[ltp] Haswell thinkpads bios problem

Theodore Ts'o linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:35:42 -0500

On Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 12:21:14PM +0100, Leon Weber wrote:
> we’ve all heard about the BIOS problems with the recent Haswell
> Thinkpads, and that Lenovo has promised a fix for that. My google magic
> couldn’t find any more recent information beside this promise, so do we
> now anything new about that problem? Is there a fix yet? Is there some
> place where information is collected?
> I’ll hopefully receive my full HD X240 in one or two weeks. Did anyone
> have that problem with an X240 yet? According to my supplier, Lenovo has
> only started to produce the full HD version last week, so I wonder if it
> might already be shipped with an updated BIOS (if the X240 was affected
> in the first place).
> Is disabling UEFI still the only reliable workaround, or are there other
> options? Does anyone have experience whether Lenovo repairs bricked
> laptops under warranty, or will they ask me to pay for the repair?

I'm in communication with someone from Lenovo, "Peter from Lenovo,
responsible for Linux certification for ThinkPads".  I don't think
it's fair for me to reveal his e-mail or full name, but I will point
him at this thread and encourage him to jump in.

I've given him a full history of the bug, and he claims the BIOS team
is working on a problem, and hopes to have a fix soon.  I'm not
entirely convinced they have the problem nailed, though, and we've
been negotiating over whether I would be willing to test it.

I pointed out that, (a) UEFI brings absolutely no value to Linux
users, and (b) I've already had Lenovo replace my system board three
times, and I'm not sure they will be willing to replace it a fourth
time, but that I'm willing to give it a try *if* he can guarantee that
they would replace the motherboard again if it turns out they hadn't
really fixed the bug.  Unfortunately, his part of Lenovo doesn't seem
to be able to make that guarantee on behalf of the part of Lenovo that
handles the support contracts.  :-(

So it sounds like they have a fix in the works, but it hasn't been
released or tested yet.  It's also clear to me that given his
responses, I was perfectly justified in hiding from the Lenovo support
folks that I was using Linux, since it's not clear Lenovo is willing
to make an unequivocal support statement that if any OS manages to
brick their system, that it's *their* bug, and that their customers
who have a support contract shouldn't be penalized for **their** bug.

My recommendation is to play dumb.  Purchase a Lenovo laptop with the
cheapest possible HDD, and then install Linux on a HDD/SDD.  You'll
probably save money anyway if you do that, since Lenovo charges a
horrendous markup for their memory and higher-end HDD/SSD's.  Then if
the system board gets bricked, replace the original HDD and put the
machine back into a pristine configuration, the wya Lenovo ship*ped it
to you.  Then tell them that the system won't boot at all, and you
can't even get into the BIOS configuration screen, and ***don't****
tell them you are running Linux.

To aovid problems in the future, since UEFI brings no value
whatsoever, make sure to keep the BIOS settings in Legacy mode, and
not enable UEFI at all.  It seems pretty clear at this point that UEFI
is a mystic word in some ancient Sumarian language which means,
"brick your laptop".  :-)

	 	  	       	      	   	     - Ted