Booting Linux bricks Samsung laptops

@ 2013/02/12
Booting Linux using UEFI just once on various Samsung laptops is enough to brick them.

According to reports on the Ubuntu bug tracker, the report appears to be caused by a kernel driver for Samsung laptops.

The situation is so bad that kernel developers are currently discussing a change which would disable the driver when booting via UEFI.

What happens is that the machine freezes shortly after loading the kernel and the user then powers down by holding down the power button. Afterwards, the laptop refuses to boot and the firmware does not even show basic startup information. Samsung has to replace the motherboard when the machine bricks.

According to H-Online, the Ubuntu bug affects 300E5C, NP700Z5C, NP700Z7C and NP900X4C series laptops. It only happens when Linux is booted using UEFI and it does not matter if the Secure Boot is on or off. The work around is to boot Linux using the Compatibility Support Module (CSM).

Installing Linux alongside a Windows installation using UEFI mode is, however, not straightforward when booting using CSM.

Samsung has told Ubuntu that the kernel's Samsung-laptop driver is the prime suspect as this driver has previously had caused problems for other Samsung laptop owners when booting Linux using UEFI.

Intel developer Matt Fleming posted two kernel changes for discussion a week ago which ensures that the Samsung driver is not activated if Linux is started using UEFI.

But these two patches have not been merged into Linux yet.

According to Canonical's Steve Langasek, Samsung developers are developing a firmware update to prevent the problem and have been at it for several weeks.

He suggests that users should start Ubuntu installation on Samsung notebooks from an up-to-date daily image, in which his team has taken precautions to prevent the problem from happening.

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