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Which utility is Android-x86 using for partitions? Is it gdisk? The prompt is to use GPT. What are the risks with regards to formatting a disk with this tool, and installing Android-x86? Under which circumstances can this result in bricking a laptop? Deleting partitions will result in bricking the laptop??

GPT seems to operate a bit differently from the last time I formatted a HD by hand, which involved the MBR. (There's no data on the hdd.)

The official documentation glosses over the install process with sentences like "if you are lucky" so it's a bit unclear.

  • What do you mean with bricking a laptop? – Death Mask Salesman Jun 3 '16 at 7:15
  • @DeathMaskSalesman I have no idea, but was warned that deleting partitions might have this result..? I thought that only applied to phones/tablets, but, on consideration, sure, why not -- they're all computers. I would have to read more about what constitutes "bricking" to even know. – Thufir Jun 3 '16 at 7:59
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    Well, surely messing with partitions may have unforeseen results, but the "hard brick", in which a mobile device becomes unusable since you damage its bootloader, won't happen on a computer, stricto sensus. This is because, in PCs and laptops, the one we may identify as hard brick only happens if you mess with the old BIOS (or new UEFI) by, for example, updating it. This component is separated from the main hard disk or SSD, and is contained within a ROM (Read-Only Memory) or EEPROM (which can be updated). Given that, the worst thing that may happen, is you having to reinstall just Android. – Death Mask Salesman Jun 3 '16 at 8:08
  • @DeathMaskSalesman It sounds like you have all the information necessary to write a good answer to this question. I can guarantee you an upvote :-) – Dan Hulme Jun 3 '16 at 8:43
  • @DanHulme Thank you very much. I'll set it up now. – Death Mask Salesman Jun 3 '16 at 8:46
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We all know that the matter concerning bricking a device is complex and often confusing, so let's make some clearance.

Meaning of bricking

Bricking, if considered literally, means "to have a device so unusable it could be a brick". This, on mobile devices, is an umbrella term for two different things:

  • soft brick: as a result of flashing or alternatively installing incompatible software, your device gets messed up. This can produce behaviours such as bootloops, but can generally be solved by flashing a new firmware, or restoring a working Nandroid backup (if any);

  • hard brick: this is the "bad" kind of brick. You messed up a component known as the bootloader, and now the device doesn't even know how to turn itself on.

Since all of the partitions on a mobile device are contained within the same physical medium (internal storage), in this case messing up with its partitions can lead to hard bricks.

On PCs and laptops

Those devices are physically different from mobile ones... yes, even inside. Their core software component, which does a job similar to the mobile bootloader, is called the BIOS (on old devices), or the UEFI (on newer devices).

This is what sends the signal that pings all of the hardware connected with a computer, and therefore the most important part. As such, it's contained within a small memory that's entirely dedicated to it. This memory was previously called ROM (Read-Only Memory), even if we now have EEPROMs (Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM). As you may guess, the only way to make a computer totally unusable would be to overwrite the content of this chip, for example when updating the BIOS.


So, can I brick my computer by altering the partition table?

No, you can't. All of your changes only affect the Hard Disk or Solid State Disk in question, so they may mess up your current operating system, but that's nothing that can't be fixed by simply reinstalling it.

  • Unless he uses a flash tool like SP flash tool or Odin, which are capable of flashing everything, even the bootloader.. – Gokul NC Jun 3 '16 at 12:31

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