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July 13, 2004
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MozillaQuest Op-Ed

Asus Anti-Linux Attitude Sucks

It is painfully clear from the narrative that Asus refuses to provide hardware support for Linux and support for Linux users . . . Therefore, until such time as Asus pledges to fully support the GNU-Linux operating system, people and organizations ought to refrain from purchasing Asus motherboards and products.

Mike Angelo -- 13 July 2004 (C) -- Page 2


OEM's Narrative

The ASUS K8V Se Deluxe is the motherboard with which we are having issues. The onboard Ethernet controller is missing Vital Product Data, VPD, which is necessary for the kernel module sk98lin to properly configure itself. This VPD error causes the onboard Ethernet to be non-functional without special hacks to bypass reading the VPD. This eventually leads to system lockups and other odd behavior.

I went to the ASUS website and created a support ticket. Then I called the ASUS tech support number where I was put on hold for about 20 minutes before someone picked up. They took my number and assured me that the next available representative would call me. Turns out by 10 AM the next day I still hadn't received a call.

Once again I called their support number and within 3 minutes I was connected with someone. They told me that they don't support open source operating systems. I explained to him that this wasn't an issue with the operating system; rather it was a result of an inability to properly engineer their products. A short while later I received an email showing an update to the problem ID's status saying they don't support open source operating systems.

Linux is an open-source operating system. M.A.

I figured if they don't support open-source operating systems I would have to step down to a much less favorable operating system, Windows 2000 Professional. It took a while before I was able to track down a diagnostic utility for the onboard Ethernet.

Once I had the utility installed I ran it and didn't get any error. However, when I selected 'Read VPD Data' from one of the utility's menus I received this beautiful error 'Fatal VPD error'.

I updated the problem report to include this and called ASUS again. This time I was connected with a guy that identified himself as **** on the problem report. I gave him all the information that I had on the problem and he sent it off in a report to their engineers in Taiwan. I informed him that we were testing other manufacturers' boards because we cannot ship out systems that have problems due to sub-standard hardware, he didn't seem to care much.

The next week I figured it was about time that I check up on the status of this. I was on hold for about 10 minutes before I was connected to an arrogant representative. I stated the problem ID and he read the entire set of notes to me. Then I inquired what the status of the issue was.

He informed me that they do not support open source operating systems so I gladly explained how I was able to reproduce the problem under Windows. I could tell he was getting a bit annoyed with my persistent nature, but that was the least of my worries. He reassured me multiple times that this exact same motherboard was working perfectly fine on one of his coworkers systems.

Then he put me on hold and about 30 seconds later I was transferred to someone else's extension, where I was left to leave a voice mail (something we would never do to our customers). This gives me the impression that they really don't care much about their customers.

I'm glad to report that the [other vendors'] motherboards we are testing in R&D are coming along quite nicely so far.


On 30 June 2004, we sent a copy of the above narrative to Rick Allen at Asus, a person we were told by another person at Asus is the media contact for Asus. We asked Asus via Rick Allen for its comments and response to the narrative.

We received no comments or response to the narrative. Therefore, Asus having had the opportunity to dispute the narrative and having failed to so do, we take the narrative as being true and undisputed.

Article Index

Motherboards and On-Board Interfaces

In the early days of personal and desktop computing, motherboards were circuit boards that contained the bus, the microprocessor, and integrated circuits used for controlling any built-in peripherals such as the keyboard, text and graphics display, serial ports and parallel ports, joystick, and mouse interfaces. (Free On-line Dictionary of Computing) These days, motherboards often include built in sound, graphic, network, modem, and so forth adapters and interfaces. Items which in the early days of personal and desktop computers were contained on add-on cards (daughter-boards if you like).

The Asus network interface problem described herein is a problem with an onboard interface whose function can be handled by a network interface card (NIC). Thus, in this particular instance, Asus' refusal to fix the defects in its onboard motherboard network interface does not preclude one from running Linux on the Asus motherboard. In the case of our test machine, the OEM furnished an Intel NIC for its system to compensate for Asus' defective onboard network interface.

Editor's note: MozillaQuest Magazine is a news-based publication and we do not believe a news publication ought to wage boycotts. Doing so would make us part of the story we cover. A news organization should never be part of the stories it covers. We do not consider our recommendation that people and organizations ought to refrain from purchasing Asus motherboards and products or from purchasing computer systems that include Asus motherboards and products to be a boycott. It is an editorial opinion or suggestion and nothing more than an editorial opinion or suggestion. However, that does not preclude some other Web site, organization, or community from launching and maintaining an Asus boycott. If that happens, please let us know.

Conclusion

It is painfully clear from the narrative that Asus refuses to provide hardware support for Linux and support for Linux users. The instant problem is with an onboard interface whose function easily can be provided by an adapter card. Nevertheless, it just as easily could have been a problem with a core motherboard service thus rendering the motherboard fatally incompatible with the Linux operating system.

Therefore, until such time as Asus pledges to fully support the GNU-Linux operating system, people and organizations ought to refrain from purchasing Asus motherboards and products. And people and organizations ought to refrain from purchasing computer systems that include Asus motherboards and products.



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