, as far as I can tell, the entire Net, re: this beast, is IMHO most peculiar.

And yes I am aware of "crouton" and various other chumpatronic rubbish offered as an alternative to flensing the Google liquishit from this device (which appears to be the only laptop on the market with 9 hour battery, IPS, and a total absence of x86 crapolade).

And yes I am well aware that it is still possible to install a new OS on this box, if one is willing to tolerate the nagware screen and nag siren on boot. Which I am not.

Verdict: the C101P is a paperweight until and unless somebody reveals the secret of removing WP# from it. Do you know how? Tell me!

Update: A query in the heathen pits yielded up the pill: pulling the battery disables the WP#.

This entry was written by Stanislav , posted on Wednesday April 25 2018 , filed under Chumpatronics, Cold Air, Computation, Distractions, Friends, Hardware, NonLoper, Reversing, SoftwareSucks . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “Open Problem: Delousing the Asus C101PA.”

  • Tinkerer says:

    So I dismantled this thing and pulled the battery connection out and tried running '/use/share/vboot/bin/ 0x19' but it tells me it's still write protected.

    Is it really just a case of disconnecting the battery or do you perhaps need to do that, in addition to some other disconnecting/screw removal perhaps?

    • Stanislav says:

      Dear Tinkerer,

      No magic screws on this one (at least, in my units, I used several for the experiments.)

      However the unlock command was :

      flashrom --wp-disable

      ... rather than what you had there.

      Remove the battery, boot up the box (which must be in "dev" mode) and use the above.

      I can't rule out the possibility that they've finally crippled them into 100% "Tivo" -- but IMHO worth to try this first before throwing out.


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