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[Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIOS

PostPosted: 2017-12-21 10:00
by praka123
Ubuntu 17.10 Temporarily Pulled Due To A BIOS Corrupting Problem
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 20 December 2017 at 05:55 AM EST.


Canonical has temporarily pulled the download links for Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" from the Ubuntu website due to ongoing reports of some laptops finding their BIOS corrupted after installing this latest Ubuntu release. The issue is appearing most frequently with Lenovo laptops but there are also reports of issues with other laptop vendors as well.

This issue appears to stem from the Intel SPI driver in the 17.10's Linux 4.13 kernel corrupting the BIOS for a select number of laptop motherboards. Canonical is aware of this issue and is planning to disable the Intel SPI drivers in their kernel builds. Canonical's hardware enablement team has already verified this works around the problem, but doesn't provide any benefit if your BIOS is already corrupted.

A respun Ubuntu 17.10 release with the updated kernel is expected, but as of writing the download page is still discouraging the use of 17.10.


Should your BIOS be corrupted, you may need to replace your motherboard if there is not a removable flash chip. There are some reports that resetting the BIOS does work, but it's too early to know if that works for everyone. This issue has been confirmed for several different lines of Lenovo laptops including the Yoga and IdeaPad products. There is also the reports of it affecting a few Acer, Toshiba and Dell laptops.

When the BIOS is corrupted by the Intel SPI kernel driver, the effects range from being unable to save BIOS settings to no longer being able to boot from USB devices.

The Intel SPI kernel driver is responsible for reading/writing to SPI serial flash. Due to the SPI serial flash holding the BIOS and other platform specific data, Intel's driver is supposed to make the contents read-only, but clearly something is going awry with the driver in 17.10.



https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page= ... -Corrupter

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-21 17:08
by acewiza
It's hard to imagine something like this doesn't show up in testing.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-21 18:41
by pylkko
I am not at a Debian machine now so I cannot check, but according to some random commentator in the link, Debian's (unstalble/Sid) kernel config does has the Intel SPI configurations set to "N". If this is true, and the cause is indeed the SPI module, then that would mean that Debian (testing/unstalble) is not affected.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-21 18:53
by Segfault
Getting simple soldering equipment and serial programmer is much less than new motherboard.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-21 18:55
by bw123
pylkko wrote:I am not at a Debian machine now so I cannot check, but according to some random commentator in the link, Debian's (unstalble/Sid) kernel config does has the Intel SPI configurations set to "N". If this is true, and the cause is indeed the SPI module, then that would mean that Debian (testing/unstalble) is not affected.


That's good, it's okay on current stretch backport also.
Code: Select all
$ uname -a
Linux debian 4.13.0-0.bpo.1-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 4.13.13-1~bpo9+1 (2017-11-22) x86_64 GNU/Linux
$ grep -i intel_spi /boot/config-4.13.0-0.bpo.1-amd64
# CONFIG_SPI_INTEL_SPI_PLATFORM is not set


From what I've read, sounds more like a buggy chip that bricks itself after being written. Cheap BIOS component with limited writes(once?) or buggy code from Insyde (cool name though, insyde with a 'y')

https://duckduckgo.com/html/?q=insyde+lenovo+bios

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-23 21:19
by stevepusser
Certain users have advocated using Ubuntu kernels in Debian. I hope this hasn't come back around to bite them.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-24 12:04
by Wheelerof4te
It is suspicious that the bug affects only specific Ubuntu version, and only Ubuntu. More proof that regular releases of Ubuntu are just beta previews for future LTS. I had 17.10 installed, and it didn't corrupt my BIOS on HP notebook, at least I can mount and boot from USB. Even had Windows 10 after it, and now Debian.
Never heard of kernel corrupting BIOS before, but such things happen, it seems.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-24 19:07
by HuangLao
Shiny new shit syndrome (aka SNSS) will almost always bit you in the rear. Also, will be interesting to see if this was the result of an Ubuntu specific patch/compile.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-24 20:28
by stevepusser
On Ubuntu's part, it was the result of enabling the INTEL_SPI drivers in the kernel configuration before the build, which had to be done consciously. Debian's kernel does not enable those drivers.

The reviewer's Lenovo laptop displayed the symptoms right about the same time as the 17.10 release: https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/len ... nvram.html

Though he doesn't say anything about 17.10 on the machine, the timing makes it very suspicious.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-24 20:29
by Segfault
Looking at 4.14.8 sources I do not see Intel SPI driver. Was it removed altogether? It was probably written by Intel.

Re: [Serious Bug] #1734147 Ubuntu 17.10 Linux corrupting BIO

PostPosted: 2017-12-25 15:35
by Innovate
It's so ridiculous for end-user to run non lts on daily usage from the very beginning
humans always doing crazy things. :lol: