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ariaxu
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-14-2012
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

[ Edited ]

It is pretty shocking that a company that uses the tagline "For Those Who Do" blocks "unauthorized" aftermarket WWAN and Wireless cards. "Those Who Do" are most likely to install their own WWAN cards (or to patch Lenovo's ridiculously restrictive BIOS to get what they want).

 

There is no technical reason to enforce a hardware whitelist. It's just in support of exorbitant markups on WWAN hardware. Greed, pure greed.

 

There is no legal reason for it. Lenovo is not liable in any way for the behaviour of hardware that users install.

 

I just bought an Ericsson F5521gw from ebay for $30. It's the same chipset as the one Lenovo sells, but cost a lot less than the nearly $200 they wanted. It's insulting that I can't simply plug it in and use it without pulling out my programming tools and patching out UEFI checks.

 

Lenovo, I expect this kind of crap from the Dells and HPs of the laptop world, not from you. You need to re-evaluate your position on this matter. I've been shocked to find hundreds of posts from across the net complaining about your BIOS whitelisting. I never even considered that I would run into this kind of artificial barrier on a Thinkpad.

 

Fortunately, there are entire communities dedicated to getting around this baloney.

 

 http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Problem_with_unauthorized_MiniPCI_network_card

 http://www.endeer.cz/bios.tools/bios.html (outdated, but interesting)

 http://www.bios-mods.com/forum/Forum-Wifi-WWAN-Whitelist-Removal

 

(Mods, don't censor those links, please. Nothing illegal or untoward there, just people trying to get around Lenovo's mistreatment of its customers.)

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x220forMe
Posts: 577
Registered: ‎06-06-2011
Location: Russia
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Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

[ Edited ]

ariaxu,

your anger is clear but you don't consider the real cause of white listening. It's "simply" FCC regulation and similar. According to that laptop vendors must have FCC certificates for every pair "antenna+wireless card" for every laptop model. As every card has it's own vid/pid or ven/dev ids the total number of certificates is unquantifiable, costs some money, needs a time.

In "previous life" IBM warranted the absolut quality of working authorized cards in their systems, hw or sw related. And customers agreed with very big disadvantages because of needing to use authorized cards only. And spent their money for that.

Presenrly Lenovo is breaking down its reputation precipitously and do it itself. Because of "quality" and "service", yes, are in quotes only. And that not depends of sw or hw. So, presently there are no any technical reasons to restrict of using authorized cards only. Just FCC regulation and money, only. "New devices", "marketing" etc? Just a words for uninformed people.

 

But with present tempo of quality losing there is a big chance to lose US corporate and consumer market totally. So FCC regulation will become stupid for Lenovo.

____________________________________________________
x220 | i5-2520m | Intel ssd 320 series | Gobi 2000 3G GPS | WiFi
x220 | i5-2520m | hdd 320 | Intel msata ssd 310 series | 3G GPS | WiFi

Do it well, worse becomes itself
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ariaxu
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-14-2012
Location: Vancouver, Canada
0

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

Thanks for your response.

 

The funny thing is, my (blacklisted) WWAN card has an "FCC Certified" stamp on it. So I can't use my FCC certified WWAN card (the same model that Lenovo wants to sell me) in my FCC certified laptop... because the *combination* isn't certified?

 

The stupid! It hurts!

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x220forMe
Posts: 577
Registered: ‎06-06-2011
Location: Russia
0

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.


ariaxu wrote:

... because the *combination* isn't certified?


yes, combination "the card AND antennas IN your laptop model"

____________________________________________________
x220 | i5-2520m | Intel ssd 320 series | Gobi 2000 3G GPS | WiFi
x220 | i5-2520m | hdd 320 | Intel msata ssd 310 series | 3G GPS | WiFi

Do it well, worse becomes itself
goretsky
Posts: 1,784
Topics: 18
Kudos: 326
Solutions: 119
Registered: ‎12-01-2007
Location: California, USA

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

Hello,

 

My last job was at a hardware manufacturer (telephony equipment for businesses, not end-user computers) and it would cost us tens of thousands of dollars just to get a handset (desk telephone) or a B2B UA (PBX) certified for use around the world.  All of the tests for CCC, CE, FCC, MIC, TUV, UL and other certifiying agencies take time and cost money, and not getting those done—or failing one—can prevent you from importing a product into multiple markets.  In addition for paying for those tests, there's also the salary costs of your own employees.

 

Shipping non-conformal telco gear can generate some fairly hefty fines, and it's not the reseller or end-user who pays those—it's the manufacturer.  You might also end up having to get all of your currently shipping equipment retested if the certification agency thinks there was negligence, fraud, mismanagement or some other reason to believe it may have been more than a once-in-a-lifetime isolated incident with a single piece of equipment (manufacturing defect or whatever). 

 

I would imagine that computers are subject to similar, if not the same, kinds of certifications that telco gear goes through, and the same kind of technical and legal issues apply as well.  If there are computers out there that don't go through the same level of testing, it could be that they are not truly "world-class" systems and may emit more RFI, have less safety features, etc. than systems from from manufacturers who perform more stringent testing.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 



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Kritiker
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-07-2012
Location: Canada

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

[ Edited ]

So far no one has been able to tell us in what way a Lenovo-blessed version of an Intel WiFi card is different from a non-Lenovo-blessed version of that same WiFi card. The cards are the same - except for the special Lenovo FRU ID embedded in that card. The combination is the same - an FCC-approved WiFi card used with an FCC-approved antenna in an FCC-approved pairing.

 

If the matter were an FCC certification issue, then surely the particular card should be whitelisted and not just some Lenovo blessed subset?

 

Oh and, since I live in Canada, the FCC certification issue doesn't apply to me, nor does it apply to EU customers and all the others around the world who do no live in the U.S.

 

And how can FCC, or any regulatory certification issue, explain the whitelisting of hard disk drives that is reported for some Thinkpads at Problem with non-ThinkPad hard disks and elsewhere?

 

The practice of whitelisting certain products would be at least a little more palatable if we were told about it and if pricing weren't, at least in some cases, exhorbitant. Yet there is no reference to the practice in any specification list that I have seen. There is no reference to a whitelist in my Thinkpad's Hardware Maintenance Manual. And $140 for a Lenovo-blessed Intel 6205 that otherwise sells for under $50, sometimes well under $50, is exhorbitant.

 

I only found out about the practice because having,

  • ordered the wrong WiFi card because of incomplete descriptions in the on-line configurator,
  • been unable to change my order, even the next day,
  • bought a more appropriate retail Intel WiFi card, one that had been offered by the on-line configurator, (for about $30, not $140, from a reputable dealer)
  • installed it (after taking off the keyboard and the palm rest),
  • received the 1802 error,
  • unistalled it,
  • re-installed the original WiFi card,
  • checked on-line to see why I was getting theis error message,

only then did I find out about the whitelists. And I have to hope the seller will provide a refund.

 

Is it any wonder that we are frustrated and angry with Lenovo over such a practice?

 

ceb
WWAN
ceb
Posts: 632
Registered: ‎09-09-2012
Location: DC Metro area

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

While manufacturers have an obligation to assure that their comuters - as shipped - comply with FCC regulations, they are under no obligation to assure that the end user cannot modify the computer in a way that might be in conflict with those regulations.

 

Prohibiting the installation of a (otherwise) compatible card - especially one that is identical - save for the Lenovo whitelist - may have a legitimate reason, but it certainly isn't the FCC regs that prohibit that.

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s47896
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎10-29-2009
Location: UK
0

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

Well goretsky, I appreciate the info (for which thanks, much appreciated), but as someone not subject to US law, I object to the US telling me I have to buy a useless machine. I have a new Lenovo Twist that, in an office with quite a bit of radio equipment, does not hold its wifi connection, no matter how much I try with frequency changes, moving things around etc.. Of course if I could swap in an Intel 5Ghz card used by Lenovo in other laptops I might have better luck - but i am not allowed to do that by the BIOS, which is why I am here -  having wasted more of my money trying to get my brand new machine working properly. (BTW, this is a replacement as the first Twist I received had a faulty keyboard and the second has fan blades that hit the side of the housing - so much for 'world class' quality!.) Ah, you say, take some radios out of my office.  What? Shall I get rid of my phones, perhaps plug in my mouse and phone via USB rather than use Bluetooth? Tell you what, why not just go back to a desktop PC? Oh, I know why - because I want a functioning laptop - to update the ancient Dell laptop, an even older IBM ThinkPad, and my beautiful 4 year old T400 that all work perfectly wirelessly in the same situation - so what is going on with newer configurations of machines? Is the FCC making wifi cards and antennae weaker - signal-wise? If so we end-users should be told. I tell you what I personally am going to do. I am going to sell, what to me is just a useless piece of junk, on e-Bay, and after a decade of mostly buying ThinkPads, go off to what you descibe, as a less than world class manufacturer, and get what I want. (I appreciate the situation on locking down the BIOS is common amongst major manufacturers, not just Lenovo.) I want something that works in the way that I, as the paying consumer, want it to work, or at least where I can swap components in and out to get to that desired end-state - a working laptop. I suggest us consumers vote with our wallets, because between the regulators and the major manufacturers, we are not going to get quality and choice. Sorry about the rant, but it has to be said, because if we don't raise our voices, no one is going to hear - so finally, a question for the community - are there any major manufacturers left you know of who do not lock down their laptops in respect of wifi cards? If you have been, thanks for listening!

ceb
WWAN
ceb
Posts: 632
Registered: ‎09-09-2012
Location: DC Metro area
0

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.


s47896 wrote:

Well goretsky, I appreciate the info (for which thanks, much appreciated), but as someone not subject to US law, I object to the US telling me I have to buy a useless machine. I have a new Lenovo Twist that, in an office with quite a bit of radio equipment, does not hold its wifi connection, no matter how much I try with frequency changes, moving things around etc.. Of course if I could swap in an Intel 5Ghz card used by Lenovo in other laptops I might have better luck - but i am not allowed to do that by the BIOS, which is why I am here -  having wasted more of my money trying to get my brand new machine working properly. (BTW, this is a replacement as the first Twist I received had a faulty keyboard and the second has fan blades that hit the side of the housing - so much for 'world class' quality!.) Ah, you say, take some radios out of my office.  What? Shall I get rid of my phones, perhaps plug in my mouse and phone via USB rather than use Bluetooth? Tell you what, why not just go back to a desktop PC? Oh, I know why - because I want a functioning laptop - to update the ancient Dell laptop, an even older IBM ThinkPad, and my beautiful 4 year old T400 that all work perfectly wirelessly in the same situation - so what is going on with newer configurations of machines? Is the FCC making wifi cards and antennae weaker - signal-wise? If so we end-users should be told. I tell you what I personally am going to do. I am going to sell, what to me is just a useless piece of junk, on e-Bay, and after a decade of mostly buying ThinkPads, go off to what you descibe, as a less than world class manufacturer, and get what I want. (I appreciate the situation on locking down the BIOS is common amongst major manufacturers, not just Lenovo.) I want something that works in the way that I, as the paying consumer, want it to work, or at least where I can swap components in and out to get to that desired end-state - a working laptop. I suggest us consumers vote with our wallets, because between the regulators and the major manufacturers, we are not going to get quality and choice. Sorry about the rant, but it has to be said, because if we don't raise our voices, no one is going to hear - so finally, a question for the community - are there any major manufacturers left you know of who do not lock down their laptops in respect of wifi cards? If you have been, thanks for listening!


 

 

It isn't US law that is the constraint here.

 

As I've said earlier, manufacturers need to assure that their equipment, as originally configured, complies with whatever local laws there are, but they are under no obligation (at least in Western countries) to prohibit customers from modifying the equipment.

 

That said, we must remember that Lenovo is a Chinese company and there may be a Chinese law that may restrict it for devices sold in China.

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s47896
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎10-29-2009
Location: UK

Re: WWAN and wireless card BIOS whitelists? Lenovo, COME ON.

Either way, the key point, of course, that you make is that there is no reason for manufacturers 'to prohibit customers from modifying' their laptops after purchase.