Linux users accidentally bricked their new Samsung laptops by booting their favourite open-source OS on the shiny computers. A kernel driver crashes on Sammy machines when users start up from an Ubuntu 12 USB key - although other distributions may be at risk - giving them the dreaded black screen of no activity whatsoever. After …
Particularly considering what already existed
I mean they could have gone for "Open Firmware" which would have given them things like CPU architecture independent drivers and a powerful shell.
EFI is really a huge step backwards from the state of the art.
My god it's full of shills
MS astroturfing. Nice.
Now let's see, what would these shills say if a virus were to reweite the Win8 EFI loader, taking advantage of this particular bug and brick the Samsung laptops when booting Win8?
I'm old enough to remember the Chernobyl/CIH virus. Motherboard designs were changed after that, so why should Samsung dismiss this as "freetard tinkering"?
I've posted a few replies so far, but I wanted to summarise in a post of my own.
The code for linux kernel module that causes this was supplied by Samsung.
This could just as easily have happened when installing a different edition Windows than the one supplied, if there were drivers included from Samsung from a previous product that broke a current one.
Apart from in a small number of circumstances, driver software should not be able to break hardware. Not because of the driver code but because the design of the firmware.
A few years back there was a similar incident with Intel network cards that used the e1000e module, again code from the manufacturer.
You're talking far too much sense for this comments page.
Yes, there should be a way to update firmware using a booted operating system of some sort. Ideally booting from the firmware itself should be the only way.
The Linux haters seem to have their daft opinions, but there's no reason why an MS driver couldn't have done this, or malware for that matter. Someone at Samsung needs to rethink their implementation.
The Linux haters in this case are idiots. They're no better than the Linux lovers and Apple bitches who can't see through their own prejudice and insist that malware and bugs are only found on Windows.
The problem's the firmware. It will be fixed.
Come on Phil, You've been round here long enough to know that the Anti-linux crowd on El Reg would have read these words from the article "Linux...... Bricked.......... Laptop" and that would have been enough, no need to read the whole thing to find out what I call "The facts"
I wish we could all just get along, why cant we all just be nice to each other?
Have a beer on me
An obvious point here is that, if cacked firmware permanently screws the device, what happens when the thing glitches in the midst of a firmware update?
As I said, if it's updateable at all in software, a recovery process for when that inevitably goes titsup is a must have.
I don't generally like Linux (jack of all trades, master of none), but I generally agree with what's in your post. Note that the driver was written by someone on the Linux kernel team based on code from Samsung (see post #3): http://forums.opensuse.org/english/get-technical-help-here/install-boot-login/482848-booting-linux-uefi-bricks-samsung-laptops-how-do-i-get-around.html . So now it's a game of finger pointing.
But I can't help but think this problem would have been caught in testing and immediately fixed had Samsung fully supported Linux. Samsung would have tested and caught this bug if it was happening in Windows. That's what "supported OS" means. It's highly doubtful that a released MS driver would have done this -- this bug is so obvious that any test would have caught it.
I think everyone is shocked because the idea that you can try out Linux (or any other non-supported OS) on your PC without harming anything just went out the window.
This is why most laptop BIOS updaters insist on high battery charge and AC supply to perform an update, they are doing everything they can to avoid a power glitch at an inappropriate moment.
Old Intel PC motherboards used to come with a jumper that could put you into BIOS recovery mode with an 8K read-only part of the flash chip that could boot to the point where it could reload the BIOS image from a floppy. Not sure why there isn't some emergency mode available to allow a reflash of Samsung's laptop firmware.
Surely the manufacturers of the various components in a Samsung computer (including Samsung) send drivers to MS for testing.
Though not a laptop, my mate's recent Gigabyte motherboard boasts two BIOSs, one at least is UEFI (don't know what the backup BIOS is, we haven't had need of it).
[As if to take a pop at the Koreans, the motherboard has written on it "Japanese Capacitors"- reassuring, since the aged Dell Optiplex it replaced died of blown MB capacitors, allegedly the result of incomplete industrial espionage]
I bought a new Samsung 305 laptop to replace a 2003 Dell with a lowgrade Nvidia graphics controller that can run neither recent Ubuntu nor Fedora desktops (except for XFCE).
I installed Fedora 18, after pushing the Win7 installed on it out of the way. No problems so far (2 days), but UEFI is not turned on or needed. I even found good artwork for the desktop, a spherical cow at the origin, from Berkley.
Anybody want a old Dell, runs XP real well ?
Even though it may be unlikely...
Consider that a Windows 9 could have the same problem. If Samsung didn't lock out the BIOS from an OS incursion, then your re-install disc/usb drive could cause problems because all of the hdd's are imaged and there is always the possibility that the original could have problems if the BIOS were ever updated. Would updating the BIOS negate an older version of the OS that came with the machine and require an install of an SP version?
You want to know something?
You talk too much.
Re: Hardly a shock
What did you expect?? A raft of sympathetic applause?
You post some dubious statement with no supporting evidence then bitch when downvoted.
getting more like windows every day
The ACs got alot of bites from this thread. If any of them are serious, I hope they are not in technical jobs.
Wonder how long before the Chernobyl/CIH/Sammy strikes?
I'm surprised how many people are so willing to accept this Closed ecosystem, the Walled Garden as I have heard it termed.
Peronally I blame Apple, and to a slighly lesser extent Microsoft, oh and Sony too.
I remember when you bought hardware and you had to either boot off a floppy, or install the OS yourself to a 10Mb hard disk, you might have been supplied with an OS, but you could pick which one you wanted.
A lot of people here expect that when you buy a computer that you have to use the OS which is supplied at the time and that if it bricks when you try a different OS then it's your fault, my mind screams WTF?
What happened to standards, interoperability and choice for the consumer, what has happened with the Samsung product seems to me to be a mistake and a bug in the firmware yet there are a lot of people who seem to think that you shouldn't be able to run a different OS on the laptop and should you attempt to do so then it's acceptable for the motherboard to be damaged.
The OS won't be overwriting the firmware, just trying to call it's functions, it shouldn't be possible to brick it like that, the firmware should balk at self harm.
"What happened to standards, interoperability and choice for the consumer [?]"
Profit. It's much more profitable not to give any choice, and brainwash uneducated consumers into thinking it's not possible. Better still, try to make them think there is nothing but Windows.
Don't blame us, Linux work's great on Macs.
Especially given that this is a technical site, with a technical audience, it's amazing how many people completely fail to understand what is expected by many purchasers of a PC, be it desktop or laptop.
Believe it or not, you guys, one of those things is the freedom to run a different OS. Yes, that is a reasonable expectation, because more than enough people want to, and do, just that. It might not work. We all know that laptops come with devices that might not be supported --- but it should not kill it. And it certainly should not affect the warranty, because this is a computer, and hey, that's what computers are for.
To all the ignorant people who love to rant about freetards, and invite flames in return, here's mine: I hope all your linux devices fail today. You'll probably be shocked to discover just how much of a freetard you are. At least it will educate you. Assuming that's possible. Perhaps your brains no longer actually process anythinng that is not said by a consultant or a microsoft salesman. Perhaps you are consultants or MS salesmen.
Perhaps you'd also all like to consider that all of your "freetards" buying a machine like this have paid for the Microsoft operating system that comes on the machine. Whether they want it or not. Not so "freetarded," eh?
Re: It's Amazing...
It's also amazing how many of the people calling Linux users Freetards do not understand that the Free we embrace is free as in freedom, not free as in free beer. Quite how that makes you retarded is beyond me.
If you look at the Humble Indie games takings, the biggest payers are the Linux users, a pretty good indication that Linux users are not cheapskates. I contribute to KDE and my distros of choice and many others do too because I am incredibly grateful that I have an operating system where there is no chance of hiding spyware, no crappy licences and I have the freeDOM to with it what I want.
This seems to follow a general trend.
If you ask people why they use Windows, you typically don't get very good answers. The best you get is that they want to "rely on a strong partner", or that they are vendor locked. In many cases you even get the verbal equivalent of flung shit. There are quite a few people proud of never having seen anything else than the last few versions of Windows.
Linux people usually have more in depth reasons. For example the higher quality of open source software, the longer commitment to maintenance, or at least the lower cost. For technical people Linux has become the default solution. If in doubt install Linux, it'll do the job. Most Linux people also have more knowledge about Windows than most Windows people, even though they usually claim that they just have a very basic understanding of Windows.
Of course I'm generalizing here, there are also probably Linux fanbois flinging around shit, and Windows geeks who actually love their system for good reasons.
One "relies on a strong partner" when in jail.
I haven't met many proud Windows users - either they aren't that technical, and Windows is just what their computer comes with, and they use in their workplace - or they use Windows because the software they use isn't readily available for Linux. Most Windows users i know who are interested enough to actually talk about their OS can recount a thousand frustrations - from bugs to poor design choices.
I started using PCs when they were still 'IBM compatibles' not 'Windows Machines' and back then you got used to things not working just because they felt like it. Windows has usually improved over different versions- so I guess with each new version us Win users hope that "maybe this MS have nailed it". Oh well.
I have dabbled in desktop Linux and have found it is not without its issues either, though.
Here's a thought- if all OSs were fast, reliable, secure and ran all software the user wanted- the main differentiation would be the GUI.
Samsung makes laptops?
"Samsung makes laptops?"
Apparently not working ones.
Re: @Bill Gould
My Core i7 quad core sammy laptop runs just fine thanks. You know, before you slate something, you could at least give it a try or check the figures for failure before spouting crap.
Want a shitty poorly made laptop, you are spoiled for choice, there's HP, Acer and Asus...
Re My ... sammy laptop runs just fine
There is no doubt at all that Samung makes some good stuff. I've been sitting in front of a Samsung monitor for the past three years. I have Samsung Air Conditioning machines which, in this tropical part of the world are considered mid-priced, mid-market, but, with the occasional (well, ok, annual, but they are about six years old) repair they work fine.
Judges may not think Samsung phones are "cool," but I certainly have nothing against them. I don't own one, but wouldn't mind. There are a vast number of people who prefer them (and/or find them more affordable) over the "cool" phone.
Given their size as parts and screen manufacturers, probably most people have at least a bit of Samsung in their lives.
I have nothing against Samsung. In this instance, they have appear to have screwed up. They deserve stick for that, and they are getting it. Nobody is vowing to never buy Samsung again. The fact that they are sharing code with linux developers is, in itself, points.
To my mind 'Bricked' means no recovery no functionality. If you can recover it it wasn't a brick it was merely a broken laptop.
If you can brick a laptop by plugging something into a USB port then it's a big problem. It doesn't matter how it was discovered. What we now know is that there is a system call on board that will fuck it right up. Bad news. For one thing it's an attack vector for bad people that do bad things and secondly it's a huge seagoing battleship mine whenever the user upgrades or installs anything.
Actually thats quite funny, you could make a bootable USB stick and pass it around, with say the latest films on it or something, and wait for the screams as it bricks something bought by a windoze user.
I am totally doing this! I love it when windoze people get a virus or something, I very rarely help them, I usually say what do you expect....
Did nobody at Samsung test it first with other os's?
Seems a bit stupid to me, Do they honestly think everyone uses windows?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
My head explodes!
This thread is a monument to the shoddy state of IT.
Seriously. On a website that is supposed to tbe tech savy it would appear that vast numbers of commenters have no clue.
I guess we can just do away with NMIs and execution rings. From the perspective of this thread those things are less useful than product branding.
What happened to informatics?
Re: My head explodes!
It's because the title suggests the fault lies withing Linux. This unfortunately attracts all the Windows trolls.
Re: My head explodes!
It's because the title suggests the fault lies withing Linux. This unfortunately attracts all the
It's because the title suggests the fault lies withing Linux. This unfortunately attracts all the rabid linux fanboi zealots.
There, fixed it for you...
Re: My head explodes!
I've yet to see a single rabid Linux fanboi zealot in this thread. I do see plenty of uninformed commenters like yourself throwing around terms like "fanboi" and "freetard", who choose to not even read the article before picking up on Linux + Brick = flame time.
So my guess is that Samsung now owes everyone a new motherboard? Dear me. Perhaps it's time to consider socketing the eprom, NVRAM style, lest a class action suit bring down the manufacturer.
My sympathies to all those affected, even though I don't have an evangelical stance on any particular O/S*. No-one should be subjected to this level of incompetence.
* except the pile of steaming crap that is OS9, the most mendaciously oversold OS in the history of OSes.
UEFI sucks really hard
It just does, doesn't matter what the box is, it will be littered with bugs if it has an EFI BIOS.
I can't actually get into the BIOS setup on my Gigabyte Z77 board if the SATA mode is RAID, I've wired the clear cmos jumper to the front panel reset button to get around this problem.
So, there's no 'Restore Factory Defaults' option from the boot screen?
I'd walk away from any hardware that didn't have that. Its inevitable that a BIOS update will hiccup sooner or later.
"Bricked" means there is no boot screen. The clue is in the article: "dreaded black screen of no activity whatsoever."
It's clear what has happened.
It's clear what has happened. Firmware is software updatable. This is normal. What is clearly happening is the 3rd party motherboard driver is mistakenly sending the motherboard the signal to wipe or overwrite part of the firmware.
It's not Samsungs fault, and it's comparable to if you flash your motherboard with the wrong firmware.
The solution for this in general would be for all PCs, laptops, phones etc to come with a DIP switch that locks the firmware, and another that restores it to factory default from a backup.
All this would cost money though, and with people so price concious, it's not worth any manufacturer adding it as people wont pay the extra.
(Some top-end motherboard do have this feature so overclockers can reset the BIOS after choosing unbootable settings)
Re: It's clear what has happened.
Well, it's obviously NOT clear what has happened - especially to you it appears.
Firmware is indeed software up-datable. BUT, its should still NEVER be possible to do something in SW that can brick the device completely. Even if you flash with the wrong software there must ALWAYS be a mechanism to get back to a state where you can flash the RIGHT software. This is a known problem with a known solution. Samsung appears to have a bug in their system, since it doesn't happen (as far as we know) on ANY OTHER DEVICE.
Maybe we can get Samsung to get the point
Actually it may be quite easy. Just walk into a friendly computer store and ask to see the products. With a nice flashy USB key in hand (attempt) to boot from it. When the device bricks up, mention it to the management "That's funny, I can't get this to work, do you have another?".
Repeat as often as necessary.
When you run through a chunk of inventory (at the store), and they no longer have items to display/sell, they will complain to Samsung and a solution WILL happen.
Being able to "brick" a computer this easily is a major failure mode. I guess it would be similar to putting the wrong brand of gasoline (petrol) in a vehicle, and causing the car to never start again at the gas station. Bad, very bad!
Re: Maybe we can get Samsung to get the point
That will be like the issue a couple of years ago when Tesco/Morrison's fuel killed HEGO sensors
We said this was going to happen but oh no, we are just tinfoil hat wearing wingnuts.....
This was being talked about in October last year... where have you been?
Re: Old News
Good point, in fact Reported by tadazmas on 2012-08-23
Not to worry...
...all PC makers thoroughly test all PCs prior to shipment to be certain that they are 100% reliable - except when used with Linux.
I'd imagine the BIOS chip can be replaced or re-flashed but it certainly is a PITA when you need your laptop and data.
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