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HP Linux Business

HP Dishonors Warranty If You Load Linux 702

darkonc points us to a writeup on 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. ( and Slashdot are both part of OSTG.)
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HP Dishonors Warranty If You Load Linux

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  • Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU ( 810740 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:05PM (#18504173)
    What does software have to do with a hardware waranty?
    • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Funny)

      by bcmbyte ( 996126 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:13PM (#18504333) Homepage
      That LINUX is evil, just ask M$, they will tell you how it crashes computers all the time. I have heard of stories where LINUX has turned off the sun. Third grade linux users are writing code that causes hardware like keyboards and mice to break all the time... How is HP supposed to be responsible such catastrophies...

      Oh wait tech support for linux on systems costs companies more, that's why it voids the warranty... I would like to see some one take this to court.
      • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:34PM (#18504787) Homepage
        A local IT support company locally called NEXT/IT actually tells customer that linux causes viruses and security holes if it's anywhere in their office. Microsoft tries hard to make sure their partners spread BS FUD like that from the corporate level to the field techs. I find it offensive and inform customers that if a company rep starts spewing things like that then they need to see it as a warning that they are probably lying about other aspects as well.
        • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pentavirate ( 867026 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:45PM (#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.
          • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by trianglman ( 1024223 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:18PM (#18505755) Journal
            The thing is, the warranty makes no mention of any software requirements. Its all well and good if they don't want to support Linux (well, imo its wrong, but still legal), but if they don't say "Changing the OS on this system voids the warranty" then what HP/Compaq is doing is fraud. You can't arbitrarily void the warranty. Otherwise they could say, "Oh, you installed Firefox? We only allow you to use IE, your warranty is now void." etc.
            • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

              by livewire98801 ( 916940 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:44PM (#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. . .
            • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by bfields ( 66644 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:46PM (#18508129) Homepage

              Its all well and good if they don't want to support Linux (well, imo its wrong, but still legal), but if they don't say "Changing the OS on this system voids the warranty" then what HP/Compaq is doing is fraud. You can't arbitrarily void the warranty.

              If you read carefully you'll see they didn't claim that installing linux "voids the warranty" (though the article, confusingly, suggests that they did). At least not as I understand the term. I thought it referred to something unreversible--like dropping it off a tall building.

              They asked her to wipe the system and restore the original OS before returning the laptop.

              Which is still annoying--it shouldn't be that hard for them just to boot the thing from a diagnostic disk if they want to test with a known software configuration. I'd think the sensible thing would be to say "ship it to us, but back it up first; if we suspect a software problem we reserve the right to return the disk to its original state before returning it, but we'll try not to do that unless it's necessary."

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

            by zotz ( 3951 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:19PM (#18506829) Homepage Journal
            "From their point of view, they need to have the software in a known state so that they can troubleshoot the hardware."

            Well then, what they need to do is provide a live CD that can test the hardware no matter what state the software is currently in. Once they know the hardware is good, they can give software support or not based on what is on the hardware.

            all the best,


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iamnafets ( 828439 )
      The solution is pretty simple, use the recovery disks to reload windows along with all those crappy applications that are distributed with your computer and send it in. It's a hassle, but hey...
      • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:26PM (#18504643) Homepage Journal
        Yep. That's what I do. I get an extra HD and back up the original factory installation. That way if some dickhead from coporate wants to see a Windows box, he'll see one. Wanna know why this works for Linux users? Because the ONLY time we call support is when the hardware is actually broken. Unlike the Windows dorks who think their systems are broken when it's really a software issue.
        • 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 pit
          • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:35PM (#18506051) Homepage Journal

            the computer was designed for Windows and I could not get support for Linux.

            Just about every personal computer since mid 90's (Macs excepted) is designed to run a flavor of Windows. 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. Do you think Intel and AMD could not make a multi-core processor until about last year? They could do it since almost ever (I have seen multi-processor 386 systems), but there would be next to no market for them as Windows 98 couldn't use more than one processor.

            Truth is - most computers are really designed to run Windows and this has inhibited or postponed many technical advances. We still use glorified 5150's.

            BTW, manufacturers are quite happy with this.

            • by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:10PM (#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.

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

          by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:27PM (#18505889) Homepage

          Because the ONLY time we call support is when the hardware is actually broken.

          Are you certain of this? I have been to some LUG's where there were Linux newbies there who were migrating off of Microsoft not because they like Linux, but rather because they hate Microsoft. (I think that this migration is for entirely the wrong reason.) Many of these kinds of users seemed to blame the hardware of their machines, and feel that they could "demand" support for their hardware, even if it was an unsupported platform (Linux).

          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.

          Likewise, I have been admonished for buying hardware that I knew would not be Linux compatible by other users. My Ati All in Wonder 9800 pro does not work under Linux, but I knew that before I bought it. I think that zealots (which is what some of the newbs I met were) harm Linux for all by actually complaining to the companies for the lack of support for Linux, but by doing it in a non-constructive manner.

          So, I think that EXPERIENCED Linux users know when the hardware is broken, but then they also know to restore the default OS when getting the hardware fixed.
          • 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 some

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

        by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:25PM (#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.
        • "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."

          It's been a long time since I did my time on the front lines, but some things never change. You can't trust somebody who says they have diagnosed the specific hardware failure, because most of these people have about 80% less of a clue than they think they do.

          Far too many tim
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Helvidius ( 659137 )

      The only way that I could see where software would void a hardware warranty is if the software in question performed operations that would directly contribute to the hardware failure (e.g. writing to the same sectors of a hard drive, thousands of time). I think the real question is:

      Does the HP warranty explicitly state that installing Linux (or any other operating system) voids the warranty? If it does, then it is unfortunate, but there is not much that she can do. I think the explanation for the action

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wallywam1 ( 715057 )
        I'm really curious as to whether this is representative of HP policy or just some tech support person overstepping their bounds. I've never done full-time tech support, but from what I understand there is a great deal of pressure placed on the support people to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible. The you-installed-Linux-it's-your-fault approach might just have been a ploy.
        • Re:Illegal? (Score:5, Informative)

          by ohearn ( 969704 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:56PM (#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.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:16PM (#18504417) Journal
      There's a warning in x86config when setting monitor refresh rates that warns you that your choice may destroy your monitor. Granted, thats not a necessary step in a lot of installs, and most people have moved to LCD screens that wouldn't explode, but I think they were thinking of something similar to that. Badly written drivers CAN destroy hardware, in rare cases.

      Or, the higher level software may shorten the lifetime of hardware. Maybe Linux uses the hard disk more than Vista, which leads to higher usage frequency which causes it to reach its MTBF earlier.

      Is it fair, no, not really. I'm sure you could wear out your hardware just even faster with certain applications.

      They can't possible start rejecting the waranty, depending upon3rd party apps installed could they? I'm sure Something like Maya or Blender could put a lot of use on a hard disk, especially on a low end system without much RAM.
      • by badfish99 ( 826052 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:34PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kosmosik ( 654958 )
        Well you probably can bork your hardware from Windows as from Linux (if your really, really wish to do so). But right now it is near to impossible to do it accidentaly.

        For me it is fine that HP does not support Linux - they don't have to. But they should have strict policies like:

        - phone technical support applies only when running supported operating system (i.e. Windows XP)
        - when submitting hardware for warranty you allow us to wipe all data on your system (i.e. put fresh image of Windows and then diagnose
      • by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:06PM (#18505549) Homepage Journal

        There's a warning in x86config when setting monitor refresh rates that warns you that your choice may destroy your monitor.
        That shouldn't be true with modern hardware. Five years ago I got a new CRT (replacement for an old one which was kind enough to die shortly before the end of the warranty). The shop had told me, the new one supported the same frequency ranges as the old one, so I just connected it and started up the computer. Once X started, the monitor went black and showed a message stating the input frequency was outside the supported range. And I guess that kind of protection was pretty much standard at monitors at that time. The monitor didn't break, but of course I returned it anyway, cause I was supposed to get a new one at least as good as the old one. (Apparently the sales people didn't know that 75kHz was less than 85kHz.)

        Badly written drivers CAN destroy hardware, in rare cases.
        No. Badly designed hardware can destroy hardware. If there is any way in which the software can destroy the hardware, it is by definition a latent flaw in the hardware. Yes, a badly designed driver can expose the flaw, but the hardware was already flawed. And yes, sometimes manufactures do produce an entire series of equipment where all of it suffers from the same latent flaw. As long as it is one component destroying itself, it may be reasonable to deal with. It of course gets worse if one piece of hardware has a flaw which causes it to destroy other hardware. (Imagine a flaw in a graphics board that allows a bad driver to drive up the output voltage to the point of breaking the monitor. Luckily that scenario is probably highly unlikely, but I guess high voltage is the most likely thing which isn't trivial for hardware to protect itself against).
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:28PM (#18505913) Homepage 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrCode ( 95839 )
        Good point, and it might be true of applications too. For example, heavy use of emacs might wear out the 'Esc' and 'Ctrl' keys.
  • Also.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:08PM (#18504223) Homepage Journal
    ..the warranty on your car is invalid if you let someone smarter than you drive it.
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l4m3z0r ( 799504 ) <> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:08PM (#18504227)

    Gateway and Dell refused to comment to the reporter on what they would do in a similar situation.

    Translation: Gateway and Dell definitely won't honor the warranty and wish to remain free from bad press until they are forced to reveal the truth.

  • by c0l0 ( 826165 ) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:08PM (#18504233) Homepage
    and surprising to me at the same time - HP always seemed to be "one of the good guys", fostering and supporting GNU/Linux and free software on many occassions (for instance, HP provides the quite powerful infrastructure for []).

    I was going to go buy a HP notebook some time later this year, but as things turn out this way, I'll stick to Lenovo/IBM once more again...
  • Not Unreasonable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ehaggis ( 879721 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:09PM (#18504247) Homepage Journal
    If Linux probes your hardware (monitor) and selects the incorrect settings, could that not potentially harm your screen? I am not saying Windows is not capable or the same problem, but at least you are not trouble shooting an entire OS. How does the woman know that she has not messed up some keyboard setting on Ubuntu? I would not want to be the tech who must troubleshoot over the phone a system which has a different OS than that which is installed. I love Linux, but you have to draw the line on troubleshooting somewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *

      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.
    • by hobbesmaster ( 592205 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:14PM (#18504373)
      If your software can break the hardware then your hardware is broken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From the Article:

      "Until recently, she's been happy with it, and with Ubuntu Edgy. But a couple of weeks ago she began having keyboard problems. The keyboard is misbehaving when she begins to type quickly: keys are sticking and the space bar does not always respond when pressed."


      I sure as hell hope you are not a tech because if you can't read the article and understand the basics of her problem, you are a useless.
  • same problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChiefArcher ( 1753 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:10PM (#18504263) Homepage Journal
    I had the keyboard start acting up as well on mine. In addition the hard drive crashed sometime later.
    In order for them to do ANY service on it..
    A) I had to replace the hard drive with one that worked.
    B) Install windows on that hard drive
    C) Submit laptop to HP to get the keyboard fixed.
    D) Get Laptop back..
    E) Put bad hard drive back in
    F) Ship it back to HP in order for them to fix the bad drive.

    I pretty told them to pound sand and bought a keyboard replacement on ebay.

    I will NEVER own another HP again.

  • Goodbye HP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown ( 768619 ) <davec-slashdot&lepertheory,net> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:11PM (#18504275) Homepage

    Oh well. Stop buying HP then. Fuck 'em.

    As for your current problem, lie. Double fuck 'em. Tell the support rep you were mistaken, the machine having a keyboard problem has never had Linux. Any Slashdotter should be able to BS through a Windows troubleshooting session, and if they want you to run some app and send results, bite the bullet, tell them you'll have to call back later, backup, load Windows, get your hardware, and restore.

    • Re:Goodbye HP (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harrypelles ( 872287 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:22PM (#18504531)
      If you go that route, and have to send the machine back for a repair, leave the hard drive out of it when you send it to them. Is it unreasonable to request that the customer keeps the hard drive (sensitive information) when they back to the manufacturer for repair?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by owlstead ( 636356 )
        I've never have seen a problem with that. I have worked for the Dutch tech support on Gateway and we never had a problem with that. Of course, different tech support people from different markets may react differently. I've worked with the tech support guys for the Irish and British market and I must say both the tech support people as well as the customers were a complete horror to me (in general - there were also some very cool guys working there).
  • Its not just Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alanshot ( 541117 ) <rurick&techondemand,net> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:12PM (#18504303)
    they also will not honor the support warranty if you switch XP versions.

    I bought a laptop several years back at Best Buy, but it only had XP Home on it. I did the usual dump and reload, and installed XP Pro using one of my spare open licenses. I tried downloading the drivers like I do for every other brand, only to find they didnt exist.

    I called support to find out how to get the windows drivers, and was told that they warrant the unit as a whole, and if ANY different OS is installed, they wouldnt talk to me. He did say that after running the restore utility to recover the factory load that it would be valid again.

    Turns out that if anything ever happened to that laptop's software, the course of action would not be to fix the driver, etc, but to wipe and reload from scratch.

    Thanks for nothing HP.

    The next day I took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a Sony.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Interesting, My first notebook was a compaq, even with all the other issues, they didn't complain or void my warantee when I replaced the crappy Windows ME it came with, with 2000. However within a week after the warantee died, everything started falling apart. No support whatsoever. I also had to backpedal out of saying I had Linux installed at one point.

      My next notebook was a Sony Vaio. It worked ok, until one day the touch pad and went flakey, and the power button kept slipping and getting stuck under th
  • Seriously, if you have a fairly open and shut case of hardware failure, then there is no need to tell the person on the other end that you're using Linux. If your machine has to go back to the shop for repair, then slap the "restore" copy of Windows on it (assuming it's not too hosed to even boot off of CD) and send it back more or less the way you got it. If you don't have backups, well, it sucks to be you because most of the times the RMA guys won't save your data either.

    However, if in the process of reinstalling the backup copy of Windows everything starts working again, well, maybe it was a problem with Linux after all.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:14PM (#18504365) Journal
    If she squawked up the chain, she'd get a new keyboard.

    They have that policy because once some guy installs "random distro", and the wifi, or some other device "stops working", there's no way to troubleshoot that over the phone.

    I wind up with that problem myself. It's hard with linux to know if the hardware has failed, the drivers have a bug, if they're configured incorrectly - or simply don't work at all. Especially when you're talking about that NDIS-wrapper crap.

    I have a machine taht will randomly freeze up X - you can still ssh in, but X freezes. I dunno - is this X, nvidia's drivers, or the card? I dunno. Works fine in windows, so at least I ruled out the last option. I found a thread somewhere pointing to it being a bug. Like I said, I dunno.

    Solution? Have a windows partition, even if it's on an old 3 gig drive - to be able to prove it's hardware that failed.
  • by brunascle ( 994197 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:15PM (#18504383)
    from TFA:

    In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS.
    so you dont actually lose your warranty, it's just not honored until you reinstall windows. sounds like the tech support people just dont want to have to do their over-the-phone support unless they're working with windows. they should at least let her send the notebook in and swap out the hard drive with a windows-partioned one and test it.
  • by $lingBlade ( 249591 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:15PM (#18504387)
    Why bother telling them which OS you run if it's anything *other* than what came pre-loaded on the system? If I had a hardware issue, big or small, and I called Tech Support for a place like Dell, HP/Compaq, etc, and they asked what I was running for an OS I'd happily lie to them and tell them it was Windows XP or whatever came pre-loaded.

    It's the same thing dealing with Tech Support idiots in other countries who can't deviate from a script. They ask if I've done X, Y, Z and I gladly pretend as though I'm going through those exact steps until I reach the point in their script where they either need to escalate the issue or issue an RMA or pickup for repairs.

    I'm not saying this lady is an idiot, but come on, have some common sense!!! If you call some PC manufacturer with a hardware issue, and they ask you what OS you're running, tell em' it's all stock. Same with cars. These companies work hard to fuck you out of your money and would love to dismiss your claim for support (however warranted), for any reason they can.

    In short: "...If someone asks you if you're a God, you say YES!!!"
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:23PM (#18504581) Homepage Journal
      So in other words, because HP is dishonest, their customers should be dishonest too? Greeeat. That'll help.

      Here's a radical idea: everyone lives up their obligations. HP sold a laptop with a warranty. The warranty (if I read TFA correctly) says nothing about what OS should be running on the machine. They are obligated, ethically and legally, to fix the machine under that warranty.

      Customers also have an obligation in such situations: when they call tech support, they are obligated (ethically if not legally) to tell the truth. When you call tech support, you're admitting that you have a problem you can't solve yourself; odds are pretty good that you don't know what information is relevant to solving the problem, and so you should answer all the questions they ask you. Of course, you should also be able to answer the questions, without having to worry that you'll lose support as a result ...

      It's absurd to blame the customer in a case like this. She was doing what she was supposed to do; HP wasn't. This sounds like massive lawsuit material, and I hope she gets enough money from them to buy a brand-new laptop (from someone other than HP, probably) every day for the rest of her life.
  • Speculation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Puff of Logic ( 895805 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:15PM (#18504391)
    It's interesting to speculate as to the reason for this odd policy. The keyboard issues cited in TFA are clearly a purely hardware problem, unrelated to software. I've run some fairly iffy code, but I've yet to encounter something that would make my keyboard start sticking (some websites, however...). This policy's genesis would seem to lie in either ignorance or entanglement and I'm genuinely curious as to which one it is. Is it that HP's tech support folks are poorly adept with Linux and therefore officially eschew non-official installs? Or is there some sort of corporate pressure from Microsoft to make it less easy for Joe Blow to run Ubuntu and its ilk?

    Given that HP (again, from TFA) sells laptops with Linux pre-installed, the former seems unlikely. The latter is indeed a fascinating can of worms.
  • Show me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:15PM (#18504401) Journal
    "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux."

    I would ask the rep to point out where in their warranty this is stated. If it's not in the warranty, they have to honor the request. If they refuse to honor the request, go to your state's Attorney General and file a complaint. After that, post your comments on every blog you can find related to computers. Nothing gets accomplished more quickly than when bad PR is involved.

    As someone higher up said, what does what software one has loaded on your system have to do with malfunctioning hardware?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
      From the HP Warranty FAQ [] (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

    • A few years ago, there was a story here on Slashdot about a guy who wrote an insider account of working for either Gateway or Dell. I think it was Dell, but it could have been Gateway. Anyway, he told about how he had a co-worker who was considered a tech support genius because his average call length was something like 45 seconds. Every call this guy got, he told the customer "Sorry. You violated your warranty." followed by the click of him hanging up. If they called back and got someone else who actu
  • Standard practice (Score:4, Informative)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:17PM (#18504435)
    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...
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:19PM (#18504475) Homepage Journal
    Laura Breeden bought a new Compaq Presario C304NR notebook in January. She bought it because she wanted to get rid of Windows and all the malware that surrounds it and move to Linux, and her old laptop lacked the memory and power to run Ubuntu Edgy. The salespeople assured her that the C304NR was "Linux ready." But they didn't tell her that running Linux would void her warranty. - this does not say whether she bought the laptop with MS Windows preinstalled. Not like it matters much, just a question.

    Until recently, she's been happy with it, and with Ubuntu Edgy. But a couple of weeks ago she began having keyboard problems. The keyboard is misbehaving when she begins to type quickly: keys are sticking and the space bar does not always respond when pressed. - they don't build them like they used to.

    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. - now this is trully evil (thus my question, was MS Windows preinstalled on the laptop? From the CSR it sounds like it was.) In any case what do sticky keys on a keyboard have to do with the OS?

    Laura is not a software engineer, but she failed to see how her choice of operating system could damage the keyboard. Furthermore, there isn't a word about the subject on the Compaq C304NR Web page -- nothing to alert consumers to the fact that if they chose a reliable, secure operating system like Linux instead of Windows, they would lose their rights to service under warranty. - Laura is not a software engineer, but she is at least 10 times smarter than those Compaq representatives, but she is not evil enough.

    She bought the notebook from Best Buy, and they did their best to sell her a maintenance contract ($200 for three years). But since the notebook only cost $549, she thought that was a lot of money to add to the purchase price, and she also thought that she could depend on the Compaq warranty. - or maybe she IS EVIL? What? Not paying for the obligatory extra warranty from Best Buy? Evil I tell you.

    I've been tracking this story for a couple of weeks with a PR rep from Hewlett-Packard Customer Service, who has been trying to "do the right thing" by Laura. There has been some discussion of swapping her unit with an HP notebook which is available with Linux preinstalled, but after a couple of weeks of back and forth, nothing has changed. - normally 'do the right thing' in large corporations means either doing nothing (best case) or doing something trully evil, like suing the customer for their choice of product.

    The PR rep told me, after wading through all the terms and conditions attached to the notebook's warranty, that "it is impossible to anticipate every single issue that a customer can face, so the terms and conditions of warranties can't list every possible scenario. Usually if a customer installs a different OS, it has a big impact on the PC and will void the warranty. - BS. Evil BS. Usually the OS does not do anything intrinsically bad to the hardware it is running, except for using it of-course.

    However, since the OS couldn't have been responsible for keys sticking on a notebook keyboard, I think this is an exception to the rule." She also asserts that Compaq's "warranty terms and conditions are in line with the rest of the industry." - yeah, it is in line with the industry of Evil. Sticking keys on a product must be a new evil way that a customer is trying to undermine the innocent distributor.

    I have a feeling that she is correct about that. Gateway and Dell have both declined to respond to queries about their own warranty coverage in a similar scenario. Tier one manufacturers like Dell and HP are locked up in double-blind secrecy about their marketing deal
  • by Yonder Way ( 603108 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:21PM (#18504517)
    Linux is actually a supported OS on some Thinkpads.

    Vote with your $$$. If HP is screwing you, screw them. Give someone else your money that values your business.
  • I cheated and RTFA'd (Score:5, Informative)

    by xs650 ( 741277 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:21PM (#18504527)
    " "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 drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:33PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chazmyrr ( 145612 )
        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 i
  • by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:26PM (#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 @02:27PM (#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.

  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#18504683)
    Needed to send a Linux-running Omnibook to RMA (bad Combo drive - couldnt read DVD's or burn CDs). Solved the problem by using sysrescue-liveCD (which it could read), and just doing an image from the harddrive to another computer over NFS. Then punched in the original WinXP "restoration CD"s and shipped the thing away. When it came back, just restored the images.
  • This is why.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:41PM (#18504933) Homepage
    This is one of the reasons why whenever I buy a PC I never remove windows. I just shrink the partition to it's minimal size plus a GB or two, install linux, set it to default. Sometimes I even remove Windows from the grub menu.lst so I can't choose it by accident :)

    There are several reasons you should not uninstall windows. One is what this article is about, warranty support. If you ever have a hardware issue you can just delete the linux paritions (after a backup) and ship the thing; unless the tech has some weird reason to do forensic analysis on the HD they will never know it ever had linux on it.

    There are other reasons too - wine works better with some applications when you can point it at some actual windows DLLs. Also, you have the ability to boot into Windows to play the occasional game or other multimedia nonsense that don't work in Linux.

    Really I don't know why someone who bought a PC that came with Windows, which THEY PAID FOR, would just go erase it anyways. It's a total waste of money, and you aren't sending anyone a "message".

    Disk space is dirt cheap. Until you can buy PCs barebones with the Windows tax removed, IMO it is ill-advised to un-install.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by codemachine ( 245871 )
      It would seem to make more sense for the vendors to have a LiveCD version of Windows to boot and test with, instead of assuming that you'll never modify your hard drive. For those who actually keep Windows and use it, their setup would hardly be "factory" anyhow.

      If you're going to require an untouched install for warranty, then you'd better be the ones providing it, either via a ROM chip, a LiveCD, or through a seperate recover partition that buyers are instructed not to wipe (or else warranty is void). I
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:47PM (#18505079) Homepage

    Nobody has hardware diagnostics any more. It used to be that when you had a hardware problem, you booted the hardware diagnostics disk and ran tests. Better manufacturers provided you with such a disk.

    Today, most of the "PC diagnostic" tools run on Windows, which assumes Windows is 1) installed, and 2) will run. This makes sense, because Windows is most likely to be the defective component.

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:49PM (#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 ) * <> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:49PM (#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.

  • by UtucXul ( 658400 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:53PM (#18505221) Homepage
    Dell pulled the same thing with me a long time ago. I had a Pentium 2 running Red Hat 7 or so and Windows 2000. The Ethernet card died while under warranty. Dell support refused to replace it because I didn't have the factory installed OS (Windows 98). So it may be more of an running any unapproved OS, not just GNU/Linux.

    I went through several levels of tech support before they finally told me that if I had a problem with the warranty, I could talk to their legal department. I decided that the best solution was to not do business with Dell anymore.

    This was while ago, so it is possible that they have changed their policies for personal support (not business where I hear they are better), but I doubt it.
  • Why this is illegal (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:54PM (#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 [] and saw a comment from an alleged HP employee [] 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 [] 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.

  • Warranty Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:19PM (#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 []

    "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

  • by HalfOfOne ( 738150 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:19PM (#18505775)
    HP (as a whole) can't hate Linux. I know this because we run HP servers where I work, and their entire Smartstart process for loading the OS onto their servers are Linux driven.

    This is a simple case of a helpless helpdesk for the desktop division not being able to peer above the edges of their box, let alone think outside of it. Nonstandard? Exterminate it. Not our problem. This is true of every level 1 desktop support organization I've ever seen.

    I doubt you'd get the same response from the gold level guys on the server side of things. Actually, IIRC, one of them used a minix variant to troubleshoot a problem I had with an old LC3, since we didn't want to mess with the existing disks or OS partition.

    Is HP as a whole to blame? Yeah, they should get their stuff together. But they're sitting in a field of pariahs at the moment.
  • by jopet ( 538074 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:24PM (#18505847) Journal
    I just wonder if they make this sufficiently clear before one buys the hardware.
    However, this practice is really only possible in countries with rather lax customer protection laws.
    At least in most European countries, this practice would very likely be illegal since the customer has a legally granted right to get faulty hardware replaced within a certain time (usually 12 months). This cannot be legally made dependent on what software the customer chooses to run on his computer.
  • by lewkor ( 111443 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:23PM (#18506913)
    My experience with Compaq was that I bought Compaq after testing it with Mepis and Knoppix. Everything seemed to run at the store so I bought it. I had a hard time getting it to get the wireless running even in windows. The wireless card was a micro PCI card so I thought "lets just get a card that Linux supports". When I installed the card and booted the computer, it didn't get past the POST. There was an error message as soon as the BIOS came up saying, "Unsupported hardware detected" and it didn't even try to boot. This was only about 2 years ago. I simply won't buy a computer that mandates that I have to use hardware from the vendor. I sold it and got another computer that is completely supported. I also use every opportunity to warn poeple about such practices.

    If thats the type of crap they want to pull with their hardware, I won't go anywhere near Compaq or HP!
  • by DimGeo ( 694000 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:49PM (#18507321) Homepage
    ... that which can be explained by incompetence. I doubt the phone jockeys could tell what was going on, they just knew their company only supports Windows. To dodge stupidity, one must learn to hmm... bend reality a little.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:52PM (#18508209) Journal
    HP's policy seems to generally be that the OS gets reimaged when the machine comes in anyhow. I was told this by a rep when sending my machine in for motherboard issues (zd7000 has issues using both RAM slots, Northbridge is a bit flakey). To avoid losing my data, I took out the 80GB drive and stuck in a blank 10GB. Oddly, the laptop came back with another 80GB drive and fresh OS install :-)

    So I guess the solution is, don't mention linux, just stick a spare drive in and get a free upgrade.
  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs@ov i . c om> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @06:07PM (#18508439) Homepage
    First off, I would never buy hardware from HP again. Secondly, I would go down to my local county court house, and file a claim in small claims court for the amount that I paid for the HP computer, then go over to the post office and send the complaint to HP by registered mail.

    Total cost, about 16 bux and an hours time.

    Now, HP could decided to help you, return your money, or send an attorney to BFE where you live to defend the case.

    If they do nothing, you go to court and get a default judgment for the cost of they system. Another hour on your part.

    So, they will honor the warranty linux or not, you just have to not lie down for their Microsoft inspired tactics.

    Large corporations will try this all the time, you just have to make the effort to stop them.

  • My anecdote (Score:3, Informative)

    by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @06:10PM (#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.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"