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Foxconn Releases Test BIOS Fixing Linux Crashes

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the happy-ending-group-hug dept.

Operating Systems 196

Ryan1984 writes "Only a week after the bad press coverage regarding the Linux-related bugs in a number of motherboards released by Foxconn (which turned out to be the AMI BIOS that several board makers use), Foxconn is the first vendor out with a publicly released test patch that fixes the bulk of the problems, allowing kernel 2.6.26 to run well on the afflicted boards. The remaining issues appear to either be kernel bugs in builds earlier than 2.6.26, issues with the Intel chipset itself, or minor annoyances that Foxconn is still working to resolve. Foxconn representative Heart Zhang has posted on the Ubuntu forums (where the situation began), apologizing for the issues, thanking Foxconn customers and the community at-large for their feedback, and promising that Foxconn will take Linux support and testing seriously, going forward."

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When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicly.. (1, Interesting)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449161)

I'll consider their stuff. What I can't accept is non-acknowledgment, ostrich-style. That just loses me.

Theyre fixing it (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449407)

Quotes from the article:

I hope you guys can get the good result that you really want. But that is only a debug version BIOS which focus on this issue, later we will release Production BIOS for it ASAP. Not only on this motherboard, but also on all the other motherboards which got the same issue.

So not just in this one high publicity case, but on all of their motherboards.

And also as our plan, we will take more time on Linux OS testing. And I am sure Linux is becoming more popular and great OS.

I would say you got what you want here. Time will tell.

If possible, you can inform this message to any people as many as you can.

I'd say they got this one done too. That's pretty public.

Yes, it's lame that it was broken but now it's fixed. One week is pretty quick for a BIOS revision spin. Maybe it's OK to cut them some slack on this one now.

Re:Theyre fixing it (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449785)

Yes, it's lame that it was broken but now it's fixed. One week is pretty quick for a BIOS revision spin. Maybe it's OK to cut them some slack on this one now.

The way I read it originally at the Ubuntu forum (and I haven't seen anything else since about this, so it may have been disproved) was that the BIOS was very proactive is determining whether or not Linux was to be running, and not just based on the BIOS-equivalent of a user agent string. If it was Linux, *then* the BIOS broke functionality.

If this is true, then to me it sounds like it took a week for them to remove code they put in on purpose, and replace it with what it should have been originally. That wouldn't be so good.

Either way - whether because of an honest mistake, or due to fear of the Streisand effect, I am glad that they responded so quickly, and look to be interested in building a bridge to the Ubuntu community, at least.

Re:Theyre fixing it (5, Informative)

SalesEngineer (640818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449957)

ACPI has a method (equivalent to a function in other programming languages) called "_OSI" which allows the ACPI code to know which OS is running. It's a documented ACPI call in the ACPI 2.0 spec. BIOS manufacturers tend not to use the call, because their goal is to support any OS. Sometimes board manufacturers use it to make small tweaks to ACPI handling between different operating systems, since each one acts a little different. If Foxconn made a fix that was only invoked when Windows was running and didn't bother to test the code on a non-Windows OS (Linux, BSD, ...) then there's your bug. A programmer creates a "if" clause based on the _OSI return value, but forgets to make an corresponding "else" clause. One mentality in the Linux kernel developer community is to "pretend to be Windows", trying to guarantee that these workarounds get executed. If the Linux & Windows kernels worked the same way, this would be a wise move ... but we know they don't (otherwise _OSI would not exist). The right thing to do is what happened in this case ... report bugs back to the manufacturer, stop buying their products if they don't fix it.

Re:Theyre fixing it (0)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449991)

Thanks for the clarification. If I had a Mod point, I'd give it to you. :)

(Hint, hint, Mods...)

Re:Theyre fixing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450017)

No you wouldn't; you can't moderate discussions you've participated in.

Re:Theyre fixing it (0)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450197)

Thanks for pointing that out, Captain Obvious... :rolleyes:

Re:Theyre fixing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450115)

An even better thing to do would be to standardize one API that the Linux kernel uses and give that to manufacturers so they can support all Linuxes, rather than masquerading as Windows.

Re:Theyre fixing it (5, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450345)

I believe we have that, it's called ACPI. And if motherboard manufacturers are having a hard time properly coding things due to the spec, the spec needs to be fixed. If they're being lazy about it, then people should avoid buying their products.

But what really needs to happen is for MS to stop accepting broken implementations. I don't know for sure, but I'm sure that the broken ACPI implementations are a headache for those writing the parts of Windows that have to interact or take results from the ACPI, requiring a proper adherence would make it less of a headache for everybody.

Re:Theyre fixing it (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450307)

From the article I read about this maybe a weekago or so, it is 'if os = vista/xp/2000, return reasonable values else if os = linux, return crappy values else bail'.

It sounds like the MB would have been "fine" if they never added this OS check.

Re:Theyre fixing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450723)

what would be better is able to change what the os identify's as to get around these bugs as they are quite common.

They're fixing themselves all else is incidental. (0)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449997)

I won't touch their product because I will never know if they'll deliberately break it with some future revision when someone pads their pockets. In this instance they got caught doing something dirty and now are scrambling to cover it up.

If they issue a press release on why this happened and state a commitment to ethical business practices along with their fixed production release I will be mollified.

If they were to release the source code to both version I will be appeased.

Re:They're fixing themselves all else is incidenta (5, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450053)

They didn't actually do anything dirty, they simply didn't do anything.

The problem is that the ACPI tables are handled according to the operating system installed and when the BIOS checked that linux was in use, it provided a null table. This is not because they purposely broke something, but because they failed to check the bios and follow through on it.

Evidently, and this is mostly my opinion, FoxxCon had no idea how much of a market Linux actually has or appears to have and took others at their word that it is too small to worry about. So they took a stock bios, made a few tweaks for the markets they thought would drive their sales and neglected to do anything about Linux. After they saw the response, they quickly and painstakingly got a workaround out and reversed their position because of the potential market size.

I over simplified the process there, there is a post obove this that goes into a good amount of detail. But it is more that they did nothing then that they did something dirty.

Re:They're fixing themselves all else is incidenta (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450181)

Still a strange error to make, what if it doesn't match anything? Like:

switch( os ) {
case win95/98/me:
// CODE
break;
case win2000/xp/vista:
// CODE
break;
default:
// CODE
}

Did they put an empty "case linux: break;" in there? Or did it lack a default section at all?

Re:Theyre fixing it (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450677)

due to fear of the Streisand effect

Your computer starts playing annoying songs and lame movies?

Re:Theyre fixing it (2, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449847)

No doubt... I don't care who they are, low level hardware fixes against an OS in a week is impressive. I think Linus' window on RC's for fixing this stuff is two weeks, and the kernel team has been moving at breakneck speeds lately (averaging 4 LOC/hour, every hour, every day).

Re:Theyre fixing it (-1, Flamebait)

zaivala (887815) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450667)

Did anyone notice that this, purportedly official, apology was nowhere close to good English? If they can't write English, they can't write code... ok, that's not entirely fair, but they won't be getting many more sales in English-speaking countries if they WIDELY release statements like that.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (-1, Troll)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449415)

just a note which is missing from the summary: this wasnt fixing a bug but removing code deliberately written to broke linux

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (5, Informative)

wiIIyhiII (1327445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449763)

Informative? That's pure speculation.

More likely, they simply didn't go out of their way to support Linux. When they buy a BIOS it comes with default DSDT tables that of coarse don't work on their specific board, it's very possible that they fixed the Windows tables and ignored the rest.

But of coarse, mere incompetence doesn't make for a good Two Minutes Hate. Linux zealots say they love UNIX, but they really just love to hate Microsoft.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (3, Interesting)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449951)

Willy - Take a look at what the original poster at Ubuntu forums said:

Ubuntu forum thread [ubuntuforums.org] . Starts at post #114.

If he is correct in what he writes, then it doesn't seem much like speculation.

Perhaps if someone else has linkage to a sound refutation of his claims, it would be a good thing to post here. I've seen comments that TheAlmightyCthulu's claims were 'debunked', but the comments didn't say where, or have links.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (3, Informative)

wiIIyhiII (1327445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450025)

His reasoning:

they went to great lengths to sniff for Linux, and hand it it's very own DSDT table, which was not only inappropriate for the hardware on the board, but also failed a checksum test, had multiple compiler warnings, and so on.

The assumption that the mobo manufacturer wrote the DSDT tables is a poor one. They licence a BIOS from someone else, and it comes with sample DSDT tables that probably won't work on the hardware. They then update the Windows tables to work with their board, and ignore the rest.

That scenario is entirely consistent with what was reported on the Ubuntu forums.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450191)

I can understand that line of reasoning, but then wouldn't it follow that Foxconn and/or other mobo manufacturers would likely have committed the same, or very similar, error at some point in time prior to now? With the same, or very similar, results as far as Linux running on that hardware?

What I am hoping for, or wondering at least, is: has anyone any solid evidence that this (what Willy posits) is the case?

If not, then that would seem to make this a first-instance occurrence of what would seem to otherwise be a likely common 'bug'. With the number of years Linux has been running on mobo's, and the number of different mobo manufacturers, and as many highly technical eyeballs are on their Linux installs and hardware, you would think that someone would have had, and seen, a problem like this long ago.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450789)

Well, it is definitely written into the APCI 2.0 specs. When implemented, the bios can check the OS running and give specific tables to the OS that ease compliance and nuances that are different among other operating systems.

If this is the case in which it happened that way, then it can be as simple as other mainboard manufacturers not using specific DSDT tables or referring all non recognized or handled returns as NT and providing NT versions of the DSDT tables. When Foxxcom's programmer decided not to acknowledge linux and/or forgot to point it back to the windows tables, we see an issue that is specific to one instance and manufacturer.

Make no mistake, they didn't write anything specific into the bios to check for linux. That is already there and part of the spec. Failing to handle the return properly is a mistake but it doesn't imply the malice accusations that are going around. And no, this first appearance doesn't mean it can't happen with the other manufacturers, it just means that it hasn't because they did something different or were more thorough. Linux mimics windows in a lot of ways on these levels and for the most part, can handle the windows DSDT returns. If a mainboad simply passes the windows tables on a linux return, you would likely never know the difference without the source or decompiling the bios.

Deliberate sabotage appologized for (0, Flamebait)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449935)

move along, nothing to see here, here kiddies *candy* now go away.

Not forgiven.

Re:When a mobo manufacturer supports linux publicl (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449965)

Yeah, right, deliberately. I guess you never make a mistake at your job right? So everything you do wrong was on purpose, you must be a terrible person.

I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450379)

What has this anything to do with Apple?

But... (4, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449171)

Will it run Linux?

Seriously, kudos to them for taking ownership and addressing this so quickly. I've seen some vendors ignore hardware issues if they hear the world Linux.

no it won't. (0, Troll)

Odder (1288958) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449479)

If you have one of these boards, you need DOS to fix the BIOS.

You can unzip the file, just run flash.bat on DOS mode to flash BIOS.

It's nice of them to be more aware of the issue but we are a long way from free BIOS. Dependence on licensed M$ software for a fix just goes to show how bad non free bios and ACPI are in the first place [slashdot.org] . People who have DOS sitting around may never have noticed the problem to begin with. The rest of us will have to watch out until the problem boards have all sold out. That translates into avoidance.

Re:no it won't. (5, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449525)

use freedos...

why play games? (0, Troll)

westbake (1275576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449913)

This how to says freedos can do it [linuxinsight.com] but do we really know that this particular patch will work? DOS, like ACPI, is so sabotaged that you can never be sure. Tell me why I'd trust a patch from a company that appears to have put in a bogus GNU/Linux ACPI table. It would be easier to get a known good mother board than it would be to fry your BIOS because of some DOSy problem.

FreeDOS works. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450093)

What are you worried about, MS changing the DOS API or something? ;-)

Re:no it won't. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449801)

For someone who whines so much about Free software twitter, you'd have thought you'd actually know what you were talking about by being aware of FreeDOS.

Re:But... (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449641)

Hm, but why does it take a storm of negative publicity to make them change their attitude? Why can't they just build stuff that works? Or would that be too much to ask...

Re:But... (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449781)

It looks like they licensed a BIOS, and the issue was actually with the BIOS-maker, but they made a fix for it regardless.

Re:But... (5, Informative)

SalesEngineer (640818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449977)

No ... it looks like they got a licensed BIOS development kit, added code that broke Linux and didn't test it. Asus uses AMIBIOS and ships a lot of Linux systems (ever heard of the EeePC?) so I think this is a Foxconn "oops".

But I'm confused now! (3, Funny)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449177)

Wait, Slashdot told me that Foxconn was in the hole for Microsoft, purposely sabotaging Linux so Windows can live on! But now they're releasing a fix? That's not sabotage!

Help me out here, Slashdot!

Tin-foil hats (5, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449291)

This is very clever sabotage. Now Foxconn is trying to convince Linux users that we should rush out and buy from them.

Once we build all our rigs with Foxconn motherboards, they trigger the new dormant BIOS bug that destroys all Linux systems.

The only way to repair the BIOS at that point will be a patch that can only be installed from Microsoft BOB, and will come shipped in a shrink-wrapped CD case that can only be opened by throwing a chair at it.

Re:Tin-foil hats (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449597)

Think about it, its like all the other conspiracies we have uncovered and commented on here on /. "Quick they know about our shenanigans, let's issue a quick fix and try to sweep it under the rug!!"

Re:Tin-foil hats (2, Funny)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449629)

Sorry to reply to myself....

[ by the way, I prefer (Admantium)plate-steel helmets to tinfoil, they block more than radio waves... (Juggernaut is my mentor, Captains Britain and America look out!!)]

Re:But I'm confused now! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449301)

Damn, beat me to it.

I bet your comment either gets ignored entirely (as is usually the case with insightful meta-commentary) or down-modded ruthlessly with little explanation as to why. Occasionally someone comes along and says "Slashdot is not one person, so there!" while completely ignoring the fact that the consensus is usually denoted via mod points, which are seen as a Good Thing, so therefore its Good to go along with the consensus whenever possible if you want to maintain e-respect.

Also, Linux users need to lose the whole chip on the shoulder attitude. You're not being oppressed, you're just using an operating system with a minority market share.

Re:But I'm confused now! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450399)

Quite so, as a FreeBSD user, I'd prefer to be Linux style oppressed, I mean a lot of official drivers and commercial support, damn that's tough.

Conspiracies ultimately take far more money than just ignoring the platform, and frequently yield similar results, I'm not really sure why Foxconn or any for profit entity would waste money to sabotage a platform that they could just not support.

Re:But I'm confused now! (5, Funny)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449311)

Wait, Slashdot told me that Foxconn was in the hole for Microsoft, purposely sabotaging Linux so Windows can live on! But now they're releasing a fix?

Finish reading the summary:

(which turned out to be the AMI BIOS that several board makers use)

{"TinfoilHat":"
It looks like the AMI BIOS manufacturer is the one who's really purposely sabotaging Linux.
"} // I've had it with XML jokes -- this one's JSON. [json.org]

Re:But I'm confused now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450205)

You, sir, have started a flame war (between XML and JSON) in a +5 Funny. I bow to you.

Re:But I'm confused now! (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449367)

Clearly people (including me, even though I didn't comment) were being somewhat alarmist. I don't apologize for being alarmist about something like that. It's very typical of the kind of thing Microsoft has had a tendency to do in the past.

Though, in retrospect Microsoft largely no longer has to be so sneaky about stuff like this. The easiest way for them to play this game now is to convince a majority of motherboard manufacturers to not give the keys to their trusted computing hardware to the users of the motherboard.

Especially given many people's tendency nowadays to suspend all judgment when anybody even vaguely plausibly mentions 'security'.

Re:But I'm confused now! (5, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449443)

"But now they're releasing a fix? That's not sabotage!"

Foxconn got caught and was called front-and-center over it. The evidence is overwhelmingly against them (the sabotage is plainly visible in their own code), so they realize the jig is up. The only rational response, after all the denials failed, is to provide a fix and hope the exposure fades away.

The sabotage doesn't necessarily have to be an explicit agreement between Foxconn and Microsoft, but it was certainly intentional on Foxconn's part. The code that said, essentially, "If Windows, do things right; if Linux, do things wrong" was not an accident. The question of who at Foxconn made the decision to perform the sabotage may never be known, but it was done consciously by someone at Foxconn (for whatever reason).

Re:But I'm confused now! (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449581)

Got links? I'd be curious to see exactly where in the code this was. I've got a 3 year old foxconn mobo running windows xp for my home theater, but if I transition it to Linux sometime I'd love to have the heads up.

Re:But I'm confused now! (0)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449711)

It's in the ubuntu forum link, there is the howto (and the results) to dump and decompile the acpi tables.

in that code there is the switch, stating that the acpi table is pointed to a pointer to an invalid region of memory

Re:But I'm confused now! (2)

Drantin (569921) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450023)

I'd like to see the evidence you have for sabatoge.

As another poster has already said, it could have been as simple as them fixing a bug in the windows ACPI table, but neglecting to update the code in the linux case.

--Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.

Always assume malice (5, Insightful)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450529)

for that which can be explained by incompetence.

It wasn't just that the table was wrong, there was specific code in the BIOS to point to a a bad table.

This phrase, 'Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence', is absolutely a darkside distraction.

You've heard it so much over the years, that you start to believe it.

It's a *great* cover for darkside machinations.

Incompetence definitely exists, but to let yourself be deluded into thinking that bad things are due to incompetence is to show your own incompetence as a sentient lifeform.

Assume malice first, and search for proof of incompetence.

In this case, specific code was in the BIOS that was malicious.

To forgive or not? (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449497)

Now it will be interesting to see if all the people condemning Foxconn a short while ago, has the guts and hearts to take Foxconn into their grace again.

Re:To forgive or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449905)

I know I won't! If a company has a history of making a bad product, why would I go back to them and do further business?

Re:To forgive or not? (1)

azgard (461476) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449949)

It's a little thing called diplomacy.

Re:But I'm confused now! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449705)

foxconn makes so many boards for so many manufacturers (hp among others - my vectra vli8 has a foxconn board). they are rather neutral, and their stuff has worked well with linux.

Re:But I'm confused now! (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450417)

"But now they're releasing a fix? That's not sabotage!
Help me out here, Slashdot!"

Not saying this is the truth of it, but *if* the previous behaviour of the motherboard was in fact sabotage payed by Microsoft then the explanation for the current behaviour it's quite easy:

Foxconn sabotaged Linux because of Microsoft's money, now that the issue hitted the fan, it turns out there were not enough money to pay for the bad press and/or it even might be that other contenders entered the scene (just last week I had to open the cover of an IBM xServer and what did I find? The Foxconn label over there) so they had to retract.

Not so difficult.

Rush to judgement? (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449179)

Though I will admit I was just as much in on it as anyone else [slashdot.org] . Perhaps instead of malice or stupidity, it was simply "taking care of the biggest customer pool first."

Re:Rush to judgement? (0)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449281)

Maybe I was one of the idiots here, maybe all sides were right about something though. And maybe Foxconn just basically said "go away" because they didn't think so many people cared. In the end, the biggest motherboard maker has said they won't ignore us. So we all get something out of this in that fewer people will have a malfunctioning computer they want to slap, that needs Vista to run properly. Now for some beer, hooray, beer!

Re:Bush to judgement? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449329)

I'm going with "shit, we're getting bad publicity! Fix that now!" ... with a little luck, it will be followed with ... "and don't let it happen again!"

Re:Rush to judgement? (2, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449503)

something i would say would be best served by building a standard compliant bios first, and then add fixes for windows idiosyncrasies.

the way it seems to go these days is, build for microsoft products, then try and re-patch for everything else...

The boads are still defective. (1)

westbake (1275576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449617)

A fix is nice, but it's still a PITA that requires DOS to fix. Why not just buy a board that works out of the box? That's the bad news.

The good news is that GNU/Linux market is a bigger pool than these people thought it was. Given Vista's popularity, there's hardly anyone who would buy a motherboard that would accept one that would not work well with GNU/Linux.

companies often contradictory on Linux support (3, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450081)

Perhaps instead of malice or stupidity, it was simply "taking care of the biggest customer pool first."

Yeah. This also seems to be an example of a more general phenomenon with Linux support, which is that the same company will make completely contradictory statements about their own Linux support. In the earlier slashdot story [slashdot.org] , someone from Foxconn is directly quoted as saying 'it doesn't support Linux;' now they say they always intended to support Linux. The truth is probably that they never even thought about Linux support, and then when the issue was brought to their attention random representatives started saying random things off the cuff.

I've had a similar experience with Amazon's MP3 store. If you want to buy entire albums (as opposed to individual tracks), you have to use special downloading software that they supply. The software was initially only available in Windows and Mac versions, but pretty quickly they brought out Linux versions as well. Nowadays when you use your Linux box to shop for albumbs on their site, if you don't have the software installed your browser will detect that, and detect your OS as linux, and they'll generate a page for you offering links to download a linux version of the downloader. In fact, they even have it available in multiple versions for different linux distros. However, the linux downloader has been pretty buggy for me (and was also hard to get working properly on x64). I've had it working, then it broke, etc. I've done two calls to Amazon's tech support about this, and in both cases, the initial reaction was to tell me to do a bunch of stuff (with the usual confusion because the Indian tech support person gives Windows+IE instructions, and has never heard of Linux), and then when that didn't help they checked with someone else, who told them Linux wasn't supported. Never mind that they've had Linux versions of the software up on the site for months now.

I think part of the problem is that so many people in the hardware and software industries live in a 100%-Windows environment. It honestly never even occurs to them that anyone is running any other OS. (In the case of Foxconn, they're not making mac-compatible boards, so it's probably true that 99% of their boards are being used with Windows.) Then when the issue comes up, they just deal with it off the cuff. It's like asking them what their policy is on recycling cardboard -- they probably don't have one, and they don't see why it's important.

Another problem may be that in a Windows monoculture environment, many people don't understand what a standard really is. They think Windows and Word and IE are standards. Instead of developing for the relevant standard, some PHB makes the decision that they're going to target something proprietary, calling that a "standard," and they think of it as extra work to add support for anything else -- when in fact, it would have made more sense just to support the standard properly in the first place.

liar! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449273)

linux doesn;t have kernel bugs. It's open source.

*nawcom knocks on dell's door* (3, Informative)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449283)

"Hey Michael Dell, when are you gonna fix all the disabled HPETs in your laptops? Hell, when I checked for syntax errors in the DSDT code I found 26 of them! And it's only set up to work with different Windows models, nothing else!!! This is unacceptable! ... Hey.... Hey come back here - don't walk away when I'm talking to you!!!!"

Sadly, this is the truth, and if I could make one wish, it would be that computer makers not make their BIOS code such a damn secret. Dell uses a Phoenix BIOS with an unknown compression set up, and they seem to be extremely secretive about it. (Anyone here of the "delldeco" app? That's gone now, because Dell said so.) I'm also glad that EFI is starting to be used in some motherboard manufacturers.

Fucked Company. (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449297)

Shouldn't be a mystery why so many xbox's are failing when its this company supplying the motherboards. Fuck em.

Re:Fucked Company. (0)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449347)

The XBOX 360 failures were due to Microsoft cheaping out on the design. Microsoft already sells consoles as a loss leader, so if they can save $1 on a part that goes into 100 million units, woohooo! Evilness=Profit In this case, the zip archive for the test BIOS is only two kilobytes larger than the bundle for the one that only likes Windows which was 683 kilobytes already. So it amounts to a few kilobytes of code that I guess nobody at AMI or motherboard makers like Foxconn/ASUS/MSI cared about, cause they jsut wanted a shippable BIOS in time for Vista.

Re:Fucked Company. (1)

dexomn (147950) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449743)

Microsoft tried to engineer their own ASIC and cut out a well known vendor, in doing so they essentially pulled the old "Windows 98 BSOD at COMDEX" once again. They had to tuck tail, eat crow, and go back to the previous vendor. This has less to do with the Microsoft developers tasked to do the job than it does with the corporate decision makers. I'm not a huge M$ fan, but I think you need to analyze the "how" as well as the "why" in order to form an opinion that is not based in FUD.

I'm going to have to say that I believe what happened at Foxconn is much of the same as far as the separation of engineering and corporate.

Good sign (5, Insightful)

Keyper7 (1160079) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449343)

This whole soap opera, which probably had more to do with copy and paste laziness than conspiracy theories, blew up out of proportions and gave Foxconn a lot of reasons to believe that Linux users are crazy zealots. Yes, I know that the users who actually harassed Foxconn with "OMG microsoft payed you!!!" emails are just a small part of the Linux userbase, but I'd kinda understand if Foxconn took Linux less seriously after that.

The fact that they're now going as far as writing about the patch in the Ubuntu Forums shows that they consider the Linux userbase large and important enough to be worried about the bad press, even though most of the "bad press" was grossly exaggerated. Not-so-many years ago, a company could dismiss the complaints as "nonsense zealotry" with no worries and no financial negative impact whatsoever. Foxcoon seems to believe that this is not the case now.

So, from a "relevance of Linux nowadays" point of view, I consider this to be a very good sign.

Re:Good sign (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449395)

and gave Foxconn a lot of reasons to believe that Linux users are crazy zealots.

You say that like it's a bad thing. :)

On a serious note...good job Foxconn. The correct response that will be quickly settle the turbulent waters and turn a negative into a positive. And you raise a good point that Linux support has become an issue hardware vendors take seriously. Good for all of us.

Re:Good sign (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449579)

and gave Foxconn a lot of reasons to believe that Linux users are crazy zealots.
-
You say that like it's a bad thing. :)

It's a wonderful thing. Who's going to support Linux better, the company that thinks Linux users will complain a little about lack of support, or the company that thinks Linux users will firebomb the CEO's house if they don't get support?

Re:Good sign (5, Interesting)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449657)

So, you think it would have been fixed if there had not been angry, almost rabid, users? You know, the ones you refer to as "crazy zealots"?

I don't believe so. I believe the issue would have been ignored, and Linux would have been patched in some obscene manner to "work around" the issue. Giving a bad reputation to Linux; "it doesn't work -- what kind of fucking shit is THIS?". Hurting the reputations of many developers.

Sometimes, the only sane response is to be angry and rabid.

Was it a bug? Was it deliberate? Who knows. That debate is still open. What IS important is that there is at least ONE open source OS with the clout to keep vendors honest.

Re:Good sign (1)

Keyper7 (1160079) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449945)

Eh no, "angry, almost rabid" users are not the ones I refer to as crazy zealots. The crazy zealots are the ones who emailed Foxconn saying things like "u r OBVIOUSLY bing birbed b mIcro$hit!!!1!!" without any real evidence of it.

I applaud the users who emailed Foxconn about the issue, but only the ones who did in a appropriate way (and I'm not even going into the politeness discussion, you can even be a rude jerk without bringing up conspiracy theories).

But this is irrelevant to my point. My point was that complaining, alone, is useless if you belong to a group that the manufacturer does not consider to be commercially relevant. Clearly this is not the case with Foxconn and Linux users, and this is good.

Re:Good sign (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450151)

So we agree - good. I guess I just wasn't clear on what a "crazy zealot" was. Thanks for clarifying.

And I am glad that we can take the idea "Linux is good, because it is important enough to keep vendors honest" home. Maybe I'll make that my sig (I'll have to mull it over).

Re:Good sign (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449879)

Well thankfully for the rest of the world, foxconn thought that breaking linux on their stuff was a bad idea.

So im glad so many people didnt listen to you.

Re:Good sign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450255)

Yes, I know that the users who actually harassed Foxconn with "OMG microsoft payed you!!!" emails are just a small part of the Linux userbase, but I'd kinda understand if Foxconn took Linux less seriously after that.

Presuming they're smart, they'd take it more seriously -- userbase noise vs signal increases as the OS becomes more popular as a desktop.

Complaining works (5, Insightful)

Sir Homer (549339) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449371)

I've said this before about ATI: When you get a bunch of angry people together and complain about a product, you typically get the results you want.

No company wants to look bad, even to a minority of people. Because it often only takes a minority of people to completely trash a companies reputation, especially in such a competitive market like motherboards.

So if you know of any other manufacturers who have poor Linux support, don't be scared to send them a letter about it and to tell other people who use Linux about your problems with the manufacturer. You might end up afflicting positive change in the long run.

Re:Complaining works (1)

nfk (570056) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450305)

I knew this Linux thing was evil. Even when it effects positive change, it is afflicting.

Re:Complaining works (a bit ot) (1)

OneMadMuppet (1329291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450741)

Complaining works? Then I'd like to complain about the phrase "going forward". There's enough buzzword bingo in work - I shouldn't have to deal with it here too. Perhaps if we got a bunch of angry people together to complain about marketingspeak, we could end up afflicting positive change in the long run?

learning from asus (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450883)

maybe they learned from asus that they can use their Linux userbase as a good card in their stack when dealing with Microsoft.

Awesome (2, Informative)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449383)

Great news, that's fantastic. I wonder what caused the problem in the first place?

Anyhow, I wonder what happened to that bitter person in Foxconn's tech support? Hopefully he will be taking things more seriously next time as well.

Re:Awesome (1)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449513)

Carl Brunning told me that guy is in some amount of trouble with him, and with Foxconn's home office. He was in California btw, methink he needs to drop teh medical marijuana in the mail (to yours truly) and run off and get my answer. :P

give them credit (5, Insightful)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449521)

these guys really didn't have to EVER fix this, much less a week later. if all hardware manufacturers were this responsive the world of technology would be a better place.

Strictly publicity, was non-story from the start (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449557)

Slashdot is essentially being trolled by Ryan1984, who is on a one-man crusade, convinced of wrongdoing that probably never took place.

Foxconn is probably just doing this to avoid negative publicity, despite the fact that BIOSes shouldn't be running any code specific to Linux, due to specific decisions by the kernel developers.

Quoting from an actual kernel developer: [livejournal.com]

In any case, it's highly unlikely that this is any attempt by Foxconn to prevent Linux from working. The majority of checks for Linux in ACPI tables are copy and pasted from reference tables that Intel (and other manufacturers) have provided at various points - even the Intel Macs attempt to check for Linux! Most vendors will never attempt to boot Linux on their boards or validate them appropriately, so it's entirely conceivable that they'll end up screwing things up in such a way that the only tested paths are the ones that are run by Windows. This is why we now attempt to ensure that Linux reports itself as Windows. If we're running Linux-specific code in the DSDT, then that's a bug in Linux.

Anyway. Accusing companies of conspiring against us when the most likely explanation is simply that they don't care is a fucking ridiculous thing to do and does nothing to get rid of the impression that Linux users are a bunch of whining childish hatemongers. Next time, try talking to someone who actually understands this stuff first?

Re:Strictly publicity, was non-story from the star (0)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449807)

It never gets trolled by Anonymous Coward. Move along, move along... Garrett's stuff doesn't get into the kernel unless the maintainers of the kernel like it, I've seen some of his stuff bounce. The man is not God.

Re:Strictly publicity, was non-story from the star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450107)

Since Linux pretends to be Windows regarding ACPI, kernel has to emulate all windows' bugs or it won't work properly on some ACPI "compliant" hardware.

That knid of approach is a double edged sword. It keeps vendors out of ability to even differentiate between the two operating systems, while it allows many of them to work if ACPI tables for Linux are broken (this usually happens when it's completely untested like in this case). So don't blame Foxconn, it's not their fault entirely. They did a workaround (probably isn't that simple when you have OS that fakes it's identity) and for it they deserve positive publicity, not mindless bashing. Linux hater's blog has a good point about it.

Bigger blame lies on companies which designed that trainwreck ACPI standard in the first place.

It's a Con! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24449583)

Those sneaky Foxes are just out to Con us all!

See (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449849)

See, the open source community can pressure companies into releasing compatible Linux hardware.

Re:See (1)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449867)

And all it really took in the end, before I was lynched by the "respectable" Matthew Garrett, because he can't stand a smartass....was a really hot cup of tea. :P

Bigger impact from negative linux reputation. (5, Insightful)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449855)

Well, as most linux users are tech-savy, they are often being asked advice by less tech-savy people e.g.

-- What do you think about this PC? Shall I buy it?
*looks through the specs*
Foxconn Mobo? Utter trash! Don't buy it!

I do think that linux users are not many, but we are influential for sure.

Re:Bigger impact from negative linux reputation. (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450383)

You know there is a lot of truth to that remark. I'm a very tech savvy person and my family, friends, wife's friends, hell random people in stores I visit ask me for advice about computer parts. When they do I generally try to steer them towards products that have either open or at least very compatible drivers. So while I may only be one person I influence many people in their buying decisions. What's really interesting is that I've actually started to convert my wife's group of stay at home moms to linux, they see her little EEE and love it(I installed ubuntu on it for her). They then ask what it is and promptly want to try it out. Somewhere around 50% of them will actually stay using it once I give them a brief little class of how to use it and where to find all the free software.

Honour where its deserved (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449863)

Congratulations, foxconn, for listening to your market.

This is Foxconn's BIOS problems, not generic to AM (5, Informative)

SalesEngineer (640818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24449893)

Ryan1984's post makes it sound like a generic AMI BIOS problem with Linux ... I don't think this is the case. AMIBIOS runs well on Linux generically (it's on Sun Microsystems servers, the Asus EeePC & EeeBox, which all work with Linux) so this is probably Foxconn introducing a problem when they ported the BIOS to their boards. Board manufacturers like Foxconn get a development kit from the BIOS manufacturer then port it to their platform. If Foxconn made a BIOS fix for Windows then didn't test it with Linux, this would cause the issue. A similar situation would be if a company made a variation of a Linux distro for their products but broke somethign that worked generically in the original distro. I think the community response worked great for getting Foxconn to pay attention to Linux. They saw their business & reputation threatened and are trying to fix the problem.

Re:This is Foxconn's BIOS problems, not generic to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450817)

Your observation appears to be on target:

Solaris Express build 94 running on ECS GeForce7050M-M:

$ smbios
ID SIZE TYPE
0 71 SMB_TYPE_BIOS (BIOS information)

    Vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
    Version String: 080014
    Release Date: 08/28/2007

and Ubuntu 8.04 i386 running on ASUS M2N-MX-SE

# dmidecode
# dmidecode 2.9
SMBIOS 2.4 present.
49 structures occupying 1827 bytes.
Table at 0x000F06F0.

Handle 0x0000, DMI type 0, 24 bytes
BIOS Information
        Vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
        Version: 0403
        Release Date: 08/20/2007

Foxconn is off my evil list (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450177)

I said about the earlier story that I wouldn't consider Foxconn kit because we use Linux based utilities to restore and troubleshoot Windows systems. Since they are acting to fix the issues, I have no reason to disqualify their stuff out of hand anymore.

And I had just replaced all of my Foxxcon boards.. (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450221)

as fellow slashdot users recommended me to in protest!

Maybe you guys should not overreact about issues and bring up the conspiracy theories next time huh?

Re:And I had just replaced all of my Foxxcon board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450299)

You went to the trouble of replacing *all* your Foxconn boards based on protestations you heard on /. and you're griping about other people overreacting? Twit.

EV1 Servers, Comcast, Foxconn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450229)

Fuckin' A. Don't mess with Slashdot! To hell with the US Presidency being the most powerful position in the world. Slashdot is where the real seat of power rests! Seriously. We get things done. Take my word for it. Good ol' AC wouldn't lead you astray.

AWARD BIOS AMI BIOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450429)

How did I coded shitty bios?

so they like getting pounded in the ass? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450509)

linux faggots. filthy fuckking linux faggots.

No issue, only bad press from one guy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24450769)

http://mjg59.livejournal.com/

Quote :

Take home messages? There's no evidence whatsoever that the BIOS is deliberately targeting Linux. There's also no obvious spec violations, but some further investigation would be required to determine for sure whether the runtime errors are due to a Linux bug or a firmware bug. Ryan's modifications should result in precisely no reasonable functional change to the firmware (if it's ever hitting the mutex timeout, something has already gone horribly wrong), and if they do then it's because Linux isn't working as it's intended to. I can't find any way in which the code Foxconn are shipping is worse than any other typical vendor. This entire controversy is entirely unjustified.

They're already.... (1)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450809)

....on the list of motherboard manufacturers that I'll never use again. In fact prety much all of them are on that list except for ASUS and Gigabyte (and ASUS have an icky bios interface).

Going Forward (1)

Phydaux (1135819) | more than 6 years ago | (#24450975)

I can't believe the phrase "going forward" is reaching slashdot summarys now.

A little part of me dies each time I hear that phrase, and working for a FTSE 50 insurance company I barely survive each day.

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