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Motorola Says eFuse Doesn't Permanently Brick Phones

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the too-little-distinction-for-my-taste dept.

Android 294

radicalpi writes "Motorola has responded to claims that eFuse is designed to brick your device if you attempt to mod it or install unauthorized bootloaders. Yes, the device will still not operate with unauthorized software, but it will only go into recovery mode until you reinstall the authorized software. According to Motorola: 'If a device attempts to boot with unapproved software, it will go into recovery mode, and can re-boot once approved software is re-installed.'"

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Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead? (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935198)

Motorola Says eFuse Doesn't Brick Phones

There, fixed that for you. Bricked is permanent. Non-permanent "bricking" isn't bricking at all. If you can revive it, it was never bricked in the first place.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935224)

Motorola Says eFuse Doesn't Brick Phones

There, fixed that for you. Bricked is permanent. Non-permanent "bricking" isn't bricking at all. If you can revive it, it was never bricked in the first place.

It all depends on how easy it is to reinstall the software. MOST "bricked" devices could be recovered at a service center with specialised equipment for a fee (that may not make it a cost effective proposition). If an end user can make the phone unusable but can't reverse the situation using the same equipment (or at least readily available affordable - as in a few bucks - equipment) I would still call it bricked even if it can be revived.

I have no idea if in this safe mode it's easy to install the authorised software. If it is easy I wouldn't call that bricked either. I'd just call it nasty DRM that I'll steer well clear of.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935304)

This sounds exactly like it is on the CLIQ. In the past, if you were not careful with modding, you will end up with the phone bootlooping until you put the phone in USB recovery mode, and flash a signed SHX file. Now, you can most likely use nandroid and pull back to the last backup.

This bit people big time when a new radio ROM was available for upgrading, and people upgraded to it with a rooted/custom ROM, one had to reflash (losing root). Of course new ROM fixed the RAMDLD exploit that was used to root the phone in the first place.

Luckily, on the CLIQ, there was a ROM that had ro.secure set to 0 that was signed by a vendor. This allowed for a recovery image to be flashed, and new ROMS pushed to the phone. Had this not been the case, I'm sure it would have been an uphill battle to get the phone re-rooted, and likely people would have moved on to other platforms and not bothered.

All and all, this isn't great news, but it is better than having devices be rendered unusable until sent to a Motorola repair depot.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (5, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935314)

No. Bricked is forever, as defined by perception and ability -- both of which are subject to change.

A few years ago, I really fucked up a WRT54G when playing with software. I was going to throw it away, when I stumbled across a process for programming it using its JTAG interface and a parallel port. (Which worked fine.)

So was it a brick? The answer is simple, but flexible: It was a brick until I learned that it was possible for me to recover it, at which point it ceased to be a brick.

And now that I know how to deal with these issues, I can't successfully brick a WRT54G in the same fashion.

A dozen years ago, I fucked up a PC by flashing the wrong BIOS. Was it a brick? Again, it's a matter of perspective. In this particular case it was not a brick, though most folks would have reasonably considered it to be completely and totally bricked. Why was it not bricked for me? Because I already knew how to fix it: Enable shadow ROM on another computer, and plug the improperly-flashed BIOS into it hot. Then, just re-flash with the correct image, put the hardware back where it was, and move on with life.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (3, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935354)

Just because you have discovered an unbricking technique does NOT invalidate the fact that it WAS in fact bricked.

Bricking is not defined as forever.

Bricking means the device is hosed and cannot be recovered without breaking in and modifying the hardware.

Breaking into the JTAG interface of a consumer device and reprogramming PROM are definitely hardware modification techniques that are non-trivial.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (5, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935482)

Breaking in? It's not like it took prybars and hammers to open the thing. A WRT54G opens with a quick tug using no tools other than a pair of reasonably-strong hands.

Modifying the hardware? A little. But the JTAG header was right there on the board, IIRC it was even labeled. All I had to do was solder some pins to it to be able to plug a cable into it. And I could have done it without even going that far: after all, I just needed electrical continuity, and nowhere is it written that this must involve physical modification. (Soldering is easier for one individual device, but if I had a lot of them to fix I'd have come up with something less invasive.)

Breaking into the JTAG interface? To reprogram the PROM? You've gone off of the deep end. JTAG is a bog-standard and rather simple interface for dealing with flash at a low level. And PROMs aren't reprogrammable.

Another reason why the device was not bricked was that it was not physically damaged: No eFuse was blown, no parts had turned to smoke, and never was it in any particular danger. It just had a bad firmware load. In other words, it was experiencing a software problem. So I loaded new software that worked, once I learned how.

*shrug*

In other news, some layfolk also think that a PC with a crapfested install of Windows is bricked beyond help. This opinion is, of course, wrong. But it is based on their perspective and ability.

To use a car analogy: I have a dead GM 4L30E automatic transmission out back which died suddenly in my BMW. I fixed the car by replacing the transmission, which I knew how to do, so at no time was the whole car a brick. Now: Could the 4L30E be fixed? I guess so, but I don't know how to do that, so the tranny itself is still bricked. To someone else with different perspective and ability, it might be a quick fix, but that someone ain't me. If the day comes that I gain the ability to understand and fix automatic transmissions, or I give it to someone else who already understands these things, then it may cease being a brick.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935522)

Thank you for this injection of sanity. I was beginning to be swayed by this "it's all relative" of other posts, but yours is a clear line. A couple of days ago I hooked an old Linksys router that said 5V to a 12V (which measured more like 15V) transformer. Immediate burning smell. Now it hangs with the red light on, gets hot even at 5V. I'd call it very bricked. Yet, if someone desoldered the chips I fried, they could probably revive it. But your definition makes it clear: the case must be opened and parts desoldered to fix it.

And now I'm regaining more sanity here (thanks again)... we already had a word for what I did: I broke the hell out of it. It needs to be repaired. Bricked is a term describing breakage done entirely by software, which requires special tools (hardware, or perhaps special signed binaries), or even hardware repair, to remedy. The point is that you screwed it up beyond something you as an average user can remedy, merely by doing things in software, or maybe hooking the wrong adaptor to it, without forcing anything. THAT is a useful concept, because usually such simple things don't render a device unusable to yourself. Ahhhh, now the word has regained a useful meaning for me again.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935592)

My car is totalled because it needs a new air filter, which requires me to break into and modify the hardware by opening the hood and unscrewing a wingnut.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (3, Insightful)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935770)

Bricking means the device is hosed and cannot be recovered without breaking in and modifying the hardware.

No, you seem to misunderstand the meaning of the word "brick". As defined by Wiktionary [wiktionary.org] :

Noun
brick (countable and uncountable; plural bricks)
1. (countable) A hardened rectangular block of mud, clay etc., used for building.
This wall is made of bricks .

A brick is something you build houses with. A device that is in a state of non-function is called a "brick" because that's about all you could do with it. A device that I don't know how to return to a functioning state to me is a brick. If you know how to fix it, then to you it is not a brick, and if you offer to help me fix it then it is no longer a brick to me either. That's what adolf is saying, and I agree. Take a second to let that sink in and maybe you will understand.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935860)

I'd like to see a house built of bricked devices. Then you could definitively say that they were literally bricked.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1, Informative)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935394)

Riddle me this:

Why are PSPs considered "bricked" when you can get a pandora's battery and "unbrick" them. Perspective has nothing to do with it, if the system is shut down and a user cannot reset it to defaults without the aid of specialist "tools", it's bricked.

A USB cable is a specialist tool when it comes to mobiles, most users have never, and probably will never, connected their phone to their computer. This concept is alien to most users.

You talk about perception, get off the high horse and look at things from a user perspective. Bricked is bricked, and there's no interpretation to it.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935526)

A "bricked" PSP that can be recovered using a Pandora battery is not bricked at all. It is far more useful than a brick. All it takes is a widget to tell the device to boot from whatever it is that is in the card slot instead of its internal flash. This widget happens to be known as a Pandora battery, and the only thing that is special about it is that its serial number consists of zeroes.

Bricks don't do any of that stuff: I have a pile of them out back, and none of them possess these abilities. A genuinely bricked PSP would resemble a brick, not an electronic device that can easily be brought back to usefulness.

Regarding "user perspective," I have bricked a lot of things (both electronic and mechanical) that I was simply unable to fix myself while being unwilling or unable to pay someone else to do it.

Nonetheless, I am a PSP user. And I am a WRT54G user. And a Droid user. I use them all in ways other than what the instructions say that I should be able to, but that doesn't make me less of a user -- I'm just a user with a different perspective than most have.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (5, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935620)

Funny... cause the USB cable is in the box the phone came with.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935662)

Funny... cause the USB cable is in the box the phone came with.

I was just about to post this. For my LG phone the wall charger is just an adapter for the USB cable. Specialist tool indeed.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935692)

Frankly, I'd be interested in knowing how they rooted the phone and then changed the boot ROMs without using a USB cable...

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935834)

Riddle me this:

Why are PSPs considered "bricked" when you can get a pandora's battery and "unbrick" them.

Because PSP owners are retards.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935460)

No you're saying nothing is ever bricked because by improving your ability or paying someone else you can always get it fixed. This is wrong.

In truth the 'normal' way of flashing your WRT54G can still brick the router because you can't fix the problem using the same technique that you got into trouble in the first place. OTOH JTAG flashing of the router does indeed seem to be unable to brick the device because you can always fix the problem.

That just leaves where you draw the line. IMO the requirements for doing a WRT54G JTAG are too far, ie soldering the board and guessing (parts of) the protocol. But (for example) an edge connector with available documentation would be okay. So you see I put the line at about "Could a professional outsider reasonably fix it without being required to damage or permanently change anything?".

Proper hacking. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935750)

Why was it not bricked for me? Because I already knew how to fix it: Enable shadow ROM on another computer, and plug the improperly-flashed BIOS into it hot. Then, just re-flash with the correct image, put the hardware back where it was, and move on with life.

You are a proper hacker. You're Doin' It Right.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (3, Interesting)

Smauler (915644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935382)

This is another term that has entered the popular lexicon and got warped. If a device is bricked, _no one_ can reactivate it - it is dead. If someone can revive the device for a fee, it's not bricked.... it's just something you probably should not have bought in the first place. Bricked means bricked - and I've had a few devices go that way on me because of mistakes.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

zetsurin (993567) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935580)

I don't think of it that way. Bricked to me means that you turn the device on and for all intents and purposes it's useless unless the repairer/manufacturer manages to debrick/unbrick it then it's no longer in a bricked state. You actually said it yourself - if its forever dysfunctional, it's actually dead. Bricked and dead are often two different things.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935868)

Bricked and dead are often two different things.

No, they are not.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935710)

Bricked means bricked

I hear you! There's a former Asus 500w Premium router I bricked once that I regret. But all in all it was worth it to me. The cost of doing business.

I really like running DD-WRT on cheap routers, and over time, I've bricked one or two; and I accept I broke the manufacturer's warranty by attempting the 'upgrade' in the first place. Those things deliver international office VPN/VOIP functions that more than offset the cost & loss of a few bricked routers overall. I can accept a few bricks

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935886)

If a device is bricked, _no one_ can reactivate it - it is dead

If you throw enough money at a thing you can revive even a dead hunk of clay. By your definition nothing is ever bricked, since there is always some way to revive something. The only useful definition of "bricked" is the one where a bricked device needs special tools for recovery that weren't needed for installing the modification in the first place, aka your path of recovery is blocked. One can probably make a few exception if the special tools aren't so special, but common household items, but once it involved soldering or replacing chips on the board, thats a brick.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935480)

Do people have any idea what they are talking about ? eFuse is nothing more than electronic fuses, a code which is programmed into a chip electronically, call it blown into the device. This code is probably an encryption key. What Motorola has done is implementing secure boot on their devices. This means that the phone can only run firmware encrypted and signed code. Just like for example is done in gaming consoles. If they do it well, it's very hard to hack. Unless you know the keys.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935514)

You're an idiot. The it's not bricked and it's not DRM, it's a RECOVERY MODE. If something messes up your phone, instead of being stupid about it and remaining messed up, the phone automatically puts itself into a position where the user can restore its functionality.

Your attempt to spin this as something negative is nothing more than trolling.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935570)

It all depends on how easy it is to reinstall the software.

No, it doesn't. Brick means it's gone. No fixy. Buy another, thanks for playing. If the software can be reinstalled, even with great difficulty, you don't say "bricked."

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935228)

Not bricking, just taking another step along the road to becoming an iPhone. Custom OS? We'll have none of that, thank you very much. Next up is stricter restrictions on what applications can run (enforced by your 'authorized-only' OS).

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0, Troll)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935266)

Not bricking, just taking another step along the road to becoming an iPhone. Custom OS? We'll have none of that, thank you very much. Next up is stricter restrictions on what applications can run (enforced by your 'authorized-only' OS).

Well on its way to becoming a reality with AT&T blocking side-loading apps. If it's not in the Market, too bad.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935290)

Thank you!

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935428)

Bricked is permanent.

Well then by your definition it's pretty much impossible to "brick" a device without otherwise destroying it, as it's always possible to "unbrick" it by replacing code (whether via JTAG, secret button presses or other means) or swapping components.

Back in the real world, it's a relative term. If you can't unbrick your device then as far as you are concerned it's bricked, even if the manufacturer or someone with a bit more brains could actually fix it for you.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935890)

Bricked is permanent.

Well then by your definition it's pretty much impossible to "brick" a device without otherwise destroying it, as it's always possible to "unbrick" it by replacing code (whether via JTAG, secret button presses or other means) or swapping components.

Back in the real world, it's a relative term. If you can't unbrick your device then as far as you are concerned it's bricked, even if the manufacturer or someone with a bit more brains could actually fix it for you.

Devices based on the TMS320F28xx series processors can be bricked to the point that the CPU must be replaced.
The security features of the chip is programmed wrong can lock the chip in a way that it can never be unlocked!
This is not the only CPU that exhibits this feature. you can't even recover it with JTAG

News at 11 - beige box = hard drive (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935892)

It's slang that used to mean it's as useful as a house brick and there is no way back to making it useful. Others took it up to sound cool and started using it for random inconvenience. That has confused everyone which is why we get these silly aruments.
I've used it today in the context of a device that HP techs could not get working again after return and that's the sort of thing a lot of readers expect here when they see "brick", good as a doorstop but not good for the original purpose.
In my mind it's the same as calling the beige box on the floor a "hard drive" or those idiots that call a MAC address a hostid but if people understand what you mean it ultimately doesn't matter.
There's no point about being a pedant about people misusing slang just to try to sound cool.

Re:Permanently brick sort of like permanently dead (1)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935556)

There, fixed that for you. Bricked is permanent. Non-permanent "bricking" isn't bricking at all. If you can revive it, it was never bricked in the first place.

They newer said that you can revive it.

Memo to IT dept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935202)

QUICK push out a update to update the software that will do this. "If a device attempts to boot with unapproved software, it will go into recovery mode, and can re-boot once approved software is re-installed"

Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (5, Insightful)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935214)

but I will decide what software is "authorized" to run on my phone!

No sale for you.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (5, Interesting)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935236)

Couldn't this be some sort of unfair business practices? I mean, if Microsoft made it so that only Microsoft approved programs could run on windows, they would be sued in a heart beat, what makes this different?

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935242)

Yet apple does it every day.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935280)

They haven't succeeded in selling me a phone either, though I would welcome the change.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935250)

Couldn't this be some sort of unfair business practices? I mean, if Microsoft made it so that only Microsoft approved programs could run on windows, they would be sued in a heart beat, what makes this different?

This is exactly what Apple is doing with the iPhone. Not approved by apple? Nope, can't install it.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935256)

Unfair business practices != illegal. Frowned upon, yes. Illegal, not exactly.

Additionally, Microsoft controls a significant portion of the desktop market. Anti-monopoly legislation comes into play there. Motorola (specifically the Droid X) is far, far, far from a monopoly.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935262)

Yet Google is far from a monopoly yet they are being investigated in Europe for unfair business practices. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/opinion/15thu3.html?_r=3 [nytimes.com]

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935274)

Google may not be a traditional monopoly, but you have to admit they are a *major* player in the industry.

I can see where an investigation is justified. I have no doubt that Google has the power to shut someone out and royally screw up smaller operations.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (0)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935284)

But Motorolla is a major player too, with 17% that is nothing to laugh at. http://www.answers.com/topic/motorola-inc [answers.com]

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935296)

This is true, but I still fail to see how it's unfair enough of an action on Motorola's part that it warrants government intervention and investigation.

Nobody's forcing you to get or use a Droid X.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1, Insightful)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935306)

And nobody forces you to use Windows - you can use Linux or Apple with emulators for all PC software you need.
And nobody forces you to use Google - yahoo, bing, askjeeves lol.
The biggest reason I think that there is reason for investigation is that you become locked into a contract if you so choose to use a motorola phone.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935332)

Locked into contract, yes. Locked into phone, no.

You're free to change phones whenever you like - the only difference is you'll pay full, non-subsidized price for the new device. That's entirely a business decision.

The reason Microsoft was targeted for monopolistic activity is because of their pervasiveness in everyday computing. When 90% of the computers out there run Windows (horrible exaggeration, I know) your business would be absolutely destroyed if Microsoft somehow stopped your application from running on Windows computers, *or* if they forced people to use their app over yours.

Motorola's 17% of the market is measly compared to what Microsoft had. Additionally, that's *all* Motorola phones, not just the Droid X. The Droid X is a fraction of a fraction of a percent, therefore it's essentially a waste of the government's time to slap Motorola on the wrist for inconveniencing so few customers.

As an aside, I find it hilarious that we complain about rampant government spending, but at the same time demand investigations into highly-specific, low-impact matters such as these.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935334)

Something people seem to forget is that MS would have been fine as a monopoly if they just hadn't used their status to force vendors to do things they otherwise wouldn't have done (pay for licenses for systems sold without any MS software, actively prevent vendors from selling other software, etc). Being a monopoly isn't illegal. Using that status to accomplish other things (remaining a monopoly for example) is.

When you get locked into a 2 year contract it isn't with a motorola phone, it is with a carrier, and all that I'm aware of carry phones by many other carriers. Many of them being android phones, even. I don't see how there is any case against motorola (yet). I think it would take an awful lot more, too.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935534)

And nobody forces you to use Windows

Actually, uhm.. yes they do. My employer does for one.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935624)

I'd go even further and say that most of the marketplace does. If you don't run Windows and you are a technical worker of some kind, whether you work for a corporation or for yourself, then chances are you are going to starve to death.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

kainosnous (1753770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935492)

The problem is that too many people see suing as the only option. It is far more efficient to boycott or find other free market solutions to encourage them to be more user friendly. The fact that people look to the courts shows the sad state of things.

Companies, particularly large ones, have more money than you do, and so they are likely to do better in court. Then, if you do manage a small victory, it will hurt future vendors, and therefore harm competition. We should use the market against them. Their power comes from your cash.

I'm surprised that with so many potentially capable parties in the tech community and here on /. that we don't have any phones yet that are more functional. All that I can figure is that the majority of people really are happy with these contracts and defective by design phones.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (4, Interesting)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935700)

How naive can you be ?

Suing IS the only option. Any individual consumer boycotting a product will do nothing, because they don't care about individual users ... this is why they're quite happy to deal with your "customer service" requests by letting you talk so someone in Mumbai reading from a checklist of approved questions but offering no real answers.

Any percentage less than a certain amount are also "don't care" metrics, it simply won't make a dent on their overall sales, and is not cost effective enough to affect a recall or revision to the product.

But a court case, together with it's bad publicity and public perception that the company isn't being totally honest, WILL have the CEOs taking notice, and might just change something to the benefit of all users.

You are one of nearly seven billion people on the planet ... no one cares what you boycott or otherwise, no one will even know about it. Make a class action suit, and entire countries can hear about it on the six o'clock news.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935900)

WTF? I don't know what world you live in, but many, many devices do not run software you want it to run. It doesn't make it illegal. Can you dictate what software comes with your microwave, car, etc? You can sometimes change the software but you, at the least, void any and all warranties. Sometimes you might even damage the device. If this is not your preference, I suggest you do not buy the device; however, I think you will find that many devices do not meet your criteria.

Re:Thanks for the clarification Motorola, (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935938)

Will they be sued when Windows Phone 7 comes out? I don't think so, but predict their market share will fall to approximately zero and most of their remaining customers will jump ship to Android.

Really now... (1)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935216)

Does this make it any better? It's still taking a great deal of power away from the user.
I wonder if this was brought on by the likes of Cyanogen bringing Froyo to the G1 (Hence extending it's life span greatly)?

Huh? (3, Insightful)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935222)

...and yet, nobody has ended up properly explaining what eFuse is. In fact, from reading this and other articles, some low-level fuse, like fuses in microcontrollers, doesn't seem to apply to the functionality they describe. This sounds much more complex and much higher-level...so what exactly is everyone going on about? Wikipedia says "In computing, eFUSE is a technology invented by IBM which allows for the dynamic real-time reprogramming of computer chips. Speaking abstractly, computer logic is generally 'etched' or 'hard-coded' onto a chip and cannot be changed after the chip has finished being manufactured. By utilizing an eFUSE (or more realistically, a number of individual eFUSEs), a chip manufacturer can allow for the circuits on a chip to change while it is in operation. The primary application of this technology is to provide in-chip performance tuning. If certain sub-systems fail, or are taking too long to respond, or are consuming too much power, the chip can instantly change its behavior by 'blowing' an eFUSE." What does that have to do with authorized software? Why would they use such a system rather than the other systems that have been used in the past? How is this different than some sort of half-FPGA ASIC? Anyways...

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935272)

If it works like it does on the Xbox 360, signed system images will check how many eFuses have been blown and refuse to boot if it's more than what it's expecting. During an update, an eFuse will blown to prevent downgrading to a previous system image that may have some sort of vulnerability. "Vulnerability" in this case likely meaning something that lets you get root access.
The eFuses are in the CPU so it's not like you can just bridge something with a wire.
NOTE: I'm not entirely sure of the specifics with the 360, I think it may be more complicated than simply the number of eFused blown.

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935286)

The idea is that cryptographic signatures are stored inside the chip, namely CPU in all cases I know of, so that it only runs properly signed code. Blowing efuses will change the accepted signature to something new, thus setting back the goal of people who've just broken the system.

Microsoft do it with the 360, which keeps unsigned code at bay with each update. It also causes issues with legitimate machines, seeing as one resistor that was faulty caused a huge swathe of console not booting after an update - they had the newly signed dashboard executables, but their efuses weren't blown accordingly.

Expect mobiles to go the way of the 360, but future consoles to step up a few notches. The PS3 is surely the model to be built on - a piece of hardware, one of the Cell SPEs, that is executing completely isolated code that verifies system secrets like game and movie DRM keys. The cracking that made Sony remove OtherOS couldn't touch that SPE, but Sony didn't want to risk the integrity of their DRM - who knows what could have happened next (including Sony, I posit).

IBM et al surely have some truly evil ideas they've thought up since these consoles were released, and there are still a few years to go for the next round... just watch as everybody laps it up, none the wiser, seeing as it's embedded in hardware they simply can't see and DRM simply isn't in the public consciousness.

Re:Huh? (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935292)

This makes sense.

Dedicate one chip to validating the boot code, if it detects monkey business blows the "eFUSE" that shuts off power to the other processors.

I wonder if this can be bypassed with a simple short?

Re:Huh? (1)

AllenChristopher (679129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935458)

An efuse can sometimes be cleared by drilling a hole through the chip casing and exposing it to uv. Needless to say, this isn't something a home user can do. It takes a chip analysis lab.

Any competent effuse based system blows the fuse inside a critical chip, rather than in a separate authentication chip, so no. You probably can't just short out a couple of pins.

Re:Huh? (1)

HonIsCool (720634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935654)

eFuses are not affected by UV light; perhaps you're thinking of EPROM, a completely different technology?

Re:Huh? (1)

HonIsCool (720634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935494)

An efuse is a physical alteration of the circuit. An FPGA uses SRAM or flashrom to hold the logic. Coming from PS3, I don't know anything about this Motorola phone, but I do know that people throw around the magical "efuse" whenever something happens that they don't understand. Example: "Sony prevented downgrades with firmware 2.10" -"OMG, they've blown an EFUSE!!" From reading the brief of the previous story, this seems very much like one of those instances...

Motorola really needs to (4, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935238)

offer a free opt-out for those willing to take the risk. I'm not sure if the capability is even there, but if the owner is willing to sign a waiver releasing Motorola from any damages in the event that anything goes wrong (a la Malware), Motorola should do it.

Re:Motorola really needs to (4, Interesting)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935784)

This is basically what the nexus one does. You can unlock it, but it voids your warranty, and adds an unlocked padlock icon to the boot screen to show that you have unlocked it.

Let hackers identify the offending chip(s)... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935240)

I am waiting for hackers to identify the offending chip(s) then have them incapacitated. Afterwards, we can mod the beast.

Or is it that I just do not understand the issues here? Does my suggestion even make sense?

Re:Let hackers identify the offending chip(s)... (2, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935270)

The chips are identified, already.

I've already been working on POC code to exploit that eFuse and make it so once activated you CAN'T possibly install anything on the phone any longer. Once it works, Motorola is going to suffer, hard.

Ahh, the joys of exploiting semiconductors for various purposes. Some grow plants, others can be used to annoy someone, and even more can be used to force unfair business practices.

Re:Let hackers identify the offending chip(s)... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935370)

can you make it play that stupid old hamster dance wav file at the same time? that'd be pretty nifty

Re:Let hackers identify the offending chip(s)... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935730)

Once POC works? No, because then the phone is truly bricked, nothing will work, at all, except the power button.

Re:Let hackers identify the offending chip(s)... (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935808)

Was just considering this. Have you open sourced what you have?

So... (2, Insightful)

alters (1647173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935246)

...it's about as locked as the iPhone then, and still requires jailbreaking?

Go go open sou....waitaminnit...

Re:So... (1)

JuniorJack (737202) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935516)

Yep, Nokia runs on TrustZone few years already, but everyone screams - Nokia open, Apple bad. I guess for some people open means to be allowed running scripts, for others is be able to talk to the MMU in assembler. I think the whole Android open phone, was too good to be true

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935824)

Much more locked than an iPhone in fact.

Motorola (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935308)

Haven't they... like sucked since 1999?

Re:Motorola (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935338)

Original Droid is pretty nice. I love mine anyway. Of course part of that is the ease at hacking it to run custom ROMs, so I'll stay away from the Droid X until that flaw is solved.

DDoS Possible? (2, Interesting)

psycho12345 (1134609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935326)

Wouldn't this be asking for a DDoS? Couldn't one purposely put an app up that went about and blew every single one of these "eFuses", thus forcing a reset of the phone? Sounds like a easy path to take out phones and play some havoc. Not to mention if somehow an app accidentally tripped one too many of these. Hell I could see a scam going that nuked phones this way, then offered to "repair" them, for some extortionate fee.

OMG! Whatever shall we do? (4, Insightful)

Nitewing98 (308560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935330)

If this was the iPhone they were talking about, there would be front page stories in all the major newspapers and websites saying what a crappy company Apple is for locking down their device. Kind of funny when the shoe's on the other foot, isn't it? As Jobs pointed out today, the iPhone 4 has only been out 22 days and the news media was having a conniption making the antenna issue "major news." (hint: "Major news" is the war in Afghanistan and the Gulf of Mexico mess). In fact, since the whole point of Android was to be open-source (as opposed to Apple's "Death grip" on developers), it's kind of funny that Motorola feels also that there are limits to what you should be able to do with your phone.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (4, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935360)

It is sad, that's for sure, but at the same time it's unfair to blame Android for this debacle. Android is the OS, and it's not Google's fault that Motorola is so blatantly circumventing the spirit of the OS. Apple, on the other hand, controls the entire system, hardware and software. Thus, anything you don't like about the iPhone can be squarely blamed on them.

Personally, I just hope the rest of the industry doesn't think Motorola has had a bright idea here, and try to follow suit. I also can't see myself getting any of the Motorola phones in the future... I love my Droid, but damned if I'm going to support a company that's pulling stunts like this.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (4, Interesting)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935800)

it's not Google's fault that Motorola is so blatantly circumventing the spirit of the OS

I disagree. Maybe at the beginning Google had to bow to phone manufacturer's wishes, but I think it is popular enough now that they can add a few more requirements in return for getting all the Google apps. For example:

* You have to provide Android upgrades for a year after the EOL of the phone.
* You can unlock the bootloader in the same way as the nexus one (but it can void the warranty).
* You have to provide a non-skinned ROM option.
* The phone has to pass some kind of conformance test. Maybe they already do this, but it's clearly not a great test if the they do; e.g. most phones don't support call recording, behave very differently when they are sleeping, and so on.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (2, Insightful)

robmv (855035) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935378)

When you get hours and hours, lot off news pages of free advertisement before lunch, and you as a company has a culture of overhyping and nurture others desire to hype your product, do not cry when the contrary happens: exaggerated or great emphasis on your mistakes or what you do not delivered

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935508)

By the same token, every story about Apple gets dozens of complaints about media hype and free advertisement, so when the flip side of that causes disproportionate reporting of minor issues, you have to accept complaints about disproportionate media attention the other direction, too.

You can't lament the free advertisement when it helps Apple and then encourage the over-scrutiny when it hurts.

Either Apple should be held to the same standard as everyone else (in which case, undue attention is undue and worthy of complaint), or Apple's greater positive attention is earned by its greater negative attention.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935446)

To be fair, if you want an Android phone you don't have to get on from Motorola, you've got a huge amount of choice, but if you want an iPhone, you've only got one choice; buy from Apple.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (3, Insightful)

randomsearch (1207102) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935452)

You're right - the iPhone would get more press and more criticism for this.

This is because Apple are so good at marketing and manipulating the press. Great when it helps the company sell products, but not so great when things are going wrong.

There is plenty of "real news" going on when Apple launch their newest product line, but they still get an amount of press out of proportion to the importance of their products.

RS

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935498)

The Droid X has only been out for 2 days, not 22. And they never touted their awesome sexy revolutionary fucking magical new technology that allows you to install a non-signed OS. They haven't been denying that it ever happens. No CEOs have sent smug emails telling all owners of the device in question they're just installing it the wrong way. The problem here isn't anything so egregious as a major antenna issue in a fucking cell phone. The only things in common between that and this are that they are both problems in cell phones.

If you want to bitch about how oppressed poor little Apple is, you might want to do it someplace a bit more friendly to delusional fanboys.

Re:OMG! Whatever shall we do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935604)

So you're going to blame Verizon, Motorola or Google because iApple got 7 out of 8 stories on the front page of MSNBC's front page every time Jobs farts? Let's at least be semi-honest here; Apple, via their fantastic PR department, created their own cult of personality and now they have to live with it. Anytime you scream "what about me" at the top of your lungs don't be surprised when the public takes a peculiar interest in your faults.

If you really want to downplay Apple's place in the world you have to do it for better or for worse. Apple creates the buzz, the media panders to it, vendors have to deal with it in turn. Vendors hold some of the power in how much buzz their products create. If nothing else Motorola admitted in advance the potential faults of their product, they didn't let it ship knowing damn well what was going on but still putting their product on a pedestal without acknowledging the potential for issues.

Apple is not the victim here, they tried to reap the profits of the buzz and shun their shortcomings. And, yes, the term is Profit, with a capital P. As much as Jobs and company would like to make you think they're in it for the technology, they let a known faulty product out the door ala MicroSoft. If that fact burns your ass maybe it is time you find a new brand to be a fanboi of instead of a witless apologist.

And on top of all of this? Don't act innocent like Apple doesn't brick their products under the same circumstances. They have since the iPhone was introduced to the public. It is a known fact and downplaying that fact either makes you ignorant or a liar. Which will it be?

Motorola to World: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935388)

The message is clear:

"I might be a c*nt, but I'm not a f*cking c*nt!"

T.I.S.M.

Pay attention, Motorola. Masonry lesson. (4, Insightful)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935434)

No approved software -> one kind of brick.

Approved software -> another kind of brick.

Any questions?

No excuse (2, Insightful)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935566)

As long as a device or any part of a device is sold with a feature that says "you are prohibited from doing what you want with something you paid disgusting amounts of money for" Then something is wrong.

When you buy something, it should be yours to do whatever the fuck you want with it. There is no reason that someone else has any right to tell you what you are allowed to do with your possessions. Hell, if someone came into my house and forced me to stop using super glue to attach everything to everything else, I would have him fucking arrested for trespassing. If they are going to tell you what to do with your devices, then they should replace the word 'buy' with the word 'use until we decide otherwise, within the bounds of what we think is ok' I bet people wouldn't pay such shit-tons of money for every little gizmo if it said that instead.

Re:No excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935660)

... so why are feature/messaging phones so much like this?
Same logic applies to video game console systems? HP laptops (whitelisted hardware)?
How about AT&T "removing" the ability to install programs from non-market places?

Main problem would be EOL-ed devices (2, Interesting)

saikou (211301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935630)

In addition to marketoids demanding that you use Blur, there's a bigger problem. Once the device is marked as End of Life (and original Droid already is, right? Been less than a year) I kinda doubt that Motorola will dedicate any resources to bolding Blur onto newer revisions of Android.
Which means users will be stuck in a certain version. Even though new ones could theoretically be used, as hardware is powerful enough (or it could be stripped down by geniuses from XDA Dev :) )
At least they need to disable eFuse on "no longer supported" devices. Otherwise, just another example of planned obsolescence (and even worse than iPhone).

Yeah, so there, motherfuckas!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935638)

Reep what you sew motherfuckas! We are the Motorola! motherfuckass!

Fuck your software. (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935652)

i am buying a DEVICE from you. that is a mobile phone. i am not buying a device AND a software. i dont care about your reasons, your justifications, your logic, this that and shit. if you force me to anything after BUYING a device, i will fuck it and do what i want. if there is no possibility of doing that, i wont buy your product, and you can gleefully shove it up your ass.

how do you like this as the opinion of customers ? distasteful isnt it ? well, you asked for it.

Fuck your money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935792)

we are selling you a DEVICE that makes phone calls. a device AND software that makes the device work. and how the device and software work is OUR responsibility and right to keep 100% control of. forever. we invented the shit. its ours. we didnt have HAVE to let you play with our toys and technology at all. so long as it makes phone calls you can piss up a rope. i dont care about your reasons, your justifications, your logic. you have NO right to do ANYTHING with this device that we did not intend! If we don't like what you ARE doing with our device. We can turn your device 'off' for as long as we wish.

if you dont like it and wont agree to that.. we wont sell you our fucking product!

yep. they asked for it i guess. distasteful? meh... seems ok to me.

Re:Fuck your software. (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935870)

Even more broadly, the engineering time they waste maintaining an undesired feature is time not spent making the product line better. So far, the MOTO Droid line isn't pulling the company back to profitability last I checked.

I thought GPL 3 forbade this kind of activity of preventing firmware changes, it undermines one major point of open source while still exploiting open source code. Maybe that language didn't make it into the final license.

Hi (0, Offtopic)

staciarosa (1858174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935676)

Thanks for the insight! There is a lot of helpful information within those links.Nice site! Very professional and full of information. http://www.baiyokefactory.com/ [baiyokefactory.com]

Remember the A780? Mot sucked then, suck now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935686)

I learned my lesson about Motorola back when I bought a Motorola A780 (Linux smartphone). I was hoping that it would be a platform like what Android is now. Boy was I wrong. They handcuffed developers at every turn. The A780 had a built-in GPS, but the API was never released to the public. OS updates were few and far in between. It had an ABYSMAL user interface. I honestly don't know how they let this POS out the door.

I use InDesign because I refuse to give Quark any money. I'll buy an HTC because I refuse to give Motorola any money.

Fair enough - If it works both ways (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935696)

Will I be able to freeze Motorola's bank account (since my money is in it, after all) if they do something I don't agree with? Then restore it once they meet my criteria? Otherwise, no sale.

Tivoization is a bitch (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935738)

You don't own the device you supposedly bought. [wikipedia.org]

Avoid such hardware like the plague.

This is a logic bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935862)

and people go to jail for them, thats probably why we are seeing Motorola stammer and say its reversible
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic_bomb [wikipedia.org]

"A logic bomb is a piece of code intentionally inserted into a software system that will set off a malicious function when specified conditions are met."

now whos first to file charges ?

Developer/tinkerer friendly Android device? (3, Informative)

Graftweed (742763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935866)

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of any android device that's meant by the manufacturer to be tinkered with? No protected bootloaders, read only filesystems, or any other such shenanigans that are meant to make the task of installing custom ROMs as difficult as possible.

I know the Nexus One is supposed to be very easy to root, and thus developer friendly, but unfortunately it's not available everywhere.

Locked down things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32935878)

There are many different reasons to lock things down. There is a reason for gaming consoles, is that the company wants to stop piracy of games. The reason to lock down audio players is again to stop piracy of music. Now the reason for locking down an android-based phone isn't piracy, it is pressure from the telecommunications companies. There may be other reasons (such as artificially shortening product life), but I think they are less important. I do think there should be a big yellow sticker on every locked down device telling you that this device is locked down.

Anyway what i wish more is that there were GSM radio chips whose interface is so simple, that you couldn't do anything nasty with it. There could be a radio interface that has a one-to-one correspondence with the android API. This interface could be completely open, and documented, maybe even standardized. The radio chip firmware could be locked down, but nobody will care about it. Not most hackers anyway. The telecom companies wouldn't care for the standard software to be locked down, as it doesn't give any more power to the customers to do nasty things on their network. Then things like companies refusing to release all source code might be rare, and you wouldn't have to rely on binary compiled rild, or reverse engineering to release your own open rom. By the way, does the official G1 phone have an open source rild, can you have all code that runs on the software processor be open source? I always assumed no, but please correct me if i'm wrong.

The reason presented by motorola, is just going the wrong way about it. Only running pre-approved roms might be a feature for something like a company who wants to buy phones for its employees.I can see nothing wrong about this company controlling something they own. It is so easy to add spy apps to unlocked android phones, that I see no reason to why industrial espionage whouldn't be common. But the entity that owns the phone should in my opinion be able to disable the locking. It is always a feature if you can prevent someone doing something to your phone, but it is a misfeature if you are prevented from doing something with your own phone.

Honestly (1)

VulpesFoxnik (1493687) | more than 4 years ago | (#32935894)

I think needs to have a few of these bricks thrown through their window, then lets see how they treat their 3rd party developers and customers.

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