My eyes have been opened to yet another case of foul play by a megacorp.

As if their package management isn’t disgusting enough
(www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/23/enormouse/), /their BIOS
configuration on laptops of the recent few years leaves MUCH to be desired.

On the bottom of my HP Compaq 6715b laptop is a removable panel which
covers a memory slot and a Mini-PCI-E connector. “Great”, I thought,
having a non-functioning Broadcom card in there, “I’m going to install
an Intel 4925 AGN wireless card here because it’s supported by the
firmware/kernel I use (CentOS 5.3) – and I’m loath to building a new
kernel when I can just plug in a new card ;-)”.

My card, £15 off Ebay, arrived this morning and I carefully fitted it.
Booted the machine, went into the BIOS settings to ensure it was
enabled, and…. wait a minute, it isn’t listed. Perhaps it’s broken…
or …perhaps HP have imposed a blacklist of vendors/subsystems which
THEY don’t allow to be recognised in MY computer. Not listed in lspci,
nor dmesg… basically nowhere.

Is this legal? Did I ever see any restriction declared ANYWHERE before
buying this machine that stated “HP retains sole right to how this
machine is used and with what”..?

What point is there putting this restriction in?! Someone buying a
budget laptop isn’t going to source their over-priced parts from the
OEM! Why, darn it, why?!

If you have – or rather, are thinking of buying an HP, Dell or IBM
laptop, I’d suggest reading these first:
http://www.engadget.com/2005/02/22/the-hp-bios-that-locks-non-whitelisted-mini-pci-cards-out/

http://www.aigarius.com/blog/2008/02/07/sneaky-blacklisting-of-wifi-in-hp-laptops/


http://www.richud.com/HP-Pavilion-104-Bios-Fix/

http://www.paul.sladen.org/thinkpad-r31/wifi-card-pci-ids.html

I’ve thought about actually re-flashing my BIOS with modified code,
partly out of sheer bloody-mindedness towards HP (oh, and I would
publish, intricately, the solution), and partly just out of the
practical need for wireless networking. But now, I’m just baffled by
the whole thing.

Hilariously, as a final insult, the latest BIOS update from HP for my
machine, “updates the Computrace OPTION ROM to version 866”. So…
you’re telling me I have this “Computrace OPTION ROM” installed, huh?

HP – http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&prodTypeId=321957&prodSeriesId=3368540&swItem=ob-67085-1&prodNameId=3356624&swEnvOID=2094&swLang=8&taskId=135&mode=4&idx=3

BlackHat (deactivate the rootkit) – http://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-usa-09/ORTEGA/BHUSA09-Ortega-DeactivateRootkit-PAPER.pdf

Is there no goodness left in the world? Can old ladies not be helped
across the road any more? MUST we buy battery hen eggs instead of free
range?! Like, where’s the love, man..?