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HP Linux Business

HP Dishonors Warranty If You Load Linux 702

Posted by kdawson
from the caveat-installor dept.
darkonc points us to a writeup on linux.com about a very Linux-unfriendly policy at HP. A woman bought a Compaq laptop and loaded Ubuntu on it. Some time later, still well inside the 1-year hardware warranty, the keyboard started acting up. An HP support rep told her, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." Gateway and Dell refused to comment to the reporter on what they would do in a similar situation. (Linux.com and Slashdot are both part of OSTG.)
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HP Dishonors Warranty If You Load Linux

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  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:09PM (#18504243)
    dell is ALSO guilty:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?for um=1004&thread=22581483 [dpreview.com]

    no WONDER why they had 'no comment'.

  • Gateway (Score:2, Informative)

    by coren2000 (788204) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:11PM (#18504277) Journal
    Gateway honoured their warrenty with me when my notebook's vidCard started acting up. I had Gentoo Linux dualed with XP on it at the time. I was actually past the 1 year warrenty by a few weeks too.
  • Re:Not Unreasonable (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:12PM (#18504315) Homepage Journal

    If Linux probes your hardware (monitor) and selects the incorrect settings, could that not potentially harm your screen?

    Not really. Modern CRTs have protection circuitry built in to prevent someone from overdriving the monitor. All you see is an error message saying "Signal out of Range". Besides, most new computers ship with LCDs, which do not have electron guns to overdrive.
  • Standard practice (Score:4, Informative)

    by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:17PM (#18504435) Homepage
    As somebody who worked at various helpdesks for a few years as a phone monkey, this is SOP with any company. You can't run through the troubleshooting scripts unless the software on the PC is exactly or very close to the initial load. Helpdesk people are not trained to solve problems, just go through the appropriate steps. So, if you want your warranty honored, suck it up and install Windows. You would have known this if you had read the fine print when you bought the damn thing. If you want a Linux notebook, then buy a Linux notebook. Talk about a sense of entitlement...
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:19PM (#18504483)
    This is why you keep (or download or steal) a Dell Diagnostic CD. These badboys are loaded with the drivers and utils to test hardware (there are of course various ones for different class machines). If you call or e-mail Dell support with an error code from one of these tests, they basically bow down and ship the replacement part. In this case, the $20 keyboard assembly (if it even costs HP that much) would be simple to replace by a user and the cost would be less than the money lost to bad press and dealing with this. (I mean a PR person is wasting time on this matter. The CS rep is wasting time. They probably already lost the cost of the keyboard a few times over in man-hours alone.)
  • Re:Uh, Car analogy? (Score:3, Informative)

    by KillaBeave (1037250) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:21PM (#18504515)
    Yea there is, I wish I could remember the name of the law now. Basically it was to protect aftermarket parts makers and people who customize their cars. If I lower the car, only the warranty on the suspension is affected. If I change the mufflers on the car, only the warranty on the exhaust is affected. Here's a link to some info about it from SEMA. http://www.sema.org/main/semaorghome.aspx?ID=50096 [sema.org]
  • I cheated and RTFA'd (Score:5, Informative)

    by xs650 (741277) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:21PM (#18504527)
    FTFA
    " "When she called Compaq -- the unit comes with a one-year warranty on the hardware -- they asked what operating system she was running. When she told them Linux, they said, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS."

    HP didn't refuse warranty coverage, they told he she needed to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS to get warranty service.

    That is completely reasonable. The script readers doing the trouble shooting at HP wouldn't be able to trouble shoot a system that didn't have the OS on it that HP originally installed.
  • by GiMP (10923) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:26PM (#18504645)
    I had this problem too when a harddrive failed. I ran badblocks and smartctl against the drive, both reported failures. However, they refused to replace it, as we ran Linux.

    After 8 hours of phone conversation and repeated readings of the warranty, verbatim, to the manager, I finally was able to have them consent to accepting the use of their disk-testing utility from a bootable DOS disk, rather than from within a pre-installed Windows OS. They refused to accept the smartctl and badblocks output, regardless of having support for Linux. Apparently, the hardware we had did not quality for Linux support, thus they would not allow us to use Linux-based utilities to prove a hardware failure.

    With the amount of time that they spent with me on the phone, it would have been far less expensive for them to simply send me a new drive, rather than waste time debating semantics.
  • Suggested fix (Score:3, Informative)

    by Flying pig (925874) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:27PM (#18504655)
    A possible fix, and relatively cheap insurance, is to buy a new HDD of the correct type at the time you buy the laptop. On the original disk, do all the registration stuff, clean off the corporate malware, patch Windows, Ghost, then just remove the disk (nb don't forget to remove batteries - on the Acer 1500 series, the HDD crate is accessible by removing the battery, which is well thought out.

    Now install new HDD and the OS of your choice. If the system fails under warranty, switch hard drives and try rebooting. If it works fine, you know you have an OS problem. If it doesn't, claim under warranty.

    Assuming you back up regularly, this is a good insurance strategy. I experienced it the other way when an update to Ubuntu caused an unrecoverable video driver problem and I needed my email back urgently. It took well under an hour to reload the Windows HDD, move the Thunderbird data back from the server, and carry on till a fix was available.

  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Informative)

    by taniwha (70410) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:32PM (#18504755) Homepage Journal
    in my experience (twice now) Dell will honor their warranty if you run Linux (but then I always return the laptop without the hard drive), but both times I told them I ran linux
  • by badfish99 (826052) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:34PM (#18504793)
    Back in the old days, some monitors would fail to sync to some refresh rates, and the display would collapse to a dot in the centre of the screen, which would burn a hole in the phosphor (or worse).

    I don't think monitors like that have been sold for the last 20 years or so, but the warning has never been removed from the manual.
  • by poolecl (170874) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:38PM (#18504865)
    well, it's not just HP either. I did tech support for Sony for a while and they had similar policies, support is only for the factory Os. And if you call tech support for warranty service, they will have to troubleshoot, which may include an ffr (full format and reinstall). Obvious issues can be fixed without an ffr, but can you imagine the cost of support if we paid for shipping both ways and the technician in san diego to do the ffr every time some windows noob insisted their computer was "broke" when it was full of spyware!?!??! According to the article, all the lady has to do is restore the original os, which shouldn't be a problem, because she needs to back up the data in case the factory restores the os on her anyway!
  • Re:Show me (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:40PM (#18504905) Journal
    From the HP Warranty FAQ [hp.com] (emphasis mine):

    Q17. Will my warranty be affected if I install a non-HP upgrade/option in my HP product ?
    HP warranty extends only to HP products and options. If you install a non-HP option into your HP product and this option then fails, you must contact the supplier for warranty cover on that item.
    The warranty on your HP product will not be affected by the installation of a non-HP upgrade/option unless your HP product is damaged as a result of installation and/or operation of a third party option, such damage will not be covered by HP warranty.
    If your HP product is not operating correctly, you may be asked to verify that any non-HP option is not responsible for the problem be[sic] uninstalling any such items.


    Can you prove that Linux didn't cause the hardware problem? If not, then your SOL.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:43PM (#18504983) Homepage
    Most monitors sold in the last 10 years know which resolutions/refresh rates they support and will display an appropriate error screen if you feed it the wrong signal.
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pentavirate (867026) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:45PM (#18505039) Homepage Journal
    This has nothing to do with Linux. I once owned a Toshiba that came with Win98 installed. I had installed Win2000 on the computer as a dual boot with the win98. Later I was having some hardware issues that fell under warranty. On the phone, the technician told me that I had to have the original Win98 on the computer. I explained that I had it but I dual boot into win2000. That wasn't good enough. It had to have the original configuration only. I hung up and called back and lied about only having win98 installed.

    From their point of view, they need to have the software in a known state so that they can troubleshoot the hardware. They don't want to go to the expense of sending out a technician (I had an on-site warranty) if the problem turned out to not be hardware related and they needed to know that the technician will be familiar with the OS so they can do their troubleshooting as well.

    I know it's fun to jump on the "everyone is against Linux" bandwagon but this just isn't the case in this situation.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:49PM (#18505121) Journal
    Once upon a time I worked for Sony and performed tech support for their PC's. Here is the way it works. The company has a policy, they only support the operating system the machine was shipped with. This means if the machine shipped with WinME then only ME would be supported on that machine. If the customer later upgraded to 2000 or XP it would void the warranty. All we could do, as a courtesy, is direct them to the appropriate drivers for that version of windows on the website. However, this only voids the software warranty.

    Here is the problem. If you have a bad motherboard with a flaky usb port. As a Sony tech rep there is a troubleshooting routine I am required to go through before I can issue an RMA on that hardware. That routine involves a number of windows based steps. If you aren't running the shipped OS AND the same VERSION of the shipped OS then I am not allowed to go through a troubleshooting routine with you.

    Unless it is a case of clear hardware failure, you would have to perform a complete system recovery before we could help you. If you didn't have the discs then I could refer you to where you could buy a replacement copy for $40. If you didn't want to lose your data then your SOL, the first thing the repair center does when you send in your PC is a complete system recovery anyway.

    Technically your hardware warranty isn't voided by installing another operating system. But it may very well effectively be voided since I can't go through the troubleshooting procedures required to issue you an RMA.
  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:49PM (#18505141) Journal

    Shazbot, not early enough in the thread to help... sigh.

    I had a similar experience. I configured my HP laptop to dual boot, absolutely loved the machine. But the opening and closing eventually loosened the video display connector so badly, you had to hold the display at just the right angle to get it to come on and/or stay on. I called HP support, and through painful session lasting more than an hour someone pretending to be able to speak English (this was one of the reasons the call lasted so long -- repeatedly had to ask for instructions until I could understand), I had to jump through all of their hoops which included, but was not limited to:

    • reboot
    • reboot again, but this time leave off for 30 seconds
    • reboot by powering off
    • uninstall driver and reboot to re-detect display and re-install drivers

    Of course I'd long since tried everything the support tech offered, but he would not let me go to the next level until I'd completed his script. Somehow during the course of the call I'd let slip I had the machine up as dual-boot, and that's when the whole dialog and relationship went South.

    When he heard it was a dual-boot machine he said the machine would not be covered under warranty, as that may have been the cause of the problem. I pleaded my case, he wouldn't budge. I asked for his manager, he put me on hold ostensibly to do that, but I got disconnected.

    I re-called the help center, got someone who spoke only slightly better English, and who, surprise!, had the notes from my previous call. There was no going back on my dual boot debacle. He too declined any warranty support, and he too somehow lost my connection when "going for his manager".

    Fuck it. I went to the HP on-line site, found contact info for the corporate offices, called that number (don't remember which one), and got someone in Texas (she said so). I described my problem, and why I thought it was a hardware problem and was unrelated to the dual boot setup. She immediately agreed with me, and said they would cover the repair if it turned out to be hardware.

    She cautioned that when it arrived for warranty work at the labs it was common for them to completely format the hard drive when doing diagnostics and advised that if I wanted to be sure of my machines integrity to remove the hard drive and ship it sans disk drive. She agreed if the hardware problem was as we guessed, it would be repaired under warranty, no questions asked.

    I sent it, they fixed it, done! It was a headache, and the extra kind treatment and effort from the last tech elicited a thank you call from me to her manager for exceptional cool under pressure (I was pretty hot by then).

    For me, the problem was less with HP's willingness to support and more with the outsourced, pseudo-english speaking work force ostensibly to provide me with support. It doesn't work -- they don't get it, and it has really hurt HP's reputation with me... I've since purchased and owned 7 more computers, and not one of them has been an HP. Their loss.

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cocoronixx (551128) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:52PM (#18505213) Homepage
    SOL, or you just use another computer to re-image it?
  • Why this is illegal (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:54PM (#18505245) Homepage Journal

    IANAL, but this same issue has come up before. I'm sure someone will let me know (specifically, with citations please) where I am making incorrect assumptions.

    I visted the FA [linux.com] and saw a comment from an alleged HP employee [linux.com] defending this policy. The following is my response to him. See the comment link for the full text of his comment.

    ...babble above, content below...

    In the case of the car industry, most warranties would be voided if you change the most minimal detail on the car. I had a friend that couldn't get the car serviced under the warranty because he changed the seat belts.

    If your friend changed the seat belts to street legal parts, then he was protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [wikipedia.org] of 1975. The following is the specific text of the US Code which specifies this protection:

    (c) Prohibition on conditions for written or implied warranty; waiver by Commission
    No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer's using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the Commission if--
    (1) the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and
    (2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest.

    In other words, assuming the warranty service had nothing to do with seat belts or their mounting hardware, OR he used street legal parts (and using DOT listed safety harnesses is quite legal, even on the street - replacement hardware must MEET OR EXCEED OE specifications) then it was quite illegal to deny him warranty protection.

    By the same token, it is QUITE illegal to deny someone warranty protection because they are using an operating system which is different from that shipped with the unit unless it can be shown that the system will not work properly with that other software installed. Since Linux is no more likely to cause hardware failure than Windows, it would be trivial to prove that this is a violation of US Code (TITLE 15, CHAPTER 50, 2302 (c)) and your employer would lose a fat sack of cash in a lawsuit, to be followed by a bigger sack of cash in a class-action lawsuit for anyone who purchased an HP laptop, etc etc.

    I don't see what the big deal is on returning the computer back to factory state. It makes everything easier on everyone. If it wasn't for standardized processes, 2 day turnaround time wouldn't be possible.

    The machine should be booted with a diagnostic LiveCD for testing. You cannot assume that hardware problems are actually real problems until you test with a known good software platform. This argument is complete nonsense.

    Also, the tech support department is only trained on Windows. Troubleshooting must be done in every case. If the staff is not trained, they can't troubleshoot on that platform.

    See my last point. (I found it useful to respond to your points in psuedorandom order.)

    Also remember that thanks to those secret deals between HP/Compaq and Microsoft, the computer that that particular customer got was that price and not more expensive.

    Those deals are an example of price fixing and bringing them up is the most specious argument in the whole comment.

    HPQ's policy on Linux and warranties is quite blatantly a violation of federal law.

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ohearn (969704) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:56PM (#18505319)
    Having done full time tech support as my primary job through my undergrad and as part time during grad school, I can tell you this is true in call center tech support. I've worked for shops having the onsite service contract for an area with HP, but this basically is just go install replacement parts for customers to afraid to open the case. I have worked phone support for Gateway, Dell, and MS.

    From my experience I would say that a Gateway tech would probably tell you the same line since the are under a strict time deadline at most of thier centers unless its changed a lot since I worked for them. Dell's environment for the techs isn't nearly as bad, so you would probably not get it nearly as often there, and to MS's credit they had no time limits; all they cared about was getting the customer's issue fixed even if you were on one call all day. MS also mandated much better training for the techs than Gateway and Dell did, although Dell was a better than Gateway on this by a little bit.

    Technically the policies for any of the com panies I did phone support for would not support this BS. All the tech has to do to bypass any driver issues, OS issues, or other nonsense would be to test the keyboard in the BIOS, or boot from the Windows CD that came with the system and get to a command prompt that was to test it. Worst case should be that they require the customer to reinstall windows and then test it, and replace the keyboard as needed at that point.

    Again I only worked onsite for HP, and it has been years since I did tech support for a living, but this is at least speaking from someone who has a lot of experience in the area.
  • Magnuson-Moss (Score:2, Informative)

    by Akita24 (1080779) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:57PM (#18505339)
    IANAL but if the O/S wasn't specifically excluded, then they can't deny the warranty unless they can PROVE that my "modification" caused the failure: 1.The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. 2302(C)) This federal law regulates warranties for the protection of consumers. The essence of this law concerning aftermarket auto parts is that a vehicle manufacturer may not condition a written or implied warranty on the consumers using parts or services which are identified by brand, trade, or corporate name (such as the vehicle makers brand) unless the parts or service are provided free of charge. The law means that the use of an aftermarket part alone is not cause for denying the warranty. However, the law's protection does not extend to aftermarket parts in situations where such parts actually caused the damage being claimed under the warranty. Further, consumers are advised to be aware of any specific terms or conditions stated in the warranty which may result in its being voided. The law states in relevant part: "No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumers using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade or corporate name...." (15 U.S.C. 2302(C)). And to the apologists / excuse makers: Screw 'em. The company's job is to get as much money from me (the consumer) with as little outlay as possible, thereby maximizing profit. My job as a consumer is exactly the opposite: To get as much from the company for as little of my money as possible. It is not my job to give a rats ass what their excuses or problems may be, any more than they care about my ability to make house payments or feed my children.
  • Re:Not Unreasonable (Score:3, Informative)

    by quintesse (654840) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:03PM (#18505465)
    That silly of course, the likes of Dell and HP are definitely not the cheapest of the industry and normally you pay them more exactly because you expect at least some modicum of support from them. Remember that on the bill there is actually an item where you pay for support. I expect them to hold their end of the bargain. Which means that unless they can prove somehow that the damage was done by mistreating the hardware somehow (which could either be by playing football with it or by using faulty drivers) I want them to honor my warranty.

    The thing is of course that those companies often try to shirk their responsibilities. It has happened several times in my life that companies tried to tell me that the problem was my own fault and that I had therefore voided my warranty. Normally it is enough to suggest that they check (and think) again which suggests to me that they just try to see if you will fall for it and fold as soon as you complain.

    And with respect to airplanes: I would LOVE to be able to pay more for legroom!! Show me which airlines actually give me that option please! The only options I see are: a) tourist class = you will have more room if you go to the bathroom or b) business class = you pay triple the price and get enough room to have two small children play in front of you (which I have seen happen) and maybe even c) first class = like b) but you pay even more and I guess that nice flight attendant will even wipe your ass for you because why else would you pay such insane amount of money? Never having flow first class I can't speak from personal experience though.

    I always thought: why not take out one row of seats and divide that space between 3 or 4 other rows and offer some kind of tourist+ class which has a price 1/3 or 1/4 higher than the normal tourist class ticket? Instead I always hope I will be in time to ask for seats near the emergency exists.
  • by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:06PM (#18505557)
    Same here, though I just use a second HD for Linux and FreeBSD. BTW: I just contacted HP through chat, and asked if running Linux/FreeBSD would void my warranty. The answer was that running Linux would not void the warranty of my particular model (Pavilion t.490). It took a minute or 2 for the answer, but, it seems like HP does have some sort of list of Linux-compatible models. 8 years ago, I loaded FreeBSD on a Toshiba laptop (Satellite 320CDT). The first time I used X, I was greeted with a loud high pitched sound from the video-circuit (second try was ok), so I can understand the no-warranty statement for certain problems on certain models. Though I can't understand the relation between keyboard problems, loading Linux and no warranty. PS: During the support-chat, it was mentioned three times that Windows would run best, the computer was designed for Windows and I could not get support for Linux.
  • Warranty Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimlintott (317783) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:19PM (#18505773) Homepage

    I would think that under the Magnusson-Moss Warranty act that her machine is still warranted by law.

    The act says that you can't tie people to only certain products. It's why having your car's brakes fixed at a small shop doesn't void the vehicle's warranty. If you look at Linux as just a part then she should have recourse.

    I'd take them to small claims.

    It seems to be covered here [ftc.gov]

    "Tie-In Sales" Provisions Generally, tie-in sales provisions are not allowed. Such a provision would require a purchaser of the warranted product to buy an item or service from a particular company to use with the warranted product in order to be eligible to receive a remedy under the warranty. The following are examples of prohibited tie-in sales provisions.

    Seems to me that saying use Windows or no warranty is a violation.

    Standard disclaimer = IANAL

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoxFulder (159829) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:25PM (#18505853) Homepage
    I had to send my HP laptop in for warranty repair once. They told me the hard drive would be formatted, which I refused. After a few minutes of me basically telling them, "look, the AC socket is physically broken and it has nothing to do with software", they agreed that I could send in the computer without the hard drive.

    I suggest that anyone having hardware issues with a computer running Linux do the same: explain to the tech support people that the issue has nothing to do with software, and that you've diagnosed the specific hardware failure. Make sure they let you send in the computer for repair without the hard drive included, so you won't have them hassling you about what OS you run.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#18505913) Journal

    Exception: a firmware updater. If hardware has firmware that can be updated, you can hose it with software by uploading broken firmware. The hardware should check to see if the checksums are right and stuff like that, but that won't keep somebody who wants to break hardware from doing so. There's usually no good way to prevent that; the firmware must be valid for the device to show up on the bus so that you can flash the firmware. Thus, if the firmware is hosed, so is the device. I suppose that for a bit more money, you could do an unwritable base image with a reset button, but that only helps if you know about the reset button. Your typical user would simply see it as a dead device.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:33PM (#18506019) Homepage Journal

    HP didn't refuse warranty coverage, they told he she needed to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS to get warranty service. That is completely reasonable.

    That is completely illegal as per the Magnuson-Moss warranty act, which prohibits any tie-in requirements in warranties unless it can be proven that they are necessary for proper functioning of the device.

    The other side of the coin: you cannot refuse warranty service to a customer who has used a non-specified product with the system unless you can show that the product they were using can cause the product to fail/be damaged.

    You simply can not require the use of windows. If they want a known diagnostic environment on the machine, they can put it in the BIOS. But they can't legally prevent you from using Linux on your own computer. And unless the warranty specifically says that you must be running the packaged OS to get service, then you don't need to. But because of the Magnuson-Moss act, they can't specify that, because it would be an enforced tie-in and thus a violation of federal law.

    At least, that's how I read the law. I'm not a lawyer and am not familiar with relevant case law. I would love to hear from an actual lawyer on this.

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:39PM (#18506127) Homepage

    It is hard to build a laptop at Newegg, but that doesn't mean that you're out of options and must resort to buying from HP or Dell.

    It's possible to buy a whitebox laptop and drop in all the technician-serviceable parts yourself. It's annoying, so I personally try to avoid it.

    There are also a number of independent vendors who are happy to sell high quality laptops to Linux users. Some, like http://www.system76.com/ [system76.com] actually sell laptops with Linux installed. Others, like http://www.powernotebooks.com/ [powernotebooks.com] sell OS-less laptops and are happy to service machines with Linux installed.

    Most people immediately respond "but Dell laptops are cheaper". Three points:
    - First, the price difference isn't that large. Start at System76 or PowerNotebooks and pick the system that you want. Then recreate the exact same hardware configuration on the HP/Dell/Lenovo site and compare the prices. Going the other way is harder because the independent vendors have a smaller selection, but it's extremely unlikely that PowerNotebooks doesn't stock a machine that fits your needs.
    - Second, if you buy from System76, you *know* your hardware works with Ubuntu (since it comes pre-installed). No janky wireless drivers, no too-new sound card that won't be supported until the next kernel revision. If you buy from PowerNotebooks, it's not quite as good - but they have a Linux support forum where you can discuss your issues with other users (and the owner of the company who watches the forums closely).
    - You get what you pay for. Dell brand wireless is $10 cheaper than Intel wireless for a reason. Other components, like power supplies / battery packs / LCD screens are harder to compare because they aren't independently branded. The independent vendors compete on the quality of those components whereas the large vendors will cut every corner they can get away with. I mean - HP won't even post a battery life estimate for its laptops.

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by livewire98801 (916940) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:44PM (#18506219)
    I sent my notebook in to HP earlier this year because the keyboard was acting up. I reported that the behavior was the same in Windows and Linux. They replaced the keyboard and a couple of other things with no problem. . .
  • by evolseven (941210) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:48PM (#18506295)
    Or in the case of some of the older CRT monitors, the display couldn't sync higher than say 36khz (horizontal sync). I actually have an older CRT projector that wont sync higher than 36khz horizontal. If I were to feed it anything higher than 960x540p@60hz I would actually blow several transistors in the machine. So it is possible to damage hardware with software for sure. Although I am pretty sure any monitors that could be damaged would be well out of warranty by now.
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:56PM (#18506417)

    The thing is, a serious Linux user will check out the hardware in advance and verify compatibility, and most serious users are knowledgeable in hardware to determine that there are hardware issues. However, newbies are not. You cannot categorically say that all Linux users know their hardware, because I have seen that this is not so. I have seen new users rage against companies like HP, Dell etc. when sometimes they have not bothered to RTFM.

    Several years ago I found myself in a related problem. As someone new to Linux I wanted to get a new PC as the one I had then was dying and I wanted to install Linux on it. Back then there was a lot of press about how HP was working with and was going to be Linux friendly. So I went ahead and bought a Pavilion along with another hd and video card. The second hd was going to be for Linux and the video card was so I could use two monitors. I didn't have any trouble with either, the hd showed up in My Computer as did the video card. The video card worked fine with a second monitor. However when I tried to install Linux I found out the motherboard wasn't Linux compatible. It ended up being one of those combo boards with nic, sound, and video built onto the motherboard and there were no drivers for it.

    I spent several hours searching through HP's tech support then emailing trying to see how I could install Linux on it and tech support just said it wasn't Linux compatible and they wouldn't support it. They said if I wanted Linux then I would have to order a PC with it from them. So I'm not supprized they wouldn't support this woman's laptop.

    Falcon
  • Re:Goodbye HP (Score:2, Informative)

    by sulfur (1008327) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:01PM (#18506521)
    Don't know about retail users, but we, as a business, have successfully sent laptops without hard drives to HP without any explanation and received them repaired. Though, all issues were diagnosable without the hard drive (such as bad LCD displays).
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:02PM (#18506547)

    I've actually got the inside line on this. I work for PCWorld's (the UK's main high street IT retailer) nearshore outsourced callcentre, and I worked a stint on their hardware support department ("The Tech Guys", the ridiculous name was my pet peev about the whole thing).

    Unless we were confident that the problem was definitely software, we'd always have the customer run their recovery media through the machine as a diagnostic measure. Indeed, if it was a software problem, we'd run a recovery if the customer didn't have software support.

    For anyone who thinks that running recovery media is a copout, you should try talking some customers through finding their address bar, or maybe the return key on their keyboard. Data isn't under warranty anyways (remember to backup, kids).

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:10PM (#18506693)

    Do you wonder why most probably there are no Alpha or MIPS desktop computers around you? That's right - because there is no version of Windows and Office for them.

    I do have an Alpha close enough so my knee can touch it. It runs Win NT 4 and though I don't have it MS did release a version of Office to run on it. I think the only reason Alpha didn't last long was because DEC dropped the ball. They didn't do enough to market Alphas, Amiga deja vu all over again. They also didn't work on FX!32 enough to get it working tranlating software. On my Alpha I was only able to install one commecial app and a few shareware programs.

    Falcon
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by pedalman (958492) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:31PM (#18507023)
    Dell does this with their Resource CD that ships with their computers. You can boot to it and troubleshoot the hardware, regardless of the OS residing on the hard drive.
  • by Chazmyrr (145612) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:02PM (#18507519)
    You have misunderstood Magnuson-Moss.

    If HP sold the computer without an operating system, and the warranty specified that it would be void if you did not use HP OS289 (sold separately), that would be a prohibited tie-in (if HP had not previously obtained a waiver to the tie-in clause from the FTC). It does not apply in this case as HP provided an operating system with the computer.

    The warranty does specifically state that they can require a specified configuration prior to providing warranty service. This is not a tie-in provision because they are not requiring you to buy an additional product.

    HP is saying that before they provide warranty service, they want to test their product without any aftermarket modifications to see if the defect is actually in their product. They don't have prove that a different operating system can damage their computer because they aren't invalidating the warranty if you ever use a different operating system. However, if you refuse to return your computer to a supported configuration, you are the one that has to prove that the defect could not be a result of your modifications.
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:07PM (#18507603)
    It depends on where you are. Here in Europe, consumer law usually says that equipment should be able to cope with normal usage. An AC jack broken under normal usage is not "normal wear and tear" but "unsuitable for normal use" and should be repaired even beyond formal warranty terms.
  • Re:Illegal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by zcat_NZ (267672) <zcat@wired.net.nz> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:49PM (#18508167) Homepage
    For anyone who thinks that running recovery media is a copout, you should try talking some customers through finding their address bar, or maybe the return key on their keyboard. Data isn't under warranty anyways (remember to backup, kids).

    Do you let them know that system recovery is going to trash all their documents and email before they start? Because if not that's just about the shittiest thing you can do to someone. I agree that everybody ought to have backups, but I know that most people don't and even people who think they do have sometimes turned out to have burned a CD full of desktop shortcuts...

  • My anecdote (Score:3, Informative)

    by AusIV (950840) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:10PM (#18508479)
    If you've actually read the article, HP is saying they want the user to restore Windows before they will repair the system. To me this seems reasonable. If the keyboard works fine under Windows, it's a software problem and HP is under no obligation to trouble shoot it for her. If she re-installs Windows and the problem persists, they'll honor the warranty.

    It may seem like something like this has to be a hardware problem - and it probably is. But I've seen things I was absolutely certain were hardware issues turn out to be software. My girlfriend has a Dell Laptop. A few weeks after the warranty expired, it quit charging her battery, even when off. I tried all sorts of things to get the battery to charge, I called Dell's tech support, posted on several forums, and eventually concluded that this was a motherboard problem and she was out of luck. A few months later, she decided she wanted to try out Linux - her anti-virus had just expired and she saw that I was quite happy with Kubuntu. When I put in the Live CD to install, I noticed the battery was charging. For whatever reason, her laptop's battery will charge under Linux, but not under Windows.

    My point is, software problems can appear to be hardware problems. Sometimes switching operating systems will fix this. If I were the customer in question, my first step would be to try another Live CD. If the keyboard works fine on the live CD, I'd assume the problem was somewhere in my installation. If it still had problems, I'd back up my data, restore the computer to factory settings, and ship it back.

    I don't see why people expect HP to support the computer without first being able to verify that the problem is unrelated to some third party software that they have no control over.

  • Re:Illegal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by livewire98801 (916940) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @10:06PM (#18510933)
    They replaced one of the two hard drives, the RAM, and something else. Technically, they would have replaced Linux, they informed me that they may image the drives. When I got it, the drive had been imaged, but it had also been logged into and I could see they had used some windows based tools to check the new drive's integrity.

    I always assume if I'm sending something in, they will re-image the drive. Armed with this knowledge, I always make an image of my own before sending it.

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