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BIOS-Approved PCI Cards For Laptops 482

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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  • by BJH ( 11355 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:09PM (#11737928)
    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...
  • IBM too (Score:3, Informative)

    by ignavusincognitus ( 750099 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:09PM (#11737929)
    This is nothing new. Linux-lovin' IBM is known to do this as well [],
  • Workaround (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:09PM (#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 @03:09PM (#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 ;)
  • This guy is amazing: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) * on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:10PM (#11737948) Homepage Journal pci-ids.html []

    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 Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:15PM (#11738001) Journal
    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 Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:15PM (#11738002) Homepage
    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.
  • The credit goes to: (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_mighty_$ ( 726261 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:16PM (#11738012)
    Matthew Garrett []
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:28PM (#11738104) Journal
    Wasn't the Mac one of the first to do exactly the same thing? Before they adopted PCI buses, they would only work if your peripheral card had a Apple-approved (or written) BIOS ROM on it physically! That, and proprietary closed standards is primarily how they prevented the clone industry from getting it's teeth into Mac-land, IIRC.

    I'm not sure about nowadays, whether they allow random PCI cards to be inserted, I haven't heard if they will refuse to boot if you try an unapproved one.
  • by h2odragon ( 6908 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:37PM (#11738166) Homepage
    There's an easy enough workaround [] for that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:37PM (#11738173)
    The problem the parent post is describing is about plugging in miniPCI wireless cards, not the Cardbus/PCMCIA-type cards that you are describing. As another reply mentioned, IBM is doing this out of concern for the FCC certification of their laptops. The miniPCI cards use the built in antenna behind the screen, whereas the CardBus devices have independant antennas (those devices have been run through FCC certification as well). The FCC is pretty touchy about radio products, and IBM is simply trying to assure that any wireless radio + antenna combination has been tested.
  • by kjkeefe ( 581605 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:44PM (#11738229)

    I tried removing the broadcom wireless card in my ZD 7168cl laptop because I didn't want to use ndiswrapper and have to deal with additional troubles. So, I wanted to install a more linux friendly card like the Intel Pro 2200. I installed the card and the system got to the initial BIOS splash screen and then came to a screeching halt. It complained that an unapproved Mini-PCI card was installed and that I must remove it and reboot.

    Naive me, I called HP to see if they had a special BIOS package to get around this.

    <sarcasm>I don't know, I guess I thought HP might want to accommodate their customers' needs... Silly me. </sarcasm>

    I talked to a know-nothing tech support guy for about five minutes before I realized that he was not going to be any help. So, I simply asked him to pass on a message to his superiors that a customer was very irritated by the lack of support for linux or even simple modification of one's own computer. In response, this guy tried to explain that since the system was packaged with Windoze XP Home, that it is only supposed to run XP home because HP signed a contract with Microsoft to package this system with Windoze. I patiently explained that I understood that this system was designed for Microsoft and that they came as a package and that although that was a mistake to begin with, I simply wanted HP to stop crippling my computer by blocking 3rd party devices in the BIOS. I again asked him to simply pass on that a customer is very unhappy with the 2 grand that he paid for a hardware-blocking computer. How would you feel if you bought a car and if you didn't fill it up at a Shell gas station, it wouldn't start. Oh well, hopefully by the time I buy a new computer, linux support will be more widespread. Go IBM go!

  • by avidday ( 671814 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @03:47PM (#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.

  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:2, Informative)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:04PM (#11738424) Homepage Journal
    Actually the Mac had it's own bus called the NuBus. The Amiga had it's own expansion bus called Zorro. It has been pretty common in the PC market to have a proprietary expansion bus even the PC market tried to go to more closed system. Anyone remember microchannel and EISA? Only when the PC escaped the grip of IBM did the idea of open spec expansion bus take off.
  • Re:Funny. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ritchie70 ( 860516 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#11738521) Journal
    I'm aware of Isuzu selling the S10 (Chevy compact pickup) as an Isuzu "pup" but not aware of Chevy selling an Isuzu. Suzuki and Toyota, sure, but not Isuzu.

    What model Chevy are YOU talking about?
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:5, Informative)

    by goMac2500 ( 741295 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:12PM (#11738529)
    Parent is confused. He means Mac OS would not boot on a motherboard unless the motherboard had a Mac BIOS on it. This kept cloners from making their own motherboards (this is no longer true, a Mac ROM is no longer needed to boot Mac OS X). NuBus, which came before PCI, was created by Texas Instruments. The reason cards required a Mac ROM was because you were using the card with a Mac. There was no BIOS, and a card had to communicate with the Mac differently. It had nothing to do with lockup, just differences between the PC and Mac architectures. Current PCI cards are still in the same position. Some PCI cards that don't rely on communicating with the PC's BIOS will work fine interchangeably, like TV cards. Other cards, like graphics cards, must have a special Mac ROM on them because of architecture differences between PC and Mac motherboards (like, again, no BIOS on Mac). In short, there was no Apple lockout on expansion cards, just architecture differences. The only time I can remember Apple being anti-expansion card was when Steve Jobs was in charge the first time. He handled expansion cards by just not including the slots. Developers had to sneak them in to final machines as "debug ports".
  • by Fluffy the Cat ( 29157 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:12PM (#11738531) Homepage
    I've disassembled the Thinkpad BIOS and read the code myself. It scans every PCI device and flags any that have a class id starting with "02" (which signifies communication devices). Each communication device is then compared against a whitelist of PCI vendors, device IDs and subvendor information. If it's not on that list, the system will print an "1802: Unauthorized network device detected" error and stop booting. At that point, all you can do is switch off the machine. It's easy enough to fix in the BIOS - thankfully, it's even easier to fix by setting a CMOS bit that disables the check.
  • Re:Funny. (Score:3, Informative)

    by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:12PM (#11738533)
    Isuzu is GM-linked, they work together to build Daewoos (1980s Vauxhall body put back into production with Isuzu running gear, sold as cheap cars in the UK and Europe)
  • by Luminary Crush ( 109477 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:13PM (#11738540)
    My IBM TPX31 has a BIOS lock at least for 802.11 a/b/g cards (mini-PCI). I picked up a Dell 2200 card which when installed would cause the laptop to be unable to boot. A freshly updated BIOS and chipset firmware did not help this situation. I then obtained the same model card (2200 a/b/g) but IBM-branded and it worked like a charm.

    The installation in an IBM laptop of a non-whitelist card is supposed to cause it to throw some error to the screen, but mine would just hang. There are some BIOS patches in the wild which is supposed to bypass this problem, but because I didn't get the error code I was hesitant to install the hack.

    Apparently there is a pin on the mini-PCI card which the IBM onboard firmware pushes high and allows the Thinkpad's BIOS to illuminate the little "wireless signal" light on the screen base. Installing the hack mentioned above will disable this feature.

    From what I understand from reading, the reason that certain cards are whitelisted is so that RF emmissions from the laptops meet FCC regulations. If that's not the reason, it's the justification I've read.

    Luckily, my girlfriend's R30 did not have the BIOS lock-out, so the Dell a/b/g card worked just fine in her machine.

    Now if I can just find a reasonably-priced BMDC card...
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by grocer ( 718489 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:14PM (#11738554)
    Depends: Airport/Airport Express slots only work with Apple supplied cards. Any PCMCIA card will work, provided there is a driver. PCI cards work in G3/G4/G5 Powermacs although the PowerPC architecture must have Mac specific bios for video cards...big-endian vs. little-endian being the problem there.
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:15PM (#11738566) Journal
    No, it's not flamebait, and I think you are the one that need to do the research. What do YOU call that 28-pin DIP EPROM on each and every older Mac (pre-PCI) peripheral card? It's the BIOS extensions that tell that machine how to use that particular hardware.

    Even if you had the closed, proprietary bus specs to design such a card the system wouldn't know shit from shinola about how to use it without that "Magic" BIOS ROM on the card. Maybe you call it something else, but that's what it is (was).
  • by kubla2000 ( 218039 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:28PM (#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: ri ver=570x-Linux

    The bios-level white list is an issue but that seems an undeserved cheap-shot against Broadcom.
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by myov ( 177946 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:29PM (#11738693)
    No. You're confusing a number of things.

    Apple had an entirely different bus (NuBus, along with variations like the CommSlot, Processor Direct, etc). You physically couldn't plug another device in.

    With the move to PCI, all that's required are drivers. Sometimes vendors create different firmware so the can charge an extra $50 for the "Mac version". I have a generic D-link network card in my G3, using Apple's 8139 driver. D-link used to have a driver for it, but it's no longer on their site.

    The only application I saw that required Mac ROM's were emmulators. These were legally Apple's property so they couldn't be distributed with the program itself.

    What created the IBM clones:
    Microsoft was willing to sell their OS to anyone who wanted it. The BIOS was reverse engineered by Compaq. The other parts were off the shelf. Mix the three, and IBM loses control of their machine. It's not that IBM allowed them, they just didn't have control of the parts to say no.

    What prevented Mac clones:
    Apple used a common processor (the 68K series, later PPC), but that's about it.
    - Apple owned the ROMS. If you wanted one, you needed to get it from them, and only them.The OS wouldn't run without it.
    (I thought someone made their own clones, and was shutdown because they didn't license the ROM).
    - Apple controlled the OS. Again, you had to get it from them. The roms could have been cloned, but without an OS there wasn't much point.

    About the only way to make a Mac clone was to find a used logic board and build around that.
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:2, Informative)

    by greed ( 112493 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:40PM (#11738785)
    So you needed a "declaration ROM" on a NuBus card. The same sort of thing is present in PCI as well; same with MCA and Zorro. In fact, non-PnP ISA is the only bus I can think of that DOESN'T have an on-card identity ROM of some sort. You didn't have to have drivers on the card; if you didn't, it couldn't be used until the system came up.

    But how hard was it to find out what goes in that ROM?

    A little Googling turns up NuBus is a Texas Instruments trademark of something based on an MIT design. NuBus is IEEE standard 1196; so getting data on it isn't going to be tough. (Though it probably won't be free.) A few hardware notes from Apple say, emphatically, that you had better follow the IEEE specs or you'll be in trouble on some models of Macintosh.

    Macintosh Toolbox ROM did not use a whitelist for NuBus cards based on their declaration ROM. Compliant cards were required to have that ROM so the bus could configure itself, and then the system could load suitable drivers. Again, to this day, PCI does the same thing--only it is integrated into the PCI bus controller on the card. Back in NuBus's day, integration wasn't as complete, so the NuBus controller on the card was in several chips; one of them a ROM.

  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:47PM (#11738851) Journal
    EISA wasn't proprietary. ISA stood for "Industry Standard Archetecture" and the E in EISA stood for "Extended."

    I was available for all manufacturers to use, and it enjoyed limited success in the server segments until PCI eventually took it over.

    EISA wasn't as flexible as PCI, the slots were huge, and it wasn't as fast.
  • by bfields ( 66644 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @04:56PM (#11738913) 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.

    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

  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:00PM (#11738949)
    But Broadcom have clearly GPL'd their drivers:

    Their ethernet drivers, but not their wireless drivers.

    Fortunately, Linuxant has made their wrapper driver [] 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 the way up to HP's top-tier technicians and they had no idea why that error was there. More research found the reason in the HP Hardware Guide: HP swears the FCC made them do it. Yeah, right, then why don't eMachines/Acer/Dell/etc pull stunts like this...

    Other than that glaring fault and their inexplicable choice of the antique GeForce 440 Go GPU, the zv5000z/R3000z series notebooks make great Linux machines and they're very easy to upgrade. See R3000 Forums [] for more info on the series.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by mp3phish ( 747341 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:15PM (#11739074)
    "They also helped drive the move to USB, popularized Firewire, added standard Ethernet on everything before any x86 vendors, and added a dedicated slot and antenna for wireless before anyone."

    They also helped drive ADC with 99$ DVI to ADC straight through adapters (all ADC is is DVI with a few pins extra for USB) When instead they could have just broke the cable out into 2 seperate connectors for a fraction of the cost, retail price, and for the sake of standards.

    This isn't the only time they drove the market into the end with proprietary connectors. Look at the DB15 monitors legacy mac's use. 15 pin but uses a different shape because they wanted to charge more. (even though it is perfectly compatible with HDDB15 VGA connectors)

    Lets not forget about their idiotic old style keyboard and mouse connectors...

    You forgot: Apple INVENTED Firewire! lol. of course they popularized it. (with that whole entire 5% of the personal computer market!)

    Your facts about the usb connectors standard are just plain wrong. Computers on windows were coming with multiple USB ports years before apple even considered putting it in there. They were too scared that firewire would fail if done so. You can add them to the list of "supported vendors" but you can't even start to talk about them pushing it into the mainstream. Intel had plenty of pull on their own for that.

    Not to mention that apple puts/has put in the past special firmware in their internal Optical drives to make sure nobody replaces it with a 3rd party one... and then won't let you use an external burner with iDVD... Nevermind that there isn't a hardware eject button for most of their drives...

    This isnt' to backup my previous post. Just to trash what you think is so awesome about apple in all their glory. Your right about one thing: Apple can do no wrong. No, they have too many fanboys to back them up.
  • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:17PM (#11739090)
    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.
  • by SalesEngineer ( 640818 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:18PM (#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.
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:21PM (#11739123) Journal
    Apple screwed several manufacturers with their clone program. They allowed companies to clone the machines, and Apple sold them the OS. When Apple realized that the clone makers were making more powerful, more upgradable, and cheaper computers then any of the Macintoshes, they stopped allowing MacOS to be installed on the clones. ...
    Who knows the real reason Apple stopped the clone market.

    The minor problem is that that just isn't true, though it is indeed the common folklore. It can file away with stealing the Lisa interface from PARC.

    Apple had a range of products, from the low to the high. THe high end had fatter margins, and is what paid for most of the R&D.

    The clone makers used apple designed motherboards (though I believe there was a single exception).

    The problem wasn't that the cloners were making faster machines than apple, but that they were paying a royalty based on the low end machines and undercutting Apple on the high end.

    Apple *did not* cancel the clone market. It demanded higher royalties for faster machines. The clone makers all refused, each and every one of them.

    It's really kind of hard to fault Apple for expecting the other machiens to share the costs of R&D . . . as it was, the relationship had become entirely one-sided (all costs & risk to apple, most profits to the cloners).

    But anyway, the short version is that Apple *did* allow cloning to continue, but none of the cloners wanted to pay their share of what it cost apple to make it possible.

  • by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:34PM (#11739239)
    Really? Gee, I'd better take the Crucial RAM out of my iBook, wouldn't want OSX to find out the dirty little secret that I'm a cheapskate.
  • by ThreeDayMonk ( 673466 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:35PM (#11739247) Homepage
    I'm writing this on a G4 PowerMac into which I have retrofitted a PC version of an ATI Radeon 7000 PCI card. (I just had it lying around. Really.)

    OS X recognised it as a VGA card. It wouldn't do anything useful with it, however, as OpenFirmware didn't know what to do with VGA. (It's understandable: if you aren't tied down to ancient PC standards, why would you want to be?) I stuck the card into a PC and flashed it with the Mac ROM image, obtained from a website, and it worked perfectly.

    I also have a generic USB 2.0 PCI card in there that didn't need special treatment.

    Like the immediate parent says, it's not a lockout, but certain architectural differences require things like the graphics cards to interact differently with the host system at boot time.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:41PM (#11739298) Homepage
    I have non-Apple RAM that works fine. Although I do remember that Mac firmware sometimes locks out RAM that is below spec.
  • by Fluffy the Cat ( 29157 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:00PM (#11739435) Homepage
    Here []
  • it's more like... (Score:2, Informative)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:05PM (#11739463) Homepage Journal
    ....if you car detected something trivial like a non OEM starter and refused to crank. The car comapnies lost that one bigtime in court, at least you have the option now of an aftermarket starter or alternator, etc that will still function in your car. They are trying to rebooger it back up with the "magical computer" noise, but there's some bills in congress now to get them to stop doing that as well, to open up all the code and specs to independent mechanics, the owner and to the after market manufacturers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:13PM (#11739508)
    Lest we forget:

    FCC Allows Mix-and-Match Wi-Fi Antennas []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:12PM (#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.
  • Re:Yes, by all means (Score:3, Informative)

    by Slack3r78 ( 596506 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:17PM (#11740780) Homepage
    There are no built in Atheros drivers, but a company named OrangeWare makes 3rd party drivers that they sell for $15. It sucks to have to drop the extra cash, but just letting you know in case you've already got money invested in hardware. :)
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:15PM (#11741145)
    I don't think it's at all misleading, the FCC rule pertaining to this is:
    Sec. 15.204 External radio frequency power amplifiers and antenna modifications.

    (a) Except as otherwise described in paragraph (b) of this section, no person shall use, manufacture, sell or lease, offer for sale or lease (including advertising for sale or lease), or import, ship, or distribute for the purpose of selling or leasing, any external radio frequency power amplifier or amplifier kit intended for use with a Part 15 intentional radiator.
    (b) A transmission system consisting of an intentional radiator, an external radio frequency power amplifier, and an antenna, may be authorized, marketed and used under this part. However, when a transmission system is authorized as a system, it must always be marketed as a complete system and must always be used in the configuration in which it was authorized. An external radio frequency power amplifier shall be marketed only in the system configuration with which the amplifier is authorized and shall not be marketed as a separate product.

    Which as you noted makes exception for amplifiers that are sold as part of a certified system, but that otherwise no amplifiers can be sold for part 15 devices. So addon amplifiers are definitly a no-no and the exception is basically made for things like the amp stage in a wi-fi card, though it can technically be used to allow a large external amplifier as part of a system so long as it otherwise meets the guidlines for part 15.
  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @03:59AM (#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.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @04:51AM (#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


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