Ryan passed this along early this morning (really early for Ryan, seeing that we’re not even in the double digits of the morning hours!), and while this issue is only likely to affect a very small subset of users, anything that can completely brick a laptop in a matter of seconds is worrisome enough that we wanted to pass it along. File this one under the "things that should never happen" category.

You can read more of what is known at H-Online, but the short summary is this: Samsung’s UEFI implementation appears to be faulty. It was most likely tested with Windows only and found to work, but thorough testing with other operating systems doesn’t appear to have been a priority—or perhaps a consideration at all. At present, the bug appears to affect Samsung 530U3C, 300E5C, NP700Z5C, NP700Z7C, and NP900X4C series laptops; if you have one of those laptops, we recommend you exercise extreme caution if you have a need to boot into a Linux environment.

The bigger picture here is that this is what happens in a race to the bottom: corners get cut, which means less testing and validation, which can in turn lead to some catastrophic failures in specific circumstances.  What's really scary is that these Samsung laptops aren't even budget offerings, so the budget race ended up impacting higher priced offerings! Granted, in the increasingly complex world of computer hardware it can be difficult to test all of the likely scenarios. UEFI represents a fundamental change in how many low-level aspects of the computer function, however, so it needs to be thoroughly tested; not properly testing any OS besides Windows would be a gross oversight.

Long-term, we expect Samsung to release BIOS and firmware updates for the affected laptops, though how long that might take is unknown. Short-term, the workaround is for Linux to boot these Samsung models using the Compatibility Support Module (CSM), which basically bypasses the UEFI bootloader, but dual-booting via CSM appears to be a bit complex. Ubuntu’s development team has worked with Samsung and identified the kernel’s Samsung-laptop driver as the prime suspect, and there are other workarounds proposed already to address the issue. However, these fixes have not yet been merged into the main Linux development tree, so again we recommend Samsung laptop owners who use Linux exercise caution.

Update: It appears the problem stems from NVRAM corruption. Removing power, opening the laptop up, and disconnecting the CMOS battery appears like it will clear the problem, but that's a pretty serious set of steps to take for most laptops.

Source: H-Online

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  • Sivar - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    Another winner from Samsung.
  • steven75 - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    Sounds about right. Samsung has never been known for their software prowess.
  • powerarmour - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    Samsung have never been great with their Linux support either, it's about time they took the fact that maybe some people don't want to run Windows seriously.
  • neothe0ne - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    How so? You can't install Windows in UEFI on these laptops either
  • techguy378 - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    Um, why not?
  • powerarmour - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    Because their implementation of UEFI is essentially borked, potential for corrupt hardware shouldn't be the fault of an operating system.
  • gevorg - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    UEFI + Windows 8 = best PC evar!
  • Beenthere - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    Famous worlds from Microsucks, InHell, OCZ, Corsair, Samsung, et al. The majority of PC hardware manufacturers and a lot of O/S and software developers rush their half-baked crap to market because most consumers are idiots that will pay top dollar to be abused.
  • ShieTar - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    It is a Windows-Notebook, with a Windows-Sticker on it. It is never sold without Windows.

    The problem here is not that Samsung forgot to test Linux, the problem is that Samsung does not care about Linux on this notebook. I am sure they have not tested MS-DOS or OS/2 installation either. While there may be a difference between Linux and OS/2 for many enthusiast or semi-professional users out there, for Samsung there is none. Its just not part of business model to support alternative operating systems.
  • jalexoid - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    It's a general purpose computer. They have to test the basic levels of functionality that correspond to certain publicly available interface specifications.

    For example, guess what OS was used to test USB3.0 chips from Intel? It wasn't Windows.

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