Kamis, 08 September 2011

Can Linux Kill Your Hardware - A Warning to Asus T101MT Owners

This post is as much an open poll of those that know their way around hardware as much as it is a warning to others that own an Asus T101MT.

If you have been by my blog recently you may know that I have been going back and forth with Asus support getting an RMA done on my T101MT. I sent the unit in with a bad screen, it got returned had the same issue happen again, it got RMAed again and had the same issue happen a third time. Assuming something was simply wrong with the unit I had beyond repair, I was sent a 100% new unit.

The first thing I do with any new computer I buy is wipe out the default operating system and install Linux. The T101MT was no exception. I installed the latest variation of Bodhi Linux which is powered by the 3.0.0 kernel  and much to my surprise two boots later the brand new T101MT had the exact same screen issue as the previous unit I had.

Now the Bodhi team and I don't do anything crazy with our kernel configurations. In fact, our kernel builds currently come directly upstream from Ubuntu packagers. So if you are using Linux on a T101MT a word of warning - I would not upgrade to the 3.0 kernel any time soon (or a distro that uses it).

Finally, my question to any hardware exerts out there that might be reading this. Is it possible to Linux to cause the internal display of a laptop to stop working (read: It isn't just the GUI or TTYs I can't get up, the system doesn't even post a BIOS screen on it's internal display)? If so, any ideas how or why this could be happening? The unit(s) work 100% fine when attached to an external monitor, so I know the hardware is all working minus the internal screen.

My brain is screaming at me that software should be able to kill hardware like this, but I am running out of debugging options.


I got an external display setup this evening. So I booted it up, logged into the BIOS and cleared the settings back to defaults - poof! My internal display worked again. Well for a few moments anyways.

Every time E starts the internal display in my netbook cuts out if it is the only display attached. In order to get it to come back online again I have to default all my bios settings again. I can tracked the issue back to something E is doing because the internal display does not freak out when using LXDE/OpenBox on the same system. The odd thing is the internal display works fine with E if I have an external screen attached at the same time.

So in short, Enlightenment is doing something that at startup (when only the internal display is active) that disables the internal display at a BIOS level. I've spoken with E developers and the are of the opinion that nothing like this should be possible. I am throughly baffled, will have to run some more tests this weekend...

Any feedback/ideas are welcome and would be appreciated. I'm going to be fiddling around with the units some more in the next week to see if I can figure anything out myself.

Update 2:
This issue is resolved.... Oh me!

~Jeff Hoogland

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