Open Source Conspiracy Nuts: _OSI, Your BIOS, and You

I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories. They exist to give weak-minded, irrational people the extravagant and irrational explanations for irrational events they seem to need — belief in widespread conspiracy is a coping mechanism for the mentally unstable.

Bogeymen, secret societies, remote control aircraft, grassy knolls, UFO secrets, and all the rest.

Now add Foxconn and Microsoft. At least for certain Ubuntu fanboys.

Turns out someone ran into some serious ACPI issues with a new Foxconn mobo. A bit of BIOS hacking revealed something a bit odd — Linux support appears to be broken. Rather than learn more or even wait for answers, the user decided to run to the Ubuntu forums and present this is the latest MS attempt to kill Linux. It gets picked up by semi-coherent twits at Slashdot, snowballs, and before you know it there are all kinds of allegations and insinuations being made.

Uh, what’s the definition of FUD again? Nothing like a conspiracy theory to demonstrate the power of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Especially among the uncritical thinkers who use Linux as some anti-Microsoft fashion(less) statement.

Matthew Garrett delved deeper into the issues, the BIOS, and Linux ACPI.

mjg59: Further Foxconn fun:

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

That’s what happens when you shoot first and ask questions later. Anyone who’s ever compiled a kernel and taken the time to read the documentation knows of all the hardware-specific kludges (or “bugfixes”) contained therein. It wouldn’t be the first time there’s a problem related directly to a bug in the kernel source or in the way it was compiled. It’s not the manufacturer’s fault when Linux kernel development is often over-ambitious and frequently imperfect. Dittos for the problem of using a default one-size-fits-all (when they don’t) kernel. Usually default kernels are adequate for most hardware. But not for all. Is this something related to Ubuntu’s config?

I have an old board that will not even boot with SMP kernels and, being a fan of older hardware, I also have boards that have other SMP issues. That’s no cause for me to attack the board makers, just compile a non-SMP kernel for them. BFD. That’s why you have the source in the first place — so you can use it as you need it to run and as you see fit. Not so you can whine about MS and hardware vendors.

Now how the hell do these anti-MS zealots and conspiracy-peddling crackpots put the toothpaste back in the tube?


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