Wipe a HD via Unix in Single User Mode?

Is it possible to wipe a hard drive using diskutil or another method when booting up in Single User Mode? We routinely need to wipe drives and if possible, this would be the easiest.
I suspect because the OS that boots in Single User Mode is on that same drive will make this impossible.
Thanks in advance for your tips and comments,
Doug

Yes, you cannot erase an OS while it's 'hosting' the erasure. Single user mode is part of Mac OS X, so it's on the hard drive, not in the firmware or anything super-low-level like that. Oh well. So... you might be able to erase the vast majority of user, application, and even OS files, but it won't be complete and won't be 'as good as' a volume-format.
A couple alternatives come to mind (sorry if you know all this. Not trying to be pedantic or patronizing, just making sure you know your options).
We keep host computers around just for running wipes, backups, and diagnostics that cannot run from a drive holding the booted OS. You simply restart the to-be-wiped Mac holding the 't' key, connect it via firewire, and treat it as an external hard drive.
You could also just boot from a Mac OS X install disc and wipe from the copy of Disk Utility included on the disc. Better yet, throw a +bona fide+ copy of OS X onto a pocket hard drive, boot the victim-Mac from that (hold option while it is first starting up), and wipe the internal HD normally, now that it's not in use. You could maybe even use single user mode in the booting OS, like you'd imagined, and format from there (I'm not sure that would be faster than letting it boot normally, though, as you might have to use "dd" or some other similar low-level wipe method, as I don't think the frameworks required for Apple's cli "diskutil" are available in single user mode).
I haven't tried to use it on a Mac, but I have a 256 MB USB flash drive with, er, ['Darn' Small Linux|http://tinyurl.com/5md7t] on it for diagnosing Windows boxes. It runs a script on boot which, if you don't intervene to run utilities or what-have-you, will wipe all attached hard drives and shut down. I keep it locked up for understandable reasons, but its super useful just as a time-saver, booting most machines and beginning the countdown-to-wipe in under ten seconds.
Anyway, let us know what your goals and thoughts are.
Cheers, Joel

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    Path:            /Applications/iPhoto.app/Contents/MacOS/iPhoto
    Identifier:      com.apple.iPhoto
    Version:         8.1.2 (8.1.2)
    Build Info:      iPhotoProject-4240000~8
    Code Type:       X86 (Native)
    Parent Process:  launchd [209]
    Date/Time:       2012-09-19 19:56:45.528 +0200
    OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.7.4 (11E53)
    Report Version:  9
    Sleep/Wake UUID: 7948ABE2-5294-4F87-B6E3-777095A2F2EE
    Interval Since Last Report:          4780 sec
    Crashes Since Last Report:           9
    Per-App Crashes Since Last Report:   9
    Anonymous UUID:                      70117D38-03EA-4F9C-B810-50B743864B9E
    Crashed Thread:  0
    Exception Type:  EXC_BREAKPOINT (SIGTRAP)
    Exception Codes: 0x0000000000000002, 0x0000000000000000
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      Referenced from: /Applications/iPhoto.app/Contents/MacOS/iPhoto
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    So I was hoping there was a way to change back the properties of my disk (Volume) in single user mode (via Command +s) during startup, i.e. can I do a chmod command on the Macintosh HD listing under the Volume Directory.    Or where do i fix this?   Is it fixable without startup disks, etc...
    THANKS FOR ANY HELP!!!!
    If you could also please let me know you have an answer, I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT!!! 
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    <Edited by Host>

    Thomas,
    Thanks for the info on command-R, didn't know about that!!!
    Yes I changed the sharing "Wheel Group" permissions on my hard drive via Get Info.    But that's all I did.    And then most of the apps wouldn't respond with anything.    So not knowing I did something stupid, I decided to re-boot, and then nothing but the Wheel of Death at startup.
    I was trying to limit access to my computer on this network, changed my public folder settings, and then I thought why not the whole hard drive, but at that time I had no idea what the "Wheel Group" was... so I shouldn't have touched it, BUT IT DID ...... argggggg....
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    So Thomas I just wanted to say THANKS for replying so quickly, and I really appreciate your help!!!
    (yes I know I shouldn't have used my email addresses, but I WAS DESPERATE, but that's still no excuse)
    Hopefully maybe this thread will help someone else out in the future....
    Okay, thanks again!
    Mark

  • Single-User Mode Copying Files/System Does not Boot Past Apple Logo Screen

    I have a Macbook 2.0GHZ, 2GB RAM, that recently tried to download a secuirty and keynot update. Following the download the system will no longer boot past the Apple Logo Screen with the spinning wheel. I do not have access to a OS disk yet or to a firewire cable either. I've have seen posts from others that describe how to use traget disk mode to reinstall the secuirty update manually and then they can boot their computer. Safe mode will not work. I did boot into single-user mode and run the disk utility there and it says my HD is OK. Since I do not have a firewire or an OS Disk, I am wondering if there is a way to copy those files i need to a USB pen stick then install them onto the computer via single-user mode, considering this is the only way I can boot and manipulate the machine at this time. If this is not possible please let me know so I can find a way to scrounge up a firewire cable or disk. Thank you in advance for any assistance.
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    Thanks to Limnos and BDAqua I know you guys have helped others with these kind of problems from the other posts I read. I just want to list what I did exactly in case anyone wants to try to do this with a usb drive or does not have access to a boot disk or firewire cable.
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    3: /sbin/mount -uw /
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    6: /sbin/mount_msdos /dev/disk1s1 /Volumes/usb (this mounts the usb drive, i had to use msdos because of how my usb drive was formatted, you may need to check your usb drive format, hfs is the apple format for usb drives but it did not work for me)
    7: cp /Volumes/usb/SecUpd2009-001Intel.dmg (this copies the files from the usb drive to the root drivel, at this point you no longer need the usb drive)
    8: hdiutil mount /SecUpd2009-001Intel.dmg (this mounts the disk image)
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    10: installer -pkg SecUpd2009-001Intel.pkg -target / (this installs the acutal update, i used the SecUpd2009-001Intel.pkg and it worked though I think you might be able to use "Security Update 2009-001" with quotes as well.)
    11: reboot
    i hope this helps anyone looking to do this. Thanks again to those who helpes and all the other posts that had information that helped me identify and then fix my issue! I still love my mac.

  • Back up files through Single user mode

    Hello there,
    it seems that I have problem with my hard drive. I tried to repair it with disk utility and the fsck command in Single user mode with no luck. The fsck command gives me the "Exited with signal 8" message and it won't start up the usual way or under Safe boot so I came to the conclusion to back up my files on an external drive and reinstall the system. I need step by step instructions how to back up the entire hard drive onto the external drive in Single User mode.

    Do you have another mac with firewire?
    Try target disk mode.
    If you have a second Mac computer, you may want to try to copy over as many files you can. One way is to use target disk mode.
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1661
    http://lowendmac.com/misc/06/0710.html
    This requires you to use your installation disk. With errors from fdsk, I do not think you will be able to copy all directories. I used a flash drive. A harddrive should be the same. To copy everything, use the directory /Volumes/Macintosh-HD
    You may try to recover your data by booting up an installation cd/dvd and using the terminal.
    You could try getting into the Unix command line interface and copy some files or directories.
    You can copy files on the Unix command line interface if you placed the flash drive the USB port before powering on your machine.
    Boot up your installation CD or DVD. To do this, place to the CD or DVD its drive. Power off the the machine. Hold down the c key then power on your machine. After you specify the language you will come to the installation panel. Do not install. Go to the top of the screen and click on the tools menu item. Click on Terminal to use the command line interface.
    You should verify that the files have been copied correctly by trying them in another Mac before it the deleting the original.
    *Here is an overview of the commands.*
    Lets assume that the problem account has a short user name of mac.
    #Copy directory "/Applications/Applescript files" to
    # directory "/Volumes/Spotless/Applescript files".
    # "Spotless" is my flash drive.
    ditto -X -rsrc /Applications/Applescript\ files /Volumes/Spotless/Applescript\ files
    #cd is change directory
    cd /Volumes/COPYIT/answers/
    # pwd is print working directory
    pwd
    #the ls command is for list
    # l is long
    # a to show hidden files. not shown in this example.
    # F is type of file where / is directory
    sh-2.05b# # Please note ls is the list command. l is a lower case L
    sh-2.05b# ls -lF
    Here is what these commands mean:
    cd is change directory
    pwd is a print working directory
    ls is list
    sudo is Super user do
    # The sudo command will ask for your administration password. No characters will appear when typing your password. Press return when done typing.
    cp is copy
    copy a file example:
    sh-2.05b#
    sh-2.05b# cd /Volumes/Macintosh-HD/Users/mac/desktop
    sh-2.05b# pwd
    /Volumes/Macintosh-HD/Users/mac/desktop
    sh-2.05b# cp -i answers.txt /Volumes/SpotMore
    Will copy the file answers.txt in the directory SpotMore.
    Some files have a space in the name. You need to escape. see example:
    mac $ ls -l ~/"see it"
    -rw-r--r-- 1 mac staff 3171 Oct 26 23:38 /Users/mac/see it
    mac $
    mac $ cd /Users/mac/Desktop/ttt\ html\ copy/
    Do you know about tabing? Type in a few letters of a name then press the tab key. The computer will type out the rest of the name if it is unique.
    The up arrow key will retrive the previous command. You the left arror and right arror keys to move around. Use the delete key to delete a character to the left.
    <eol>
    *More examples and moving around*
    sh-2.05b# pwd
    sh-2.05b# ls /Volumes
    .Trashes        Classic                Macintosh-HD
    ._.Trashes      Mac OS X Install DVD   SpotMore
    sh-2.05b#
    sh-2.05b# df -h
    Filesystem      Size   Used  Avail Capacity  Mounted on
    /dev/disk4s3    2.6G   2.5G    89M    97%    /
    devfs           121K   121K     0B   100%    /dev
    fdesc           1.0K   1.0K     0B   100%    /dev
    <volfs>         512K   512K     0B   100%    /.vol
    /dev/disk5      467K   9.0K   435K     2%    /Volumes
    /dev/disk6       95K    64K    27K    70%    /private/var/tmp
    /dev/disk7       95K    14K    77K    15%    /private/var/run
    /dev/disk3s1    3.7G   1.3G   2.5G    34%    /Volumes/SpotMore
    /dev/disk0s10   1.1G   1.1G   3.4M   100%    /Volumes/Classic
    /dev/disk0s12    70G    45G    25G    65%    /Volumes/Macintosh-HD
    sh-2.05b#
    sh-2.05b# cd /Volumes/SpotMore/
    sh-2.05b# pwd
    /Volumes/SpotMore
    sh-2.05b# # Please note ls is the list command.  l is a lower case L
    sh-2.05b# ls -l
    total 880
    -rw-r--r--    1 unknown  unknown    6148 Sep 10  2010 .DS_Store
    drw-------    4 unknown  unknown     136 Aug 25  2010 .Spotlight-V100
    drwxrwxrwt    3 unknown  unknown     102 Sep  3  2010 .TemporaryItems
    d-wx-wx-wt    3 unknown  unknown     102 Sep 10  2010 .Trashes
    drwx------    3 unknown  unknown     102 Sep  3  2010 Desktop
    -rw-r--r--    1 unknown  unknown   18944 Aug 27  2010 Desktop DB
    -rw-r--r--    1 unknown  unknown       2 Jul 29  2010 Desktop DF
    -rwxrwxrwx    1 unknown  unknown   26281 Oct 27  2009 Warranty Information.PDF
    drwxr-xr-x   13 unknown  unknown     442 Aug  4  2010 backup
    drwxr-xr-x   13 unknown  unknown     442 Aug  4  2010 backupPrior
    drwxr-xr-x    7 unknown  unknown     238 Aug 27  2010 cons
    drwxr-xr-x   65 unknown  unknown    2210 Sep  4  2010 iMac-back
    ... clipped ...
    sh-2.05b#
    sh-2.05b# cd /Volumes/Macintosh-HD/Users/mac/desktop
    sh-2.05b# pwd
    /Volumes/Macintosh-HD/Users/mac/desktop
    sh-2.05b# # Please note ls is the list command.  l is a lower case L
    sh-2.05b# ls
     Z2300               iMac
    .DS_Store            move
    .FBCIndex            new Belward
    .FBCLockFolder       primary-comments-new copy.doc
    Consolidate-rc       primary-comments-new.doc
    Downloads            psc 1200
    ... clipped ...
    sh-2.05b# ditto -X -rsrc iMac /Volumes/SpotMore/iMac-back
    sh-2.05b#
    sh-2.05b# # Please note ls is the list command.  l is a lower case L
    sh-2.05b# ls -h /Volumes/SpotMore/iMac-back/
    total 2800
    -rw-r--r--    1 unknown  unknown    24K Sep 12  2010 .DS_Store
    -rw-r--r--    1 unknown  unknown     2K Apr 18  2010 Differentiate Between Models .html
    ... clipped ...
    sh-2.05b# pwd
    /Volumes/Macintosh-HD/Users/mac/desktop
    sh-2.05b# ls
     Z2300               iMac
    .DS_Store            move
    .FBCIndex            new Belward
    .FBCLockFolder       primary-comments-new copy.doc
    ... clipped ...
    sh-2.05b#

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