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MoBo Manufacturer Foxconn Refuses To Support Linux 696

Posted by kdawson
from the must-be-some-good-explanation dept.
Noodlenose notes a thread up on the Ubuntu forums, where a user is questioning the practices of hardware manufacturer Foxconn. The user describes how his new Foxconn motherboard caused his Linux install to freeze and fire off weird kernel errors. He disassembles the BIOS and concludes that a faulty DSDT table is responsible for the errors. Even though the user makes Foxconn aware of the problem, they refuse to correct it, as 'it doesn't support Linux' and is only 'Microsoft certified.' The user speculates darkly on Foxconn's motives. Read the forum, read the code, and come to your own conclusions. "I disassembled my BIOS to have a look around, and while I won't post the results here, I'll tell you what I did find. They have several different tables, a group for Windows XP and Vista, a group for 2000, a group for NT, Me, 95, 98, etc. that just errors out, and one for LINUX. The one for Linux points to a badly written table that does not correspond to the board's ACPI implementation.' The worst part is Foxconn's insistence that the product is ACPI compliant because their tables passed to Windows work, and that Microsoft gave the the magic WHQL certification."
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MoBo Manufacturer Foxconn Refuses To Support Linux

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  • by Zebra_X (13249) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:23AM (#24332653)

    Return it and buy from a manufacturer... no need to disassemble the BIOS, your time is worth more than that.

  • by Ikonoclasm (1139897) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:25AM (#24332685)
    If you're planning on running a Linux OS on your machine, don't use Foxconn. If they don't want customers, that's their business.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:25AM (#24332687)
    ...Windows hardware back. Seriously, who is stupid enough today not to support linux?
  • Re:Homework (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:25AM (#24332699)

    Yeah, except for the part where the motherboard claims to be ACPI compliant when it really isn't. That's sort of false advertising.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:25AM (#24332701)
    there is more than one motherboard manufacturer. Foxconn is more than welcome to take a FISS approach with regards to their customer base: the market will issue any required adjustments to their attitude.
  • Immature (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:32AM (#24332781)

    How old is this guy?

    If I had a serious problem I would be more professional in my way of contacting support. Certainly his way of approaching the Customer Support is looking like some angry teenager.

  • Yay tinfoil hats! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:33AM (#24332799)

    So let me get this straight.

    Some small motherboard manufacturer has flawed ACPI tables and refuses to fix them, therefore they MUST out to sabotage Linux? I feel I've missed a step in your logical deduction here. (Oh, wait, who wants to do that?) It certainly cannot be general profit-driven apathy, can it? Evidently the poster really didn't think it through - even if there was malicious intent, it isn't like this is Asus or Gigabyte we're talking about here, it is some obscure manufacturer. Skimping on a motherboard when building a system is a horrible idea anyway for these very reasons.

    Why the poster persists in sticking with such a POS board with obviously wrong BIOS is beyond me. I guess we have to create a tempest in a teacup about Linux yet again.

  • by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:33AM (#24332809)
    Why is this modded Troll? That's exactly what you should do. I know when I'm building a machine in the future, I sure as hell won't be buying a Foxconn mobo (not that I was planning to anyway).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:34AM (#24332813)

    Wouldn't this be Foxconn choice as a manufacture. What they see is that their hardware works on their target OS, windows, and would rather not spend resources on correcting the error because they explicitly say that they do not support Linux.

    I am not saying this is right, but the manufacturer has rights to choose what platforms they support. If you do not like it, and then don't buy it.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom @ g m ail.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:34AM (#24332817) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that Foxconn says its ACPI compliant but its not. It also looks as if they botched Linux by pure purpouse. Why on earth would they have a Linux section in the bios when they dont support it? Something is very smelly here thats for sure. I will keep miles away from Foxconn at my departments no matter if my systems are intended for Windows or Linux.

  • Re:Homework (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hansraj (458504) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:35AM (#24332827)

    If you follow the link in the story, you would see that the poster claims the following:

    1) Foxconn advertises its motherboard as ACPI compliant thus potentially misleading people into thinking that linux should be able to handle the board. The company does nothing to counter such possible misunderstandings. One could argue that Foxconn is not obliged to do anything of that sort but for customers it is not as simple as "doing homework" as you suggest. Foxconn doesn't say that things break on linux. They only say "works with windows" and "ACPI compliant". The only way to check is to buy and use (at least until this story).

    2) The BIOS actively looks for the OS and passes a modified table to linux. It does not even ask the OS to identify itself and go along with that identification. It rather keeps on having random checks to ensure it is running on windows. I can't think of any good reason why they need to do that unless they want to actively break things for linux.

    3) The poster smells something fishy in Foxconn's behavior. Right or wrong, I don't know. But if the poster is right in his suspicion (which s/he must believe), it would be a natural, rational and justified behavior to bitch and moan about it rather than just return the board for a refund. Society owes a lot to such "troublemakers".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:38AM (#24332853)
    They shouldn't be discriminating against different OSes. Foxconn is deliberately providing Linux with a faulty ACPI implementation rather than simply just following the spec. If they followed the spec, then they wouldn't have to worry about supporting Linux since it would be up to Linux to follow ACPI rules.
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:42AM (#24332897) Homepage Journal

    No, actually.

    File this under having done the world a service by publishing their findings.

    Now we know that at least some Foxconn motherboards do not work with Linux, and Foxconn is not interested in doing anything about that. That's useful information.

    From other posts, I gather that the motherboard actually has a table specifically targeted at Linux, which supplies broken settings. So it's more than Foxconn simply not supporting Linux; they've actually gone and broken things.

    Finally, it seems there is already a workaround available. I guess Linux is willing to support Foxconn, even if Foxconn doesn't want it to. And, really, this is a case of "yay, open source!"

  • by Sir_Real (179104) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:44AM (#24332917)

    This is active sabotage.

    They haven't lost a customer, they've gained an enemy. This is an attack. Do not let them get away with it.

  • by houghi (78078) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:45AM (#24332935)

    If you do not run Linux, don't buy them as well. Could be that you want to run it in 3 years time and then you are forced to buy new hardware.

  • by Average (648) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:46AM (#24332947)

    Sure, caveat emptor. Mark it one star on Newegg. But there are huge problems with that.

    Foxconn makes bits for hundreds of rebranders, so it's harder than you think to avoid it. And, whose mobo is in yeah random OEM PC?

    Then there is the problem with evangelism. Joe comes to you and says "Vista sucks". You hand him a Hardy Heron disk? Or, do we ask him for a BIOS dump because Linux works with some Windows PCs, but has random reboots with others?

  • Re:Homework (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pimpimpim (811140) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:47AM (#24332959)
    Have to agree with you here. This is a case of false advertising if it isn't acpi compliant (there is no 90% compliant, or compliant if you use this-or-that software, all that is just non-compliant). I don't know about the slashdot readers that answer with "so what, just return it", but when I am looking for new hardware, I am very happy if people like him figure out who is trying to screw me with false claims, so I can skip these manufacturers from my list.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:47AM (#24332963)
    Anyone who doesn't care about the tiny number of people who custom-build Linux PCs ?
  • by TorKlingberg (599697) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:51AM (#24333003)
    If they are doing tricks like this, their products are probably crappy in general and will not be stable on Windows either. Also, how about later versions of Windows? Or just later service packs? Will it work properly then? Nobody knows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:57AM (#24333075)

    -1, Utopic

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:57AM (#24333079)
    Sucks for them that they're going to get some bad press about this as it is now on Slashdot's front page.

    I don't have a problem with people getting bad press when they advertise functionality they don't actually have. I don't have a problem with them not including chipset drivers for specific OS's, or utilities coded for OS's they don't want to support. But borking your BIOS to throw a monkey wrench into things if Linux is the OS is pretty messed up.

    Hope nobody tries to do something silly like boot a Linux Live distro to recover a system where the Windows OS has gone out on one of these things.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:58AM (#24333087) Homepage
    People used to say the same thing about firefox. There aren't enough users to make a difference. Look at where we are now. Firefox is probably around 20% market share, and it's too prominent for web site designers to just sit and ignore it. The changes aren't going to happen over night. With all the inroads Linux is making in the UMPC market, and lowend computer market, it's only a matter of time before hardware manufacturers have to wake up and start supporting it.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fweeky (41046) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:00AM (#24333101) Homepage

    I don't blame them for not wanting to support !Windows. I do blame them for writing broken ACPI tables and trusting Microsoft's legendarily forgiving implementation do their work for them. I do blame them for saying they're ACPI compliant when they're blatently not. I do blame them for not even expressing interest in fixing it when it's pointed out to them.

    Sure, they're not necessarily evil, but they are displaying incompetence I find unacceptable in a hardware vendor, and I don't think it's in any way bad that they're getting bad press because of it.

  • Foxconn? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tom9729 (1134127) <tom9729@gmailFORTRAN.com minus language> on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:01AM (#24333121) Homepage

    Maybe I just don't get out much, but I've never heard of that manufacturer.

    If they are indeed falsely advertising ACPI compliance then yeah, something should be done, but at the same time I think the "you get what you pay for" mantra is applicable.

  • by uberdave (526529) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:01AM (#24333125) Homepage
    Whatever happened to the concept of generic hardware? It usedc to be that when you bought a printer, it would work with everything. They published the escape codes that you used to change fonts, or draw lines, or whatever. Same thing with modems. You used to be able to grab any modem off the shelf and expect it to work with any computer.

    Somewhere along the line, hardware started becoming Windows Only. Modems became Winmodems. Printers became Winprinters. I'm guessing the same thing applies to webcams, and scanners, and other hardware. Now we've got a motherboard with a Windows only BIOS. It sickens me.
  • by quantum bit (225091) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:03AM (#24333147) Journal

    If Windows, it sends the good tables. If Linux, it sends the deliberately faulty ones.

    It's still more likely incompetence than conspiracy. Most motherboard manufacturers don't write their own BIOS - they buy a stock one from AMI/Award and make a few changes for their particular board.

    What they most likely did was update the DSDT tables handed out to Windows to reflect their hardware, but didn't bother changing the others. So for Linux (and perhaps Win9x) it just has the generic tables that came with the BIOS, which of course don't work for their particular board.

    Of course, a BIOS even having per-OS tables is indicative of poor design, since being OS-independent is kinda the whole point of ACPI. That's more of an issue with whoever wrote the BIOS in the first place, though.

    While they're probably not out to actively sabotage Linux, it's still poor customer service to refuse to fix it and claim that everything is working fine. Sadly, getting most board manufacturers to fix their broken DSDT tables (and there are a lot out there) is akin to pulling teeth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:05AM (#24333153)

    But if a user takes the time to find the cause of the problem and tell you exactly what it is, and it is a problem that could be fixed with a BIOS update. Is it a good idea to fix the problem and improve the quality of your product, or ignore it and get a reputation for providing poor quality products?

    Sure it will still require some resources to fix, but this guy has already done the hard work of debugging and identifying the cause of the problem.

  • Re:Workaround (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uberdave (526529) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:11AM (#24333249) Homepage
    It appears that within an hour there was a workaround posted on the same forum.

    Okay, so ten out of ten for Linux and Open Source, but minus several million for needing to tweak perfectly good code to compensate for deliberate sabotage by a BIOS.
  • OT but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:12AM (#24333265) Journal

    I find it odd that quick remarks against Foxconn have been modded "troll" and "flamebait", just like interesting and insightful comments that say something bad about Microsoft usually are in other threads. If you work for MS and have mod points and are modding these comments against Foxconn down, two things:

    1. It is suggestive that this is another Microsoft trick against Linux. Your downmodding of anti-Foxconn comments just fuels the conspiracy theories

    2. When the metamods mark your mods as "unfair" you my not get mod points again. If I'm given one of the "flamebaits" or "trolls" (except the one that says "first post", that one was fairly modded) I will mod the mod as "unfair" and I imagine other metamoderators will do the same.

    I'm checking the "no karma bonus" box, please feel free to mod this ot comment down further if you wish.

  • by Zantetsuken (935350) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:13AM (#24333271) Homepage
    Ok, ya, they probably are falsely advertising, and just shoved it off because they got MS WHQL stickers (most companies do the same anymore)...

    But you know what? I don't feel too much sympathy - because honestly, you get what you pay for. Any PC builder with half a brain (which it looks like he has plenty of if he knows how to pick apart the bios) is going to know that manufacturers like Foxconn, ECS, Abit, etc are going to be horrible quality (or at best sub-par).

    Basically, he probably was being a cheapskate and went with the $30 or 40 dollar Foxconn board, when for $50, a mere $10 more, he could have gotten a fantastic Asus motherboard, or at *least* MSI or Gigabyte...
  • by mitgib (1156957) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:15AM (#24333327) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. Vote for Linux support with your money. The problem is, there aren't nearly enough Linux users to make a dent they will notice. If it makes you feel any better, I bought a (crappy) Foxconn board once and won't be buying one again.

    I beg to differ, desktop linux users != linux users.

    I purchase 40-50 systems a year as a one man show hosting company, 100% of those systems MUST be able to run linux, and run it without issue. Only 4 of my computers run a GUI, and only 1 of those runs windows, and only to play games, and that machine can dual boot to linux as well.

    So yes, I do vote with every dollar I spend by purchasing only linux compatible hardware, but I also am realistic and research what I buy before I buy it. Maybe that is why I have a mountain of Gigabyte, Tyan, Adaptec, 3ware and SuperMicro hardware.

  • Disgusting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ugmoe2000 (1305073) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:16AM (#24333339)
    After having read the Ubuntu forums I was flat out disgusted at how Foxconn responded to the customer. I have never received a response so rude from tech support. They outright told him to stop sending them e-mail because they did not want to address his problem. Nevermind their poor products... how about their customer service? That is pitiful and they fully deserve whatever comes their way.
  • by BhaKi (1316335) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:16AM (#24333341)
    People who are born in the age of winmodems assume unquestioningly and "intuitively" that hardware can only be made for an OS and supporting OSs is a cost. In reality, infinite OSs' support can be simply achieved by manufacturing in way that's compatible with open standards. If they can't do that, which is quite normal because sometimes the standards are very feature-less, they should at-least put out technical specifications regarding how an OS can interface with the hardware.
  • Re:Immature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JamesP (688957) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:23AM (#24333477)

    And how mature and professional is a support drone that says 'don't use linux, use windows vista'??

  • by jweller (926629) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:27AM (#24333559)
    I can't tell you how many machines I've built for myself and others, and the one thing I never cheap out on is the MoBo. You've got to have a solid foundation if you want to build a nice house and this is no different. Foxconn was never a brand I considered to be high quality, but it's even farther down on my list now.
  • by Brane2 (608748) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:32AM (#24333651)

    I've just opened official ACPI specs and Microsoft's WHQL is NOWHERE EVEN MENTIONED, let alone of being needed and sufficient criteria of ACPI compliance.

    IOW, product is ACI compliant when it works in accordance with specs. Once there is violation found, they can no longer claim ACPI compliance.

  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:35AM (#24333709) Homepage

    I have a motherboard (ECS) that gives a kernel panic when any Linux distro tries to boot. Since the installer boots Linux, I can't install or test any Linux distro on it. On one hand I feel certain that there is a bug in the motherboard, but on the other hand a kernel panic is like a GPF, and it should not occur even with bad input. At the very least, add a check and give me a warning or error message better than "kernel panic". So IMO, there is also a bug in the Linux kernel.

    Given the fact that this problem with the motherboard is not fatal to any other OS I've tried, I consider the bug in the Linux kernel to be worse than the bug in the motherboard. Should developers have to deal with bad input? Not in a perfect world, but this has never been a perfect world.

  • Except that FoxConn appears to *care*, but they care maliciously. They actively rewrote their BIOS code to detect and sabotage Linux.

  • by quantum bit (225091) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:39AM (#24333789) Journal

    If they didn't support Linux, and were not incompetent, they would remove the OS check altogether and just use the "Windows" table for everything. This is probably already what happens for other unsupported OSes that are not Windows or Linux, such as FreeBSD.

  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:43AM (#24333845)

    Where do we get a list of Foxconn motherboards?

    Um, did you try the internet?

  • by basil2008 (1332815) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:55AM (#24334065)
    I don't work for FoxConn, but I do work for a hardware and software vendor. And here's some insight - as I have been in a situation similar to FoxConn - but being both the accuser and the guilty party at the same time ;) WHQL is kind of a big deal for hardware vendors. The main attractive is being able to add the "certified compatible with Windows" to your product box. Honestly speaking - having the logo there gives you *some* cred with users - at least, with Windows users ;) So your competitors are nibbling at you, the product has to ship, and you need to have the logo in the box. What do you do? If you're already late to market, you hack. You install all the different flavors of Windows, check if it works - if it doesn't and crashes, well, some of that can be attributed to Windows itself. As long as you can install the OS and pass the certification, you're good, the product ships, you get your bonus and a pat in the back for delivering on time. So say that during testing you DO install Linux and crashes - time for a reality check. If the product spec said "Windows WHQL is a must", and making Linux happy means not passing WHQL - tough luck. Linux won't run. Or if "fixing the product so it passes WHQL" means "screwing Linux users", well, let me think about that ;) Many engineers working on any given product would like to ship the best possible product - the one that has a 100% compliant ACPI, APM, TPM, you-name-it implementation. But when time is short and the management chain is breathing down your neck . . . you do whatever it has to be done to be able to ship. And hope that once the product is out there, you WILL be able to go back and clean up the mess - and ship a BIOS upgrade. Everyone is happy. Sadly, by the time the product shipped, you've been reassigned to other product - and you will only go back to the first one if the Windows crowd complains. The solution is easy - Linux users to boycott the brand. But then again: if the mobo was designed to be sold to another company to be used as the basis for a product that will only run Windows . . . It isn't like you care a lot about losing the Linux business. This is only the reality - hard as it might seem. And to the guy that originally found the bug: next time, remember that maybe the guy at the other side of the email exchange also thinks the situation sucks, but he's powerless to change it. Because if even if he was provided with a full working patch for the BIOS (that doesn't break Windows compatibility), he might need to reapply for WHQL if he patches the BIOS - which means more $$$ and time spent on a product that is already shipping. So.
  • by archen (447353) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:58AM (#24334123)

    Personally I do not recommend products that do not support Linux/FreeBSD. Because I use those operating systems? That's part of it yes, but mainly because Linux tends to expose crappy products. Look at the board in question here: "Badly written table". I have yet to see a product where they cut corners in ONE place only. Usually if they're sloppy in one respect, there's a whole nest of other problems you're not even aware of. In the windows world manufacturers like to hide behind smoke and mirrors in binary drivers, and people blame windows for instability. Simply put many hardware manufacturers that release drivers/documentation for Linux are not afraid to do so because it's more than likely they're actually releasing quality products or are at least not afraid to admit to errors and will probably be more likely to fix them. Even if you only use Windows that's an important thing to consider.

  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:03AM (#24334225) Homepage

    I already said I was certain there was a problem in the motherboard. If you want to argue with me, at least try to make a relevant point AGAINST one of the two points I made. Since you seem to have missed something, my main points were:

    1) There's a bug in the motherboard (feel free to argue against this point, NOT FOR IT).
    2) The Linux kernel should be more careful with these inputs to avoid a kernel panic when it runs on a bad motherboard. At the least, it should give end users a more useful error message than "kernel panic". At the most, it should disable the module if it's not critical, and continue booting up.

  • by javilon (99157) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:05AM (#24334257) Homepage

    "no need to disassemble the BIOS, your time is worth more than that"

    Well, thanks to his dissasembling of the BIOS, you all know that you want to avoid Foxconn products in the future like the plague. That surely is worth something.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <[Satanicpuppy] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:11AM (#24334379) Journal

    Especially not to use a fricking Foxconn mobo...Jesus, I don't know how you could buy one of those and maintain your self respect anyway.

  • by Red Alastor (742410) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:20AM (#24334523)
    My girlfriend wants to install Linux (Kubuntu) on her friend's computer to stop it from getting hosed and she is an art student. Not very tricky.
  • by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:22AM (#24334563) Homepage Journal

    Return it and buy from a manufacturer... no need to disassemble the BIOS, your time is worth more than that.

    That's not always the case. And while I didn't RTFA, I'm going to make some general arguments against that statement/

    First of all this person seems to be very knowledgeable of these low level details. So, its possible he discovered this very quickly. Being able to make a certain determination and going to tech support with enough knowledge to get you escalated past the triage people is worth your time. If he was able to avoid returning this product, it might have saved him some time.

    Second is the fun aspect of this. Maybe he enjoys this sort of research. Perhaps for a faulty car or toilet he would not diagnose it himself.

    Finally there is the question of what his time is worth. If he's a college student, or consultant that can't find 40 hours of work in a week then it might be worth his time. My time may be worth x based on my salary and what I command in side work. However, I can't always convert x amount of time into x amount of dollars. He might have a surplus of time at the moment.

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:26AM (#24334631)

    I've written drivers for a company that built a linux appliance using Foxconn motherboards. It seems Foxconn supports Linux for customers as long as they're buying in large enough quantity.

    The real lesson here is not to buy Foxconn unless you're a big important customer that they care to suck up to.

  • by skulgnome (1114401) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:27AM (#24334645)

    Did you or did you not read the actual forum thread? The Linux-specific paths contain repeated invalid ACPI code which passes through the pathologically permissive Windows ACPI implementation, but hangs a the more compliant Linux implementation. Grep for "mutes", if you want to. Tell me, why the fuck would a machine need its serial ports (IO port range from 0x3f8, about the oldest hardware on a PC, present from before the IBM XT) disabled on Linux and not on Windows?

    Furthermore, the Windows side of the ACPI code checks repeatedly that it is indeed running on Windows. And not from any information provided by the ACPI interpreter, oh no: they poke the hardware as a sort of a secret handshake. This is clearly written with intent to prevent Linux from impersonating Windows to the ACPI code.

    If that is not evidence of malice, then I do not know what is.

  • by B1 (86803) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:30AM (#24334703)

    It has not always been a myth. Sure, there may be no such thing as perfectly interchangeable hardware, but most hardware used to adhere to well-known standard interfaces.

    Modems all supported RS-232 serial ports, and nearly all used the AT command set. Internal modems had no physical RS-232 port, but to rest of the computer, they looked like a serial port and still presented the same AT command interface. There were no "drivers" to speak of.

    Sure, some modems added extensions / features, but as long as you stuck to the core AT commands (e.g. ATH, ATD, ATA, etc), the modem would work the same predictable way regardless of who made it or whether it was internal/external. You were free to choose your terminal software... hardware... operating system... even serial port hardware... the list goes on.

    What was really nice about generic hardware was that it worked in a well-known, predictable way. If you were so inclined, you could write your own terminal software, operating system... even create your own hardware if you wanted. The information you needed to get everything working--UART documentation, AT command set, BIOS calls, X86 instruction set, etc... was widely available. The only limits in your way were the limits of your own ability to figure everything out.

    You mention the C64 and its own proprietary modems. In fact, the user port on the C64 was RS-232 compatible, the main difference being voltage levels. Many companies designed RS-232 interface kits for the C64 allowing you to connect any standard modem you wanted. The specs for the user port were published in the Commodore 64 programmer's reference manual. If you were so inclined, you could actually build your own RS-232 interface from parts available at the electronics store.

    With Windows-specific hardware, we no longer have that freedom. We've lost something -- Now, even if we want to write our own software stack or implement our own hardware, we're stuck -- the information needed to make the hardware work is hidden, locked away in a binary driver that only works on one platform. The only way to make it work elsewhere (e.g. Linux) is to reverse engineer the product -- much more difficult that working against an open spec.

    Why do I have to reverse engineer my own hardware if it supposedly adheres to a published / well known specification?

  • by edmicman (830206) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:38AM (#24334877) Homepage Journal
    I've never, in all the years I've used Windows, had to edit the registry to accomplish some "ordinary" task. The only times I've had to edit the registry were "hacks" to accomplish something that I don't think would ever apply to an ordinary user.

    What scenario would Grandma Maybel need to even know about the registry?
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPam.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:42AM (#24334971) Homepage

    I haven't needed to use the commandline for general use on a modern linux like ubuntu either...
    I have used the CLI on it, but mostly for convenience (wget instead of loading a browser to save a file etc)

    On the other hand, i have known many windows users who had to get someone else to perform registry hacks for them to fix something that was broken.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:47AM (#24335071)

    "Return it and buy from a manufacturer... no need to disassemble the BIOS, your time is worth more than that."

    He was curious, investigated the problem, found the answer, and informed the rest of us.

    He learned something useful, then helped others, and probably had fun/satisfaction doing that.
    That would fit my definition of time well spent.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengboNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:57AM (#24335255) Homepage Journal
    The letter mentioned above [slated.org] (PDF)
  • Re:Quick Fix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPam.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:08AM (#24335495) Homepage

    Actually, we should have an online database of motherboards and bios revisions which use a DSDT which complies with the standards, and a hall of shame listing those that don't.

  • by Brane2 (608748) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:14AM (#24335591)

    Yes, but if no one pressures the company, management won't have ANY reason to change cutting corners with half-finished products.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:28AM (#24335813)
    It is cutting corners if they included a Linux specific table, which is broken, and never bothered to test under Linux. It is a sign that they managed that specific motherboard, and possibly others, poorly. It is hard to say whether or not the board will have problems with unusual configurations or uses, even with Windows, that they may not have tested either. If they don't support Linux, they shouldn't ship a motherboard with any Linux specific code. It would be like you developing a Windows app, then creating and distributing source that can be compiled for Linux but crashes when it is run.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:31AM (#24335865)

    Yes indeed, had they written the ACPI code to conform to the standard there would be no additional work needed to support Linux. If there were any additional work it would be because Linux was failing to conform to the standard and the Linux coders would get on that quickly due to it affecting multiple systems.

    It was definitely a decision on the part of Foxconn to only check to see if it would work for Win rather than using the official compiler and fixing all of the bugs.

    Ultimately, there ought to be some law requiring that companies that claim to support a particular spec or standard actually fulfill that obligation or at least have a good faith effort to implement it.

    I've hacked away at a few implementations and I generally use the program provided by Intel for that purpose, I shouldn't have to fix the implementation because the manufacturer was too lazy to code it correctly in the first place.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:36AM (#24335953)

    Yes indeed, people around here imply a lot that Linux users have significant enough buying power to make a difference. Get real. Perhaps in the future, but not now in most cases.

    The real economic power that /. represents is all the boxes that are built and eyed by us for people we know or work for. Sure, I'm betting that /. accounts for a large number of computers per capita compared to the rest of the populace, but it's nothing compared to the boxes that are purchased on our recommendation.

  • ACPI needs to die (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skapare (16644) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:00PM (#24336329) Homepage

    ACPI is such an absurd feature for a computer. It is quite frequently THE source of many problems. And clearly from this case it makes it easy for a manufacturer to abuse. And they are not the first. I found a machine (or rather the sysadmin at my previous job got me a machine) from HP that would not boot up Fedora, Debian, or Ubuntu due to ACPI crap.

    A great many of the features ACPI provides would not even be needed if there was no tendency on manufacturers to keep changing things (e.g. making a moving target for developers of any OS). A standardized computer design would need very little configuration information passed to the OS. And what it would need could be passed to the OS by the actual devices themselves which would be at specific locations the OS can always find (a finite set of device addresses with registers in each device that reveals what device it is).

    A whole re-design of the PC to clean up the mess is needed. Nothing can be added on top to fix it. It needs a "start over". But this thread is not the place for me to describe what really needs to be done to make a robust computer system that lets any OS work on any makers machine (but of course, Microsoft would not want that).

  • by alexborges (313924) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:00PM (#24336335)

    What bad behaviour?

    If you say your shit is ACPI compliant, it better very DAMNED well be. IF not, youre breaking the law and stumping on consumer rights.

    This is criminal behaviour. Its like someone peddling snake oil to cure cancer. Its the exact same crime: they tell you its good for X, but its not true.

    They lie about their product, they should be taken out and shot in the head.

    Fuck them and the horse they rode on.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:10PM (#24336483) Journal

    That would still require effort on their part.

    Que?

    Whoever wrote the BIOS put out a great deal of effort, as their BIOS apparently goes beyond accepting the identifier given by the OS (At least as of January, Linux identifies as "Microsoft Windows NT" [mail-archive.com] after a brief bout of identifying as "Linux" and breaking a lot of BIOSes that flipped out when they couldn't recognize the OS) to some other nonstandard method that is capable of identifying Linux even if Linux identifies itself to the BIOS as Windows.

    That's not lazy. Nor is it incompetent.

  • by wall0159 (881759) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:45PM (#24337085)
    I've never, in all the years I've used linux, had to install an anti-spyware/virus/etc program. I've never had a virus, or been hacked. I've never had to reinstall because the registry got 'cluttered' (is that how you got around editing the registry?).
  • Re:Homework (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rcw-home (122017) on Friday July 25, 2008 @01:27PM (#24337847)

    If you're willing to rule out malicious sabotage on the part of Foxconn

    People always say not to attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. After reading all of the communication between Ryan and Foxconn, I'd just like to add another popular saying: You can't fix stupid.

  • by jlarocco (851450) on Friday July 25, 2008 @02:49PM (#24339369) Homepage

    I use the command line on my Linux boxes far more than I edit the registry on my Windows boxes...and I have considerably more Windows boxes to deal with, most of them I've never touched the registry on.

    That's an apples to oranges comparison. "Using the command line" and "editting the registry" are unrelated tasks. It's like comparing how often you use the start menu in Windows to how often you use a web browser in Linux.

  • by Haeleth (414428) on Friday July 25, 2008 @03:50PM (#24340315) Journal

    I use the command line on my Linux boxes far more than I edit the registry on my Windows boxes.

    That's fascinating, but I don't see how it's relevant. The command line is a feature, not a flaw. I use the command line on my Mac far more than I edit the registry on my Windows boxes, but you don't see many people claiming OS X isn't ready for the mainstream.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday July 25, 2008 @04:49PM (#24341237) Homepage
    You seem to know what you're talking about, so maybe you can answer a question for me: why does the BIOS on the mobo need to know what OS is running? Shouldn't it just handle requests in a neutral manner? This seems to imply that Win2K expects different results from a BIOS call than XP or Linux or FreeBSD does, and that just doesn't seem to make sense!

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