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Just for the hilarity, AKA does anyone know a good IT exorcist?

Discussion in 'Computer Talk' started by Sarin, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Sarin

    Sarin Prince

    Aug 18, 2013
    Thought I'd share a little story that just happened, and wondering if anyone can provide a little bit insight.

    So...my uncle is working abroad in France, and just came for a visit. He bought an used laptop in France, his first computer ever. Of course, he had no idea what to do with it. So, I had to help...

    Turned out the system is nearly lost cause. Well, it works so far, but it's riddled with malware, and Windows are not original. So I decided to install Mint on it, because getting an original installation of Windows would be more expensive than the laptop itself.

    Or at lest I tried. First boot attempt from DVD:
    Spoiler :

    Second attempt resulted in automatic boot-up countdown stuck in a loop.

    Third attempt, using a disposable USB drive, in case the DVD drive is messed up:
    Spoiler :

    I tried 32 bit version too, in case the Windoom lied about that too.

    In the end, I ended up installing antivirus, setting him up with Discord to be able to talk to my mum, a new e-mail, OpenTTD and stern warning not to click anything even remotely suspicious. It might work a while...

    Besides a bit of amusement, has anyone a bit of insight about just what the hell is going on with that thing? Demon possession? I mean, the system is in demonic laguage (French) after all...:D
  2. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

    Mar 17, 2007
    I'm no Linux debugger, but the line "kernel tried to execute NX-protected page - exploit attempt?" is interesting. On Intel processors, NX ("No eXecute") is a feature that prevents data from being run as code, which protects against what used to be a common method malware used to run (now that's a lot more difficult and rare, thanks to NX). I can't say for sure that there isn't some good reason the Linux kernel does that somewhere, but the message suggests it was not expected. It's possible there is a rootkit involved which is causing issues regardless of operating system.

    On the other hand, it's also possible that there's a hardware incompatibility with Mint. These days Mint tends to work pretty well with a lot of hardware - I have 18.3 on an 11-year-old laptop, and the 2013 date in those messages suggests the one in question is newer - but the laptop was probably not designed to run Linux originally, and there could be some odd piece of hardware causing an issue. It's possible an older version of Linux - Ubuntu 12.04 would be contemporary if the 13.01 date is accurate - might work better.

    Antivirus was definitely a good idea; a nice Malwarebytes scan would be sensible, too. Also wouldn't hurt to try other malware options - disable the current one, install another, have it do a full scan, and then decide whether you want to stick with it or go back to the first one. Different antivirus engines catch different pieces of malware.

    For the future, you may want to recommend picking up a cheap model at a store; you can get them for very low prices these days, though not quite cheaper than a copy of Windows. It's entirely possible the malware predates your uncle's acquisition of the machine, and even if there was no malicious intent, the infestation may have been the reason the person was offloading it so inexpensively.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018

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