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My 2007 Macbook Pro has suffered from a failure of its GPU and will now only boot in Single User mode.

I want to sell it on eBay for spares, but obviously I don't want a hard drive with live data on it ending up on eBay.

I know you can destroy a drive's contents with a secure erase in Disk Utility, but as I said, I can't boot into any mode that requires graphics because the GPU is dead.

How do I secure erase the machine's drive in Single User mode?

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If you're selling for spares, you could sell sans-HDD (which won't effect it's value much, as it's a four year old used HDD) and not need to worry about it? – George Pearce Dec 31 '11 at 14:36
That thought had occurred, but it's one of those pre-unibody machines that are not exactly easy to get into. I'd prefer avoiding that if I can. – GordonM Jan 1 '12 at 12:58
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Normally from the command line, you would use the diskutil command with the zeroDisk, randomDisk or secureErase options to securely wipe a disk. However, I would imagine this doesn't work on the disk you've just booted from. So I suspect you'll either have to find another Mac and connect yours in target disk mode via a Firewire cable, or physically remove the drive and connect it to another Mac using a disk caddy, to wipe it the way you wish.

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It should be possible to boot an external drive (including the installation DVD) in single user mode:

Hold Option as you turn the power on, select the DVD/HDD with the arrow keys then press and hold Command+S+Return, holding them down until you see the now-familiar-for-you console boot: at which point it would be possible to use a whole disk shredder as mentioned by scottishwildcat.

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If you want to completely wipe it, I'd think you could type this in single-user mode, hitting return after each "-----": /sbin/mount -uw / ----- rm -rf *

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Once you have unmounted /, where exactly would the binary for rm come from? – patrix Apr 27 '13 at 4:17
@patrix: his reasoning is actually sound (mount -uw means remount while making writable and the command is obviously loaded in RAM before it starts acting), but apart from not being a secure erasing tool (at least with the supplied command line) -- what if it fails? How would you repeat it? – Ryccardo Apr 27 '13 at 17:49

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