The Refurbishing Process Explained:
- PCF maintains master computers that are cloned (replicated) using USB sticks/Flash Drives
- These master computers are configured with three different types of users. They include accounts for:
- Students with added protections
- Admins (for parents, teachers, adults)
- PCF admin account (in case Admins forget their password)
- After the master is set up the way we want it, we make an “image” of it. An image is a compressed file of the entire machine that can then be used to make duplicates. When the image is restored to another computer, that computer will be identical to the master.
- This image is then copied onto a PCF Installer Flash drive. Besides the image, the USB installer includes a system we will use to boot target machines.
- Each master carries a revision # so we can keep track in case support issues arise in the future. The version # is typically written on the PCF asset tag on the outside of the computer as well as on the PCF USB installation Flash drives. When a computer is re-imaged, the latest version number is written on the asset tag.
- Computers are cloned by booting (starting up) the target computer from a PCF USB installer stick and then applying the master image to the target machine.
- Make sure your laptop or desktop has an internal drive in it. Often hard drives are removed from computers before they are donated.
- Make sure you are able to boot the computer from an external USB stick. In some cases, this involves changing BIOS settings. Details below.
Cloning Step 1: Booting from the PCF USB Installer
- With the computer turned off, insert the PCF USB stick (Flash drive) into the machine you wish to erase and refurbish.
- Next, you must tell the computer to boot from the PCF USB stick (not the internal drive). To do so, you must interrupt the startup process using the “Boot Screen” (aka “Startup Screen”). This screen lets you choose the system/device you wish to use.
- To get to the boot screen, you must hit a function key repeatedly immediately after powering on your computer (until it beeps). Typically it is F12 on Dells and Lenovos, F9 on HPs, ESC for ASUS, etc. Additional details can be found here »
- Once you see the Boot Screen, select the PCF Installer USB drive and continue. (see below if your Flash drive is not listed)
- When you get to the login screen, instructions should appear on the desktop picture of the installer. The login password, if any, is typically “pcf” (lower case)
Cloning Step 2: Imaging
- While booted from the PCF USB Installer drive, start up the Terminal application by double-clicking the icon on the Desktop or by pressing the CNTRL-ALT-T keys simultaneously.
- To image the computer, follow the instructions on the Desktop of the USB Flash Drive. They are detailed here as well.
- The process typically takes between 3 and 15 minutes.
USB Drive Not Listed in Boot Screen
If your USB Flash drive is not listed as a boot option in the Boot Screen, it is typically one of two things:
- A BIOS configuration issue (see below), or
- A broken or disabled (through BIOS) USB port. See below for BIOS info or try another USB port if you feel it may be the culprit.
In case your computer does not list the PCF USB installer as a boot option (Cloning Step 1) or it won’t boot from the Flash drive after you picked it then you may have to edit the BIOS to get it to work.
- Upon powering on your computer, press the function key for your system to enter the BIOS setup screen. See here for what the Function key might be for your system.
- Once in the BIOS settings, look for the Startup menu and make sure that “Legacy Boot” is enabled.
- Sometimes you have to go to the Security menu first and turn off secure boot in order to enable Legacy boot.
- Finally, check to ensure the USB ports on your computer are not disabled. Go to the Devices menu and make sure the USB ports are all enabled.
- If still no luck booting then try using another USB port for the PCF USB Installer.
- In some cases, some USB sticks are not compatible and you may need to use another brand of Flash drive for the USB installer.