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Jumping to Conclusions on BIOS, Phoenix, and Windows 107

tomlasusa writes "In a post on LinuxQuestions.org, user 'chessonly' cites a 2003 article from Networkcomputing.com by writer Steven J. Schuchart as evidence of that Phoenix Technologies has made its BIOS more Windows-friendly — thereby locking out users from using other OSs. In a rebuttal posted at nwc.com, Schuchart says that this is just not true."
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Jumping to Conclusions on BIOS, Phoenix, and Windows

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:59AM (#18731031)
    The title for this article gave me an idea...
    I need Slashdotter's opinion on this: what do you think of a "jump to conclusions" mat? I could make millions!
    • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#18731249)
      a "jump to conclusions" mat

      A "Jump to delusions" mat would make a lot more money, especially here.

      • And thousands of parents would appreaciate a "jump to the big blue room with yellow light" mat for their basement dwelling children, especially here. ;)
    • That's the worst idea I've ever heard in my life, Anonymous Coward
      Yes, this is horrible, this idea.
    • Sort of like a variation on Twister?
      • It was a line form a movie called "office space". This guy had his job axed at some software company, decided to kill himself, backed out of it at the last minute and then backed out of his driveway to be hit by a drunk drives.

        Then sitting in a wheelchair with almost every visible part of his body in a cast of some sorts, he tell an ex-coworker that he now has time to work on his baby, the jump to conclusions mat because he made a fortune off the accident settlement.
        • That explains it - I've only ever seen odd fragments of it. Must have been in one of the even segments.
          • I have been trying to find my copy of the movie. I think someone might have said the same thing you did about the twister in it. But Office Space is one of those movies were you need to watch the entire thing from start to finish to really get the humor in a lot of it. Wel, that and you have to have worked for a shitty company at one time I guess. If you get the chance, try it. You will see it in a new light.
  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:00AM (#18731041)
    A Slashdot post about a Digg story? Now we really have gone too far.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually you seem to make a good point. The entire point behind this story appears to be "Digg user posts false story!!1!11" with the apparent motive of painting Slashdot as being different from Digg and taking the time to actually fact-check stories and not falling to pure anti-MS sensationalism.

      Which, of course, is utter bullshit. Slashdot does that all the time.

      This story was posted only to take a shot at Digg. It's otherwise completely non-newsworthy, something I can't say about Digg's current stories.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikeisme77 ( 938209 )

        Eh, I think if this had been posted to Slashdot then the users (not all of them, of course, but enough) would have called it out. I mean, it's an article from 2003 so it's pretty easy to prove false.

        On a side note, I think a lot of Slashdotters go to both Digg and Slashdot (I do). The difference is though that I use Slashdot for the summary and discussion (article if it's interesting enough), whereas the summary and discussion on Digg tend to be pretty crappy, but some times I can find a link to an interes

    • The sad thing is I RTFA to see that!
  • Spazamataz? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:15AM (#18731149) Journal
    Every time specs, or the workings of any piece of PC hardware changes, a certain part of the OSS community cries foul, or says its "Windows-friendly" because MSFT is (quite predictably) out of the gate with support.

    Hardware development isn't going to stop just because 4 out of 5 kernel devs agree to release a driver as stable.

    I think the programmer side of the community is flexible enough to deal with hardware changes, and it's just that annoying end-user whining because he wants hardware X to work today, and the fact that he doesnt have it proves some world conspiracy against him.

    • Re:Spazamataz? (Score:5, Informative)

      by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:37AM (#18731303)
      What actually happens is when a piece of PC hardware is changed/created, the hardware manufacturer writes only windows drivers for it that mostly follow the specs, but also contain various workarounds for the bugs/mistakes that they introduced. It's then in MS's favour to then still allow that hardware to be classed as 'ready for Vista' despite not adhering to the various open standards/specs, since it will make Linux's work more trouble.

      And yeah Microsoft does have various conspiracies against linux. See the recent news on Bill Gates asking how to make an open ACPI spec that would be difficult for linux to implement.
      • "And yeah Microsoft does have various conspiracies against linux. See the recent news on Bill Gates asking how to make an open ACPI spec that would be difficult for linux to implement."

        What is kind of funny, because ACPI on Windows is so bloody HARD to use nowadays, while on Linux you can use it even from the command line :) (But I get that the point was to make it hard for the kernel developers.)

    • That makes only sense if the hardware specifications were open. The major problem is that they are not, and the OSS community depends on reverse engineering of Vendor created Windows drivers to create a driver.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ant P. ( 974313 )
      Just for fun, try this command as root:
      strings /proc/acpi/dsdt | grep Microsoft
      • by mikael ( 484 )
        Just if anyone is wondering, DSDT [sourceforge.net] stands for Differentiated System Decriptor Table. It defines the configuration of the system motherboard (stored on the BIOS), so that the kernel does not need to be recompiled.

        strings /proc/acpi/dsdt is simply extracting this data from the BIOS.

      • by Benanov ( 583592 )
        Nothing on my machine. Old MSI 6163 mainboard. Must be your newfangled Vista-licensed OEM Bioses
        • The mainboard that by AMD Athlon(tm) Processor 1009.004 MHz came connected to, which predates Vista by a certain amount, gives three "Microsoft Windows NT" lines. This isn't super new.
    • But there is a conspiracy here. If you open chessonly's article (why does he exclude the superior but less popular game of Go) in Opera 9.20

      http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/showthread .php?p=2705017#post2705017 [linuxquestions.org]

      Hover over the double underlined link to security in the second blockquote and the text goes all fubar so you can't read it anymore. Works fine in IE and Firefox.

      Oh noes! it must be a conspiracy against the superior but less popular Opera browser by those Firefox bastards.

      Or it could just be th
  • by anss123 ( 985305 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:17AM (#18731169)
    It saves time, and is often correct.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:19AM (#18731181) Homepage
    This guy's rebuttal doesn't do anything to address the facts save a call to a Phoenix BIOS person who says "we didn't and don't do that."

    But what of the purported fact that the guy cannot get another OS on there? An effective rebuttal would include a good explanation why this problem occured; even better if it discussed a work-around or a fix.

    Phoenix can claim they aren't [intentionally] doing this, but is it really happening in effect whether intentional or not? If it is, what is their response? If it isn't, who is this guy making this claim and what is he doing wrong?

    Does anyone here have such a laptop? Would you care to install Linux on it as a test? Has anyone here tried? Did it work?

    What are the facts? Can any of this be confirmed?
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:32AM (#18731273) Homepage Journal

      From what I can tell, there's a bug with the user's laptop and some "USB-to-serial thing" according to his forum post [linuxquestions.org]. Whatever it did, it managed to get the BIOS to set a password. The user decides this is because they installed Linux, and the BIOS is "only for Windows Vista" and therefore locks out non-Windows OSes.

      He then links to another post [notebookreview.com] as "proof" which you'll not never mentions any non-Windows OS. My guess is that it's the "USB-to-serial thing" that's causing some bug in the BIOS that corrupts parts of the CMOS, causing a password to be set. (As an added bonus, if it's truly random data, it could be an untypable password.)

      So, nothing to do with running Linux, and everything to do with the "USB-to-serial" thing that the user used. At least, that's my guess.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm not the same poster as above (somewhere), but I do have an HP dv9000z
        with a Phoenix BIOS.

        There is no capability in the BIOS to boot off of the second hard drive;
        fortunately GRUB on openSuSE 10.2 knows how to scribble itself in to the
        MBR on the primary drive, and permit me to boot either Linux or Windows.

        However, even despite setting the appropriate items in the BIOS, I'm having
        a VERY difficult time booting off of an external USB(2.0) Western Digital "Book"
        drive. I can get to a GRUB> prompt, but it wo
        • by XO ( 250276 )
          You should check your drive in another machine, to see if it works properly. HP dv6000 here works perfectly booting from a whole host of USB devices.

          This guy probably was screwing around and set his BIOS password, or one of his friends was screwing around and did it, and now he's trying to setup some gigantic conspiracy theory.
      • What? This isnt a conspiracy of the highest order from the most powerful men in Business? Its just a bug that some fanboy went apeshit about? I refuse to believe it sir! Conspiracies make me feel important in my OS of choice and sell more ads for slashdot and other sites I visit. If it makes it to the slashdot front page, it must be true.
      • If Toshiba had just put a serial port on the thing there wouldn't have been any problem. USB to serial devices tend to suck. The drivers are terrible, the support is bad, and they seem to stop working for no reason. I need to connect to serial devices all the time(configuring pro av gear) and you tend to get locked out of using the less expensive laptops(low end Toshibas, Acer) because they don't have serial ports. My advice is to use a pcmcia or express card to serial adapter, they tend to be more
      • My guess is that it's the "USB-to-serial thing" that's causing some bug in the BIOS that corrupts parts of the CMOS, causing a password to be set. Frankly I don't think that's any less ridiculous speculation than the original post on Linuxquestions that people are bitching about. In fact I think that's less likely as it would require the CMOS to be corrupted, but only part of the CMOS where the password set while leaving the rest of it functional. Fails Occam's razor IMHO.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Not to mention that every BIOS in existance takes a checksum of the CMOS contents. In fact, some most motherboards reset the CMOS contents by simply wiping the contents of the CMOS checksum, causing the BIOS to detect the CMOS is corrupted on boot and then reset the contents with defaults.

          There's absolutely no way a bug could possibly set the BIOS password. The GP poster is a complete idiot.
    • by maxume ( 22995 )
      I don't think he wrote the piece as a rebuttal. I think that he wrote it to clarify his position. Calling them up and saying "What's up with that?" is pretty reasonable and well in line with supporting his "I don't think this is intentional" argument.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsn ( 989808 )

      But what of the purported fact that the guy cannot get another OS on there? An effective rebuttal would include a good explanation why this problem occured; even better if it discussed a work-around or a fix.

      What'd be effective is to verify the purported fact first - the guy hasn't taken it in for servicing. The Phoenix guys do not have any information on the problem from the blog post and you want them to duplicate it, and figure out what is going wrong. Come on. If its a BIOS password a work-around or a

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nicomachus ( 185745 )
      I have a Toshiba Satellite U205 which has been happily running Ubuntu Linux since about 4 hours after I bought it in December 2006. The install, as is typical of Ubuntu, was completely trouble-free and required no intelligence at all (I did manually partition it first so as to leave the OEM XP system intact). Suspend to RAM doesn't work (not a surprise), and I've never taken the time to get the fingerprint reader working, but everything else is fine. And toshset works, for the most part. On the other ha
      • And I have a Compal HGL-30 that has all the Fn buttons working (brightness, play/pause/stop, volume) right out of the box with Kubuntu 7.10 beta. It has trouble hibernating, but I think that's because of the NVIDIA drivers. I've never tried to suspend, though, as it boots and shuts down quickly enough that I don't need to worry about it. Only thing that doesn't have native drivers as far as I know is the USB-based webcam and the USB-based fingerprint reader, both of which are being worked on, and are pre
    • by b1t r0t ( 216468 )

      I saw a submission about this yesterday in Firehose, and after going three links deep, I still couldn't figure out WTF was really going on. So I voted it down.

      My best guess is that something (maybe even a bug in Toshiba's build of his BIOS) caused a password to be set, then the guy went all Chicken Little about "Teh Evel Micro$ofts" and "Darth Gate$". Nowhere could I find any hard evidence that it was something intentional in the design of the BIOS.

      For a while I thought it might have had something to do wit

    • An effective rebuttal would include a good explanation why this problem occured; even better if it discussed a work-around or a fix.

      I doubt this guy is Psychic, and able to determine the cause of a reported problem, based on a couple lines of whining complaints on a blog...

      Phoenix can claim they aren't [intentionally] doing this, but is it really happening in effect whether intentional or not?

      Since there is precisely ONE person, ANYWHERE, claiming this problem exists, it's quite safe to assume it's not actu

      • Since there is precisely ONE person, ANYWHERE, claiming this problem exists, it's quite safe to assume it's not actually happening, anywhere.

        My friend Bob has the same problem. So what do you say to that, MS Fudboy?
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:25AM (#18731219)
    At the risk of being modded troll...

    The article basically says "a post made by a clueless chap on a forum is almost certainly conplete twaddle. I wouldn't have even written this but his post quotes me."

    So, IOW: the article is one big "nothing happened"

    How is this news?
    • the article is one big "nothing happened"

      and the guy still has a broken laptop. What I get out of that is avoid Toshiba.

      Only someone with their head firmly buried could think there is nothing wrong with BIOS. They are not free and the companies that make them work closely with M$, a company famous for sabotaging their competitors. This makes all new equipment a crap shoot. The author may have pussed out of his original sentiment, but things have not changed at all since he wrote the article:


      • "It is directly against Phoenix's policy to create BIOS that would lock customers into any single OS. It has never been or will it ever be Phoenix's intention to lock a customer into a particular OS." Gaurav Banga, CTO & SVP of Engineering at Phoenix Technologies Ltd.

        In addition, Phoenix is working with the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF) and is the leader of the Boot Technology Working Group within CELF. Gaurav Banga also tells me that the BTWG is Phoenix's first effort in with the open source community and that they plan more involvement with mainstream desktop and server Linux efforts.

        Honestly, you're a complete idiot. There's no other explanation any more.

  • dugg down (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by masteroffm ( 1026700 )
    so i posted a response on digg to the first post that proclaimed "OUCH! there is no way in hell my next motherboard purchase will have a Phoenix BIOS..." and I pointed out that this was a laptop, not a motherboard and that i could kind of understand but that it was no excuse. my comment was dugg up briefly, but then very quickly dugg way down. it frustrated me so much that people could be so ignorant to digg up the first comment about declaring a boycott of Phoenix bios motherboard when posting referred t
    • I'm not surprised you were modded down. This post is barely coherent, and stupid at best. Maybe you should look inward first?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And we care why?
  • My take of the situation is that this guy found some hardware/BIOS problem that will brick a certain model of laptop when you try to cold boot it with a certain model usb-serial adapter is installed. That's it.
    • Close, but actually he found some hardware/BIOS problem that will brick a certain model of laptop when you try to cold boot it with a certain model usb-serial adapter installed and *run linux*. Either the hardware disagrees with Linux (Doubtful, or else why would it work with everything except that adapter?) or the Linux (Well, the software) disagrees with the hardware (More likely, it's a lot more probable that there's a glitch in the drivers).
  • So what...? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't Slashdot the official-Jumping-to-Conclusions-portal?

    It sure isn't the official-Journalism-portal.
    • by tuxicle ( 996538 )

      Isn't Slashdot the official-Jumping-to-Conclusions-portal?
      Great, now all we need is the mat...

  • by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @11:00AM (#18731493)
    One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn't try and make the "ACPI" extensions somehow Windows specific

    It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the results is that Linux works great without having to do the work

    Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

    Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

    Or maybe we could patent something related to this.

    http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/0 11607/3000/PX03020.pdf [edge-op.org]
    • Or maybe we could patent something related to this.

      If they fix a significant technical problem, they should get a patent to preserve at least some competitive advantage. Maybe 15 years is too long, but some force-of-law to encourage people to solve problems and tell everyone how they did it is a good thing.
      • by rs232 ( 849320 )
        'If they fix a significant technical problem, they should get a patent to preserve at least some competitive advantage'

        I don't know if you read the same email but it seems patently clear that what was being proposed was breaking ACPI to make it Windows specific and use patents to prevent it being used on Linux. And since Linux is GPL it could not use patented ACPI extensions. Using broken extensions to preserve 'competitive advantage' is the act of a paranoid, greedy, untrustworthy and petty organization [synthesist.net]
      • by dpilot ( 134227 )
        IF they fix a significant problem

        and IF it's non-obvious to one skilled in the art

        and IF it's truly novel, as opposed to simple combination of existing art

        THEN maybe it's patentable.

        There's far too many patents of the kind, "Here's a solution to a problem that I happened to think of first. Once you think of the problem, the solution is obvious, but since I thought of the problem first, I deserve a patent on it."
  • Couldn't somebody with the knowledge remove the BIOS and check to see what is on it? I mean it isn't like BIOSes are typically encrypted. Shouldn't it be possible to look into the code to check these kinds of claims without the cooperation of the manufacturer?
  • Bah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cythrawl ( 941686 ) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @11:23AM (#18731721)
    What this BIOS porbably does (apart form the mentioned updates on the webpage) is add the SLIC data for Toshiba into the BIOS. All OEM venders need to have the SLIC data in the ACPI section of the BIOS so they can use thier OEM Digital Certificates that they supply on the Install for Vista DVD's. The Digital Certificate allows Vista to be instantly activated on a PC with the SLIC data, VLK, and Digital Cert.

    They are just covering thier own backs that on the slight chance that the data changes in the ACPI could cause some crap on other OS'es. The user probably set a password, or corrputed his BIOS during the flash phase, and is pointing fingers at anyone else so he no longer looks like a dumbass.

    I get this all the time with people who bring thier CellPhones in for repair becuase they locked thier phones and forgot thier password. They state clearly that they never changed it, and when I load the phone into my PST's and retreive the code the look of realization comes over them and say, "oh yeah, I remember it now"
  • Well, its their product they can support whatever they want.

    If they choose to support 90% of the market, well, thats their choice. Its our choice not to use their products ( if that bothers you )
  • What's the big mystery? ACPI features work seamlessly under windows for any laptop I've ever had with a phenix BIOS ... getting even the simplest features to work under linux has been a major chore. Do hot keys work? Under windows, yes, under linux no. Do lcd controls work, under linux no, under windows yes. Have a look at the ACPI for linux web page at http://acpi.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] Anything phoenix related is completely screwed for Linux. There is not hiding this phoenix is onzered by MS. PERIOD.
    • by ajlitt ( 19055 )
      Could that be because most laptops are based on Phoenix BIOS, and laptops have more complex ACPI calls than desktops or servers?

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