Lubuntu 18.04 Live USB Failed Install/Supervisor Password bricked my Lenovo X120e

I have a Lenovo X120e that had been running Crunchbang Linux smoothly for years, and decided I’d like to upgrade to a fuller-featured (but still lightweight) system. So I fired up a Lubuntu USB install drive with the latest LTS release and ran the installer, full disk installation, nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Toward the end of the process I see a not-too-unfamiliar “Installation Failed” dialogue, and figured oh well, it happens, let’s reboot and try it again, double check the checksum, try another drive, etc.

Come to realize, GRUB had left me with a single boot option (“ubuntu”) that failed to make it beyond the grub> prompt, and there’s a Supervisor Password on the BIOS that had never been needed… until now, when I need to reset my BIOS settings to clean up the mess. And, turns out, this Supervisor Password isn’t CMOS-resettable; it lives in an EEPROM that I cannot locate or have the tools to short-circuit.

Aside from the benefit of typing this out, has anyone encountered a similar issue with a failed install that might be able to shine light where I can’t see here? Is there a way via the grub> prompt to re-enable my machine to boot from a USB drive again? Has anyone successfully found and short-circuited the EEPROM to reset a supervisor password on an X120e before?


To be on the safe side I would recommend checking out the Lenovo support site.
You can get the manuals here in the attached link.
x120e support

Hope that helps…

Lenovo’s Maintenance Manuals for X1**e devices (including the X100e and X120e) say: “If the supervisor password has been forgotten and cannot be made available to the service technician, there is no service procedure to reset the password. The system board must be replaced for a scheduled fee.”

Thank you for your suggestion!

The good thing is, your BIOS or UEFI settings are safe.

I guess, you cannot boot from the installation media?

Do you see a Grub shell or a Grub Rescue shell?

In the Grub shell, you can do some research. Please note, that the American keyboard layout is used in the shell. Starting with the command ls:

ls (cd0)
ls (cd0)/
ls (hd0,msdos1)
ls (hd0,msdos1)/

The Grub manual is a good reference and there are other manuals.

You should be able to gain at least an overview over the current situation.


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