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Bug Linux

Linux: Booting Via UEFI Can Brick Samsung Notebooks 232

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the like-openfirmware-only-it-sucks dept.
wehe writes "Heise News reports today some Samsung notebooks can be turned into a brick if booted just one time via UEFI into Linux. Even the firmware does not boot anymore. Some reports in the Ubuntu bug tracker system report that such notebooks can not be recovered without replacing the main board. Other Linux distributions may be affected as well. Kernel developers are discussing a change in the Samsung-laptop driver." It appears even Samsung is having trouble tracking down the problem (from the article): "According to Canonical's Steve Langasek, Samsung developers have been attempting to develop a firmware update to prevent the problem for several weeks. Langasek is advising users to start Ubuntu installation on Samsung notebooks from an up-to-date daily image, in which the Ubuntu development team has taken precautions to prevent the problem from arising. It is, however, not completely clear that these measures are sufficient."
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Linux: Booting Via UEFI Can Brick Samsung Notebooks

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  • MS says: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:17AM (#42737721) Journal

    UEFI is working as intended.

  • Bricked device (Score:5, Insightful)

    by P-niiice (1703362) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:26AM (#42737821)
    Now THAT ladies and gentlemen, is a true brick. Not these smartphone soft-bricks that can be solved by a quick flash. you don't go home happy after a brick. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
  • by Soluzar (1957050) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:29AM (#42737861) Homepage
    Not sure what Samsung you're talking about. Some of the Samsung products I own incorporate free (really free, libre) software products in full compliance with the GPL. They seem to treat free/libre software as an ally, not an enemy.
  • Re:"One time"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:40AM (#42737963)

    Samsung notebooks can be turned into a brick if booted just one time

    Why do people say "one time" when there's been a shorter word for it for hundreds of years? Damn Fugees...

    Why do people say "hundreds of years" when there's been a shorter word for it for centuries?

  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:47AM (#42738037) Homepage Journal

    Please.
    When I first installed linux it was the powerpc version, that is, a port, on a powerbook, in 2002.
    One kernel recompilation and wireless worked, sound worked, gigabit ethernet worked, radeon 3d worked (lots of frames too). Only thing missing, the faxmodem.

    Logic says the intel version should have been simpler, because of the 10x-100x mindshare it had. When I switched to intel, not exotic models, it wasn't. In the following years, i had INCREASING difficulties with laptops. The broadcom driver, 3d needing proprietary drivers (and proprietary IMHO means more lockups, instead of more quality). Then with desktops (firmware for the network card, a blasphemy because common protocols for any os to speak to a network card are there at any level of hardware abstraction).

    Now, bricking a machine needs something more than a bug, it needs a feature. It makes perfect sense commercially. Hardware makers might bicker about windows to get better deals, but they sure know that if the world switched to linux their sales would go down, for lack of artificial obsolescence represented by the OS/drivers/app upgrade cycle.

    The fight for the desktop has begun. Valve, restricted boot, UEFI, ACPI... Buy wisely.

  • Re:Criminal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bws111 (1216812) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:13PM (#42738317)

    Hmm, let's see who is behind UEFI, shall we? AMD, AMI, Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Insyde, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Phoenix. Yup, Linux haters all. Obviously this is all Microsoft's fault.

  • Re:Bricked device (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:26PM (#42738461) Journal

    A true brick is always the manufacturers fault. Software should never be able to do anything irreversible to hardware. If there's flashable firmware that could be corrupted, keep a ROM copy that can be used by setting a jumper. Anything less is pure negligence.

  • Re:MS says: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @12:31PM (#42738497) Journal

    The BIOS interface was overdue for being updated/replaced

    True. Unfortunately, UEFI was a step in the wrong direction. Yeah, the classic BIOS was older than dirt, limited, and saddled with a variety of quirks, oddities, and cruft from its years of genetic drift and backward compatibility.

    However, because it sucked, there was a strong incentive not to try anything stupid with it, and to just boot the OS and GTFO. Instead of just cleaning up and rationalizing this basic firmware function, UEFI goes wildly in the opposite direction, to the point where the firmware is tantamount to a second OS; but still with all the fucked up weirdness that we know and love from BIOS features like ACPI...

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @01:44PM (#42739511) Homepage

    Software can do it if it causes low-level data corruption in a component.

    It's amazing how many things in modern systems have internal firmware these days. For example, any eMMC flash chip (found in many smartphones) has internal firmware that handles wear levelling algorithms and such.

    Samsung's 2011 smarphones were rather notorious for containing eMMC chips that were not JEDEC compliant - if you issued a secure erase command to the chip, it had a very good chance of corrupting the wear leveller's internal state. This would render the eMMC chip mostly inoperable (this failure mode was nicknamed "Superbrick" for the fact that it couldn't be recovered via JTAG). If you corrupted the firmware itself somehow (which apparently happened more than 50% of the time if an attempt was made to update/reset it according to Samsung engineers...), it would render it fully inoperable and effectively dead.

  • by TheCRAIGGERS (909877) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @01:50PM (#42739599)

    On the other hand, people might upgrade their hardware more often if they could be assured their new hardware wouldn't come with Microsoft's latest abomination and a shit-ton of bloatware.

    I highly doubt this. Most consumers still call their computer case the "CPU" and buy new computers when they don't have to because they don't realize Windows and their computer are different things. Basically, the average person looks at their computer like they would an advanced VCR.

    The sad fact is, most people go out and buy new computers precisely because it has the newest version of Microsoft's abomination and all that bloatware which are marketed as features on the box and by the Best Buy droids. Computer manufactures know this, love it, and bank on it. It's how companies like Intel can get away with requiring a new goddamned socket every year (or less) and not have people storming their castle with pitchforks and torches. My parents don't care. Dell don't care either, because they're selling whole systems and not parts. Likewise, every time Microsoft come out with a new version of Windows, computer makers start seeing dollarsigns.

  • Re:MS says: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:59PM (#42741329) Journal

    Mac UEFI is, if anything, even weirder than the usual flavor. Apple laptops running Apple EFI in order to boot OSX work; because Apple makes all of them and none of the parts is dumb enough to lean on the other parts in an unexpected way; but once you try something different, life gets exciting(the, er, interesting transition between 32 bit and 64 bit EFI 1.x was good fun as well).

    This fellow [dreamwidth.org] used to do EFI-related work for Redhat and is interesting reading on the matter. UEFI is a bloated bear of a 'standard', that makes ACPI look like a brutally efficient paragon of elegance, and things tend to go downhill from there once a vendor gets their sloppy hands all over it...

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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