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Possible Duplicate:
Obtaining the Windows 7 CD key from its installation files

My windows partition on my netbook won't start, and I'd like to do a repair install of windows XP. I have an OEM disc, but if it asks me for a serial I'd like to be able to provide the serial off my netbook.

The sticker, however, hasn't lasted and I can no longer read the serial number for windows. I have a linux partition that I'm on now, and was wondering if there was anywhere in the file system that I could find the serial that windows is installed with?

The restoration function built into the netbook isn't starting, so that's no good, either. Even if it would, from what I see it only reinstalls, which would wipe all my data.

Anyone know if it's possible to either find my key in the file system somewhere or know if the Acer Aspire One recovery partition has it in there some where?

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marked as duplicate by grawity, studiohack Sep 21 '11 at 23:16

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I can't boot into XP, none of those solutions are helpful from what I see. – Rob Sep 21 '11 at 21:32
Can we have this unclosed? The point of this question is to do it all on one computer, without a working windows installation. I don't see any solutions for that. – Rob Sep 22 '11 at 0:36
Nirsoft Product Key can extract the key from the registry hive, you have to connect the unbootable drive to a working Windows system then use the File > Select – Moab Sep 22 '11 at 3:18
I got it with MJBKF, but I'd like a way to do it straight from linux. Turns out I didn't need it, but it's good to have. – Rob Sep 22 '11 at 4:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Found a solution with MJBKF here:

Basically copy the registry off to a USB drive and use another windows computer (or wine) to find the keys. Will report back if it works.

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This worked, but I'll try and figure out to get it in linux only. :D – Rob Sep 21 '11 at 23:14

After some googling, WinKeyDOS looks like the way to go.

Boot to DOS and run it, or launch it using Wine on Linux.

Edit (some elaborate way)

  • Windows key is saved in registry. More specifically: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows N\CurrentVersion in variable DigitalProductId.
  • Registry files are stored in %WINDIR%\System32\Config.
  • When you get the key (encoded), you have to decode it - here is the function (though, in C#...) to do this:

What you need now is to open the registry from Linux.

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Will give it a try, thanks. – Rob Sep 21 '11 at 21:59
It is very likely that WinKeyDOS is, despite the name, a native Win32 program and will not work in DOS -- only in Windows. – grawity Sep 21 '11 at 22:02
Moving over to my windows box with /windows/system32/config copied to a flash drive, and loading it up with MJBKF worked, however it's good to know how to do it with just a linux environment. MJBKF wasn't fond on working it properly with wine, but I think it's a matter of putting it in the right place. – Rob Sep 21 '11 at 23:14

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