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Operating Systems Linux

Lenovo UEFI Bug Only Likes Windows and RHEL 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-didn't-think-this-through dept.
New submitter Nagilum23 writes "It looks like Lenovo only knows of Windows and RHEL where their Thinkcentre M92p desktop is concerned. While investigating UEFI boot issues, Matthew Garrett found the PC's firmware actually checks the descriptive string for the operating system, and will prevent unlisted operating systems from booting. Garrett writes, 'Every UEFI boot entry has a descriptive string. This is used by the firmware when it's presenting a menu to users - instead of "Hard drive 0" and "USB drive 3", the firmware can list "Windows Boot Manager" and "Fedora Linux". There's no reason at all for the firmware to be parsing these strings. ... there is a function that compares the descriptive string against "Windows Boot Manager" and appears to return an error if it doesn't match. What's stranger is that it also checks for "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" and lets that one work as well. ... This is, obviously, bizarre. A vendor appears to have actually written additional code to check whether an OS claims to be Windows before it'll let it boot. Someone then presumably tested booting RHEL on it and discovered that it didn't work. Rather than take out that check, they then addded another check to let RHEL boot as well." Note that this isn't a SecureBoot issue. Lenovo is aware of the problem and looking into it.
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Lenovo UEFI Bug Only Likes Windows and RHEL

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  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:45AM (#42001073) Journal

    Given that RHEL is probably their biggest competator that move could be considered a counter to - I would say you need to put down your anti-ms tinfoil hat, your brain is overheating.

    It's probably a support engineer related decision - "We don't want to have to deal with questions/complaints regarding unsupported operating systems that have gotten installed... so we'll prevent them from being installed."

      Neither malice or ms-induced maice, but rather just an idiotic solution to an annoying issue that they probably have to periodically deal with.

    Glad I don't buy Lenovo. I tend to prefer FreeBSD and Hackintosh'ed as my non MS OS.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:54AM (#42001141) Homepage

    Then all Linux distributions, plus EFF, should sue Lenovo, if for no other reason then just to show how much everyone cares. I would contribute to that if necessary.

  • TPM is the worst (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:01AM (#42001221) Journal

    Because I'm lazy, I'll just copy and paste a comment I made in another thread about TPM

    Ever since TPM was created, we're always just a few bits and bytes away from having it leveraged against us, by them.
    And by "us" I mean "the computer users."
    By "them" I mean "the hardware manufacturers and software/media companies."

    Example: The newest motherboards don't *need* the ability to disable trusted boot. Heck, it'd have been easier to not include it!
    We're more or less at the mercy of a small number of companies and their design decisions.

    I recently found out, while looking at new laptops, that Lenovo & HP like to put whitelists of wireless cards into the BIOS.
    Someone hacked the BIOS and other cards will work, but for whatever reason, Lenovo/HP doesn't want you to use a storebought card.

  • Re:Bug? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:05AM (#42001257)

    You're making assumptions about what the intended behavior was. I think it unlikely that they intended to make the machine unbootable for anything other than Windows and RHEL. The bug (yes, bug) probably began with a hack to work around some windows issue that broke booting for anything else. Then, because they maybe only test with windows and rhel, some moron "fixed" the bug by adding a check for RHEL.

  • Re:Bug? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by halltk1983 (855209) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:12AM (#42001321) Homepage Journal
    Packard Bell used to do this back in 95. I had a system that specifically would not boot anything but Windows. I spent months trying to get it to run linux. It would not boot anything but windows off the drive. Found out years later that there was a check it did for what was booting.
  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by segedunum (883035) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:19AM (#42001377)

    Given that RHEL is probably their biggest competator that move could be considered a counter to - I would say you need to put down your anti-ms tinfoil hat, your brain is overheating.

    Ahhh, yes, black is white, there are no black helicopters and all that jazz........ It's firmly in that bracket.

    It's probably a support engineer related decision - "We don't want to have to deal with questions/complaints regarding unsupported operating systems that have gotten installed... so we'll prevent them from being installed."

    Errrrr, no. For one thing this actually takes effort which hardware manufacturers are not prone to actually putting in, for another I didn't think they give a crap about supporting any Linux operating systems and conveniently Red Hat is the only distribution Microsoft recognises for the purposes of their 'Safeboot' keys.

    I tend to prefer FreeBSD and Hackintosh'ed as my non MS OS.

    Nice of you to let us know that after telling everyone their paranoid lunatics for questioning this that, afterall, you're a regular non-Microsoft guy.

  • Re:That's just great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:23AM (#42001431)

    Most likely: the firmware is outsourced, and the outsources implements it to the letter, without applying any thinking.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 16, 2012 @12:31PM (#42002353) Journal

    They don't advertise miniPCI slots as available on the system.

    That doesn't make deliberately crippling the slots in order to sell more proprietary hardware any better. I don't care if they advertise it or not. It is a mini-PCI slot and they are deliberately breaking it. They're assholes.

  • Re:are you serious? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:32PM (#42003537) Homepage Journal

    Clearly someone didn't think this all the way through.

    or possibly: somebody merged a diff early. Microsoft gets control of UEFI, RHAT buys a license, and on Day-Zero all new Windows OEM machines ship with UEFI string checkers that only boot Windows or RHEL (without string 'hacks' - possible legal claims over fraud, +- DMCA interoperability claims).

    Nah, could never happen.

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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