Thank you so much Apple

Thank you so much for having published broken firmware updated.

I had no problems with my Macbook Pro running Linux, until I decided to update to the EFI 1.4 firmware.

This firmware was supposed to fix keyboard problems when booting. That problem was not particularly annoying, but I thought that upgrading the EFI firmware would not do any harm. Apple does not warn against any potential problems.

However, after the upgrade, MacbookPro core 2 duo 17″ laptops are broken under Windows and under Linux. The video is corrupt and some colours can not be displayed correctly anymore.

Apparently, Apple does not care about it at all, they even blacklisted some threads in their discussion forums talking about that specific problem.

There are other lenghty discussions.

There is no fix for that problem, and no firmware update since last September. Complaints from users are being ignored.

What can I do ? Ask my employer to buy me a new laptop ?

That’s not serious, it is probably the first and the last time I buy anything from Apple.

Update: It seems the radeonhd driver largely attenuates the problem compared to the proprietary fglrx. It means no 3D, but I don’t need it.

32 thoughts on “Thank you so much Apple

  1. Yprum

    apple is really nice, but only to see it in the shop… nothing like a normal computer running GNU/Linux…

  2. Adam Williamson

    Apple should definitely have a standard warning against unnecessary updates and they should fix this problem. Having said that, however, it’s a longstanding practice that you do *not* do updates to bottom-level system stuff BIOS, EFI, whatever) unless you actually need to resolve one of the problems the update is listed as solving.

  3. Damien Sandras Post author

    Ella Guru: if you don’t care about what I do, then don’t read my blog.

  4. Brunoi Dexter

    I’ve got a MBP with Linux, Win, and MAC – I applied 1.4 and had no issues. Could you expand into symptomology? Reading your post has me looking at my nixtop rather nervously.

  5. Damien Sandras Post author

    Brunoi: if you do not notice anything, then you are not affected. You need to have a macbook pro core 2 duo, generation 2. In that case, you see flickering pink pixels instead of some colors.

  6. onotna

    apple could produce some drivers for linux too. Assholes takes big part of their system from oss community but they never mention other oses than “mac & pc”.

  7. t

    At least make a (free) developer account and post a report to Apples bug reporter, they do read those (and probably prioritize things according to the number of dupes).

  8. Dread Knight

    /me hates Apple and companies alike and agrees with Yprum.
    Never encourage monopol, especially if you are a foss adept.

  9. Lanny Blirerry

    Dear Dread,
    Maybe you SHOULD encourage educational facilities, with an emphasis on proper grammer and/or spelling.
    Users of fringe OS’s shouldn’t really expect support from suppliers of competing OS’s.

  10. Fredde

    Thinkpads are the best. Apple is a very close second, but stories like yours will make my next laptop another Thinkpad. They are robust, no frills, just works. And that Intel graphics has great support in Linux.

  11. Seagull

    I must say I find this somewhat amusing in the light of the roughly 30 emails to & from Ekiga in an attempt to re-establish what had at least been a workable version until the change to Debian Etch where the endlessly promised versions never appeared. Attempts to resolve with both the plain & Gtkonly versions failed & I was told to forget it & run without but was simultaneously being told by other Ekiga maintainers to try one thing or another but then ignored when the response came back unworkable. I will say that although Damien you were presumably busy that at least you did respond when I answered Ekiga’s ‘support’ chaps’ queries. But Ekiga is still dead & useless here presently & disappointing.
    At least Debian glitches has put a mark against it. It’s a bit hard to be very sympathertic about the Apple problem in light of this.

  12. Damien Sandras Post author

    Seagull: your problem is a packaging problem specific to the GTKonly version of Ekiga for Debian. There is nothing I can do about that if the package maintainer does not maintain the package.

    There is also a big difference between Apple and myself. Apple is a commercial company. I am a free software hacker working in my spare time.

  13. Snyper54

    I only upgrade firmware or bios if really needed because they can have nasty side effects. Is it possible to downgrade to your original firmware and avoid this? I would submit a bug report w/them and check back often to see when or if they come up with a fix. Keep your fingers crossed.

  14. tbit

    “What can I do ? Ask my employer to buy me a new laptop ?”

    Which is exactly what we are doing. The latest ver of the MBP doesn’t update to EFI 1.4 so it is not suffering any problems. and considering this is the model being sold, it’s not surprising they are just plain ignoring us.

    p.s. Fredde; not to be cynical, but be prepared for similar issues with the ThinkPads. Lenovo’s recent changes are battering their North American sales & support and already the latest desktop (M57) has next to no Linux support. Too bad they went from the M55 to the M57 so quickly. I expect the next round of ThinkPads, the T62 perhaps, will have no Linux support.

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  16. web hosting

    At least make a (free) developer account and post a report to Apples bug reporter, they do read those (and probably prioritize things according to the number of dupes).

  17. Angel G

    Maybe Apple are waiting for another spare-time software dev. to fix it for free :). I`m not aware what the video bios is responaible for (except initialization and VESA support) so in theory this can be fixed by reflashing video bios w another for the same hardware – GPU/VRAM/BUS type. (It`s x86 system). This is of course Dangerous! because Apple may included a check in their main bios for the specific video bios checksum and … /I own Acer laptop w Turion and never tried to hack ATI video bios to see what happens/.

  18. elessar

    Ella Guru: Seems like a lot of people care what Mr. Damien is doing or has to say – including myself.

    Damien: Thx for your info. I won’t buy apple products anymore. Their policy sucks. Nor will I recommend my father to buy a MBP – even though he’s an apple user since ’84. He’s running linux since 3 years now and seems quite happy with it.

  19. Chuckk

    Thanks for the heads-up; I wouldn’t buy Apple myself, but it’s good to have ammo against their zombies.

  20. Pingback: Free your Speech » Blog Archive » MacBook Pro fixed

  21. Cliff Wells

    Lanny Blirerry Says:
    “Users of fringe OS’s shouldn’t really expect support from suppliers of competing OS’s.”

    Since when does Apple supply an OS? I thought they just borrowed a “fringe” OS and rebranded it.

    Funny how the one-time fringe OS champion (yes, Mac at one point had less users than even Linux) has suddenly become so elitist.

    God, I despise Apple fanatics.

    It’s sad that a company who’s very existence is owed to the Open Source community gives less to Open Source than even Microsoft.

    I think Apple makes attractive and interesting hardware, but that will never be enough to make me surrender my principles. I’d just as soon cheat on my wife with a painted up hooker.

  22. nick humphrey

    sorry, but thinkpad keyboards (and some lacking even a touchpad) are friggin butt ugly, and that little red dot?…
    i had an apple mac mini. complete waste of money. the only thing i ever ended up using on it was garageband. the rest was just silly. apple bites. long live linux

  23. Justin H Haynes

    Really disappointing about the apple. I hope you have found a resolution. I was also pleased to find two like minded people in the comments about IBM(lenovo actually) Thinkpads and Apple. You either love the eraserhead mouse or you hate it. I happen to love it and if Apple had it I’d seriously consider a Mac.

    This may sound trite, but I know as a coder that user interface, including tactile feel of the keyboard and your pointing device of choice is very important. And IBM’s eraserheads are better than anyone elses in my opinion for sensitivity and range of pressure sensitivity. I love that my hands never have to leave home row to do stuff with the pointer, AND that I can point with my right hand, click with my right thumb on *3 buttons*, WHILE using my left hand with control key combinations on the left side of the keyboard. 🙂

    Good luck and happy hacking.

  24. Justin H Haynes

    And the IBM documentation is *stunning*. Or at least it was when I used to have an IBM Thinkpad long ago. Granted it was a 600, but I was able to service my own laptop very easily with their documentation, which was all very easy to find on their website.

  25. Cubytus

    Nick> everywhere you get what you pay for. You wanted the least expensive Mac, and it didn’t run as fast as the twice more expensive iMac. Apple still doesn’t have any reputation when it comes to dirt-cheap machines.

    Can’t tell any good of Thinkpads. The one my employer got me was a beaten up 1.6GHz P4-M (big pice o’ shit), 256MB RAM where I tried to run Ubuntu, then it broke 4 months later (i.e. Battery apparently died, then never turned on again). Plus, the screen was completely garbled unless I twisted it in a strange way, or put it on it edge.

    Plus, their squarish look doesn’t appeal me at all, plus, for their size, they’re HEAVY!

    On the other hand, we have expensive laptops such as MBP with a battery that stays up for a real 4 to 5 hours in moderate use, probably more if you use aggressive power management; they do ship with a mostly proprietary OS that still DO work. Perfect when you have no time to fuss around trying to fix that little quirk that appeared, and a gift to very active developpers who can’t keep tracks of all the bugs that appear in mission-critical applications.

    They’re also light (thanks to their aluminum / magnesium / whatever frame instead of the plain heavy steel that Thinkpad use.), and, if you’re sensitive to it, quite good-looking. Sure, many ppl want to use GNU/Linux on it, and that’s perfect, but remember that Apple officially doesn’t support any other OS than theirs. You can’t complain that a working update for Mac OS screws up the other OSes, since they’re on Mac’s by a hack, basically.

    Also, it’s simply false to state that Apple doesn’t give back to the open source community: they are constantly giving back bugfixes to BSD and the like, simply because the BSD license requires them to do so. BSD users have never been so happy.

    We may criticize Apple for their strict separation between engineers’ work and end-users (Linux enthusiasts are typically in-between), but not for the bad quality of their hardware, nor for performing well under the specs such as PC-makers do (especially when it comes to battery).

  26. Zak Mc Kracken

    I have used PCs with Linux until last year. Then I decided to betray and to switch to a MacBook Pro. It’s not perfect, but life is much less troubled than before and yet I have a Unix-based OS, which is at least partially open, and where I can install a lot of true FOSS (for instance I have KDE and many utility under OSX).

    It’s sad and it’s not even Linux’s fault or community fault. But if you use a system which is commercially supported, you have far less more trouble, which mostly means compatibility with formats (e.g.: video) and devices (e.g.: many USB devices, such as web cams, GPS, mobiles). It could be a commercially supported and FOSS system, but must be seriously supported, which means much compatibility, efforts to dialogue with hardware vendors, commercial deals with them which give them too some advantage. Otherwise you will be awake a lot of nights trying to recompile the kernel.

    It’s sad, but it works like that. You may be intransigent and choose to witness FOSS idealism by using Linux only and FOSS software only (and GPL only and Debian only). I am a FOSS software developer. I prefer a compromise and focusing on what I can do best, even if I will be excommunicated by RMS. I don’t want to waste my time with the firmware upgrade.

    By the way, if you want to use Linux, use a PC, it doesn’t make sense to replace OS/X in a Mac with whatever else. I like Asus, Sony, IBM.

    By the way, I have stumbled upon here cause I was looking an OS/X version of Ekiga…

  27. billitch

    Asking Apple to include GPL code into their OS would mean to give up the proprietary part of MacOS X. Stop dreaming, or start porting drivers from Darwin to Linux.

    So you have a firmware bug OK it sucks, but it concerns the hardware, not the operating system. Mixing it with the openness of software provider is just silly. Apple never copied any driver from Linux so why should they contribute ? BSD is not Linux (much more than GNU is not UNIX anyway) and from the stability POV has nothing to envy from Linux (wonder why OpenBSD has nearly no security issues?).

    You ask Apple to write drivers for a community that they have nothing to do with, it’s like asking OpenBSD folks to port their drivers for you. You just wish to suck on them. Like I wish you would port Ekiga to MacOS X or at least give access to a code repository so that someone else would do it. Sharing code is not about *asking* for share, much like love actually.


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