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back to article Want to use WD diagnostics? Buy Windows

A Windows host must be used to run Western Digital disk drive diagnostic software, forcing Linux, Unix and other O/S users to buy a Windows system if they want to use it. This was the message given to Keith Edmunds of Tiger Computing, a company specialising in Linux, who suspected he had a problem with a pair of Caviar Green …

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BartPE? W7 trial?

Can't they just use Vista/W7's 30-day "trial"? No licence key needed.

Does BartPE need a windows key?

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Anonymous Coward

What?

And waste a day or two installing that crap whenever a disk is having a fit? How "just" is that?

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Thumb Down

>Point< ............. Missed

Assuming you're hard disk's dead or dying how much effort is it going to be getting another OS on there, if you can manage it at all

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It's a liveCD.

BartPE is a livecd.

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Alien

not really the point

yes, the end user could use bartpe.

but when you have a sick intermittent system the last thing you need is to download bartpe and then work out how to install some crappy win app onto a livecd which can be tricky when they require a reboot.

if wd had a downloadable iso with their tools installed it might be a bit more acceptable. the end user should not have to jump through these hoops just to test their drive.

so will have to add wd to list of hardware manufacturers who i won't buy from. even for my windows customers as i may have to bring a drive back to test on my linux systems.

their loss.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeh.. and....

... it is next to useless. i trued to use it in order to upgrade a BIOS on a netbok (because of much the same issue, Toshiba BIOS update software only works on Linux) and it wouldn't run the update program.

Short Tosh bio story long ... the NB200 comes in various flavours. If you go to tehir site to download the floppy version, you're met with about ten to fifteen "model numbers" which aren't present on the machine. Tech support directed me to an executable that will only work under Windows. I wouldn't mind if they just produced the BIOS update on an ISO image that I could burn to a bootable CD and then throw away

... and WD could do the same here, that way it wouldn't matter what OS the customer was running and they could still focus on one solution rather than taking multiple OS's in to account.

But this news means I won't be buying any WD drives in future. There's plenty of competition so my feet have voted.

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Linux

Bart PE requires a license

Bart PE still requires a license.

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smartmon

Just use smartmon. It runs the embedded SMART diagnostics on the drive, which is usually all the manufacturers own tools do anyway.

I've never known a drive manufacturer not accept a drive for RMA if you tell them that it is failing SMART (after all, it is just running their own embedded diagnostics in the drive firmware).

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Agreed, sorta

I've RMAed drives before with smartctl output attached and never had trouble. (Even though it, er, transpired later that the problem was the port on the SATA controller, but never mind). It sure sounds like WD is telling the guy they won't accept that, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes but

"Just use smartmon."

Yes, but smartmon/hdparm doesn't come with free advertising.

Not knowing about the standard tools, especially with most distros having the GUI (Palimpsomething) that will pop-up alerts if a disk is dying, well it does kind of ruin the claim that they're "a company specialising in Linux."

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Anonymous Coward

Yep

I had one of the RE2-GP drives fail. Never even bothered with WD's software. Just sent an RMA ticket saying that the SMART test said the drive was failing and they sent a replacement, no questions asked. Never bothered to mention that I was running smartmon on FreeBSD.

On a seperate note, it's always kinda funny to see a Linux fanboi complaining that someone doesn't actively support Linux. Part of the "fun" of Linux is that you get to do everything yourself. Or "have to" depending on who you ask.

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FAIL

Yep.

No support at all for WD green drives under linux. They have an especially nasty issue where they park if idle for 10 seconds and this can't be reconfigured. Caching under linux means you hit this very often whereas windows talks to the drive more frequently and keeps it active. After some very light use my drive at home as 50,000 Load Cycle Count. Apparently this is a green 'feature.

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Boffin

Head parking

can be reconfigured using one of the WD DOS tools (forget which). A compatible freeware bootable DOS USB stick is also available on the interwebs.

All in all it's a shame though - the WD helldesk gave me more or less the same story, and their software (and the head parking issue) is hurting what is otherwise quite a nice drive.

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What's wrong with using smartmon/smartctl?

"However there are Linux native tools a customer can use to test the drive, like hdparm or smartmon, which checks the SMART values of our disks, just like our software, but we don’t give any support with that."

That seems an admission that their tools are just a bloated wrapper around access to the standard SMART services and monitors. Smartctl will do that in a consistent fashion across all drives that support SMART (all of them nowadays?)

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While smartctl is a good tool, it has its limitations.

I just happen to have a failing external WD HDD on my desk right now. The Ubuntu disk management tool reads its SMART data and tells me that it has 893 bad sectors. smartctl cannot tell me anything, as for some reason it cannot read the SMART of an external drive connected over USB. So obviously, it doesn't always work. And not all Linux distributions use the same disk utility as Ubuntu. So what should I have done if I was on, say, Arch?

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FAIL

"HW manufacturer only supports Windows"

Is this news?

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I know I'm missing the point,

...but couldn't he use wine?

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Coat

I think they are using a varient.

Called whine

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I kind of understand their position.

While they could, no doubt, knock something together for Linux if they only use Windows on their machines and only develop for Windows then I don't actually blame them for not supporting Linux.

As the representative stated, there are plenty of Linux tools out there for this kind of thing so you can still monitor your drive and, or course, if the drive fails they'll replace it if it's under warranty regardless of your OS.

I only run Linux at home, and I love it when manufacturers support Linux by making drivers available and the like -- but I can see why they wouldn't want to employ someone to ensure that all their utilities work on Linux also.

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Silver badge
Linux

So much for industry standards.

This is a storage vendor.

The idea that they only expect to deal with Windows is a bit absurd.

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Terminator

Or

"The idea that they only expect to deal with Windows is a bit absurd."

Nah, they just know that real OSs provide these tools out of the box.

Terminator, to protect me from the angry Windows users.

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Silver badge
Linux

Not unexpected

WD has been pretty low on my list for a while. In my book they sit about a step and a half above Maxtor. With such a low end company it comes as no suprise whatsoever that they only support Windows. Still you're right. Expected or not it's still absurd.

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Silver badge

Not entirely true

They only develop for windows eh? So the My Book I bought for my Mac didn't come preformatted for the Mac and with software to use if so wished? I can understand why they may not want to rewrite their utilities for other OSes but it's probably best not to tell porkies.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't call me Shirley

Yes, - like you are the World's leading authority on the subject. Did you consider that they may have weighed all this up before-hand in an internal business analysis and drawn a conclusion not to develop for Lunix?

No. You didn't.

Post up your contact details. They may want to get in contact with you to discuss your insightful thinking and business logic.

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FAIL

Simple answer:

I bought my last hard drive from WD, because of its 'green'ness.

Anyone else with a green drive, and I did buy my last drive from WD. Over.

Either they repent, or I will add my tiny, tiny, tiny, little, small, piece of 2 sen to get them into bankruptcy. Serious. And not because I'm a Linux user, or OpenBSD user. Because I would do likewise the other way round.

No, doesn't have to be 'Linux'. If they offer a .tar.gz and .exe that produce a nice little FreeDOS drive to run the diagnostics, I'll be fine just as well. Vendor-neutrality is what is on the cards; at least for me.

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FAIL

Oh well

I'll keep buying Seagate then.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Oh well

The only HD series I have ever had issues with are WD. Seagate are still my faves, with Fujitsu as an alternate if there are no Seagate's in stock and time is pressing.

Manufacturers that do not support all OS's will lose business. Glad to see WD is making so much cash on the Windows platform that they can turn business away. Their shareholders will be ecstatic I am sure.

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Linux

Is Keith a mate of yours?

Got some free publicity there, didn't he?

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Linux

Linux Specialist?

Surely a company 'specialising in Linux' would use the standard command line tools instead.

Failing that, modern distros such as Ubuntu have GUI tools installed as standard that do everything the WD software does.

Maybe I'm in the wrong job.

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Coat

Sounds like quite a professional exchange

I'm an avid Linux user, and I feel I can associate with the concerns addressed in this article. By the sound of the reporting about the person's own exchanges with WD, however, I'd like to offer my kudos to WD customer support, in the foremost. It sounds like they must be quite a professional organization.

As far as the technical matters, I don't know if WD's Windows-based diag. software would offer anything in addition to the regular SMART diagnostic facilities. If not, the customer support representative's response is completely legitimate, and I can't see any reason for being concerned about it. Linux offers us those SMART-diagnostic and hardware-adjustment tools, indeed.

Mine's the one with the PT Barnum biography in the pocket - just because the real PT Barnum was a genuine businessman.

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Bronze badge

Second paragraph

It's that "if" which matters. If the WD software is just regular SMART diagnostics (hopefully making good use of Windows Help), then this isn't a big problem. As long as the information in the Windows help files is available in another format.

If the WD software does something extra special, maybe using proprietary diagnostic calls, I would be very wary of using their products.

If you're working in a Linux shop, it might be worth setting up a cheap test-box with Windows, though if you have to do that sort of work you need to be wary of viruses, etc. A linux LiveCD is one obvious answer to that. Being able to load a new image of Windows is another, but it seems dreadfully inefficient.

That's maybe where WD are going wrong. It's much easier to make a safe and secure Linux-based test box. With Windows, you're risking malicious code/data on the drive being spread via the testing process.

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Anonymous Coward

Reply to post: Second paragraph

IIRC all SMART hard drives have to support a number of features. However there is some discrepancy between the formatting of data returned in some cases. Also drives occasionally have extra features tossed in to make it work nicer. The manufacturer would know about the formatting and all the extra bits and pieces that they've tossed in there, and their software could potentially work more efficiently than one that only uses generic SMART commands.

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Yes and no. Simple enough to use Ghost...

...or similar to ensure a machine starts clean and in a known state each time.

And I'm sure there is some kind of hack to the Windows hibernate function that allows booting from a saved image.

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Just say no!

I have given up on any device or software that doesn't support Linux, or at least runs well in the Wine environment. Fidelity is about to lose my brokerage business and 401K account because of this. Sparx Enterprise Architect is a UML modeling and design application I use for significant software engineering purposes which while Windows-only at least it runs well with Wine, so it will stay on my list of acceptable tools.

As for hardware diagnostics, the bare minimum of acceptable tools will have at least the ability to boot and run from CD or USB thumb drive. Seagate does this for their drives, as does Intel for its motherboards.

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Stop

Easy

Esay solution is not to use WD disks. I stay with Hitachi for now.

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WTF?

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Deathstars? Why? You do know how flakey Hitachis are, don't you?

As for WD disks not working with Linux, well, they _do_. Just that you don't get support if they go wrong. Which is surprising when I hear of news that they do, since all my life, I've had Seagates, Maxtors and recently a Hitachi die on me (ok, the Hitachi was actually my sister's, and the Seagates and Maxtors was my Aunt's, who was running the computer in an heavy industry environment (a printing press) without any form of surge/voltage protection whatsoever. Never had any of my own Seagate drives die on me either, tho I did lose one Maxtor drive to the AntiCMOS virus due to McAfee's flakey detection), but I have never had an issue with WD drives.

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WTF?

Surely they just need to update their DOS utiltity?

DOS is freely available - support that, and everyone is happy.

Dropping support for DOS and placing a dependency on Windows is utterly idiotic.

There is no need to support Linux, or Windows, or Mac - just support DOS, as WD did previously. Almost everyone has an x86 machine available somewhere.

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Silver badge

That is honest

I understand that a company would want to simplify drastically their support to windows only, it undoubtedly saves a lot of money. They also lose customers, but they probably decided it was not worth the investment and effort. AND they are honest and straightforward about it.

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Linux

Question

Aren't the ones who would be complaining about the lack of OEM software support on Linux the same ones who would be turning up their nose at using any closed-source OEM software? So where exactly is the issue?

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Silver badge

Another one down

I guess I've bought my last WD drive then if they can't provide support if you're not running Windows. They can join Fujitsu on my list of hard disk suppliers to avoid.

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Dead Vulture

this is a non story

A device manufacturer not supporting bundled and unneccesary software on linux.

what exactly about this is news?

While I appluad Mr Edmunds for furthering public awareness of Linux, and personally I would like ALL hardware manufacturers to support Linux, he's just whining because he can.

There are PLENTY of disk monitoring tools available for Linux, as every tech worth his salt knows.

Not only that, but WD were quite honest and upfront about the state of affairs, and polite enough. Why do they need mud flung at them?

Not trolling, just my opinion.

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Anonymous Coward

title

"Not trolling, just my opinion."

A good and true opinion too, well said.

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Pirate

Linux or not...

it's a shame that WD no longer provides a DOS-based version of their tools, which was handy when the drives went titsup and wouldn't boot. If you've only got one drive and it's dead, how are you going to boot into Windows to check the drive? If memory serves, WD required the error code from their diagnostic tool before they would RMA a drive. But then, it's been 12 years since I wasted any money on their crap drives - as a white-box builder back in the 90's, I got bitten badly by their horrid drives back then and never bought another one.

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Unhappy

Seagate it is then

I have to go with the others that mention bootable CDs and thumb drive applications

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No WD then

Good to know that; I'll be sure not to buy WD.

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Anonymous Coward

Thats just a pathetic reason

<adanoids>Well if they wont support linux orange super monkey spasm version 3 then they wont get my money</adanoids>

As the joint largest hard disk supplier in the world I don't think that WD give two shits about a handful of none customers anyway. You don't see BMW designing cars specifically for midgets, so why should WD design their support software for an equally small section of the community? Ayyyy thank you.

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WTF?

If a Linux user requests diagnostic tools from WD

this at least to me would mean they actually purchased and are using WD products, don't you think ? So why to you believe they are non (I know that's what you intended to write) customers ?

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Silver badge

A handful?

Linux may have a relatively small amount of home users, but I don't think that number is important. What matters to WD is the number of hard drives - after all that is what they're selling isn't it? I bet the number of individual drives with Linux is pretty high when you include servers.

Anyway, like someone said up above, there's plenty of tools out there and it is just possible that Linux users are not particularly envious (or even aware) of the Windows diagnostic which WD supplies.

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WTF?

Specialist?

Is it me or does it strike anyone else as a little odd that a linux 'specialist' doesn't have a copy of Windows kicking around for a test environment?

Or was it a quick bit of PR for Tiger?

/colour me sceptical

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Silver badge

I'm sceptical too

But I don't think it is odd that a linux 'specialist' wouldn't have a copy of Windows kicking about. It's odd that he would give it a second thought. Yep, PR.

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