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HP Dishonors Warranty If You Load Linux

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the caveat-installor dept.

HP 702

darkonc points us to a writeup on about a very Linux-unfriendly policy at HP. A woman bought a Compaq laptop and loaded Ubuntu on it. Some time later, still well inside the 1-year hardware warranty, the keyboard started acting up. An HP support rep told her, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." Gateway and Dell refused to comment to the reporter on what they would do in a similar situation. ( and Slashdot are both part of OSTG.)

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Illegal? (5, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504173)

What does software have to do with a hardware waranty?

Re:Illegal? (5, Funny)

bcmbyte (996126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504333)

That LINUX is evil, just ask M$, they will tell you how it crashes computers all the time. I have heard of stories where LINUX has turned off the sun. Third grade linux users are writing code that causes hardware like keyboards and mice to break all the time... How is HP supposed to be responsible such catastrophies...

Oh wait tech support for linux on systems costs companies more, that's why it voids the warranty... I would like to see some one take this to court.

Re:Illegal? (3, Insightful)

iamnafets (828439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504347)

The solution is pretty simple, use the recovery disks to reload windows along with all those crappy applications that are distributed with your computer and send it in. It's a hassle, but hey...

Re:Illegal? (4, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504643)

Yep. That's what I do. I get an extra HD and back up the original factory installation. That way if some dickhead from coporate wants to see a Windows box, he'll see one. Wanna know why this works for Linux users? Because the ONLY time we call support is when the hardware is actually broken. Unlike the Windows dorks who think their systems are broken when it's really a software issue.

Re:Illegal? (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504377)

Very little. While it's possible that a bad driver could somehow damage the hardware, I'd say that for anything non-mechanical it would still be that fault of the hardware for having a bad design. It's not like vendor drivers in Windows don't hard-lock things on occasion (looking at vendor-written driver code for Linux is enlightening as to why).

In the end I don't really care much though. All this does is reaffirm my choice to build my own systems (thanks newegg!). Since I run Linux, I'm not even missing out on a warranty.

Re:Illegal? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504519)

Its rather hard to build a laptop from new egg. Unless I am missing something.

Re:Illegal? (0, Flamebait)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504379)

I was modded down for explaining this a few days ago. 82273

When you are using unsupported drivers who's to say the driver didn't screw up the hardware.

You also can't test that component "for free" neither. Any hardware component will need to be removed from the machine and tested elsewhere. That is not normally how warranties work. If your video card doesn't work Dell may very well require you to test that under "restore disc" conditions......which is hard to do in Linux.

Re:Illegal? (5, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504431)

When you are using unsupported drivers who's to say the driver didn't screw up the hardware.

Exactly how is an unsupported driver supposed to cause physically sticky keys?

Re:Illegal? (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504447)

In the original post I commented (see link above), the customer had 77 Euro's returned to him for not using Vista and returning the key.

Looks like I may have been right.

It was 77 euro's for returning his Vista key and voiding his technical support/warranty.

Re:Illegal? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504483)

This is why you keep (or download or steal) a Dell Diagnostic CD. These badboys are loaded with the drivers and utils to test hardware (there are of course various ones for different class machines). If you call or e-mail Dell support with an error code from one of these tests, they basically bow down and ship the replacement part. In this case, the $20 keyboard assembly (if it even costs HP that much) would be simple to replace by a user and the cost would be less than the money lost to bad press and dealing with this. (I mean a PR person is wasting time on this matter. The CS rep is wasting time. They probably already lost the cost of the keyboard a few times over in man-hours alone.)

Re:Illegal? (3, Insightful)

Helvidius (659137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504381)

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

Does the HP warranty explicitly state that installing Linux (or any other operating system) voids the warranty? If it does, then it is unfortunate, but there is not much that she can do. I think the explanation for the action would be very interesting. If she would have somehow legally installed HP-UX, would it have also voided said warranty? Looks like a job for the EFF.

Of course, that's just my opinion--then again, I could be wrong.

Re:Illegal? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504399)

It's a well known fact that Windows wouldn't be caught dead in bed with hardware. Linux, on the other, has to sleep around to get hardware support. If you're an HP support tech, do you want to deal with the virgin or the whore? :P

Good question, Drivers? (5, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504417)

There's a warning in x86config when setting monitor refresh rates that warns you that your choice may destroy your monitor. Granted, thats not a necessary step in a lot of installs, and most people have moved to LCD screens that wouldn't explode, but I think they were thinking of something similar to that. Badly written drivers CAN destroy hardware, in rare cases.

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

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

They can't possible start rejecting the waranty, depending upon3rd party apps installed could they? I'm sure Something like Maya or Blender could put a lot of use on a hard disk, especially on a low end system without much RAM.

Re:Good question, Drivers? (1)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504511)

What about heavy CPU usage: making the CPU fan run harder (crud up quicker), CPU circuits burn up quicker, etc.

I think the Linux exclusion is foolish, but I think part of the issue is how often novice computer users blame hardware for what is software/driver problems. I'm sure Dell gets blamed all the time for "slow computer" when people have no concept of how RAM, video card, etc. impacts system.

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504549)

Some of HP notebooks may melt under Linux due to faulty ACPI implementation. Google has a few stories on nx6325, nx6125.

Re:Illegal? (1)

Kennego (963972) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504675)

There are some instances where software could screw up your hardware, such as overclocking a motherboard with the BIOS or overclocking a video card using various software programs.

But this is a keyboard. To think that installing Linux would mess up the keyboard in any permanent way is just insane. Unless she changed the keyboard layout to Dvorak or something, HP is just being greedy, and also stupid to think that the price of a keyboard outweighs the cost of the bad press they're receiving for this.

No surprise (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504195)

You won't get anything to work with the machine since Linux has no drivers.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504261)

No! That is an old myth about linux. Have you tried it recently ?

Linux dishonors warranty if run on hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504209)

That's ok.
Linux vendors will dishonor warranties if it is run on computer hardware.

Also.. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504223)

..the warranty on your car is invalid if you let someone smarter than you drive it.

Translation (4, Insightful)

l4m3z0r (799504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504227)

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

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

Re:buy from vendors who support you. (-1, Troll)

user_ecs (878826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504507)

I bought a computer preloaded with eComStation from [] I just emailed them and got a reply. They said I could load any OS I wanted and it would have no effect on the hardware warranty (some parts are 5 yr). I did not pay a Microsoft tax when I bought it and I will not be punished later.

eComStation user group - []
eComStation - []

eComStation preloaded []
Even preloaded with a Uses high quality ECC memory

This is disappointing (4, Funny)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504233)

and surprising to me at the same time - HP always seemed to be "one of the good guys", fostering and supporting GNU/Linux and free software on many occassions (for instance, HP provides the quite powerful infrastructure for [] ).

I was going to go buy a HP notebook some time later this year, but as things turn out this way, I'll stick to Lenovo/IBM once more again...

Re:This is disappointing (1)

OKCfunky (1016860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504287)

One of the good guys? Since when has HP ever remotely cared about consumers not involved with business?

Ubuntu (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504241)

is for pussies.

Not Unreasonable (4, Interesting)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504247)

If Linux probes your hardware (monitor) and selects the incorrect settings, could that not potentially harm your screen? I am not saying Windows is not capable or the same problem, but at least you are not trouble shooting an entire OS. How does the woman know that she has not messed up some keyboard setting on Ubuntu? I would not want to be the tech who must troubleshoot over the phone a system which has a different OS than that which is installed. I love Linux, but you have to draw the line on troubleshooting somewhere.

Re:Not Unreasonable (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504315)

If Linux probes your hardware (monitor) and selects the incorrect settings, could that not potentially harm your screen?

Not really. Modern CRTs have protection circuitry built in to prevent someone from overdriving the monitor. All you see is an error message saying "Signal out of Range". Besides, most new computers ship with LCDs, which do not have electron guns to overdrive.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504321)

Yes, you can damage some hardware by using improper settings.

A keyboard is not an example of such hardware.

Re:Not Unreasonable (2, Insightful)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504697)

A keyboard is not an example of such hardware.

Unfortunately they have a blanket policy stating that certain things must remain as installed in order not to void your warranty. Adding granularity to that policy in order to allow only certain pieces of hardware and (likely) only certain hardware vendors to be covered under the policy, etc. Each of those stipulations is going to require testing to make sure that it is solid enough to be covered by the warranty, etc. Doing this drives up support costs.

C'mon slashdot, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to install things on your own, accept that bulk etailers are geared for the computer-illiterate masses and your modifications will likely void warranties and support contracts. If you want to modify operating systems or hardware configurations without violating agreements you should purchase your box from a smaller supplier who is geared towards people like you or build it yourself. That will probably be more expensive than buying a cheap Dell, but it's the age-old axiom "you get what you pay for".

Slashdotters, for the love of god, please stop complaining that after shopping around for the cheapest deal you're not getting top-of-the-line service. This is as annoying as the people who buy all their airfares at the cheapest possible price and then complain that they don't have legroom.

Re:Not Unreasonable (4, Insightful)

hobbesmaster (592205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504373)

If your software can break the hardware then your hardware is broken.

Re:Not Unreasonable (0, Offtopic)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504545)

What if the software just locks you out of your hardware?

-1, Troll Flamebait Off-topic Overrated

Wait, let me salvage this one:

"HP dishonors warranty if you load Linux? That's nothing! I'll dishonor your daughter if she does!"

Re:Not Unreasonable (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504615)

If your software can break the hardware then your hardware is broken.
Of course, since the software already broke your hardware.

Re:Not Unreasonable (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504495)

From the Article:

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


I sure as hell hope you are not a tech because if you can't read the article and understand the basics of her problem, you are a useless. Learn how to troubleshoot moron.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504689)

You trust an end user to tell you that a key is not working because it is sticking? You just let them troubleshoot it for you.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504649)

Then you have her ship it back with the understanding that they will return the harddrive to factory settings, and that she will be billed for the shipping if the problem is determined to be a software setting instead of hardware. Offer to mail her the install disk for the standard $17 shipping if she does not have a restore disk made, and wishes to try the original operating system before sending it in and possible being responsible for the shipping problems. Once the computer is returned to original condition, there is no reason to refuse warrenty. If the computer can not be returned to original condition with a restore disk that the company provides, then there is a hardware problem. Phone techs have to put up with a lot harder problems than this, and have instructed customers to reinstall from the restore disk for problems that would have been a lot easier to fix if they weren't just following a script.

same problem (4, Interesting)

ChiefArcher (1753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504263)

I had the keyboard start acting up as well on mine. In addition the hard drive crashed sometime later.
In order for them to do ANY service on it..
A) I had to replace the hard drive with one that worked.
B) Install windows on that hard drive
C) Submit laptop to HP to get the keyboard fixed.
D) Get Laptop back..
E) Put bad hard drive back in
F) Ship it back to HP in order for them to fix the bad drive.

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

I will NEVER own another HP again.

Re:same problem (1)

freemancomputer (931185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504499)

I got a HP in 2001. had it for a few months and the slid that is used to open the lid broke off. So i sent it in to have it fix. they sent it back to me charged me $25 for shipping and told me that i abused it so they wouldn't fix it. Don't know about you but when the slide brakes i think its from using it not abusing it. Best part of it was the battery wouldn't not hold a charge when i got it back it took me 2 months to get them to send me a new one. will NEVER own another HP.

Goodbye HP (4, Insightful)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504275)

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

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

Re:Goodbye HP (5, Interesting)

harrypelles (872287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504531)

If you go that route, and have to send the machine back for a repair, leave the hard drive out of it when you send it to them. Is it unreasonable to request that the customer keeps the hard drive (sensitive information) when they back to the manufacturer for repair?

Gateway (2, Informative)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504277)

Gateway honoured their warrenty with me when my notebook's vidCard started acting up. I had Gentoo Linux dualed with XP on it at the time. I was actually past the 1 year warrenty by a few weeks too.

rollback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504283)

Why not reinstall XP, complain again, and then when it is fixed, reinstall ubuntu, they wont be able to tell, granted, it will take a while but i pressume you can use the license key that came wiht the machine

Uh, Car analogy? (2, Interesting)

hobbesmaster (592205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504291)

Isn't there a part of the uniform commerce code about warranties only being voided by what you do to the product is the reason for its failure?

I mean if I buy a car and replace the breaks and several months later the air conditioning goes out, they can't void the warranty for what I did to the breaks.

Re:Uh, Car analogy? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504461)

Isn't there a part of the uniform commerce code about warranties only being voided by what you do to the product is the reason for its failure?
If I were to replace the software in my car's computer I would absolutely expect to void the warranty on my car because that unofficial software could drive the hardware outside of manufacturer's recommended specs and cause premature failure of the equipment. Why wouldn't this be the same for operating systems on a computer? HP can't guarantee that your operating system didn't run the hardware out of spec and cause it to die prematurely. It's not commonplace anymore because of all the safeguards and anti-idiot "features" they build into hardware these days, but it happens.

Re:Uh, Car analogy? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504467)

I mean if I buy a car and replace the breaks and several months later the air conditioning goes out, they can't void the warranty for what I did to the breaks.
Actually, yes they could. If the work on the breaks was not done by someone qualified (for instance done by your friend and not a mechanic) and the work was not documented, they could refuse any warranty claim on the vehicle. Not saying that they would, but they could.

Re:Uh, Car analogy? (3, Informative)

KillaBeave (1037250) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504515)

Yea there is, I wish I could remember the name of the law now. Basically it was to protect aftermarket parts makers and people who customize their cars. If I lower the car, only the warranty on the suspension is affected. If I change the mufflers on the car, only the warranty on the exhaust is affected. Here's a link to some info about it from SEMA. []

Mmmm, Class Action (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504295)

Seriously. If there is no exclusion in the warranty proper -- then tough. HP is avoiding their contractual obligations. And because it would be easy to prove more than a few people use a different OS on HP computers they are possibly in a world of hurt.

(Of course the settlement for the lawsuit will just be a coupon to HP buyers and fees to the attorneys, but that is another matter).

Its not just Linux (3, Interesting)

alanshot (541117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504303)

they also will not honor the support warranty if you switch XP versions.

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

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

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

Thanks for nothing HP.

The next day I took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a Sony.

Buy from a Linux supplier (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504309)

There are loads of them[1], they'd almost certainly love the business. Dell, HP etc don't really want Linux, they have to be forced, it's just extra hassle for them. So why buy from them?

Personally I think it's simple laziness. Dell and HP are easy, you just follow the marketing, no need to think at all.

[1] And they're on Google, so not exactly difficult to find.

So logically ... (1)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504311)

your average Linux user will put in the restore disc and say "Linux? What Linux? The keyboard is broken in Windows see! These are not the penguins you are looking for".

Sony (1)

SilentUrbanFox (689585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504323)

Oddly, Sony treated me quite kindly when my video card was having problems. It may have been because the tech support rep I had been forwarded to was a fellow Linux user, and understood that the problems I was having and the diags I had performed pointed very firmly to a hardware problem, not a software problem.

Who tells the support guy that you're using Linux? (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504343)

Seriously, if you have a fairly open and shut case of hardware failure, then there is no need to tell the person on the other end that you're using Linux. If your machine has to go back to the shop for repair, then slap the "restore" copy of Windows on it (assuming it's not too hosed to even boot off of CD) and send it back more or less the way you got it. If you don't have backups, well, it sucks to be you because most of the times the RMA guys won't save your data either.

However, if in the process of reinstalling the backup copy of Windows everything starts working again, well, maybe it was a problem with Linux after all.

Re:Who tells the support guy that you're using Lin (1)

Fly (18255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504469)

The support people use Windows tools to diagnose the problem remotely. It's difficult to do this when the system is not running Windows. Therefore the support people cannot diagnose the system to determine how to fix it under warranty. They simply do not have the process in place to diagnose this for Linux for "normal" customers.

Re:Who tells the support guy that you're using Lin (3, Funny)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504529)

Who tells the support guy that you're using Linux?
they start to suspect things when you laugh at them after they tell you to click Start -> Run

Re:Who tells the support guy that you're using Lin (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504535)

Unless the whole thing is staged to generate nerd-rage on slashdot.

What proof is there that this event ever happened? I know that HP is pretty hated around /. and in general.

Here's a story: I called novell support, the guy called me a "faggot" and told me to "go fuck myself". I called Apple to order an iPhone and they told me the same thing. They also said the holocaust was a lie! Boycott Apple please.

Word Windows in warranty terms? (1)

edis (266347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504351)

Do you really find name of that OS in hardware warranty terms? As that seems very unlikely, person, that was speaking in the name of the company, must have got something wrong, and you could hope his management is more informed about those terms.

Re:Word Windows in warranty terms? (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504465)

and you could hope his management is more informed about those terms.

Hearing "no" from tech support should never be taken as final until one has asked to speak to a few managers.

Best Linux End User Strategy (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504353)

Buy a separate extra hard drive for internal use (probably even larger capacity & higher RPM than stock), and install it yourself, and save the original hard drive with Windows in case you have to send it back for repair.

I do the same with MacBooks. It also offeres you the way to keep your private data from ever going back to the laptop mfgr during a repair.

Making too much of it (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504365)

If she squawked up the chain, she'd get a new keyboard.

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

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

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

Solution? Have a windows partition, even if it's on an old 3 gig drive - to be able to prove it's hardware that failed.

a little misleading (3, Insightful)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504383)

from TFA:

In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS.
so you dont actually lose your warranty, it's just not honored until you reinstall windows. sounds like the tech support people just dont want to have to do their over-the-phone support unless they're working with windows. they should at least let her send the notebook in and swap out the hard drive with a windows-partioned one and test it.

Re:a little misleading (2, Interesting)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504613)

This is exactly it... they support what they supplied with the system - hardware or software. What's so wrong about that? Why is everyone throwing a fit about this?

I had Dell do the same thing a while back. I had a network card go in one of their systems, but I had upgraded it to XP (shipped with 2000) and they told me they couldn't help me unless it was in it's original condition. Though the guy on the phone said he'd help me get it back to that state if I wanted... I laughed and hung up. Called back when it was back to "normal" and got service as expected.

Second Hard drive (1)

harrypelles (872287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504385)

I bought one of those desktop replacement laptops from HP a little under a year ago. It's one of those that supports two hard drives. I bought a second hard drive (locally) and put Fedora on that. Glad I did it that way - If I have some sort of hardware problem with the machine (keeping my fingers crossed that I don't), I'll be sure to pop the other hard drive before I send it in.

Still, it seems like HP is loop-holing here.

Why tell them which OS you run? (4, Insightful)

$lingBlade (249591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504387)

Why bother telling them which OS you run if it's anything *other* than what came pre-loaded on the system? If I had a hardware issue, big or small, and I called Tech Support for a place like Dell, HP/Compaq, etc, and they asked what I was running for an OS I'd happily lie to them and tell them it was Windows XP or whatever came pre-loaded.

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

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

In short: "...If someone asks you if you're a God, you say YES!!!"

Re:Why tell them which OS you run? (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504581)

So in other words, because HP is dishonest, their customers should be dishonest too? Greeeat. That'll help.

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

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

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

Re:Why tell them which OS you run? (1)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504597)

In short: "...If someone asks you if you're a God, you say YES!!!"
but then they say very rudely, "God can fix his own computer!" and hang up on me.

Speculation (3, Insightful)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504391)

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

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

Show me (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504401)

"Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux."

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

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

Terms (1)

failure-man (870605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504409)

if noLinuxRule not in warranty.Terms:
          lawsuit = sueSomebody(HP)

#(No, I don't know why I did that.)

wha?!? (1)

Aeros (668253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504413)

No HP for me in the future if this is the case. If it was soemthing that actually affected the hardware then I could see the validity.

Thanks HP! (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504415)

My wife is looking to purchase a laptop in the next week or so.

Thanks for taking yourselves out of the running.

Phone monkey said something stupid... nothing more (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504425)

I know we don't traditionally rtfa before commenting, but for some reason I was compelled to do so.

This sounds like some underpaid and undertrained phone support guy misinterpreting the general "we don't provide support for Linux users" type rule and taking it a bit too far, to the point where Linux clearly wasn't the problem. The fact that the PR person has pointed out that it's pretty clear that the problem was not caused by Linux and should be considered an exception to the rule andmake that pretty obvious.

Standard practice (4, Informative)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504435)

As somebody who worked at various helpdesks for a few years as a phone monkey, this is SOP with any company. You can't run through the troubleshooting scripts unless the software on the PC is exactly or very close to the initial load. Helpdesk people are not trained to solve problems, just go through the appropriate steps. So, if you want your warranty honored, suck it up and install Windows. You would have known this if you had read the fine print when you bought the damn thing. If you want a Linux notebook, then buy a Linux notebook. Talk about a sense of entitlement...

Re:Standard practice (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504629)

You would have known this if you had read the fine print when you bought the damn thing.

      For all the fine print in the world, you can't get around consumer protection laws. We are talking about a manufaturing defect in the HARDWARE (the keyboard) which has nothing to do whatsoever with the OS running on the machine.

      Here we go with the bad car analogies:

      It's like Ford refusing to replace a defective electric window under warranty on a new car because the driver used Texaco gasoline instead of Shell. One has nothing to do with the other. Personally I hope HP get a lot of flak from this.

Re:Standard practice (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504679)

No I bought a computer. A computer is a thing to run software on. Any software that I legally own. My guess is that is probably illegal. Kind of like a car dealer requiring you to get oil changes at the dealership to honor the warranty.

If that is the case why tell them? (1)

hpj (26910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504437)

I break my laptops at least once a year (It seems they aren't really done to be brought everywhere and be on 24/7). Pretty much every time I send it in I have a pretty good grasp at what is wrong and as long as it isn't the HD in particular I always send the laptop in without it so I know that no over eager rep working a script will reformat it without any reason. So far I've never had any problems with that. Just ask if it is ok if you send it in without the HD and they will never know you are running Linux on it.

They just didn't want to admit their ignorance (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504463)

I suspect that this isn't because they hate Linux or don't realize the difference between a hardware and software problem. It's because their level 1 service "technicians" on the other end of the phone have a simple script that they work off of that's geared toward Windows. They go through a bunch of silly shit (checking to make sure basic drivers are installed and such) before they actually kick it up to a better technician. You may get two levels up before you get to the guy that actually says "Okay, it's a hardware problem, send it in."

So, if you're using Linux, they can't work off the script (and HP isn't going to do a script for every flavor of Linux). So it's easier for them to just tell you "You've voided your warranty" than to say "Sorry, I'm just a poorly paid flunky in Calcutta. I don't know jack about Linux or how to help you."

Sticky keys of evil (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504475)

Laura Breeden bought a new Compaq Presario C304NR notebook in January. She bought it because she wanted to get rid of Windows and all the malware that surrounds it and move to Linux, and her old laptop lacked the memory and power to run Ubuntu Edgy. The salespeople assured her that the C304NR was "Linux ready." But they didn't tell her that running Linux would void her warranty. - this does not say whether she bought the laptop with MS Windows preinstalled. Not like it matters much, just a question.

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

When she called Compaq -- the unit comes with a one-year warranty on the hardware -- they asked what operating system she was running. When she told them Linux, they said, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS. - now this is trully evil (thus my question, was MS Windows preinstalled on the laptop? From the CSR it sounds like it was.) In any case what do sticky keys on a keyboard have to do with the OS?

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

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

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

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

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

I have a feeling that she is correct about that. Gateway and Dell have both declined to respond to queries about their own warranty coverage in a similar scenario. Tier one manufacturers like Dell and HP are locked up in double-blind secrecy about their marketing deals with Microsoft, like the ones that keep them from offering preinstalled Linux like their customers are demanding, or even from offering machines without an OS installed at all. - that's why I get my hardware from local small shops. I do however own a Dell laptop, those Latitude 810's are quite nice, when completely loaded (it's a year and a half old machine, but I still like it.)

One thing is for sure, there needs to be more people like Laura for many different reasons.

The place I used to work required that you do.. (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504491)

..a system recovery in order to get a PC returned. As I suspect is the case with most other companies, this eliminates the possibility of it being software. Thing was, though, the place I worked at required a system code that was given when you did a restore. If the customer couldn't provide this you didn't get a return. So anyone who runs Linux on a PC bought from them will have to erase it all just to get a PC returned.

Who is illegal? (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504493)

I am pretty sure that the aforementioned woman can sue HP back and get a LOT more than just a new notebook. Any lawyers among us?

I exercise my right as a consumer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504501)

I've been using HP laptops for 10 years, home, business, etc. Always seemed like the best bang for the buck. Maybe I wouldn't have cared 5 years ago. However, now, so long as linux voids the warranty, I won't be purchasing another one.

I know it's a paltry sum, maybe 15 total in 10 years.

it's good to have a Thinkpad (3, Insightful)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504517)

Linux is actually a supported OS on some Thinkpads.

Vote with your $$$. If HP is screwing you, screw them. Give someone else your money that values your business.

I cheated and RTFA'd (5, Informative)

xs650 (741277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504527)

" "When she called Compaq -- the unit comes with a one-year warranty on the hardware -- they asked what operating system she was running. When she told them Linux, they said, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS."

HP didn't refuse warranty coverage, they told he she needed to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS to get warranty service.

That is completely reasonable. The script readers doing the trouble shooting at HP wouldn't be able to trouble shoot a system that didn't have the OS on it that HP originally installed.

A plan for the future: (1)

DaveK08054 (801355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504541)

Immediately after buying a system, take out the factory drive and store it away. Put in a new drive, load whatever OS you want, have fun. When the system breaks, take out your drive, put back the factory drive, and send them the system. This also solves any issue of improper handling of personal/confidential data.

Opening the case voids warranty (1)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504673)

Many times changing out the hardware will void the warranty.

So it seems Linux users are in a screwed/screwed situation here.

Ok,... (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504551)

Then why not just uninstall Ubuntu and put windows back on before proceeding with tech support. And what about Dual Booting a Windows and Linux distro?

How is this any different (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504553)

Then putting cooking oil into your diesel powered car and then going to the car dealer for warranty repairs because it not running properly all the time. Yes the car will run on cooking oil but this is not what the cars hardware was tested for and designed to run on.

HP should have a clause on theri warranty card too, although most people would be too smart to follow the rules and yet expect the manufacturer to pony up.

Re:How is this any different (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504659)

Because the keyboard shouldn't physically break by putting Linux on it.

Just like your car shouldn't break down because you drove it on a Tuesday (show me in your warranty where it explicitly says the car is guaranteed to work on a specific Tuesday).

If it's a software compatibility problem that's one thing [though I'd argue if your qwerty or dvorak keyboard doesn't work in Linux chances are it's not a real keyboard], but if the hardware is just unreliable, that has nothing to do with the OS.


Magnuson-Moss covers exactly this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504577)

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 [] says HP can't do what they're doing. This law is rather well know among tuners and rodders.

Apple? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504579)

Anyone tried getting a MacBook fixed while it is running Linux?

Linux for testing (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504603)

I bought an old Dell laptop for my wife; after a while she discovered the left caps key didn't appear to work. The simplest way to decide if this was a hardware or software problem was to boot with a live Linux CD...

Dell's Policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504619)

I used to do tech support for Dell. We could not honor the warranty unless the system is in the original factory state. So we would instruct the customer to put the original operating system on the computer. Once that is done we could then troubleshoot the system and replace the part. So what the tech Rep meant to say was we will not honor the warranty with Linux on the system because we can not properly troubleshoot it. So put windows back on it so we can troubleshoot the problem and replace the broken part. I think the customer just misunderstood or the rep did not know how to explain this policy to the customer.

LiveCD for support? (1)

ip_vjl (410654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504633)

It seems like it would make sense for the manufacturers to make sure the systems supported Linux, if for no other reason than troubleshooting.

If you want to track down a problem on an installed OS, there's always the possibility that the user has done something/installed something that is causing the problem. If they shipped the system with a pre-built live CD (that was known to work with the system components) - when a user called tech support, they could have the user reboot with the live CD. If the problem persists: hardware problem. If the problem goes away: software/user configuration problem.

It seems that would be a quicker way to get through the first cut. If its a software problem, you can then offer to elevate them to the "paid" support to help them through the problem. Otherwise, you can issue the RMA without having to spend the time required to walk the person through the steps of reinstalling drivers and what else.

Placating Stupid CSRs (1)

UESMark (678941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504635)

My guess is that this policy exists solely because a CSR can't figure out how to diagnose even a broken keyboard without their windows only diagnostics. Given that the policy only alienates the occasional customer it kinda makes sense given that the alternative would be somehow getting sane competent intelligent people to answer tech support calls. I can't think of any way to get such a person to do such a job for more than a month without paying them some kind of ridiculous salary. Which would make the whole endeavor fairly unprofitable.

in short.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504637)

in short this article sums up to

HP computers are Linux ready void your warranty.

Same problem here with HP & harddrive (2, Informative)

GiMP (10923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504645)

I had this problem too when a harddrive failed. I ran badblocks and smartctl against the drive, both reported failures. However, they refused to replace it, as we ran Linux.

After 8 hours of phone conversation and repeated readings of the warranty, verbatim, to the manager, I finally was able to have them consent to accepting the use of their disk-testing utility from a bootable DOS disk, rather than from within a pre-installed Windows OS. They refused to accept the smartctl and badblocks output, regardless of having support for Linux. Apparently, the hardware we had did not quality for Linux support, thus they would not allow us to use Linux-based utilities to prove a hardware failure.

With the amount of time that they spent with me on the phone, it would have been far less expensive for them to simply send me a new drive, rather than waste time debating semantics.

Suggested fix (2, Informative)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504655)

A possible fix, and relatively cheap insurance, is to buy a new HDD of the correct type at the time you buy the laptop. On the original disk, do all the registration stuff, clean off the corporate malware, patch Windows, Ghost, then just remove the disk (nb don't forget to remove batteries - on the Acer 1500 series, the HDD crate is accessible by removing the battery, which is well thought out.

Now install new HDD and the OS of your choice. If the system fails under warranty, switch hard drives and try rebooting. If it works fine, you know you have an OS problem. If it doesn't, claim under warranty.

Assuming you back up regularly, this is a good insurance strategy. I experienced it the other way when an update to Ubuntu caused an unrecoverable video driver problem and I needed my email back urgently. It took well under an hour to reload the Windows HDD, move the Thunderbird data back from the server, and carry on till a fix was available.

HP changed names... (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504657)

They are called Agilent now.

Is this just the start? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504661)

Is this just the start of a new set of litigation against MS for adding such clauses to their contracts with hardware vendors?

In the most earnest of ways, I hope it is. If it can be shown that vendors are not allowed by contract to support hardware that is not running the Windows software it was sold with would perhaps put a final end to the hold that MS has on vendors.

Perhaps that is just wishful thinking...

HP = Compaq ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18504681)

I purchased an X1050CA Laptop 3 years ago , which suffered from a common to these laptops problem of faulty hard drive connectors. The problem manifested itself with constant boot panic , hard drive errors. After waiting a month and a half for a resolution, the rep returned the notebook saying that there was nothing found to be wrong with it. After experiencing the same issue, i went back to Staples and really tore up the place. Even then, they fought back with fact that I had Suse Linux installed, and i should uninstall it.

Now it's hitting limelight as more users are migrating to Linux and companies want an another official clause at their disposal.

Encountered this as well (2, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18504683)

Needed to send a Linux-running Omnibook to RMA (bad Combo drive - couldnt read DVD's or burn CDs). Solved the problem by using sysrescue-liveCD (which it could read), and just doing an image from the harddrive to another computer over NFS. Then punched in the original WinXP "restoration CD"s and shipped the thing away. When it came back, just restored the images.
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