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Canonical pulls Ubuntu update after BIOS corruption issue affecting laptops

Canonical has pulled the release of its Ubuntu 17.10 distribution of Linux after many users found that the release had corrupted the BIOS on their laptops.

According to technology blog Phoronix, the update is having the biggest impact on Lenovo laptops, but other brands are thought to be affected, too.

The problem, it is claimed, comes down to a dodgy Intel SPI driver. Stored in 17.10’s Linux 4.13 kernel, the driver has corrupted the BIOS across a number of laptops.

Canonical claims to have identified the problem and is working on a fix – this basically involves disabling the Intel SPI driver, which is incorporated into the Linux kernel build.

“Many users are reporting issues with BIOS corruption with 17.10. This seems to stem from enabling the intel-spi-* drivers in the kernel, which don’t appear to be ready for use on end-user machines,” read the bug report.

To avoid a backlash from users, the company had its hardware enablement team verify that the update actually works. An updated kernel will roll out in the updated release.

Intel hasn’t commented on the issue, but the bug report goes into more detail. “Basically, on Lenovo Y50-70 after installing Ubuntu 17.10, many users reported a corrupted BIOS,” it added.

“It’s not possible to save new settings in BIOS anymore and after rebooting, the system starts with the old settings. Moreover (and most important) USB booting is not possible anymore since USB is not recognized.

“It’s very serious, since our machines do not have a CDROM. Lenovo forums at the moment are full of topics regarding this issue.”

The bug affects a range of Lenovo products, including the Yoga and IdeaPad. But there are reports that the problem affects Acer, Dell and Toshiba hardware too.

Users have flocked to the internet to up the pressure on Canonical, with one saying: “The problem also affects Lenovo G40-30. I have just installed Ubuntu 17.10 in legacy mode (dual boot with Windows 10) and the boot from USB option is gone.

“Very serious issue, as there is no way to format our hard drives and reinstall an OS. There was no reference in the documentation for such a serious problem that would alter/corrupt our bios.” 

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