News Lenovo slammed for OS-locking BIOS block

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Gareth Halfacree, 22 Sep 2016.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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  2. Paradigm Shifter

    Paradigm Shifter de nihilo nihil fit

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    I love my (now aging) Yoga 2 Pro, but I don't really see how this is a surprise... Microsoft originally specified that SecureBoot could be turned off for Windows 8/8.1 machines; to my knowledge they removed that clause for Windows 10. As such, Lenovo are now free to do what they like with regards to SecureBoot toggles. If there is a clause about Win 10 Signature Edition saying SecureBoot has to be enabled... then it's game over.

    I can't say I'm a fan of Lenovo's practices in this regard (BIOS whitelists and such) and RAID on a single disk is just an excuse to cause people who want to tweak trouble, frankly. Laptops have always been a bit of a walled garden anyway... it's when mobo manufacturers start leaving the SecureBoot toggle out that the real trouble will start.

    That said, I'm running Windows 10 Pro and Linux Mint 18 (technically not supported with SecureBoot) with SecureBoot enabled with 3rd party drivers (nVidia for CUDA on a 980M) and "3rd party codecs and multimedia" also working 100%. Absolutely no problems at all. The only 'issue' is that every time I have a kernel update, it whines at me to turn off SecureBoot. I ignore it, kernel installs and system boots from new kernel perfectly. I don't know about Hibernate/Sleep because I literally never use them when in Linux.

    That said, I run a policy of isolation for Windows/Linux now. Windows (including bootloader) on one SSD; Linux (including GRUB) on another. GRUB looks for Windows bootloader, BIOS points to Linux SSD for boot... everyone's happy.
     
  3. yuusou

    yuusou Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully this can go to EU courts (sorry, UK) and be considered anti-competitive, forcing Lenovo to allow disabling of SecureBoot.
     
  4. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    It's not SecureBoot that's the problem (apologies if the article didn't make that sufficiently clear). The problem is that Lenovo has set the Intel storage chipset to RAID mode (on a single drive, which is ridiculous) and released a driver only for Windows 10. No other operating system supports this particular Intel storage chipset in RAID mode, but they all support it in AHCI mode. Trouble is, Lenovo's customised the BIOS so that you can't even see the setting to change the mode over. If you hack around and see the setting, it resets to RAID when you leave the BIOS. It even resets back to RAID if you try changing it directly in the EFI shell. The only way someone's been able to get the chipset to run in AHCI mode (and, in doing so, prove that it's an artificial rather than technical restriction, because Linux then installed just fine and dandy) is by wiring an external SPI flasher to the BIOS chip and modifying the BIOS to ignore the "ignore this setting" instructions Lenovo put in.
     
  5. jrs77

    jrs77 theorycrafting

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    Makes me ashamed to own a Thinkpad.
     
  6. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    From what I've read part of the blame lies with Microsoft and part with Lenovo, apparently Microsoft's NVME driver is awful when it come to power management (no surprise there i guess), that in turn forced Lenovo to run it in RAID mode so it would use the Intel driver.

    At least that's what this blog post seems to suggest.

    Ninja edit: Oh and i guess part lies with Intel for not supporting Linux properly.
     
  7. Anfield

    Anfield Well-Known Member

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    I'm inclined to agree,

    It would be Intels job to make sure their controller works with Linux regardless of the selected mode.

    That doesn't leave Lenovo blame free however as I can't see how they would justify locking down basic bios options.

    (and if Microsoft told them to, they should have told Microsoft to get lost and pre install Linux).
     
  8. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah, I saw Matthew's post - but that only (potentially, given he's just guessing) explains why Lenovo defaults the setting to RAID despite there being only a single drive, not why it goes to great lengths to prevent someone from changing it to AHCI. Also, Lenovo's in charge of the operating system image; they could very easily load any driver they want into Windows, there's no reason it would have to run the default driver from Microsoft. Hell, they have to do that anyway in RAID mode...
     
  9. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    Like everyone I'm only making semi-educated guesses ATM but the only reason i can think of for Lenovo wanting to lock-down the BIOS is to prevent future problems/support calls, locking it down to only using RAID rules out any chance of it using the Microsoft driver and all the problems that would come from that.
     
  10. rollo

    rollo Well-Known Member

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    Reminds me why I don't buy pre built machines.

    Intel can fully support who they want, that's like blaming nvidia for Apple OSX driver support been rubbish.

    How is it anti competitive ? Lenova sells the device as a windows 10 Laptop. No where in there advertisements do they suggest otherwise.

    Doesn't stop the likes of Dell making something similar and offering a Linux version or Lenova themselves doing that.

    Seems like a lot of fuss for very little.
     
  11. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    I get the impression it's more to do with Intel's announcement a few months back about new generation processors only being fully supported on Windows 10, i.e without Intel drivers on Windows 10 you won't get the full benefit of some features.

    It seems Lenovo took that a step further and have attempted to prevented anyone from running anything but Intel's Windows 10 driver.
     
    Last edited: 22 Sep 2016
  12. schmidtbag

    schmidtbag New Member

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    Ugh well isn't that just great... Lenovo was one of the few brands I felt I could trust. I guess this doesn't surprise me though, seeing as my current (and probably last) laptop from them was one of the worst pieces of computer hardware I have bought.

    Lenovo has really gone down-hill, and at this point I'm not sure who I can trust anymore.
     
  13. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    I had considered getting an x1 carbon from them since it is red hat certified hardware but reconsidered after seeing compatability issues being reported. I'm glad I did too, they are a scummy company. The straight up lying in their PR response is just further evidence of a long list of under handed things they do.
     
  14. Anfield

    Anfield Well-Known Member

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    Intel can choose to not release drivers for Linux, but we can only attribute that decision to Intel, not to Lenovo.
     
  15. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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    95% of this article and comments are total BS.

    Not only that, but even if it was "BIOS locked" which it isn't. So? Did they sell it to you as Linux compatible?
     
  16. schmidtbag

    schmidtbag New Member

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    You're missing the point... 99% of computers aren't marketed as "Linux compatible", but, they aren't designed specifically to prevent you from installing it. A PC as we know it is nothing more than just a specialized collection of components to fulfill a purpose. In most PCs, every single component is Linux compatible, whether the manufacturer intended it to be that way or not. So even though these Lenovo products are fully compatible, they lied and stated otherwise.

    You should not have to modify and replace a BIOS to do something that should have been readily available to you from the beginning, especially considering doing so may void your warranty, and that is not justifiable. As far as I'm aware, users cannot be legally restricted from doing whatever they want to their hardware. Though Lenovo allows you to replace the BIOS, they're still distributing a product with the intention of limiting users to strictly Windows 10.
     
  17. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    Perhaps you'd like to be more specific, especially when being so contemptuous.

    I could be wrong but aren't they selling x86/x64 compatible devices?
     
  18. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    Neither is this laptop.

    The sole reason why Linux will not install on this laptop at the moment is there is no Linux RAID driver for the particular Intel controller used. That is the only blocking issue. Once Intel releases a Linux driver (or someone else writes one, I'm not familiar with which is more common in the Linux world) Linux will install on this laptop just fine.

    Microsoft has absolutely positively nothing to do with this issue. They have not made any demands to Lenovo to set up their laptop this way (as evidenced by all the other machines with Windows 10 released as 'signature editions' that can have Linux installed on them just fine). Nor is it their choice as to what drivers Intel release: that decision is up to Intel. The only thing insinuating their involvement is a comment by a "Lenovo product expert" on a Best Buy comment thread. Which is like getting your information on Apple's 3rd party device licensing policies from some guy on the Apple stand at PC World.

    The lack of even the most basic fact-checking of this story as it's made the rounds is embarrassing.
    The only lesson to be drawn from this debacle is: "If you hire lowest-cost outsourced moronic tech support they will make up any nonsense about your product to get someone off their back. This will reflect poorly on you"
     
  19. schmidtbag

    schmidtbag New Member

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    Right.... then mind explaining the Reddit post then? Also as far as I'm aware, there are no RAID controllers made by Intel that are explicitly incompatible with Linux (or FreeBSD for that matter). It is well within Lenovo's power to supply their own modified RAID controller. In fact, I find that pretty likely - my Gigabyte motherboard has 2 separate RAID controllers, one of them is a jmicron that is tweaked by Gigabyte.

    Bold statement, for a hypocrite. Find us a source that proves:
    * The RAID controller is made by Intel and is not tampered with
    * MS has nothing to do with this issue, when according to other sources disagree:
    https://fossbytes.com/microsoft-doesnt-want-you-to-install-linux-on-its-signature-pcs/


    If you're going to act like you know all and that people's facts are wrong, you need to supply your own sources.
     
    Last edited: 22 Sep 2016
  20. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    That's doesn't seem correct, if it wasn't for Microsoft insisting on setting a default of forcing people to update drivers only from Microsoft there wouldn't have been a need for Lenovo to force the BIOS into a state that prevented Microsoft drivers from being used.

    EDIT:
    I'm not sure it's a matter of being explicitly incompatible, it's a matter of degraded performance, possible power management issues, and lack of features.
     
    Last edited: 23 Sep 2016

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