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NewEgg: Installing Linux Breaks Laptop 518

Posted by timothy
from the au-contrair-mon-frere dept.
Rick Zeman writes "According to the normally geek-friendly online store Newegg , installing Linux Mint is tantamount to breaking your new Lenovo laptop. Is it the purchaser's fault for not restoring the laptop to its original state of Windows-y goodness, or is NewEgg being too dogmatic trying to enforce a term that doesn't seem to exist?"
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NewEgg: Installing Linux Breaks Laptop

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  • Unsurprisingly, even Newegg can't afford super competent folks for their RMA service. So let me help anyone out who things that Newegg left this guy high and dry with some tips. Whenever I buy something, it seems like there's no way to get it without Windows. This means that I am paying for something I don't want. Sucks, right? Well, there's something you can do to monetize this if you want. Sometimes they have stickers with Windows keys on them but if they don't there's a way around this. Boot into windows and download some crappy tool that tells you what your Windows key is (I'm not going to plug any of these tools, most come with adware but who cares, you're about to blow that partition away). Go to My Computer and right click for properties and find where it tells you what version this is. Example: Windows 7 64 bit Professional. Write all that information down or e-mail it to yourself.

    Now, you're free to wipe the whole machine and install whatever the hell you want. If something goes wrong and you need to RMA, you're in luck. You just torrent the ISO for that particular windows and burn it (or use Netbootin in the case of no optical drive) and reinstall it with your key and ship it back. Although this sounds like a lot of work, it actually can be quite useful when a relative or friend needs a copy of Windows. You make them a disc and transfer that heavily subsidized key to them. Sure, it might be illegal in the eyes of someone but it's worked for me and I keep it down to one use per key that I was extorted into buying. Personally, this sort of second sale doesn't feel morally wrong to me but if it does to you, you can always just hold on to your info and consider it an "asset" in your software library.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:20PM (#40296851)

    A killer poke? [wikipedia.org] Really?
    If a driver bug can physically ruin hardware, the hardware is made wrong.

  • by RenHoek (101570) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:21PM (#40296875) Homepage

    If I were to buy a laptop with Windows (heavens forbid), then I'd expect installation media to go with it. I can understand NewEgg not fielding support questions on every flavor of Unix, but my grandmother should be able to restore the laptop to mint (pun intended) condition by inserting a DVD.

    If NewEgg fails to deliver that, then there's the problem, not a user installing something else.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:24PM (#40296947) Homepage

    Or the first thing you do when you plan to install linux - replace the hard disk with a fresh one. Then put the original one on a shelf until you either run out of warranty or return the computer.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:26PM (#40296985)

    We've forgotten the fact that essentially using Linux does void your warranty in most cases.

    Which is not true, quite frankly.

    Distributions like Linux Mint do a good job of hiding all the warnings that you used to see when trying to get your drivers working, but they are still there.

    Then logically just reinstalling Windows would void your warranty. I suspect they wouldn't have voided the return if it was running Windows.

    From a manufacturer's point of view, I can't say I blame them for having this stance.

    Letting manufacturers dictate end user actions by threatening their hardware warranty is the nasty, nasty direction the computing world is taking. Just accepting it is probably the worst of all possible courses of action.

    Everyone using Linux, FreeBSD, ReactOS or Haiku or any other open source/community built OS where the drivers are written through reverse engineering needs to understand this because sometimes it does come back to bite.

    "If you use non-Windows platforms, you are lesser and will get screwed over. Accept it." That said, I don't know how many drivers are actually -reverse engineered- these days other than Nouveau.

    Sorry if this comes off as rather snarky, but your argument basically falls into the growing anti-Linux, anti-anything-not-Windows bucket.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:30PM (#40297045)

    If I were to buy a laptop with Windows (heavens forbid), then I'd expect installation media to go with it. I can understand NewEgg not fielding support questions on every flavor of Unix, but my grandmother should be able to restore the laptop to mint (pun intended) condition by inserting a DVD.

    If NewEgg fails to deliver that, then there's the problem, not a user installing something else.

    You haven't bought any laptops in a while, have you? I haven't seen installation media coming with hardware in years. At best, you got a disc that would blow away the entire drive and re-image it...but these days there isn't enough room on a disc to do that, so laptops come with "recovery" partitions. Also, there are the inevitable manufacturer-specific utilities that come with the machine, and you usually need specific drivers in the course of the installation, so just including a Windows 7 install disc doesn't cut the mustard either.

  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:31PM (#40297055)
    Even if there weren't a hardware defect, shouldn't they wipe the disk and reinstall the OS from scratch (to protect the second buyer from the possibility that the first buyer got some malware).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:32PM (#40297073)

    This is probably just a garden-variety fuckup.

    This is why you only buy high-dollar value items on a credit card. Call the card issuer and tell them the merchant refused to accept the product.

  • Re:Thank you. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:33PM (#40297093) Homepage
    I have been buying from newegg for the past 12 years and in all that time I have never, ever had a problem with them. A single story on slashdot is not going to change that.
  • by Nkwe (604125) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:35PM (#40297117)
    Or you could just build a set of recovery disks like the manufacturer tells you to (you know, RTM...) If you have a problem, then you can use the recovery disks to restore to factory settings and then return the thing.
  • by Pollux (102520) <speter@tedatMOSCOWa.net.eg minus city> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:39PM (#40297169) Journal

    While I'm not saying that NewEgg's failing to provide the customer service they've been known for, the following does need to be made clear: Installing Linux in no way voids the manufacturer's warranty. If you RTFA, you'll clearly see in the NewEgg letter the following sentence:

    "If you are still unsatisfied with this product or experience further issues, we recommend contacting the manufacturer directly for support."

    Clearly the hardware failed. Clearly the owner can have the laptop repaired / replaced by contacting Lenovo. NewEgg's just not willing to facilitate the process.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:40PM (#40297179)

    I agree, they should wipe the disk. However, what if in the course of installing Linux, she removed the hidden Windows recovery partition (something I did way back when I installed Linux on my Thinkpad R31)? If Lenovo don't ship recovery disks with their computers (no idea, I havent ever bought a Lenovo) then NewEgg might have a point in that the system she is returning is not similar to the system she received.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:48PM (#40297343)

    Of course not. And it doesn't represent Newegg well that they would try to resell any returned computer rather than returning it to the manufacturer for "refurbishment".

    Couldn't you say the same for any computer with installed software, even just some Windows applications? Should I expect to buy a computer from Newegg (even one marked as "open box") and find that it had some software that I object to installed on it? Or maybe kiddy porn or spyware or other junk?

    Of course, some might say that the original purchaser should have restored the software to Windows. But that involves making the recovery discs, since computers no longer ship with an actual copy of Windows on optical media. And, at least on the computers that I have made these reinstall discs on, you can only make the restore discs once. So just making the restore discs would put the computer in a condition that should make it unresellable, since the new owner would not be able to make restoration discs!

    The real problem is that Windows is bundled with computers, and that resellers like Newegg accept this and don't do anything to get the manufacturers to give buyers options without the Microsoft tax or to get them physical recovery media. I guess they could try to blame the buyer for trying to install software on his purchase, but I doubt that they can claim that they never expect any buyers to install software on their purchases. Maybe there was indeed some driver issue that brought about the return, but resellers have helped create the environment where this can happen, and they need to share the responsibility.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:58PM (#40297501)

    Obviously I'm right about the comfort level thing due to people's reactions to my comment.

    Someone disagrees with you and that means what, exactly?

    People can't admit to themselves that they are risking their money by using non-aproved software with hardware they buy.

    Holy hell, it's the same terrible arguments being used to justify locking down mobile devices being applied to standard PC hardware. Wow.

    Don't delude yourself into thinking that hardware that you buy will let you use it without using the manufacturer's approved drivers without voiding warranty.

    By that logic the only OS we can ever use is Windows.

    I'll avoid using an obvious car analogy here.

    Good, because a car analogy would be exceedingly shitty.

  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:16PM (#40297845)

    Funny, the Dell I bought December 2011 came with restore disk - and none of that crapware that was installed on the system comes with the restore. And the Dell I got in March 2012 was the same way... but maybe the difference is I'm buying as a "small/home office" as opposed to a "home user" ? I do this anyway for the better warranty and better quality hardware...

  • by PerlJedi (2406408) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:19PM (#40297895) Homepage Journal
    This very same problem befell me about 1 year ago. I complained very loudly, including on a consumer review website. Within 24 hours of posting my detailed (and scathing) review I received a call from a newegg customer care representative, who assured me they would make it right. They did in fact allow me to exchange the laptop for a new one, and actually gave me a $100 gift card to make up for the trouble.
    While I clearly can't say everyone will get that response, I personally feel that it is important that those of us who run Linux stand up and make it known that we cannot be ignored just because we are not giving our money to either Microsoft or Apple.
  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @01:19PM (#40297901) Homepage
    Opening it voids the warranty though so that would be a dumb idea.
  • by painandgreed (692585) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:10PM (#40298617)

    Or you could just build a set of recovery disks like the manufacturer tells you to (you know, RTM...) If you have a problem, then you can use the recovery disks to restore to factory settings and then return the thing.

    Easier said than done sometimes. I do corporate desktop support and use our own image/build on lots of different types of laptops from Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, etc but still create those disk just in case of something like this. FIrst off, sometimes there is no manual to read. If you're lucky, there's a link on the desktop to make the backup disks. Other times, they hide that feature buried in some other software with no guide as to how to get to it. Once, I just had it fail to create the disks straight out of the box (but luckily, I had two of the same model and the other one worked). That is to say, i do it professionally and I sometimes find it hard, confusing, or even impossible to do, so I can only imagine what a normal user would normally go through.

  • by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:21PM (#40298775) Homepage
    Because any reasonably competent and conscientious NewEgg tech would re-image the drive anyway before restocking the machine? Or are you going to claim that if you remove and throw away the plastic film that covers the screen, etc., that the machine is "missing something it was sold with" and deny the return for that, too?

    Yes, I'm being a little facetious, but the point is that it is extremely poor policy to restore a machine using the restore partition on the hard drive. Consequently, while technically, yes, the machine is not in original condition, it is (or at least should be) effectively of no importance to the ability to resell the machine, since it is (or again, should be) restored to original condition if NewEgg staff follows proper procedures.
  • by Sporkinum (655143) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:21PM (#40298779)

    My wife's HP desktop runs linux, but came with Windows 7. It is set up dual boot, but she never runs Windows. Not long after she got it, it lost the nic. It wouldn't show up in the bios or windows as well. We returned the computer for repair and when we got it back it worked fine. The problem started again though. I was able to figure out that power management/suspend in linux was disabling the nic. The simple act of unplugging the power cable would reset it and it would run as normal then. Needless to say, suspend is no longer used. The point is that we returned a functional machine due to a linux problem. It happens.

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