Lenovo laptops refuse to run Linux due to storage woes, not Microsoft evildoing

angry linux
Credit: Sunny Ripert

It looks like Linux lovers have another roadbump to watch out for beyond Microsoft’s slow tightening of the UEFI Secure Boot screws.

Lenovo’s forums and the Linux subreddit are ablaze amidst reports of failed Linux installs on the Lenovo Yoga 900 13ISK2 and Ideapad 710S, as Tech Republic first reported. The howls intensified when an unverified person identifying herself as a “Lenovo Product Expert” answered a question about the issue on the Best Buy website with, “The system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft.”

yoga 900 Adam Patrick Murray

The Lenovo Yoga 900.

Whew. Talk about a response guaranteed to send Linux enthusiasts scrambling for torches and pitchforks. But the comment (and its parent question) have since been removed—and seemingly for good reason. The compatibility issues aren’t nefarious, Lenovo says. Instead, the Linux installation woes are tied to the storage configuration in those laptops.

Here’s what a Lenovo spokesperson told Tech Republic and ZDNet:

“To improve system performance, Lenovo is leading an industry trend of adopting RAID on the SSDs in certain product configurations. Lenovo does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems on its devices and is fully committed to providing Linux certifications and installation guidance on a wide range of products. Unsupported models will rely on Linux operating system vendors releasing new kernel and drivers to support features such as RAID on SSD.”

So the underlying issue is a questionable BIOS implementation by Lenovo, rather than malicious Microsoft machinations, as this Reddit poster succinctly sums up.

Don’t get me wrong: Between the closing grip of UEFI Secure Boot and Intel’s Boot Guard, it is getting more difficult for Linux and open-source enthusiasts to install the software of their choice on modern notebooks. But Lenovo’s ThinkPads have always been at the forefront of Linux compatibility, and you can indeed install Linux on a PC with Secure Boot enabled. None of that changes the fact that you can’t install Linux on these notebooks, alas, but this new issue with Lenovo’s laptops isn’t a conspiracy.

The impact on you at home: But it is a reminder to do your homework before buying a prebuilt PC or laptop if you plan to run Linux on it. The easiest option may even be to buy a notebook with Linux already installed, which isn’t as rare an occurrence as it used to be. Check out PCWorld’s guide to finding out if your PC is compatible with Linux for more info.

This story, "Lenovo laptops refuse to run Linux due to storage woes, not Microsoft evildoing" was originally published by PCWorld.

To comment on this article and other CIO content, visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Download the CIO October 2016 Digital Magazine
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.