[ltp] IBM/Lenovo policy on Linux ThinkPad support, vs. competition

Shem Multinymous linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Wed, 11 Oct 2006 17:28:57 +0200

I'm taking the liberty of CCing random IBM and Lenovo people who have
posted to the linux-thinkpad list before, in hope they can make a
difference or forward this to someone who can.

IBM, Lenovo, observe how your competitors are handling Linux support
on their machines.

Quoting Matt Domsch of Dell [1] in the fedora-devel-list@redhat.com
list, in the midst of a technical discussion ("Re: Using a custom DSDT
with Fedora"):

  "I agree that working with the system providers is
  the right solution.  To that end, if you've got serious issues with a
  Dell system, you can always post to linux-poweredge@dell.com or
  linux-precision@dell.com with the details and your proposed fix, and
  we'll make sure it gets in front of the right BIOS teams.  (Even if
  it's a desktop or notebook.)  (Subscribe at http://lists.us.dell.com
  to post.)  And yes, our test teams are using Arjan's firmware test kit
  now - thanks Arjan!"

Hear that? We can reach Dell's BIOS teams, and qualified Dell
personnel are prowling the Linux developer lists and participating in
technical discussions about their hardware. Contrast that with
Lenovo's "the problem doesn't exist and anyway we don't support that"
approach to the dozens of known issues in ThinkPad Linux support and
ThinkPad firmware.

And no, we don't want meaningless "yes it boots" certifications [2]
and buggy closed-source drivers [3]  that work only on a specific
version of a specific Linux distribution. We do want to control our
battery charging thresholds under Linux the same way Windows users
can; and our fans to stop pulsing unnecessarily [4]; and active hard
disk protection that actually works; and power saving for our GPUs;
and disk upgrades that don't cause an "Error 2010" [5]. Browse
ThinkWiki [6] and the list archives [7] for some more examples.

Achieving this requires release of the relevant hardware
specifications (or free and well-documented driver code), access to
Lenovo engineers for reporting bugs, and the ability to create,
maintain and enhance open source drivers without fear of Lenovo's
legal battalion.

But for starters, it would be nice to have someone at Lenovo who is
listening to the Linux ThinkPad developer community and has the power
to move things, just like Matt at Dell.

I'm saying this as someone who has carried out kernel development for
Linux ThinkPad support, and who has contacted Lenovo support (in vain)
about such issues. I believe I am speaking for many in the community
of Linux ThinkPad developers and users.


[1] http://domsch.com/linux , http://linux.dell.com
[2] http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/MIGR-48NT8D.html
[3] http://www.keylabs.com/yes/drivers/lenovo/
[4] http://thinkwiki.org/wiki/Problem_with_fan_noise#Acceleration_.28pulsing.29_problem
[5] http://thinkwiki.org/wiki/Problem_with_non-ThinkPad_hard_disks
[6] http://thinkwiki.org/wiki/Known_Problems
[7] http://news.gmane.org/gmane.linux.hardware.thinkpad