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Linux - Wireless Networking This forum is for the discussion of wireless networking in Linux.

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View Poll Results: Is There A Wireless Card Bios Lock On Your System
eMachines 0 0%
HP & Comqac 3 50.00%
Sony 1 16.67%
Acer 0 0%
Dell 0 0%
Voodoo 0 0%
Alienware 0 0%
Gateway 0 0%
Lenovo 1 16.67%
Toshiba 0 0%
fuji laptops 1 16.67%
Apple 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-19-2008, 04:37 PM   #1
bob.smith22
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Registered: Jul 2008
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Exclamation Laptops with locked Bios (this means no changing the wireless card)


I have started this post to begin the reporting of systems that do not allow a person to change their wireless cards.

Please report any systems that don't take replacement parts

Why does this matter? It matters if you want a better card or even if your old card brakes and you need to replace it. Just buying a card with the same chip set will not be enough. Its id must be one that the manufacturer has set in its BIOS; translation you pay lots more.


The term for this practice is "locked Bios system"


Laptops that have this problem that I have found today.

HP

Pavilion models

dv5000 CTO
(amd64 with bcm4318) Most likely all models of the 5000 series have locked bios.

Compaq

Compaq nc6000 (all others in this series would be a safe bet)

There are dozens of other reports on hps forums check for your model and then please report it here.

It is a safe bet that all HP Compaq products have locked Bios in them. The exception might be their impossibly high end business laptops and gaming laptops.


Sony

I would lay money on it being so, I have recently worked on a system that seemed to require vista be on it's hard drive. In others words no vista no laptop, you couldn't even reinstall their vista backup after a clean wipe of the hard drive. This would be an example of a OS Depended bios lock. (Would like to hear from others to confirm this type of lock)

So my money is on Sony having a wireless card bios lock as well.


Dell

Several of my friends have changed out their bcm43xx series for Gigabyte GN-WI01HT MINI PCI units.

So we need more reports on this brand but so far it seems promising.

Toshiba

?

Acer

?


Please Report Systems and manufacturers that allow you to change.

Educate the buyer to influence the market!

Last edited by bob.smith22; 07-19-2008 at 05:34 PM.
 
Old 07-19-2008, 04:50 PM   #2
bob.smith22
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Registered: Jul 2008
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Just a Quick quote from hp forums.

The cards are physically identical and only differ by firmware IDs. The first excuse was blamed on FCC rules re: interactions between card and different antenna (since these are passive, this sounds bogus). SO.. why do non-American HP customers have to suffer these US-only "FCC restrictions?" Why not supply a BIOS option to turn the lock off for non-Americans - not every country agrees with the FCC - or even cares. The whole point of a laptop is to travel and not be restricted to one country - why this US-centric restriction?

The later second excuse (since we we're unconvinced of the first one) was the stupid HP LED/button - so what if it's flakey, give us the option, we're grown-ups!!! It states on your website that the i2200 & nc6000 are compatible - of course they are, they are Intel-approved Centrino components!

The REAL excuse: because HP prefer to charge a huge markup on generic cards. Now, look what's happened to Microsoft in the courts over anti-competitive practices.. wise-up before it's too late HP. Either supply an unlocked BIOS or we demand you compensate us with a 1-for-1 trade-in for our official Intel 2200's for your corporate-hacked ones.
 
Old 07-19-2008, 05:21 PM   #3
bob.smith22
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Quote 1:

bios hack for hp dv1000 series laptops with unsupported wireless cards

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ok, dont know if you have heard about this, but appearently hp has been ordered by the fcc ( or so they say) to only allow usage of certain wireless cards in the new bios updates. (so dont update your bios if you have a bios that is older than june of 2004). It is a full on bios lockout and halt. the problem is this. i bought a bad ass 400mW atheros chipset wireless minipci card and put it in and got "104 unsupported wireless network device detected. remove the device and restart. system halted." something like that, i dont remember the exact, but if you have seen it you know. so here is my question. my bios is a Phoenix NoteBIOS 4.0 Release 6.0, and on the Phoenix site http://www.phoenix.com/en/Products/C....0/default.htm there is release 6.1 out. so if i use thier flash utility and flash it, will i screw up bad, or will it write the original un-hp-tainted bios to the eeprom and boot just fine allowing me to use my wireless card that is linux compliant? the original card is a broadcom, and sucks, and i hate ndiswrapper. the card is usable with the system... dont let the "unsupported" crap fool you. i can boot up without the card inserted, and hurry and put it in between the bios boot and the lilo prompt (probably not good for the card huh?) and linux sees it and i even built the drivers and had it working, but on reboot, i have to take it out power on, put it back in at the precise moment, and dont reboot for as long as possible. i mean seriously, what are they trying to pull here. if i wanted a mac, i wouldve bought one, and probably shouldve. does anyone know the answer to what i ask, or have a better solution?


Quote 2:

ok, just for anyone that wants to know... i used this guys instructions to edit the eeprom on my atheros SR2, and low and behold, it works beautifully. the site is here, cause i dont see the reason for me to recap what he did.

http://www.dagarlas.org/stuff/computing/article0001.php

Does any one know where this fix has gone or where another can be found?

i used his binary instead of compiling my own, but the code is easy enough to edit for your needs. his binary will work on all atheros cards that i know of, or at least all of them with the 5211, 5212, or 5213 chipset.

now, next i am going to use ethtool to edit the eeprom on my 200mW saneo minipci card, and if it works i will put up an amazing howto like he did. i will do this cause the saneo cards are way cheaper than the atheros ones, for a powerful card. and they have 2 ufl antenna connectors, just like the original card... but the SR2 only has one ufl... i will then be purchasing a saneo b/g model, and i will do the same to it, and post a howto for it. the saneo b/gs are very strong cards... and also have the 2 connectors on them.. i will then work on other cards.. but most wireless cards will be base on either the prism (saneo) chipset, or the atheros chipset.. other cards that you want me to see if i can get around the bios lockout.. let me know... and if i can afford the card, i will give it a shot.

this is actually better than trying to hack the bios, cuase you will not mess up the system like this.

Last edited by bob.smith22; 07-19-2008 at 06:00 PM.
 
Old 07-19-2008, 07:34 PM   #4
pinniped
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Registered: May 2008
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Re: that FCC thing - the judge told the FCC to mind their own damned business; they enforce radio communications regulations, not legislate them. The FCC was actually lobbied to come up with that nonsense in the first place - and guess who lobbied them.

The companies are still pushing Treacherous Computing, telling everyone being screwed is good for them. Just wait another year - you won't even be able to replace your laptop's HD.

Treacherous Computing is a 'good thing' in some situations, but consumer electronics isn't one of them.

What HP and others are doing is forcing you to go back to their "authorized service centers" to have your wireless gizmo replaced. Naturally, you can't have the gizmo of your choice unless you waste the PCMCIA or PCI-X slot. The solution? Hack the BIOS! Of course in another year HP will require you to bring in your laptop just to flash the BIOS ...

There is another alternative to a single BIOS hack - join the coreboot project (www.coreboot.org, formerly 'LinuxBIOS') and become famous for being the first person to boot a laptop from a Free BIOS.
 
Old 08-01-2008, 03:20 PM   #5
randyd
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Registered: Aug 2007
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Bios Lock

I do not know if emachine has one or not, but when I attempted to install distro 8.04.1 to a friends emachine, it told me that his BIOS was 1999 and ended in 2000. I have since put his XP Home back on and am looking to the web for BIOS Flash and drivers for his system. Thanks for the opportunity to express an opinion.
 
Old 08-01-2008, 03:29 PM   #6
jiml8
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Registered: Sep 2003
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Quote:
The cards are physically identical and only differ by firmware IDs. The first excuse was blamed on FCC rules re: interactions between card and different antenna (since these are passive, this sounds bogus).
Uhhh...

I don't understand this statement. Wireless cards are certainly not passive. If you are referring to the antenna being passive, it is but it also is part of the output stage of the wireless transmitter and if the impedance characteristics of the antenna are not matched to the required impedance of the output antenna, then the output stage will commonly become detuned which means that output power will drop AND (commonly) the transmitter will splatter its signal across a wider bandwidth than it should be occupying - which causes interference.

So, controlling wireless cards makes sense; you should only be able to replace a wireless card with a card that is intended for the same make/model of machine. That said, you SHOULD be able to replace the card, with that caveat.
 
Old 08-01-2008, 03:41 PM   #7
jiml8
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Registered: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,171

Rep: Reputation: 114Reputation: 114
Quote:
now, next i am going to use ethtool to edit the eeprom on my 200mW saneo minipci card, and if it works i will put up an amazing howto like he did. i will do this cause the saneo cards are way cheaper than the atheros ones, for a powerful card. and they have 2 ufl antenna connectors, just like the original card... but the SR2 only has one ufl... i will then be purchasing a saneo b/g model, and i will do the same to it, and post a howto for it. the saneo b/gs are very strong cards... and also have the 2 connectors on them.. i will then work on other cards.. but most wireless cards will be base on either the prism (saneo) chipset, or the atheros chipset.. other cards that you want me to see if i can get around the bios lockout.. let me know... and if i can afford the card, i will give it a shot.
This reminds me of the CB radio craze. A CB radio had a maximum allowed output power of 4 watts, with certain specific half-power bandwidth requirements.

So people bought CBs in the millions, and some of them said "I want more power". So they bought these bad-ass linear amplifiers, and boosted their CB outputs into the hundreds of watts.

The thing was that many (most) of these bad-ass linears were badly designed and while they DID have the output power, they scattered it all over the spectrum. This caused all kinds of interference with other electronic devices of all kinds - though, at the time, the impact was mostly experienced with televisions and radios and stereo systems.

The most important specification for a replacement wireless card is its bandwidth. Not its output power, its bandwidth. If it is scattering its energy, then you are not only NOT getting the effect you think you are getting, but you ARE being a very bad neighbor and causing interference for other people, other devices, and other computers.

Further, if the card you purchase is not rated for the exact make/model of laptop (and "rated" means "tested electrically to ensure the output bandwidth remains within specification") then you should NOT use it - unless it comes with its own antenna.

I do not know because I have not shopped for this. But I will bet A BUNCH that most of these third-party replacement cards will NOT meet FCC specifications for half power bandwidth. In that case, they ARE interference sources - in a digital society that is quite properly becoming very concerned about eliminating interference because of the damage it can do...think electronically controlled brakes on cars, and consider what the right kind of interference would do to them, for instance.

Mostly, the FCC regs exist for a reason. And sometimes a good reason.
 
  


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