Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Operating Systems Hardware Linux

Microsoft Signature PC Requirements Now Blocks Linux Installation: Reports 491

Reader sombragris writes: According to a well-documented forum thread, the Signature PC program by Microsoft now requires to lock down PCs. This user found out that his Lenovo Yoga 900 ISK2 UltraBook has the SSD in a proprietary RAID mode which Linux does not understand and the BIOS is also locked down so it could not be turned off. When he complained that he was unable to install Linux, the answer he got was: "This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft."
Even worse, as the original poster said, "[t]he Yoga 900 ISK2 at Best Buy is not labeled as a Signature Edition PC, but apparently it is one, and Lenovo's agreement with Microsoft includes making sure Linux can't be installed." As some commenter said: "If you buy a computer with this level of lockdown you should be told."

There is also a report on ZDNet which looks very understanding towards Lenovo, but the fact remains: the SSD is locked down in a proprietary RAID mode that cannot be turned off.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Signature PC Requirements Now Blocks Linux Installation: Reports

Comments Filter:
  • Give it time.

    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:42PM (#52931955)
      Apparently, this Yoga ain't very flexible
  • Strange (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:33AM (#52931377)
    If I were planning to run Linux on a computer, I probably would have done a few quick searches on driver support beforehand. And I wouldn't be buying it at Best Buy.
    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:39AM (#52931429)

      I was doing that 6-7 years ago, but I haven't worried about "driver support" for anything in Linux in about that long. Almost everything works these days - intentional sabotage by competitors being the obvious exception.

      • It's not just intentional sabatoge that can cause a lack of support. Newly release chipsets or other hardware often doesn't have initial Linux support. Sometimes it takes time for that to get incorporated into the kernel and make it's way up the pipeline. Moreover, each distro tends to incorporate new kernel changes at different paces, and it makes it hard to predict how soon support will arrive for new hardware.

        I'm not sure if this is the case here. The story makes it sound like it was deliberate, whic

        • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

          by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:55PM (#52932083)

          It's not just intentional sabatoge that can cause a lack of support. Newly release chipsets or other hardware often doesn't have initial Linux support. Sometimes it takes time for that to get incorporated into the kernel and make it's way up the pipeline. Moreover, each distro tends to incorporate new kernel changes at different paces, and it makes it hard to predict how soon support will arrive for new hardware.

          I'm not sure if this is the case here. The story makes it sound like it was deliberate, which wouldn't be too surprising I guess, but it's hard to say.

          In early December 2015 I built myself a Desktop using the latest Skylake Chipset (released 5th Aug 2015) and all I had to do was select "Other OS" and I installed Fedora 23 KDE spin without any problems. I did find an issue a short time later with my monitor which has two HDMI slots and DSUB slot. Basically, everything worked, however I also connected my PS4 to the spare HDMI port so I could switch between my PC and PS4 and this worked perfectly. Unfortunately switching back to the PC port dropped signal which required me to reset the PC.

          The fix was for me to get the latest BIOS (the same day I found the problem) and this fixed the issue of toggling between PC and PS4 or my PS3 if I moved the HDMI cable across. I have been using this configuration ever since.

          I can understand if graphics drivers are not available for a new graphics card but I would not be surprised if Microsoft is starting to pull tactics like what is mentioned in the article. Originally Microsoft wanted secure boot (to protect the users of course, cough! cough!) or UEFI. The problem with this is many major Linux distribution got UEFI certified as well which I would assume defeated the original purpose of having secure boot.

          No, the issue is Microsoft is being Microsoft and nothing has changed.

          • Unfortunately switching back to the PC port dropped signal which required me to reset the PC.

            And even if the BIOS update didn't fix it, Linux is capable of being set up to ignore EDID information and can be explicitly told which port to send a video signal over.

      • Re:Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:36PM (#52931921) Homepage Journal

        The biggest problem here is that it wasn't even disclosed to the buyer as being a "signature series". I am against lock down, but lack of disclosure is an even bigger problem.

        OEMs ought to be disclosing whether or not their hardware has proprietary Windows drivers, however they don't do it. It goes beyond "let the buyer beware," a lot of times the info isn't there.

      • I was doing that 6-7 years ago, but I haven't worried about "driver support" for anything in Linux in about that long. Almost everything works these days - intentional sabotage by competitors being the obvious exception.

        I'm just saying, if I were likely to run Linux on a laptop, I wouldn't go to a retail store and buy what sounds like a relatively new model without first seeing what kind of support it had. It's Best Buy. There is no impetus for Lenovo to support Linux on models destined for retail shelves.

    • This I have to agree 100% on. If you plan to run Linux on a system, or any other OS like BSD, it is best that you do a lot of research before doing so. Linux has come a long way since 1.3.xx but there are still some hardware out there that will not run with it.

      Personally I would build my own system to run linux on. It isn't as hard as some think it is. There are lots of tutorials on it and odds are there is a nerd some where close by that will help you.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:51PM (#52932039) Journal

      I most often grab something quickly from Best Buy, Walmart, or Fry's. It would cost me money to delay.

      When one of our laptops dies, I'm paying someone to work, but they don't have a proper computer work on. Until we get them a new machine, they are stuck on whatever POS is in closet. It's probably in the closet because it's half broken.

      So I grab something that looks like it'll work from the closest store, boot it to be sure it's not completely defective, then run the Linux install script and they can get back to work. 95% of the time, that works fine.

      One time, Walmart was the quickest store, so I grabbed a laptop there, took it back to the office, and booted it. Wifi didn't work. Windows said it didn't have the driver for the wifi card. The web site of the laptop manufacturer didn't have a wifi driver for that version of Windows. I tried the manufactuer of the wireless card - no driver for that version of Windows. Windows Update? Nope, probably a million of that laptop sold at Walmart, with a wifi card that does not work with the preloaded Windows. Well that's stupid. Screw it, we use wired ethernet anyway. I pop in a CentOS install disk and 30 minutes later she's up and running - with wifi. CentOS included a driver that "just works"; apparently no driver existed for the preloaded, current version of Windows.

  • Two words. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:37AM (#52931399)

    Class action.

    • by rMortyH ( 40227 )

      Two more words: Arbitration Clause. There will be no more class actions.

    • All you will get is a label on the machine. Business buyers will see this as better security. The machine just has to work. They want the walled garden. As long as it remains voluntary let them have it. Microsoft isn't doing anything Apple hasn't done for a long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:39AM (#52931431)

    Just return it.

    Demand a refund, no matter how much Best Buy tries to tell you that they won't.

    It's unfit for the purpose that you bought it for, and expecting it to be fit for that purpose is not unusual or unreasonable.

    If they completely refuse to refund your money, sue everyone involved (BB, MS, and Lenovo) in small claims court. Small claims goes up to $2500 or even $10,000 in a lot of jurisdictions, so it'll cover the cost of a PC you can't use for the purpose you bought it for.

    Alternatively, if you have a lot of spare time and/or a desire to really make a mess while making your point, demand Best Buy give you a replacement, leave the store with it, take it to the parking lot, cut open the box, unwrap a few components, re-stuff the box (poorly), come back in, and return that unit also. Repeat until the store is out of new stock. Every item you do that to has to be refurbished, which costs Lenovo a lot of money that isn't in the margin of that unit. Then demand a refund from Best Buy, since they can't replace your defective item.

  • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:39AM (#52931437) Homepage Journal

    I really can't believe convicted monopolist Microsoft would go and do a thing like this!

    • by rlp ( 11898 )

      Convicted? MS settled with the DOJ and the terms of the settlement have expired.

  • by Greg Eschbacher ( 4716741 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:42AM (#52931455)
    The article more accurately summarizes things than the biased snippet: "On first blush this seems to be an issue relating to how Lenovo has configured the systems. I can't find any evidence to suggest that Microsoft is trying to "lock" Signature Edition PCs to Windows 10, or making any moves to shut the door on Linux users" This seems to be about Lenovo's use of proprietary drivers for RAID, not MS system requirements. And a reminder that corporate tech support folks have no clue what they're talking about, so quoting a forum post by one does not establish insidious contractual obligations for Lenovo by Microsoft.
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:53AM (#52931547) Homepage

      But it should be possible to turn off that crap in BIOS/UEFI.

      • Right however he was talking to phone tech support... they may not have known how to get into the BIOS let alone change settings and just said that to get him off the phone.

    • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:03PM (#52931637)
      A reddit poster offered this, in his link Lenovo says the dev team is working on it:

      ""[–]0xFFFFFF 89 points 7 hours ago*
      Levono is aware of the issue and fixing it: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/L... [lenovo.com]
      It is on hackernews, where people are being rational and theorizing that this is not microsofts fault. More like best-buy rep doesn't know what he talks about and the SSD doesn't have support drivers in linux kernal.. Or lenova messed up their bios implementation.
      Luckily we have the reddit witchhunt in full force, so we can make uninformed rants!
      Note: Every single previous similar scenario about linux being locked out has not been microsofts fault, which is why people are sceptical that this is the case this time..
      I also have a Signature Edition laptop, it runs linux fine..""
      https://www.reddit.com/r/linux... [reddit.com]

      The Lenovo link has an official post saying:

      "Re: Yoga 900-13ISK2 - BIOS update for setting RAID mode for missing hard drive on linux install Options
      07-27-2016 10:04 AM
      Thank you for confirming it is still not possible to install Linux on Yoga 900-13ISK2 systems.
      This issue has been escalated to the Development team. I am unable to offer a timeframe for fix at this stage in the investigation. With previous cases, BIOS fixes have been delivered anywhere from several weeks to several months.
      I will post again when I have more information on the investigation."
      https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/L... [lenovo.com]
      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:12PM (#52932203) Homepage Journal

        Manufacturers have a long history of semi-deliberately screwing up linux support on laptops.

        For example part of ACPI is a table in NVRAM called the Differentiated System Description Table; manufacturers put information in the DSDT that tell the operating system about devices that need switching on and off when going into various power states. One of the features of ACPI is that the DSDT can give different operating systems different instructions -- a feature I can think of no justification for, at least as far as the user's benefit is concerned.

        Some manufacturers (Toshiba) on some models simply detect the Linux case and turn off a bunch of stuff at boot time, like the sound card and the network cards. This is why I had to learn about that DSDT shit in the first place. The hardware is all supported by Linux, and if you boot with ACPI turned off [askubuntu.com] they work flawlessly, but of course you have no power management. The fix is a dynamic replacement of DSDT and Linux boot time, which makes kernel upgrades a chore, but in principle the fix is simple: copy the stuff the manufacturer says to do under "Windows" and paste it into the "Linux" section. Then everything works perfectly, but the rigamarole is way beyond what the average user can tolerate, and it's purely the manufacturer being a prick to customers who want Linux.

  • Which RAID level? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GerbilSoft ( 761537 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:46AM (#52931479)
    From the ZDnet article:

    To improve system performance, Lenovo is leading an industry trend of adopting RAID on the SSDs in certain product configurations.

    Which RAID level works best with a single drive?

    • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      RAID -1?

    • Re:Which RAID level? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:13PM (#52931703) Homepage

      Depending on specific implementation, RAID 0 and RAID 1 (and JBOD) can happily run on a single disk. Obviously you don't get any advantages of multiple disks, the data is still striped or mirrored across all n drives in the array...there just happens to be 1 drive.

      Some feature implementations also require RAID setups to function. Intel's Smart Response Technology for instance requires the controller to operate in RAID mode for a SSD drive to be used as a cache for a HDD. The SSD would operate as a RAID-0 array of a single drive. See the note under step 4 in the Enabling Intel Smart Response Technology [intel.com] section.

    • From the ZDnet article:

      To improve system performance, Lenovo is leading an industry trend of adopting RAID on the SSDs in certain product configurations.

      Which RAID level works best with a single drive?

      Yes, that's the part I don't understand. RAID and a single drive doesn't make any sense. Unless you don't understand what the acronym RAID means.

      • RAID and a single drive doesn't make any sense.

        For HDD, or for SSD? A single physical storage device may be internally organized as two or more independent block devices. For various reasons, this is more practical for flash memory than for spinning rust.

        Unless you don't understand what the acronym RAID means.

        It's supposed to mean "redundant array of independent drives" or the like. But with RAID 0 obviating the "redundant" part of the expansion, "array of independent drives" sounds like what's going on inside an SSD, with a controller in front of a bunch of NAND flash memories.

  • Oh... I get it now. I was trying to understand why suddenly bash and some of the Ubuntu pieces were suddenly supported on Windows. So, since you can easily get access to all your real Linux tools and suchlike (or will eventually) there's actually no reason at all to complain that you can't install the OS - just run it on Windows.

    All that "Developers want access to their tools" blather explaining why MS decided to create the layer that allows Linux code to run just didn't seem convincing. This must have

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:47AM (#52931485)

    I don't like the idea of some odd soft / fake raid system and what did Intel do to mess up their fake raid this badly?

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:47AM (#52931489) Homepage

    I have been a big fan/proponent/promoter/user of Lenovo laptops for years. They're rugged and reliable and does what I need them for - I'm writing this on a T510 running Ubuntu 15.04

    But, Lenovo always seems to be on the wrong side of software issues. Whether it's malware, tracking or now Win10, I don't feel like their products can be trusted.

    To be fair, if I were to consider anybody else's Windows PCs now, I would probably reject them for the same reasons as Lenovo. Running Linux on the laptops in a dual boot mode is a requirement for me.

    So, what looks like the best solution for me is to eschew Windows laptops and go to Macs. I have a four year old Macbook Air that I've upgraded the hard drive on, dual booting and I can avoid the Microsoft bullshit for a bit of a premium over a Lenovo laptop, but as I tend to buy higher quality laptops, that premium isn't that high.

    Tower systems will continue to be custom builds with Windows 7 or Linux.

    Sorry Microsoft, Win10 just ain't in my future.

    • by janoc ( 699997 )

      Actually Lenovo offers also machines without OS, including laptops, so this locked down BS is not the only option there. They are obviously doing that to lower the sticker price (machine with Windows is about $100 extra), but it is possible to get one of these.

      I am not sure wheher they are offering them in every market, but e.g. in Slovakia they are available

      A year ago I have got an E31 laptop with the new Skylake CPU and no problems with Linux or pre-installed malware whatsoever on it.

    • I have been a big fan/proponent/promoter/user of Lenovo laptops for years. They're rugged and reliable and does what I need them for - I'm writing this on a T510 running Ubuntu 15.04

      The T series might be fine, but the G series are complete and udder garbage. The case simply disintegrated on my wife's. Be warned!

    • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

      I have a Lenovo T430 that's worked very well for almost 4 years now. I'm in no rush to replace it, but I am extremely tempted to upgrade to this XPS 13 [dell.com] from Dell. The high definition screen and small form factor are a winning combination for me as I typically end up having to work on long-haul flights. Any thoughts on it?

      • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

        PS: Sorry, I should have stated, that's a Dell laptop that ships with Ubuntu. While Ubuntu is not my cup of tea, the native Linux support is something I am more than happy to endorse and support, even if I install a different Linux distro on it.

  • Laptops have always been pretty fucky.

  • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:55AM (#52931575)
    An interesting reddit post:

    "[–]0xFFFFFF 89 points 7 hours ago*
    Levono is aware of the issue and fixing it: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/L... [lenovo.com]
    It is on hackernews, where people are being rational and theorizing that this is not microsofts fault. More like best-buy rep doesn't know what he talks about and the SSD doesn't have support drivers in linux kernal.. Or lenova messed up their bios implementation.
    Luckily we have the reddit witchhunt in full force, so we can make uninformed rants!
    Note: Every single previous similar scenario about linux being locked out has not been microsofts fault, which is why people are sceptical that this is the case this time..
    I also have a Signature Edition laptop, it runs linux fine.."
    • by drnb ( 2434720 )
      Sorry, url to reddit post:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/linux... [reddit.com]
    • by drnb ( 2434720 )
      The Lenovo link has an official post saying:

      "Re: Yoga 900-13ISK2 - BIOS update for setting RAID mode for missing hard drive on linux install Options
      07-27-2016 10:04 AM
      Thank you for confirming it is still not possible to install Linux on Yoga 900-13ISK2 systems.
      This issue has been escalated to the Development team. I am unable to offer a timeframe for fix at this stage in the investigation. With previous cases, BIOS fixes have been delivered anywhere from several weeks to several months.
      I will post ag
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:58AM (#52931601)

    Really did. Awesome hardware, very solid, very long lasting, and you could get spare parts for ... well, ever.

    Then Lenovo took over, and ... well, the aluminum turned to plastic and looking for spare would usually be met with the request to spare them the hassle and wouldn't you rather want a new one...

    Sorry. I loved your notebooks, IBM. I really did. I had them for nearly 20 years. But I only had one Lenovo. And it's not looking like there will be another one littering my home.

  • Even if it turns out this was some level-1 tech support at Lenovo talking out of his ass, nobody should be surprised when Microsoft tries to lock down the BIOS to prevent alternative operating systems. They've already done it for Windows Phones and Surface tablets, so why wouldn't they do it for their laptops and desktops?
  • So I guess this won't be the year of the Linux desktop after all. Thanks Microsoft! :(

  • Purism [puri.sm]
    System76 [system76.com]
    Tuxedo Computers [tuxedocomputers.com]

    Luckyly we have those now.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      The Lenovo Yoga 900 is an ultralight 13" laptop. Which Purism, System76, or Tuxedo Computers laptop is as small and light as a Yoga 900?

  • by darkjedi521 ( 744526 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @12:28PM (#52931857)
    This isn't about Linux. Its about blocking Windows 7 and Windows 8 from running. Microsoft needs everyone on 10. They can't allow people to downgrade.
  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:03PM (#52932131)

    Good God.. I've been sayin it. I've been sayin it for ten damn years. Ain't I been sayin it? Miguel.. Yeah, I've been sayin it.

    Who releases a computer that won't run AHCI? From accounts of people who have looked into the BIOS .. AHCI is there but *intentionally* restricted from being enabled by customers. The people who did this knew exactly what this meant when they did it and what consequences of doing it would be yet they went ahead with it anyway.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:43PM (#52932453) Homepage

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/tech... [bbc.co.uk]

    "To improve system performance, Lenovo is leading an industry trend of adopting Raid [redundant array of independent disks] on the SSDs [solid state drives] in certain product configurations," it said.

    "Lenovo does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems on its devices and is fully committed to providing Linux certifications and installation guidance on a wide range of products."

    It added that once Linux-based operating system developers had updated the necessary code, their products should work on its machines.

  • by Tranzistors ( 1180307 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:50PM (#52932541)

    Matthew Garrett wore informative article on this one: http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/44... [dreamwidth.org]

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli

Working...