Cleaning a used computer before installation

Hello everyone.

I just bought one of the computers mentioned in this recommended list :

I am aware of this installation guide, but I would like to know if I should take any precautions before installing Qubes.

After all, this is a used computer, and there is nothing to tell me that the seller didn’t leave “something” behind…

Here are some of my ideas:

  1. formatting the hard drive?

  2. cleaning the memory, but I don’t know if there is such a thing?

  3. install as much RAM as possible, before installing Qubes? Indeed, I often need a lot of resources for my professional activity.

yes

the memory is already “wiped”

can be yes depend on what laptop your using

there may more thing todo


no in this case, it should work out of the ‘box’

1 Like

Personally, I wouldn’t use the same disk: if I had to do so, I would wipe it
completely before reformatting it.
If you are capable, (and the option is available to you), I would flash
the EC and the BIOS chips,

Installing the fastest SSD and the max RAM will ease your Qubes use.

3 Likes

If you can, reflash the Coreboot, too.

G’day Phil,

With a few used x230, personally I have:

  • tried to verify hardware is working (cautiously without networking)

  • installed / re-installed vendor BIOS updates

  • opened case and inspected hardware for obvious tampering

  • upgraded ram

  • replaced drives

  • replaced wifi (I like FOSS drivers and didn’t want previous owners’ “digital trail”)

  • detached unwanted components (e.g. bluetooth, fingerprint reader)

  • installed heads

That’s why I said “BIOS chips” - do this whether you want coreboot
or not.

Hello everyone and thank you for your answers!
I should receive the material in a few days.
I will keep you posted.

I’d also check the mainboard for obvious chips that don’t belong there. It’s rather easy to solder a chip onto the mainboard that just passively listens and (maybe) sends something or has a backdoor in it. Actually more of a concern if you get hardware back from government actors (eg. police) but I could definitely see some rather anonymous vendors employing the same methods. Again, this isn’t that complicated if you know what you’re doing or have a good guide available.

Completely agree from a security perspective but from a cost perspective you might be forced to reuse the drive. In that case I’d check if anything has been soldered onto it or replaced (if so, you might wanna ditch the whole computer - at least get rid of the disk) and if nothing suspicious comes up just overwrite the disk with random bytes a few times and you should be good to go.

If I were a newbie, I would never understand what that means or how to find it in a search engine. For this reason, I highlighted the most popular and recommended possibility.