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BIOS-Approved PCI Cards For Laptops 482

Posted by timothy
from the to-benefit-the-consumer dept.
derek_farn writes "First there were printers that would would only work with vendor annointed ink cartridges; now we have laptops that will only boot with vendor annointed PCI cards. Keeping a list of approved PCI cards in the bios is one way of ensuring that customers renew their maintenance contracts. How else are they going to be able to plug in a PCI card released after the last BIOS update?" My HP laptop is several years old; can anyone confirm this?
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BIOS-Approved PCI Cards For Laptops

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  • Confirm? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sczimme (603413) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:05PM (#11737901)

    My HP laptop is several years old; can anyone confirm this?

    How should we know? It's your laptop.

    :-)
  • by fred911 (83970) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:06PM (#11737907)
    "My HP laptop is several years old; can anyone confirm this"

    I'd need the serial number to confirm the age.. but we'll take your word for it.

    You have now confirmed that your laptop is 7 years old.
  • by explorer (42481) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:06PM (#11737909)
    My older Thinkpad T40p has a whitelist, too. Luckily the Cisco 350 mini-PCI card I needed to connect to the corporate wireless LAN is on the whitelist. IBM actually sells the Cisco card with an IBM part number.

    But forget trying to buy a random 802.11 a/b/g card and plug it in.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:14PM (#11737992)
      From what I've read this is because the FCC approval for the wireless is the combination of the card and the antenna (which is built into the screen). Obviously it's not really in IBM's (or any other manufacturer) interest to test every possible wireless card with their kit. They probably lock them to keep the FCC happy.
      • by Fluffy the Cat (29157) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:54PM (#11738312) Homepage
        The FCC regulations don't actually require what IBM does - the closest is a requirement that you not be able to use unauthorised antennae with an authorised card, which is the direct opposite of IBM's solution. The amount of the planet over which the FCC have jurisdiction is also fairly small compared to the size of IBM's market...
    • This is common of many newer IBM laptops. They will not boot with a mini-pci card other than the Cisco 350 series or Intel installed.

      It seems like a dirty trick, but I can understand why IBM would do such a thing. Think of it as certified hardware. IBM doesn't want to answer support calls asking "how do I set up a kwang-dong-fu mini-pci a/b/g card I picked up in china?"
      • by the way, mine is an A31. AFIK, the A, T, R, and X series are all the same in this respect. The only wireless cards that will work are the Cisco and Intel cards.

        I have no idea if this applies to non-wifi cards.
      • by Moofie (22272) <lee AT ringofsaturn DOT com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:20PM (#11738053) Homepage
        Seems to me that if they don't want their computer to be compatible with PCI cards, they shouldn't advertise it as being compatible with PCI cards.

        But maybe I'm crazy.
        • Seems to me that if they don't want their computer to be compatible with PCI cards, they shouldn't advertise it as being compatible with PCI cards.

          These aren't PCI cards, they're mini-PCI--tiny little cards you have to open the case to replace. They're not that hard for a user to replace, but still I doubt this is a bullet point in the laptop advertisement in the way compatibility with PCI cards would be.

          --Bruce Fields

        • The last time I bought a laptop, none advertised that they were compatible with Mini-PCI cards. They all had the option of including factory installed Mini-PCI card, but none made any claim that it worked with anything other than the card that came with the system.

          I've very suprised that companies have begun to advertise otherwise, especially if they're required by the FCC to lock out untested wireless networking cards.
    • by VargrX (104404) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:16PM (#11738008) Journal
      Hate to argue this, but, no. I've got a T40p, and an R40, and have plugged in all sort's of card/mini-pci based device's into them, and have not had any issue's beyond finding proper driver's for the OS that I'm using at the moment
    • by h2odragon (6908) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#11738166) Homepage
      There's an easy enough workaround [sladen.org] for that.
    • by Zone-MR (631588) * <[slashdot] [at] [zone-mr.net]> on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:48PM (#11738260) Homepage
      Yes - this has pissed me off. I bought a 802.11b/g combo card to replace the 802.11b card in my Thinkpad T41. Little did I know that the laptop BIOS is deliberatly crippled, and refuses to boot with minipci network cards which aren't approved by IBM (often exactly the same cards, made by exactly the same manufacturers, but have a different hardware ID - a privelage you are supposed to pay 2x the price for).

      After a bit of research I managed to patch my BIOS to get around the problem - at least till I apply a BIOS update in the future.

      If I had know of this beforehand, I would have seriously considered a different laptop. The problem is there are no warnings, and the specs claim the laptop has a miniPCI slot - which would make one assume it is compatible with any card which follows the miniPCI standard.
  • Question~ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tektek (829733)
    Is this just Compaq/HP? If so, just don't buy from them?
    • Don't buy their crap anyways... I've never seen an HP/compaq that wasn't 1/2 the speed it should have been for it's specs. Dude... get a Dell, IBM, or Toshiba (or Sony if you like to burn money).
  • Yes, by all means (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HarryCaul (25943) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:07PM (#11737917)
    Please work to undermine the Great Strength of the PC market, the open architecture.

    Brilliant move.

    They should find everyoen who supported this decision and make sure they never work in any decision-making capacity anywhere again.
    • Well according to the article, all you have to do is:

      1. Hack the Bios
      2. ???
      3. Profit!!!
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      More likely they were all promoted and got free shares of stock.
    • supported white-lists? Isn't that reverse-racisim?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:07PM (#11737918)
    We can keep our own list of venders who do this... ..and don't buy from them.
  • by BJH (11355)
    IBM has been doing this in Thinkpads for a while (starting with the T40, I think) - mini-PCI wireless cards are whitelisted, and the PC will refuse to work with anything other than pure, 100% IBM parts.

    If you don't like it, don't buy it...
    • If you don't like it, don't buy it...

      I'm sure IBM went out of their way to say "Hey! You can only use what we say in this computer!" to everyone who bought it so that customers could make this informed decision.

      Surely they did this, right?
  • IBM too (Score:3, Informative)

    by ignavusincognitus (750099) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:09PM (#11737929)
    This is nothing new. Linux-lovin' IBM is known to do this as well [iu.edu],
  • Workaround (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:09PM (#11737933)
    # You need an uncompressed copy of the BIOS. The easiest way to obtain this is probably to use phlash16 under DOS with the /BU option. This will write out an uncompressed copy as BIOS.BAK.
    # Find out the PCI vendor, device and subsystem IDs of your card. In Linux, doing lspci -v will tell you this.
    # Open the BIOS file in a hex editor. Find the BCPUSB header (there's an index near the start of the file that contains references to lots of BCP stuff. Ignore the one that appears here). Shortly after this is a set of PCI IDs, split up with 0s. The file is in little endian format, so the first byte in the file is the second byte of the ID. For instance, an IBM Pro/Wireless 2100 is 8086:1043 with a subsystem id of 8086:2551. This will appear as 8680431086805125. Make the modifications to suit your card.
    # Find the string EXTD. The 4 bytes after that are an additive checksum. When all the 4 byte blocks in the file are added up, they must equal 0. Change the checksum as appropriate. At some point I'll probably get round to writing a tool to do this.
    # Reflash your BIOS. Make sure that you use the /CS option to phlash16 in order to check the checksum.
    # If it's worked, your card should now work. If it hasn't, your laptop is probably dead.
  • by kb (43460) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:09PM (#11737934) Homepage Journal
    I can at least confirm that changing the WLAN card in my Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop (because Dell's TrueMobile stuff definitely sucks a donkey's primary sexual organ) wasn't any problem at all. But Dells are known to be pretty user-maintainable anyway ;)
  • by n6mod (17734) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:10PM (#11737941) Homepage
    I have an old NetServer LPr that I use as a Debian server. It's built like a tank, and has been fairly reliable, save for one issue:

    Since I got it (used), it always printed a warning that non-HP DIMMs were detected, and HP's on-site warranty didn't cover problems caused by non-HP memory.

    Then two of the DIMMs failed, so I popped the lid.

    You guessed it. HP memory.

    At least the motherboard was kind enough to turn on a flashing light next to the bad DIMMS. (Seriously)
  • I remember back in high school, trying to get a new store-bought non-HP external USB cd burner, and an internal one too, to work on an HP Presario. Damn thing refused to even boot when they were plugged in, but booted happily along the minute you unplugged them. Assholes.
  • by radiojock (542397) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:10PM (#11737944)
    Many people who run corp laptops have found out that aleast since the T30, IBM laptops will not boot with a non IBM card, Well, if you have the utility you can put any mini-PCI card in there.... They make alot of money with there cards, so you can understand why they would do this.. What I don't hear about is apple and there slots not taking anything but "AIRPORT" cards? why is nobody bitching about that?
    • When one of my friends comes over to visit, I've given her a Netgear MA-401 to run on her Powerbook G4. No troubles there. The only issue I've had is with drivers not being available to run the card. I solved this with a third party driver package. Linux has also had issues running certain wireless cards properly without drivers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#11738014)
      ...because apple does not market it as a miniPCI slot, but rather an AirPort card slot. It doesn't claim to be something that it's not - a place to plug in whatever you feel like plugging in. It's there just for the AirPort card, and nothing more.
    • by Politburo (640618) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#11738039)
      What I don't hear about is apple and there slots not taking anything but "AIRPORT" cards? why is nobody bitching about that?

      I think this is simply because we don't expect openness with Apple. Their hardware is generally proprietary, while PC hardware is not.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:21PM (#11738057)
      What I don't hear about is apple and there slots not taking anything but "AIRPORT" cards? why is nobody bitching about that?
      Because Airport is completely proprietary. I don't expect to be able to put a 3rd-party card in my iBook's airport slot because there are no 3rd-party cards that would fit. On the other hand, if IBM or anyone else advertises that their laptop has a [standard] mini-PCI slot, then it damn well better actually be a mini-PCI slot! And it should work with any [standard] mini-PCI card.

      (note: this is not Apple fanboyism -- I don't complain about the proprietary slot on the lid of of my Compaq laptop either.)
      • As others have posted, there is nothing proprietary about that slot. The original Airport slot was a standard PCMCIA slot, with a connector for the antenna. Airport was just a rebadged Orinoco. Airport Extreme is just a MiniPCI slot using a rebadged card (maker unknown). Apple doesn't tell you it's MiniPCI for just this reason - they aren't supporting anything else in that slot.
    • Apple calls their slot an "Airport Express slot" and they call their wirless card an "Airport Express card". They've never promised that it could do anything else.
  • This guy is amazing: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Saint Aardvark (159009) * on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:10PM (#11737948) Homepage Journal
    http://www.paul.sladen.org/thinkpad-r31/wifi-card- pci-ids.html [sladen.org]

    I came across his site a while back, and holy crap if he isn't hacking his BIOS to get around these limitations. (His page is linked to if you follow a link from TFA, but I figured he deserves more prominence here.)

    Interestingly, this is the same IBM (and HP, for that matter) that we have come to know and love for their help with Linux. I realize they're a big company, full of lawyers and patents and left hands unaware of what the right hand's doing, but I'm still really surprised I haven't heard about this before.

    Anyone know of a blacklist of this sort of shenanigans? I'm the sysadmin where I work, and it'd be great to know what to stay away from -- and to explain to these companies why they've lost our business.

  • by TimmyDee (713324) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:11PM (#11737964) Homepage Journal
    It's too bad TFA doesn't say what kind of mini-PCI card. He probably bought some generic made-in-god-knows-where card from JustDeals or somewhere like that. Now, I'm an opponent of the direction "Trusted Computing" is going, but in this case there's something to be said for a manufacturer locking out shitty peripherals so they don't kill your system. It saves them one more support headache. Apple does the same thing. Sure, lot's of us Mac-heads bitch about it (myself included sometimes), but at the end of the day we can always brag about how plug-and-play Macs are. It looks as though PC manufacturers are following in footsteps of Apple again.
    • by magarity (164372) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#11738169)
      He probably bought some generic made-in-god-knows-where card

      Look, *all* the PC cards are made in the same giant sized factory called "Taiwan". I ran into a problem with an HP Netserver that HP blamed on my Crucial branded memory by saying only HP branded memory was good enough. Of course the solution ended up not involving the memory. Heck, HP doesn't own a memory fab; they just slap their sticker on whatever they get the best bulk rates on. In the article about the mini-PCI card, HP has no legitimate way to claim only thier PCI cards have to be used or the dang thing won't even boot. It's one thing to say 'we don't support it because you installed a third party peice' and it's completely different to actively prevent even trying.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:12PM (#11737965)
    Capitalism provides a simple solution to this problem.

    Track down the person that made such an non-upgradable notebook and kill them in their sleep.

    Actually, maybe that's not the capitalistic way of solving it but it's likely more satisfying.
  • by whereizben (702407) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:13PM (#11737981) Journal
    Which is what the blogger is referring to. Those cards, if I am not mistaken, are the kind of "built-in" cards that you can install, typically under the keyboard, but that you don't remove and re-install all the time. I think you are thinking of PCMCIA cards that you take in and out all the time. And in response to what the blogger is posting, he could remove the MiniPCI card and it would boot fine, and then revert his BIOS back to his old version (unless for some reason it had some VERY critical fix) and then put his card back in and simply not do the BIOS updates unless he really, really has to. But so basically, you don't have to worry at all, me thinks :)
  • by VargrX (104404) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:13PM (#11737983) Journal
    From TFA:
    I bought a Compaq/HP nx9110 a year ago, and recently upgraded my Mini-PCI Wireless card from non-OSS friendly Broadcom 11b to an 11g card. It's an HP Laptop. According to their marketing, I shouldn't have had to buy non-HP parts to be linux compatible.


    The HP BIOS for most models of laptop now have a whitelist of allowed Mini-PCI cards that can be installed in the laptop. If your new WiFi card isn't on the (very small) list of allowed cards for that specific model of laptop, then your laptop won't boot.


    Good reason not to purchase ANY HP/Compaq product from the Carly era, isn't it. Tough break there, but when you purchase something that's supposedly 'commodity', and then realize that it has a very, very short list of 'accepted' expansion options, you've done this to yourself.

    Personally, I'm a big IBM Thinkpad fan, plug in all type's of card's into them, and as long as I have driver support, I have no issues, be it XP, Linux, or any of the BSD's (of course, this changes with what hdd I plug in the laptop at the time).
    • Funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeLinux (555387) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:23PM (#11738077)
      Your post is hilarious because IBM has been known to be doing this for some time now. You ahve been fortunate to only use IBM whitelisted products so far.

      In fact your post reminds me of an incident I experienced a few years ago. I was approached and reprimanded by a WWII veteran for driving a "Jap car". At the time I was driving an Isuzu. After the man was finished reprimanding me, he jumped into his Chevrolet and drove away. I burst out laughing because the particular model of Chevrolet that he was driving was actually a re-branded Isuzu.
      • Re:Funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by flossie (135232)
        I once had a US-built car (a Jeep Cherokee). Never, ever, again! European or Asian, I don't care, but never again a US car. The notion of build quality just doesn't seem to apply to them.
    • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @03:51AM (#11742708) Homepage
      Personally, I'm a big IBM Thinkpad fan

      Bastard. Are you aware that all Thinkpads have Trusted Computing lockdown chips inside???

      Sure it's not causing any problems yet, but every Trusted Compliant system someone buys gives them that much more market share towards the point where they will be able to start utilizing that Trusted chip lockdown system. Sure the "unapproved expansion card" problem in the story can currently be overcome by reflashing your BIOS, but if any "security" software does make use of the Trust chip then you'll find yourself locked out of your own files if you attempt this fix. The Trust chip is designed to authenticate that the BIOS (and everything else) has not been "tampered with". As the Trusted-compliant market share increases you'll start seeing software start to use this chip. The software won't run at all on a computer without this chip, and it will only run on a computer with this chip when it's in "lockdown mode".

      If anyone wants to avoid buying Trusted compliant computers here's a very incomplete list of such systems:
      ANYTHING made by Samsung. They have announced all new computers they make will be Trusted compliant.
      Motherboards: Infineon D865GRH D865GRHLK Infineon D915GUX Infineon D915GEV Infineon D925XCV
      IBM - ThinkCenter, ThinkVantage and Netvista desktops, Thinkpad laptops
      HP - dc7100 and D530 Desktops
      HP/Compaq - nc6000,nc8000,nw8000, nc4010 notebooks (all models)
      HP - iPAQ hx2750 Pocket PC
      Acer - Veriton 3600GT/7600GT ?5600GT?
      Toshiba - Tecra M2 Series
      Fujitsu - Lifebook S7010 and LifeBook E8000 series
      Fujitsu - T4000 Tablet PCs
      Fujitsu - FMV-DeskPower C90GW/C desktop PC and FMV-Biblo MG70G/ST notebook
      Bestbyte Computers - EXPERT PC 2 System
      Link Computers - Ultra P4T-2800
      Neatware - Digital Media Platform
      Link Computers - Ultra P4T/PCX PC

      -
  • Linuxbios? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moderators_are_w*nke (571920) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:14PM (#11737993) Journal
    Wasn't there a project a while back to produce a GPLed BIOS for booting Linux? Not sure how much success you'd have with a laptop, but might be worth a go? I'm sure another /.er will put me right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#11738017)
    Intel Technology Journal: [intel.com]
    The PCI Express Mini Card specifically targets addressing system manufacturers' needs for build-to-order (BTO) and configure-to-order (CTO) applications rather than providing a general end-user-replaceable module. This form factor has characteristics more typical of an "embedded" application including the platform integration of the media interfaces such as communications connectors or wireless antennas.
    Cisco MPI350 FAQ: [cisco.com]
    The Cisco MPI350 cannot be sold as an aftermarket adapter because ... Regulatory certification is based on the MPI350 being coupled with a particular antenna. Although modular regulatory approvals are available, they only apply to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), who is responsible for embedding similar antennas in different devices. Modular regulatory approval does not eliminate the restriction on aftermarket sales since the end user might embed the adapter in devices with unapproved antennas.
    Basically, these companies are using FCC regulations as an excuse for limiting Mini-PCI cards (not just on these particular laptop models, but all Mini-PCI cards in general) to OEM installation only.
  • Linksys knows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by way2trivial (601132)
    Linksys does "mac address cloning" for ISP's that don't allow routers.

    Can anyone make the connection?
  • This will lead to... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mister Transistor (259842) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:19PM (#11738041) Journal
    This will only cause a proliferation of web-based collections of hacked BIOS'es, just like rpc1.org is now for DVD player firmwares. All the nasties hacked out for your convenience.

    For all of you about to say: "Well, that's against the DMCA...", true, but that hasn't stopped the widespread distribution of region-free hacked DVD firmware has it?

    Flash - gotta love it!
  • by Exluddite (851324) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:22PM (#11738072)
    I remember finding out after I bought my viewmaster that my stereoscope cards weren't compatible.

    Bastards!

  • by SupremeChalupa (547765) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:27PM (#11738094)
    Like the CD-ROM protection schemes that made the discs nonstandard, are these laptops far enough from the device standard that they could be forbidden from using the mini-PCI brand/logo/classification?
  • by http101 (522275) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:29PM (#11738107) Homepage
    If Carly were still in office, she'd probably find a way to convince you that your printer is out of ink and you need to buy refills!

    Aside from that, if this under-handed marketting strategy is going to keep us from running servers/workstations, what's next - BMWs whose engines suddenly stop working because there's a Fram oil filter installed? What if I decide to use a generic dollar-store bulb in my socket instead of the "approved" Philips bulb? Based on this theory, can you imagine what would happen if I were to eat a bag of knock-off raisin bran?

    It sounds to me that this is just a marketting gimick to screw customers over and force them to buy what the manufacturer wants you to buy. God forbid I should find a better alternative to what the manufacturer wants me to buy.
  • by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:41PM (#11738199)
    Look, guys, Mini-PCI is not meant to be a route for user extensibility; it was meant to be a mechanism for the vendor to add individual cards to a standard motherboard. If you want to configure a high-speed a/b/g device, go through your USB ports.

    • by CdBee (742846)
      However if you only have USB 1.1 (12mpbs) and Mini-PCI, an 802.11G (54mpbs) USB device is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

      I take an interest as one of my machines is a 2000-built designer PC (AST Century City) which only has mini-PCI and USB 1.1... hoping Intel BIOS from the time doesnt have whitelisting!
  • by avidday (671814) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:47PM (#11738254)
    FCC certification is issued for the transmitter + antenna as a single unit. In the case of a Cardbus or conventional PCI wireless card, this is not a problem because the antenna is on the card. In a laptop with an internal mini PCI card the antenna is not on the card so the FCC certification is issued only for the manufacturers recommended wireless cards installed in the laptop with a chassis antenna. They include the white list in the BIOS to ensure that their FCC certification is not invalided by connecting an untested card to their chassis antenna.

    It sucks badly, but the current FCC rules are as much ti blame as the manufacturers are.

  • by hymie3 (187934) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:00PM (#11738375)
    My HP laptop is several years old; can anyone confirm this?

    Yeah, Timothy. I was there with you when you bought your laptop. It was around the same time that I got my iPod. It was a first generation, so, yeah, your laptop is definitely a few years old.

    You're welcome. =)
  • x1000 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by exnuke (734919) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:13PM (#11738539) Homepage

    It happened to me when I upgraded from an intel 2100 wireless card to an intel 2200 wireless pci card in an eight month old Compaq X1000 laptop. Rolling back to an older bios "fixed" the problem.

    More info here: http://www.x1000forums.com/index.php?showtopic=573 9 [x1000forums.com]

    Today's lesson: Don't buy Compaq.

  • by kubla2000 (218039) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:28PM (#11738682) Homepage

    The author writes:

    "Oh, the horror. I bought a Compaq/HP nx9110 a year ago, and recently upgraded my Mini-PCI Wireless card from non-OSS friendly Broadcom 11b to an 11g card."

    But Broadcom have clearly GPL'd their drivers:

    http://www.broadcom.com/drivers/driver-sla.php?d ri ver=570x-Linux

    The bios-level white list is an issue but that seems an undeserved cheap-shot against Broadcom.
    • But Broadcom have clearly GPL'd their drivers:

      Their ethernet drivers, but not their wireless drivers.

      Fortunately, Linuxant has made their wrapper driver [linuxant.com] 64-bit compatible, so those of us with HP/Compaq notebooks running 64-bit Linux can use wireless, even though we have to jump through hoops to do so. (I've yet to get around to buying and setting up the driver personally.)

      I found out about the whitelist the hard way. Bought an expensive Atheros card, swapped it in, got the BIOS error message, got all
  • by Karma Farmer (595141) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:56PM (#11738909)
    Your Mini-PCI slot was never intended to be user upgradeable. Frankly, I always assumed they wouldn't be compatible between laptop vendors, models, or nescessarily even between two laptops of the same model that came off the assembly line on different days.

    If you want to upgrade to a better wireless connection, use a PMCIA card.
  • by SalesEngineer (640818) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:18PM (#11739095)
    Unlike a regular PCI add-in card, the miniPCI WiFi card(s) in question doesn't contain a PCI option ROM. Like VGA, SCSI or RAID cards, this option ROM configures the device before the OS loads.

    Since the option ROM isn't on the device, the ROM is stored in the system BIOS. When PCI option ROMs are stored in the BIOS, they are associated with the device's PCI "vendor ID" and "device ID". The "hack" described in an earlier post tells the BIOS to look for a different vendor/device ID (which hopefully is compatible with the embedded option ROM).

    Some network adapters require the option ROM for the OS drivers to work, and network booting requires the option ROM so the BIOS can use UNDI/PXE.

    This is a support problem from the notebook manufacturer. They only tested a few adapters, and only have room in the BIOS for one network option ROM. This has nothing to do with "trusted computing" or weird conspiracy theories. If the integrated card can't be upgraded, then USB or PCMCIA devices should be an option.
  • by thelizman (304517) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `kcattaremmah'> on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:36PM (#11739704) Homepage
    Under 15 USC 50 2304 (Magnussen Moss Act [cornell.edu]), HP has violated the terms of your warranty by disallowing you from using compatible hardware. When you purchased the laptop, one of the stated features was a PCMCIA slot - theimplied warranty is that it was interoperable with aftermarket componants which conformed to the PCMCIA standard.

    In short, you have the makings of a class action lawsuit on your hands. Get the to a slimy lawyer. They'll be in the phone book under "D" for democrat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:12PM (#11739953)
    I think alot of the confusion on this thread is stemming from the difference between mini-PCI and PCI and Cardbus (PC Card).

    To be very technical about it, PCI is the protocol, electical and logical that runs between on-board chips and plug-in cards. Mini-PCI, Cardbus and the most common flavor of edge connector PC plug-in card (called the "PCI expansion card" by the specification) all use PCI to communicate.

    In pupose and form factor, the three are very different.

    The PC plug-in card is used to provided user-accessible expansion capabilites to off-the-shelf PCs.

    Somewhat similiarly, Cardbus was intended as a laptop expansion slot for after-market upgrades. Again, user servicable.

    Mini-PCI was intended to allow laptop vendors to create an easy way to avoid the regulatory headache associated with getting UL (safety) testing done on every laptop with a modem. Modems are high-voltage devices.

    It turned out that mini-PCI was also useful for making other services (NICs and Wireless) easy to add to a base laptop design at build time rather than being designed directly onto the PCB. But this connection, was never meant to be user-servicable.

    In addition to the fact that there are no fewer than three specified and incompatible flavors of Mini-PCI, sometimes vendors even run non-standard signals through the mini-PCI connector, making them even more incompatible with each other (potentially hazardously so). All of this because they were never intended as user-servicable parts. If you want to expand your laptop, that's what PC Card is for.
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @02:59AM (#11742589) Homepage Journal
    Wednsday May 19, 2004 I tried to post the progenetor of this to slashdot and got rejected. In particular I bought a top-of-the-line wide-screen HP (7130 ?) laptop with Media Center et al. It kept blue-screening so after two complete re-installs of windows I went to the HP site and got the BIOS update.

    After installing the new bios the box complained that my the build-in wireless board was not kosher ("authorized" is, I beleive, the correct word) and that I would have to remove the wireless board if I wanted the laptop to boot.

    I elected not to play...

    I returned it to Frye's for a complete refund.

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