How to access data from a headless m1730 DELL with broken graphics card

dem17ll30I have one of those DELL XPS M1730 ‘s with a fried Nvidia graphics card. It still booted, but I obviously couldn’t do much, as the screen was not functioning.

These were the steps I took to access the data:

I downloaded rescuecd pld-linux , a linux live cd that has a SSH Server enabled : and burned it to a CD.

download from here :

Then I booted the XPS from that CD. It didn’t boot right away. As I couldn’t see what was on the screen, I could only guess what it said. But pressing ESC a few time worked for me. If your laptop’s BIOS is not configured to boot from CD, you can press F12 and then one down + enter (you can’t see anything, so try to guess what order the entries in the boot menu are. Normally “CD boot” is the second entry.).

Once booted, I logged in from another PC using SSH. On windows you can use PUTY for that:
Login using ‘root’ and password ‘pld’.


I wasn’t able to access the drive, cause it’s RAID0 and (in my case) wasn’t set up. To set up raid I first loaded a config into the mdadm.conf using the mdadm utility used to manage and monitor software RAID devices.

[root@rescue Users]# mdadm -Es > /etc/mdadm.conf
ARRAY metadata=imsm UUID=a38093ad:02d71bcc:36b540ef:c589efe0
ARRAY /dev/md/ARRAY container=a38093ad:02d71bcc:36b540ef:c589efe0 member=0 UUID=dc71e576:67737342:2b5b9347:0c302a3e

I then rebooted the PC.

After it rebooted, I looked for available drives using lsblk

[root@rescue ~]# lsblk
sda 8:0 0 111.8G 0
|-sda1 8:1 0 203.9M 0
|-sda2 8:2 0 10G 0
`-sda3 8:3 0 101.6G 0
sdb 8:16 0 111.8G 0

I examined sdb, and it seemed to be part of a raid setup:
[root@rescue ~]# mdadm --examine /dev/sdb
Magic : Intel Raid ISM Cfg Sig.
Version : 1.0.00
Orig Family : 1e5f1a10
Family : 1e5f1a10
Generation : 000025d9
UUID : a38093ad:02d71bcc:36b540ef:c589efe0
Checksum : 0c2d178c correct
MPB Sectors : 1
Disks : 2
RAID Devices : 1

Disk01 Serial : 5NJ0YQHF
State : active
Id : 00020000
Usable Size : 234437134 (111.79 GiB 120.03 GB)

UUID : dc71e576:67737342:2b5b9347:0c302a3e
RAID Level : 0
Members : 2
Slots : [UU]
This Slot : 1
Array Size : 468873216 (223.58 GiB 240.06 GB)
Per Dev Size : 234436867 (111.79 GiB 120.03 GB)
Sector Offset : 0
Num Stripes : 915768
Chunk Size : 128 KiB
Reserved : 0
Migrate State : idle
Map State : normal
Dirty State : clean

Disk00 Serial : 25DP0C30DSGK49TP
State : active
Id : 00000000
Usable Size : 234437134 (111.79 GiB 120.03 GB)

I scanned for the array:
[root@rescue /dev]# mdadm -A --scan
mdadm: Container /dev/md/imsm0 has been assembled with 2 drives
mdadm: Started /dev/md/ARRAY_0 with 2 devices

Now I had a new layout for the drives, as the Array came online:
[root@rescue /dev]# lsblk
sda 8:0 0 111.8G 0
|-md127 9:127 0 0
`-md126 9:126 0 223.6G 0
|-md126p1 259:0 0 203.9M 0
|-md126p2 259:1 0 10G 0
|-md126p3 259:2 0 210.9G 0
|-md126p4 259:3 0 1K 0
`-md126p5 259:4 0 2.5G 0
sdb 8:16 0 111.8G 0
|-md127 9:127 0 0
`-md126 9:126 0 223.6G 0
|-md126p1 259:0 0 203.9M 0
|-md126p2 259:1 0 10G 0
|-md126p3 259:2 0 210.9G 0
|-md126p4 259:3 0 1K 0
`-md126p5 259:4 0 2.5G 0

Finally mounted the drive:
[root@rescue /dev]# mount -t ntfs /dev/md126p3 /disk1
mount: warning: /disk1 seems to be mounted read-only.

To get the data of, you can either use SSH or (if on windows) use WinSCP. You can donwload it here: Start WinSCP, Create a new site, fill in IP address, login and password, and connect.


Check out the man pages of the tools used:

Mdadm :
Lsblk :
Blkid :
Mdadm cheat Sheet :

Hopefully this log will help anyone. You can leave comments if you like, but I’m not experienced with mdadm. I probably can’t answers questions, but maybe other readers can. 🙂


  1. write the config using mdadm -Es
  2. mount the array, using mount.
  3. Connect using WinSCP and recover the files

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *