Lenovo issues a new Yoga 2-in-1 BIOS enabling Linux following conspiracy accusations

Lenovo YOGA 900S
Lenovo recently caved in to criticism over many of its Yoga 900 laptops that incorporated Windows 10 Signature Edition by releasing a BIOS update that allows owners to install Linux-based operating systems. The company was the target of scrutiny last month when customers accused it of conspiring with Microsoft by blocking the installation of non-Windows platforms at the firmware level.

The accusations started on a Reddit thread, with customers claiming that Lenovo teamed up with Microsoft to lock down Yoga 900 laptops by keeping the installed solid state drives in RAID mode via the BIOS. The problem is that the RAID mode relies on a proprietary SSD driver from Intel, which is compatible with Windows 10. That means if Linux is somehow installed on the device, the operating system can’t see the SSD because there is no available driver. AHCI, which is supported by Linux, is disabled in the firmware and can’t be changed.

AHCI is a standard created by Intel, and is short for Advance Host Controller Interface. It is hardware that enables software to communicate with devices that connect to the SATA interface, such as a hard drive or SSD. RAID, on the other hand, stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It is another type of disk management for configuring one or more drives. These drives can be combined as one single volume (C:), used as two separate storage volumes (C: and D:), or set up in a primary/mirrored configuration (C: only).

Typically, when OEMs like Lenovo and HP provide desktop and laptop devices with Windows already installed, they come with what is called “bloatware” or “crapware,” which is unnecessary software that takes up precious memory and hard drive space, bogging down the PC. Windows 10 Signature Edition is a clean install of Microsoft’s platform without any additional software from the OEM. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop retailers like Best But from including their own bloatware.

Lenovo responded to accusations of conspiring with Microsoft on a Lenovo Yoga 900 product review listed on Best Buy. The review was posted on September 20, and was followed by Lenovo’s response on September 21.

“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,” said a Lenovo Product Expert. “Unsupported models will rely on Linux operating system vendors releasing new kernel and drivers to support features such as RAID on SSD.”

A Lenovo Product Expert made a statement on another product review posted on Best Buy accusing Lenovo of  locking the BIOS to prevent Linux installs. According to this company representative, the system was locked due to Lenovo’s agreement with Microsoft to provide Windows 10 Signature Edition on the Yoga 900 devices.

Naturally, that statement added fuel to the fire. However, Lenovo recently denied that it intentionally blocked the installation of non-Microsoft platforms, and asserted that it could not confirm its relationship with the Product Experts who were providing feedback on Best Buy device reviews. The company followed its denial with a new BIOS to install on the Yoga 900-13ISK2 model that enables customers to use Linux on that specific device.

The release notes confirm that the new BIOS creates an AHCI SATA Controller Mode selection so that users can switch to AHCI and install Linux. The new BIOS is not meant for customers who plan on using the Windows 10 Signature Edition installation that came with the device.

Product Review

Why spend more? The Yoga Chromebook outdoes most laptops for $600

The Yoga Chromebook features great build quality, a 1080p display, and all-day battery life. All that for $540? That’s right, but there’s one catch.

Apple MacBook Air vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The MacBook Air was updated with more contemporary components and a more modern design, but is that enough to compete with standouts like Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 detachable tablet?
Product Review

How does the sleek MateBook X Pro hold up to the modern day competition?

Huawei impressed us with the MateBook X, a solid competitor to the 12-inch MacBook that beat Apple at its own game. Now, Huawei is taking a shot at premium 14-inchers with the MateBook X Pro, but it’s not without oddities – like a…
Product Review

It's not the sharpest tool, but the Surface Go does it all for $400

Microsoft has launched the $400 Surface Go to take on both the iPad and Chromebooks, all without compromising its core focus on productivity. Does it work as both a tablet and a PC?

Windows 10 user activity logs are sent to Microsoft despite users opting out

Windows 10 Privacy settings may not be enough to stop PCs from releasing user activity data to Microsoft. Users discovered that opting out of having their data sent to Microsoft does little to prevent it from being released.

Intel's discrete graphics will be called 'Xe,' IGP gets Adapative Sync next year

Intel has officially dubbed its discrete graphics product Intel Xe, and the company also provided details about its Gen11 IGP. The latter will include adaptive sync support and will arrive in 2019.

Intel answers Qualcomm's new PC processors by pairing Core and Atom in 'Foveros'

Intel has announced a new packaging technology called 'Foveros' that makes it easier for the company to place multiple chips together on one package. That includes chips based on different Intel architectures, like Core and Atom.

Razer’s classic DeathAdder Elite gaming mouse drops to $40 on Amazon

If you're looking to pick up a new gaming mouse for the holidays, Amazon has you covered with this great deal on the classic Razer DeathAdder Elite gaming mouse with customizable buttons, RGB lighting, and a 16,000 DPI optical sensor.

Intel's dedicated GPU is not far off -- here's what we know

Did you hear? Intel is working on a dedicated graphics card. It's called Arctic Sound and though we don't know a lot about it, we know that Intel has some ex-AMD Radeon graphics engineers developing it.

Firefox 64 helps keep your numerous tabs under control

Mozilla officially launched Firefox 64 by placing new features into the laps of its users including new tab management abilities, intelligent suggestions, and a task manager for keeping Firefox's power consumption under control.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.

Installing fonts in Windows 10 is quick and easy -- just follow these steps

Want to know how to install fonts in Windows 10? Here's our guide on two easy ways to get the job done, no matter how many you want to add to your existing catalog, plus instructions for deleting fonts.

Email take-backsies! Gmail's unsend feature is one of its best

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.

These laptop makers produce the most reliable, quality hardware today

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.