back to article Lenov-lol, a load of Tosh, and what the Dell? More bad holes found in PC makers' bloatware

Lenovo laptops and PCs can be hijacked by visiting a malicious website – and Dell and Toshiba machines suffer vulnerabilities, too, we're told. If you're running the Lenovo Solution Center bundled with Lenovo gear, and you browse by an evil webpage, scripts on that page can run code with full system privileges on your computer …

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Big Brother

Zheng Xiaoyu

Was executed in 2007 for corruption and "possibly tainted products." A jackable laptop is a "tainted product" IMO. If I were a Lenovo exec I'd be working on an escape plan. Maybe go to work for Adobe?

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Re: Zheng Xiaoyu

Yeah, all that experience of bungled software updates - just cries out for someone to be assigned to the Flashplayer team.

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New machine?

First job, wipe and rebuild, always.

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New machine?

Wipe and rebuild may mean that some of the things you paid for don't work any more. And most ordinary users won't have the (extra, paid for) copy of the OS just hanging about.

The EU needs to get onto this. To me it seems it ought to fall under product liability. If this sort of thing worked like cars and necessitated a recall at manufacturer expense, I wonder how long it would last?

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Re: New machine?

Wipe and rebuild may mean that some of the things you paid for don't work any more. And most ordinary users won't have the (extra, paid for) copy of the OS just hanging about.

While what you write is true, if you don't need any of those "things you paid for" then you can always install an alternative OS. My ASUS Zenbook does everything I need with Linux Mint. Including, much to my delight during a hospital stay last week, running Civ V. Civ V on the same machine running Win7 was unacceptably slow.

Don't tell MS, but I used DAZ Windows installer to use the PK for the Zenbook Win7 to create a Win7 VM on my desktop machine. I didn't need to since I now have other redundant Win7 licences, but I was curious as to whether this would work.

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Re: New machine? -- because untrust.

"Some of the things you paid for won't work" is one way to look at it. Another way is, "Some of the things the vendor snuck in to take advantage of you won't work for them" is another way to look at it.

Actually, like many on the board, I'm pretty out of touch. I haven't used a stock Windows install since about 2007.

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@AC

Not so easy when Lenovo have done something to the disk hardware so that the MSFT install DVD for Windows 7 does not recognise the disk.

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Re: New machine?

The bloat I've 'paid' for I can quite happily live without.

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Re: New machine?

Wipe and rebuild may mean that some of the things you paid for don't work any more. And most ordinary users won't have the (extra, paid for) copy of the OS just hanging about.

What is going to be missing? Some cruddy half working bloatware. It is this kind of cr*p that is making a mess of the Windows OS experience.

Clean install, add a few bits of decent freeware from Ninite and you're up and running.

What annoys me the most is how badly written the Manufacturer tools are. These security issues don't surprise me. Too many of these computer makers pile heaps of dubious software onto all their computers. This then makes their lower end laptops run like sludge and drains all the life out of the better machines.

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Re: New machine?

"What is going to be missing?"

well, on a laptop....depending on the machine, power settings, screen brightness settings, on/off controls for wifi/bluetooth, volume settings, display output options................

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malware as a business model

"New machine?

First job, wipe and rebuild, always."

Sure thing, but that may not be enough in Lenovo World, see this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nasty/

More to come, from other OEMs ... Get your popcorn bowl ...

Lesson of all of this, is this: Microsoft has withdrawn control of Windows to OEM, so that they all can get money off their customer via malware and probably next, ransomware.

This is the result of, quoting an El Reg hack, "a cut-throat business model", as the laptop PC business has become, where you can't do more than 10E margin via usual means and have to resort to "other" means ...

The Windows eco-system has simply become a toxic dreag-dealer business model, both directly (Windows embedded (and more to come) distributing security updates only to paying customers), and indirectly (allowing OEMs to simply install, propagate and sponsor malware, even to the cost of the whole https stack security).

The number of incidents, for the last 6 months, is testament to this. MS is culprit of letting this happen, otherwise they'd taken strong measures ... They know what money hunger can lead people to do, they just let it happen.

End of the line: Windows is now doomed as a trusted platform. Get out of it people !

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Re: New machine?

"The EU needs to get onto this. "

The EU is not even able to tell its ars from its elbrow, mate ! How could they even see anything wrong, here before the cows come home ???

They never sent anyone fighting against terrorism, until, what, 2 days ago ? Only the french and the american went to Mali !

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Re: New machine?

"They never sent anyone fighting against terrorism, until, what, 2 days ago ? Only the french and the american went to Mali !"

Yes, but exactly how does that relate to product legislation? It isn't the same people, you know. "Well, today I managed to mandate universal phone chargers and on the way home I stopped off to bomb Libya".

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LDS
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Re: New machine?

Actually, you can usually download all that stuff from the support sites (at least from Dell, never owned a Lenovo PC) - just you need to know what you need, download and install.

As usual, "computer skilled" people may have no issues, but many people would have - especially when you need to know what's the right driver/utility to download. Some models may have different chipsets for networking, different cams, different touchpads, and even different disks - depending on what configuration you choose. While Windows itself can probably found some drivers (as long as you at least installed drivers for one network card...), some utilities may be only available from the OEM.

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LDS
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Re: New machine?

Actually, when it comes to customers protection it's the USA that are lagging far behind.

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Linux

Re: New machine?

Okay, this is not a brand new machine (Thinkpad X201), but under OpenSuSE 13.2: power settings [x], screen brightness settings [x], on/off controls for wifi/bluetooth [x], volume settings [x], display output options [x] all work. Same with Mint 17.2

And on my previous machine, an X61, with OpenSuSE (I think it was 11.3 back then) everything worked right away, including the shedload of devices that XP needed to have drivers loaded for separately. Rather annoying because both wired and wireless networking were among them, but an aging PCMCIA card took care of that hurdle.

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Headmaster

Re:"the American"

Who was the American that went to Mali?

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Flame

Not so easy when Lenovo have done something to the disk hardware so that the MSFT install DVD for Windows 7 does not recognise the disk.

Could be the SATA controller mode setting, AHCI versus compatibility mode or something like that. I recall it being a bugger to change back after installation

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Re: New machine?

Some people (wast majority actually) prefer to use OS that can be used out of box without any crutches or reading gazillion pages of forums with pointless suggestions to install some other software, edit some obscure option in configuration file and install some other software or install different OS when they simply want play their DVD.

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Re: New machine?

What is going to be missing? Some cruddy half working bloatware. It is this kind of cr*p that is making a mess of the Windows OS experience.

Ain't that the truth? The predecessor to my Zenbook was an HP Netbook. While the Zenbook was mercifully free of crapware, the HP Netbook was loaded with it and almost none of it was usable. The HP crapware was written for a screen resolution somewhat higher than the resolution of the device. Hence action buttons and so forth were unclickable. This might also be related to regular freezes I experienced with the machine that necessitated removing the battery to restart.

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Re: New machine?

In 2015 someone actually thinks it is worth to mention that screen brightness and wifi working fine on their laptop. Wow. Somehow you don't hear that from anyone using windows for last...well, ever.

Says enough about quality of Linux desktop, isn't it ?

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Joke

Re: the American"

Who was the American that went to Mali?

I think some of the $10 million given to Mali by the Australian government may have been used to bribe him.

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Procedure for my new Lenovo:

Take out of box;

plug in;

insert USB with Linux image;

press secret Novo button with paperclip;

disable UEFI;

reboot;

format HDD;

install Linux.

Problem solved.

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Re: New machine?

Ideal application for new consumer protection laws - make Illogical, immoral EULAs illegal!

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FAIL

Re: New machine?

In 2015 someone actually thinks it is worth to mention that screen brightness and wifi working fine on their laptop.

It was actually the person I replied who suggested those things might not work after installation of another OS. But you clearly need Clippy to help you with your reading comprehension, and you're out of your depth now he's gone.

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Linux

Re: New machine?

Some people (wast majority actually) prefer to use OS that can be used out of box without any crutches

At first I thought you were a Windoze fanboi, but clearly I was mistaken as you're actually endorsing Linux.

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Re: New machine?

Linux is almost there. Using Peppermint (Ubuntu derivative) popped in a Netgear USB wireless dongle and it just worked. Windows usually needs a driver from CD or website.

Not always this smooth, but a contrast with earlier Linux experiences where usually sound or video issues -- solvable only by donning that propeller cap.

Remaining problems -- Linux applications not as user friendly as popular Windows equivalents.

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Re: New machine?

Remaining problems -- Linux applications not as user friendly as popular Windows equivalents.

So carry on using the applications you are used to. If they don't work under Wine (and most do) then run them in a VM, or dual boot.

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Re: the American"

Who was the American that went to Mali?

Big Mac

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Re: New machine?

"Some people (wast majority actually) prefer to use OS that can be used out of box without any crutches or reading gazillion pages of forums"

Yep that's why you should install Mint 17.2 with built in VLC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: New machine?

"Okay, this is not a brand new machine (Thinkpad X201), but under OpenSuSE 13.2 [...]"

Same here with a Lenovo X1 Carbon. It's a fantastic laptop which runs anything I throw at it just fine. Came with Windows 7 pro and was wiped almost immediately. Since then I've run Fedora, OpenSuSE, Mint and FreeBSD on it without any issues whatsoever.

Power saving and suspend/resume actually work a lot better than on Windows. You close the lid and it's in sleep within a second. You open the lid, and you're ready to go and connected within about 2-3 seconds.

Also overall battery life time is fantastic. 8+ hours under OpenSuSE 13.2 (Gnome edition) for normal office/email/browsing stuff.

Thankfully Windows OEM bloatware isn't anything new (though the gaping security holes become more frequent recently). Hence, I have kind of been conditioned to get rid of anything pre-installed a long time ago, so it isn't something I worry or get upset about much any more.

All that said, for products which are targetted at an average consumer market, all those security/bloatware issues are unacceptable. Average Jane and Average Joe do want Windows and can't be bothered (or aren't experienced enough) to replace it with vanilla Windows and gather all the drivers they need.

So the bottom line: Hardware may be fantastic, but the included pre-installed software with all its issues is un-fucking-acceptable. Problem with making that a reglatory issue (like others have suggested here) is that it will increase prices. Fire-and-forget machines are of course cheaper than accommodating recall logistics for potentially millions of devices at the same time.

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Facepalm

Re: New machine?

Says enough about quality of Linux desktop, isn't it ?

You seem to have missed the point.

"Stomeshop" said that controls for power, brightness, WiFi, etc were working under Linux. Not because that is at all remarkable in itself but because "x 7", further up the thread had pointed out that these things can be difficult to get working if you perform a clean reinstall of Windows, because it can be hard to identify and obtain the correct drivers for OEM hardware.

It is actually pretty remarkable that Linux usually gets all the hardware working straight out of the box with no support or assistance from the manufacturer ... and this makes it doubly tragic that it can be so hard to correctly reinstall the manufacturer-supplied OS.

Do try and keep up at the back, rather than taking cheap shots at posts you haven't properly understood.

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Re: New machine? - install an alternative OS

This is precisely what I do without fail. It has always worked brilliantly, even on an unbranded Chinese supermarket-special laptop, until last month when I picked up a new-but-ex-display HP Envy 15 for a good price. The bluddy thing refuses to play with any distribution that I've tried so far. Some freeze during installation (various 'buntus), some apparently install OK but then won't boot from the hard drive (Mint), some appear to install and boot OK, but updating the system and/or installing packages borks them (oenSUSE, Debian).

On the off chance that someone out there might have some clue to share with me, it is the ah000na model. I have updated the BIOS, disabled secureboot and enabled legacy booting.

-A.

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"Could be the SATA controller mode setting, AHCI versus compatibility mode"

Yes, that's definitely the thing. Win7 installer doesn't have much to offer in the department of AHCI drivers. Especially for mobile southbridges like ICH9M.

It's of course possible to find correct AHCI driver and load it during install. But who bothers to do that. We're the IT crowd, for Pete's sake, we don't do such things. It'll be much easier to wail on the forums about the horrendous onslaught of non-standard disk controllers, even if AHCI controllers have been prevalent since 2005 or so.

That said, AHCI driver model leaves a lot to be desired, it's a bloody fakeraid with all the niceties to go with it. But that's a rant for another day.

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Re: New machine?

especially when you need to know what's the right driver/utility to download.

IBM used to have a very detailed breakdown of what drivers you needed for what Thinkpad model (the NNNN-XXX designation, not just the series designation) for every model roughly from the mid-Pleistocene onwards. It did carry over to Lenovo, but the last time I looked the site had been redesigned, and simply searching for the model number didn't work like it used to. As I had the relevant drivers on a stick already I didn't bother to rummage through the Lenovo site, just trying the bunch on the stick one by one.

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WTF?

"DVD for Windows 7 does not recognise the disk"

The important question is: "Does the machine recognise a Debian install DVD?" Or Mint or...

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Re: New machine?

@Fihart - Linux applications are a mixed bag of excellent to horrible but so are Winbloat applications. Often users do not spend enough time to learn the Linux application to see if it as good or even better than the Winbloat application it is replacing. Often, just the layout of the GUI is enough for many not to look any further.

What most people complain about is either a very specific missing feature on the nearest Linux equivalent, their favorite Winbloat application is not ported (not whether there is Linux equivalent), or the Linux equivalent is unfamiliar even though it has all the features desired. IMHO, specific missing features is only one that is often valid. The other two reflect the user's laziness or incompetence in most cases.

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Linux

Re: New machine?

> Okay, this is not a brand new machine (Thinkpad X201),

That's the problem. Nice laptoppy things work on Linux eventually, but not on brand-new models, because it takes time for "someone" to reverse-engineer how to do the them for some particular models. This is where EU regulation is badly needed: HW manufacturers should be required to publish full technical details on the launch day of new hardware (at the latest), so open-source operating systems could fully support them.

Of course manufacturers will cite any number of reasons to oppose this (proprietary IP, trade secrets, would reduce security, yadda yadda...), but I am pretty sure the real reasons are laziness (making useful docs costs some), and planned obsolescence: if the hardware can be supported by open drivers, it cannot be obsoleted by withdrawing official support (usually in connection with some Windows update). Junkyards are full of scanners, web cameras, and printers that would otherwise work perfectly, but only with Windows XP...

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Re: @ DainB New machine?

More like spend half a day doing Win Updates with multiple downloads, intalls, and restarts. Then more time spent going through updates to locate and remove the spyware.

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Re: New machine?

Actually if you are running 8 and higher you can download bloatware free ISOs directly from MS that install perfectly on OEM machines.

Made rebuilding clean machines a lot easier this past couple of years.

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PC Decrapifier to the rescue.

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This post has been deleted by its author

New Machines

I always buy a spare HD when I get a new machine. Slip out the MS corrupted HD, instal the spare and a new distro and I'm good. I don't buy the latest bling - so hardware is rarely an issue.

Face it. The days of a MS product 'just works' without spying on you are long gone.

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"the MS corrupted HD"

Ha ha ha ha ha

ha ha ha

Mooncalf

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Anonymous Coward

Buy a mac

Is all.

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Re: Buy a mac

And expose yourself to a whole different set of problems.

At least you can decide to ignore updates with OSX, just like Windows 7.

And.... you can download a copy of the OS and create installation media which, I something that seems to be a diminishing feature in the windows world.

And no license keys!!!! and phone home authentication.

But...

1) Mac's are horrendiously expensive (Apparently)

2) Apple is doomed

So you decide...

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Re: Buy a mac -2) Apple is doomed

I certainly don't think Apple is doomed. I just won't buy glueware, but that's me.

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Coat

Re: Buy a mac

And expose yourself to a whole different set of problems.

At least it'll keep you dry in the rain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Buy a mac

The man from Del Monte says yes.

When I go on one of my occasional porn blitzes, I always use the MacBook. Private mode: no history for wifey to find. Encrypted filing system, just in case there's some dispute about the age of an actress.

Just watch those naughty websites doing their damndest to install malware executables: straight into the trash. It's bullet proof. The best attack I've seen mounted is locking up the browser with a (false) warning that the system has been corrupted, and I should call some number in the US. Now, I admit, that's gonna catch some people who don't know how to force quit a process. But apart from that, no geekiness required.

New printer detected: Do you a) accept the offer to download an Apple driver or b) download and install a utility set that's larger than a Win 95 installation and cheerfully directs you to the manufacturer store to buy cartridges from time to time, when it's not running an update service in the background.

Yeah, my choice of computer is a really hard one.

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