Alert: Toshiba Problems

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 37
Author Content
penguinist

Nov 30, 2015
1:54 PM EST
I wanted my fellow LXers to be alert when buying a new notebook computer from Toshiba.

I have here a Toshiba Satellite C855D-S5201. The computer belongs to a friend who wants to try Linux. Well it turns out that this Toshiba computer blocks booting from UEFI USB livedisks. I tried both Fedora and Arch, both of which have good UEFI support. What is supported is disabling SecureBoot and then switching into CSM (legacy BIOS mode). From here it is possible to boot a Linux livedisk but not in UEFI mode. This means that a Linux-Windows dual-boot is not possible on this machine. I notice that a multitude of people have reported this problem in a variety of forums. The problem appears to be well known.

Actually, maybe this is an advantage. Removing all that extra Windows bloat would improve the available disk space enormously. Anyway, unless Toshiba has a reasonable answer to this I am going to accuse them of playing dirty, and I will see to it that the facts are laid out for all to see.

By the way we are running the most recent firmware from Toshiba.

Next, I am planning to phone Toshiba's tech support to give them a chance to offer a solution, workaround, or an explanation. I'll report back here on the results of that phone call.

Update after phone call:

Toshiba had no solution to offer. They ask for $69.95 before they are willing to discuss the issue further.

Ridcully

Nov 30, 2015
3:38 PM EST
Isn't this something like I discussed on another thread earlier ? In my case, it was an HP notebook. And I think the answer was that the various brands of laptop are putting in place their own versions of booting into UEFI and all its ramifications, so you never know what you'll hit until you buy. Caveat Emptor.......and despite what others have said so far, I am now ultra-wary of anything that has UEFI on it.
penguinist

Nov 30, 2015
3:54 PM EST
This does sound similar to your situation.

In my case I have installed successfully on several UEFI systems, and I'm ok with UEFI itself. What Toshiba is doing is to refuse to boot into properly configured UEFI USB drives. That's a Toshiba decision and not a requirement of the UEFI spec. I have an Asus and a Lenovo system each with UEFI and both of those systems boot UEFI USB just fine.

During my phone call with a representative of Toshiba I informed them that their responses would be published on the Internet, and yet they were not able or willing to provide a solution or workaround. There was an offer to continue a discussion if I would pay them a $69.95 support fee.

I agree with your comment that you don't know what you are buying until you attempt to boot from USB. Next time I buy a notebook I'm taking in my favorite UEFI USB livedisk. If I like the computer then I'll buy it after I can see it successfully boot up on my USB stick. Let our wallets vote.
jdixon

Nov 30, 2015
4:55 PM EST
Does the Toshiba include/allow you to boot from DVD?
gary_newell

Nov 30, 2015
5:48 PM EST
Does that mean the Toshiba won't be able to boot the Windows 10 USB either?

Disappointing that Toshiba would do this. I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro which is now beginning to age (although still in relative terms a powerful laptop). It has been a really good computer.

This will leave a nice gap in the market for smaller manufacturers.
penguinist

Nov 30, 2015
6:05 PM EST
I'm seeing the same behavior with DVDs.

They boot fine in CSM (legacy BIOS) mode but fail in UEFI mode. Tested with Arch, Fedora23, and CentOS7 DVDs.
JaseP

Nov 30, 2015
6:11 PM EST
So, blocking Linux from booting and $69.95 to discuss the matter further?!?! Well, that means Toshiba is officially out on any computer purchase that I make or may in the future have the authority to make for others...
penguinist

Nov 30, 2015
6:17 PM EST
I have no way of knowing if this applies across the board with Toshiba's notebook products or if it is something specific to the model I have, but I did give Toshiba a chance for a voice in this and they failed the test. I see some Amazon reviewers are also voicing similar complaints so I suspect this is something that reaches farther than one or two models.

I would be interested in hearing from others with late model Toshiba notebooks.

As Ridcully says, Caveat Emptor.
seatex

Nov 30, 2015
9:51 PM EST
Toshiba just made my corporate ban list. They never had good Linux support, but this is just ridiculous.
jdixon

Nov 30, 2015
11:01 PM EST
Penguinist:

OK. You can't boot any external media in UEFI mode, only in legacy mode.

However, your hard drive is still formatted in UEFI mode. This is probably going to sound stupid, but is the installer smart enough to recognize that it's being installed to UEFI formatted media, even though you've booted in legacy mode, and install properly?

A quick Google search is returning conflicting answers.

If the owner is agreeable, I think it's time to back up the full hard drive with your preferred imaging software (Clonezilla, Ghost, Acronis, etc.), then see if it is or not.
penguinist

Nov 30, 2015
11:35 PM EST
Hi jdixon

Well my preferred imaging software is dd, and I always make a full set of dd images of disks before undertaking a dual-boot project, so we are good here with backup images. No worries.

You are correct about the disk, but let's first define our terms: The disk format associated with UEFI is called GPT, and the disk format associated with BIOS and CSM (UEFI's legacy BIOS alternative) is called MBR.

Yes this disk is GPT partitioned.

On the Linux side, we can easily install into a GPT partitioned disk even though we did boot in CSM mode. Fedora actually does a pretty good job of installing into this CSM environment, and when we are done we have a Fedora installation that boots in CSM. I verified that earlier today. That solution works if we want to create a single OS system. The problem comes when you want dual-boot because Windows insists on UEFI and our new Linux installation is now forced into CSM. Theoretically one could go through the Boot Setup screen to switch boot modes everytime you wanted to switch OSs. That's a bit ugly but it would work.

Toshiba has not prevented the installation of Linux on its system. Toshiba has prevented the dual-booting of their systems.
jdixon

Dec 01, 2015
12:53 AM EST
> You are correct about the disk, but let's first define our terms:

Yeah, the terminology is complex, and not always used correctly, even by the manufacturers.

You have GPT/MBR for the disk type, UEFI/CSM for the boot method, and you also have to worry about fast start up and secure boot.

> That solution works if we want to create a single OS system. The problem comes when you want dual-boot because Windows insists on UEFI and our new Linux installation is now forced into CSM.

That's the part I'm not understanding. The installer should recognize the media as being a GPT disk set up for UEFI and install the UEFI boot files needed to allow you to boot in UEFI mode. Apparently that's not happening.

This thread: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=158530

Suggests performing a CSM install and copying the UEFI boot files to the appropriate location, then modifying the boot loader.manually. But that sounds more complicated that it needs to be.
penguinist

Dec 01, 2015
1:20 AM EST
Something manual along that line might work. I've spent the last 6 hours reading up on UEFI intricacies. This is as good a time as any to climb that learning curve.

Normally, when installing Arch on a UEFI machine, one does this to set up the grub2 loader on UEFI.:

grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi --bootloader-id=arch --recheck
however when you run that in a CSM mode you error because the efibootmgr does not have access to the EFI variables. You get this error message:

efibootmgr:  EFI variables are not supported on this system
and when you check, the UEFI area has not been set up. I believe as you that a manual setup of UEFI might succeed provided that Toshiba has not sabotaged it completely, but at least for today, that is outside of my scope.

One lesson learned here is that we should treasure our Free/Open Source software. It is not often in our world that I will need to spend this much time to work through an issue. When the software is closed and proprietary you can't drill down for the solution, you have to resort to trial and error. We have a lot of Windows developers who have gotten pretty good a trial-and-error programming, I know several of them.

cybertao

Dec 01, 2015
3:33 AM EST
jdixon wrote:Suggests performing a CSM install and copying the UEFI boot files to the appropriate location, then modifying the boot loader.manually. But that sounds more complicated that it needs to be.
If the UEFI only boots efi images from the harddrive when Secure Boot is disabled, it is what it is. I'd think putting the harddrive in a case or caddy and partitioning/installing from another machine would be convenient if possible (though it sounds as though you installed Arch, penguinist?). The biggest hurdle I perceive is adding an EFI entry to boot the (or a) distribution in the first place. I assume some equivalent of efibootmgr exists in Windows-land.

penguinist, Windows will have created a FAT32 partition for EFI booting. Put an efi file, such as shellx64.efi, grub.efi, or a linux kernel with efi stubs compiled to /EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.EFI on that parition and see if it appears in the menu options at boot time. If it boots, albeit brokenly in the case of GRUB or the kernel, you are half-way there as booting a distribution using UEFI is possible.
jdixon

Dec 01, 2015
4:32 AM EST
> ...however when you run that in a CSM mode you error because the efibootmgr does not have access to the EFI variables.

OK. That's why the UEFI boot files aren't getting set up then. :(

Though I hate to say it, we obviously need a Windows based program to set up the boot system for us when this happens.

> If the UEFI only boots efi images from the harddrive when Secure Boot is disabled, it is what it is.

I believe Arch supports the secure boot shim, so it should be possible to get it to boot with secure boot enabled.

However, since we know Windows is working, it might be simplest to use the Windows bootloader to load Linux in this case. There's a writeup on doing so at:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dual_boot_with_Windows#...
Ridcully

Dec 01, 2015
5:26 AM EST
Y'know.......NONE of this mucking about happened under the dear old BIOS system. It just worked, we could easily install, easily set up dual boots, and every OEM pretty much did things the same way......Or am I being an ultra-Luddite ? All I can see so far is very complex routines to do things that should NOT require very complex routines. Or at least they are complex to me.

Do you suppose the OEMs could include both UEFI or BIOS and you could select whichever of the two you needed for your computer and OS ? My perception so far is that UEFI (or its implementations), is designed to favour just one OS (centred in Redmond) to the exclusion of all others...I'm probably wrong, but that's my impression......and I lost most of $1000 to prove it via an HP laptop.
jdixon

Dec 01, 2015
6:48 AM EST
> NONE of this mucking about happened under the dear old BIOS system. It just worked,

Actually, it did. Not anytime in the past 20 years or so, but as I remember it, at least in the 80's incompatible bios implementations were a common problem. Give it enough time and the problems with incompatible UEFI bios implementations will be ironed out too.

Assuming Microsoft doesn't keep forcing changes to the spec to keep that from happening, of course. But we have Microsoft's word that they love Linux, so surely they would never do that, would they?

> Do you suppose the OEMs could include both UEFI or BIOS and you could select whichever of the two you needed for your computer and OS ?

That's what the legacy mode (CSM, alternatively) we've been discussing is.
penguinist

Dec 01, 2015
10:11 AM EST
This has been an eye-opening experience for me. As most of you know I don't use Windows on any of my systems and I try to avoid getting involved with other people's Windows problems. However, this dual-boot task has forced me to set my high-anxiety aside and look at Windows again.

One thing I noticed (Windows 8.1) is that Microsoft led the hardware vendors away from boot-time Function keys for getting into Setup etc, and they have tried to pull the bootup functions into Windows. This is being done with the claim (verbalized at an MSDN conference) that Windows boots so fast now that we don't have time to press F keys while it is booting. (blah, blah, blah) So from now on, with the systems that are following Microsoft's lead we must boot into Windows in order to ask for boot functionality, or spend our time looking for workarounds.

Ridcully, I don't call you an ultra-Luddite. I think you are on-target when you say that the boot process is now very much overly complex, and I claim that this complexity is no accident. It is by design. LXers are a special breed of people. Higher on the intelligence scale than most of the sheep who wander through the Windows landscapes, and yet we must spend countless hours working through these intricacies. Now imagine what the other half of the world faces if they wish to explore another OS other than Windows. With the knowledge possessed by the average Windows user, I'd say that is now pretty much impossible for the average user. The sheep have been dumbed-down and now they are trapped.

What we are discussing now in this forum thread is similar to the situation with smartphones. The vendor tightens control and users try to find ways to regain control. The same thing is now happening in the notebook computer space, at least with those hardware vendors willing to follow Microsoft's lead.

If Microsoft really "loved Linux" they would stop with the roadblocks!

Ridcully

Dec 01, 2015
4:16 PM EST
Jdixon, good points made and accepted. These things always take a period to "shakedown", nevertheless, by the time I hit the BIOS situation circa 2005, it just "woiked" as far as I recall. Perhaps the same will happen for UEFI. As regards "legacy mode".......yeah, right. It didn't work for me and I had to come to terms with "legacy mode" meaning BIOS......Again, complexity of terms, but once explained, okay. And then I hit the brick wall of HP specific situations. It wasn't fun.

Thanks Penguinist......I have a very dear friend with whom I "fight" on the internet every morning. He insists I'm a Luddite due to my conservative views on how I operate MY computer. Nevertheless, the point you make is a very interesting one. The little I have experienced tends to suggest exactly what you have stated: the complexity is very, very deliberate. Trying to use the UEFI menus was somewhat akin to the incredible complexity of a government website that sends you round and round in circles - when all you want is a pdf download that you KNOW they have made available - but you can never quite find it. One gets the feeling that one should "come back in perhaps 3-5 years" after all the dust has settled. But your other point is also valid, Microsoft's tampering is very deliberate and destructive.
jdixon

Dec 01, 2015
4:54 PM EST
> But your other point is also valid, Microsoft's tampering is very deliberate and destructive.

Was my sarcasm too understated to come across properly?
Ridcully

Dec 01, 2015
5:49 PM EST
>>Assuming Microsoft doesn't keep forcing changes to the spec to keep that from happening, of course. But we have Microsoft's word that they love Linux, so surely they would never do that, would they?<<

Mea culpa maxima jdixon......humble apologies......I got the idea that you believe that Microsoft jes' lurves Linux........Actually, the answer is really: "No, would you believe I missed that gem ?" I sometimes think I'm getting too old for this, but it is so much fun. Does that satisfy your wounded literary feelings ? Keep them coming please.
seatex

Dec 02, 2015
8:42 AM EST
Everyone blames MS for this, but the hardware OEMs (like Toshiba) are equally culpable, IMO. They should not restrict their customers' freedom just because MS wants to do so.
penguinist

Dec 02, 2015
9:08 AM EST
seatex: that is a very excellent comment. While helping several people achieve dual-boot systems I'm noticing thisvariation in hardware vendor restrictions:

Asus: I've tried three models and all support booting Linux USB livedisks in UEFI mode. (I'm recommending Asus products to friends and colleagues.)

Lenovo Pro2: Supports booting Linux USB livedisks in UEFI mode.

HP Envy m6: Supports booting Linux USB livedisks in UEFI mode.

So far, the only notebook I've seen that does not support booting Linux USB livedisks in UEFI mode is the Toshiba Satellite.

So seatex, back to your comment, many vendors are considering their customer's careabouts in spite of Microsoft's damaging leadership.
seatex

Dec 02, 2015
9:27 AM EST
> So seatex, back to your comment, many vendors are considering their customer's careabouts in spite of Microsoft's damaging leadership.

And those are the vendors who deserve our business. I have had previous issues with others myself, besides Toshiba. But Asus/ASRock and Lenovo have usually been good. Lenovo's recent firmware issues did give me cause to add them to my boycott list as well though.

CAUGHT: Lenovo crams unremovable crapware into Windows laptops – by hiding it in the BIOS

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nast...
penguinist

Dec 04, 2015
9:00 PM EST
Just to finish the story on this, I ended up returning this Toshiba to its owner where it will forever remain a single-boot WinDoze machine, and swapped it out for his HP laptop.

The HP booted a Linux livedisk in UEFI mode first try, and the dual-boot installation was finished in less than 30 minutes.

So the lesson I learned here was to insist on doing a trial boot of a Linux livedisk before buying my next notebook.
Ridcully

Dec 05, 2015
6:37 AM EST
Essentially Penguinist, you have done exactly what I had to do.......get rid of the "infected machine" and move to something that will do what YOU want. It's rather horrible, and a savage indictment of the OEM's and their slavish obeisance to Redmond. Or that's how I see it anyhow. My new HP laptop with Win7 has a standard BIOS setup and that will do anything I want.

I wonder if it is possible to "flush" UEFI out of the computer's boot-up chip and replace it with BIOS ? It might solve a lot of problems. ......Let's face it, if any of us really, REALLY want to put that confection of garbage called Windows onto any computer, it can be put into a virtual machine running ON Linux.......
JaseP

Dec 05, 2015
10:16 AM EST
Quoting: Let's face it, if any of us really, REALLY want to put that confection of garbage called Windows onto any computer, it can be put into a virtual machine running ON Linux.......


AMEN!!!
jdixon

Dec 05, 2015
10:38 AM EST
> CAUGHT: Lenovo crams unremovable crapware into Windows laptops – by hiding it in the BIOS

There was a motherboard manufacturer (Biostar comes to mind, but I may be misremembering) who did something similar way back in the 1990's. You had to flash the bios with a new version to get rid of it.
cybertao

Dec 05, 2015
2:17 PM EST
Sadly, OEMs are just filling the market. The OEM market wants systems that will run Windows and with Windows already installed. Microsoft want OEM machines running Windows to implement their policies.

Consumers aren't going to care about how buggy or locked down the firmware is, as long as it boots Windows. OEMs aren't going to care as they mass produce Windows boxes for Windows users to buy. Microsoft is just going to rub their hands with glee. The good thing is Microsoft's lockin acts as a lockout for people who escape their influence. Restricting OEM machines will create a void for the non-OEM market to fill. We just have to pay the premium for it.
Ridcully

Dec 05, 2015
4:05 PM EST
We sorta have reached towards this in this thread, but not precisely. I wonder if it would be worth any of us keeping a list of OEM's etc. giving known problems or satisfactory results with respect to UEFI and their computers and Linux - and published and updated on LXer. For instance, we now know Toshiba and HP can be mongrels, but Asus and Lenovo seem to work.

In addition, a "how to" section on how to go about testing a given device to see if it is acceptable and hints on installing Linux in a UEFI machine that will accept Linux. Supposedly openSUSE has bowed to the inevitable, and got a UEFI key and I think Ubuntu has done the same ? Has anyone tried those two yet ? Or have I missed it in the thread ?

It's a start...name and shame ? Mind you, given Microsoft's "love of Linux" and ethical standing, naming and shaming seem pointless.
penguinist

Dec 05, 2015
5:53 PM EST
Quoting:The good thing is Microsoft's lockin acts as a lockout for people who escape their influence.


That was actually the happy ending to this story. My friend, after seeing what we had to go through with his Toshiba, asked for Windows to be removed completely from his HP, forget about dual-booting. He now has a beautiful clean Linux machine and he's happy as a clam.

Princess Lea wrote:The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
Princess Lea also wrote:I recognized Microsoft's foul stench when I walked through the door. (paraphrased by penguinist)
BernardSwiss

Dec 05, 2015
7:46 PM EST
cybertao wrote: Sadly, OEMs are just filling the market. The OEM market wants systems that will run Windows and with Windows already installed. Microsoft want OEM machines running Windows to implement their policies.

Consumers aren't going to care about how buggy or locked down the firmware is, as long as it boots Windows. OEMs aren't going to care as they mass produce Windows boxes for Windows users to buy. Microsoft is just going to rub their hands with glee. The good thing is Microsoft's lockin acts as a lockout for people who escape their influence. Restricting OEM machines will create a void for the non-OEM market to fill. We just have to pay the premium for it.


The aggravating thing is... that the Linux community predicted this mess, back in the early Windows 8 days, when Microsoft started pushing it's UEFI Secure Boot based "security initiative" (all "for the sake of the users", of course) with it's partially complete -- and by virtue of that little "gap", cleverly broken -- official Microsoft Hardware Certification Specification.

Despite security and user needs being so important, MS left the question of doing a proper, user-configurable, rationally complete implementation of the UEFI SB standard as a decision that was "up to/at the discretion of" the OEMs -- knowing full well that since Microsoft wasn't demanding anything more than "able to boot the latest Windows" that the consumer OEMs (if past performance was any guide at all) would generally be inclined to, and be satisfied with, merely achieving the absolute bare minimum requirement (ie. can Windows, somehow, be made to successfully boot).

- - -

And, Yes: that's leaving aside the whole issue -- call it "conspiracy theory if you like -- of Microsoft's "unofficial" influence over and pressures on OEMs to hinder potentially competitive alternatives. Some people insisted that OEMs could be counted on (either out of self-respect or from direct self-interest) to do the job right ("free market" and "invisible hand" FTW! [/sarcasm]). We see now that this characterization was, as we feared and depending on the source, either self-serving hornswoggle, wishful thinking, or pure naivete.
jdixon

Dec 06, 2015
9:47 AM EST
> I ended up returning this Toshiba to its owner where it will forever remain a single-boot WinDoze machine, and swapped it out for his HP laptop.

I was actually hoping there was a way to make it work, but I guess all's well that ends well.
sombragris

Dec 17, 2015
9:41 PM EST
Hi there. Just want to chime in with my experience. I own a fairly recent Toshiba Satellite Radius p55w-b5318.

I never had troubles booting from UEFI. In fact, my setup is a dual boot Slackware64-current / Windows 10 under Grub2. The only caveat is to disable SecureBoot.

I also can boot a Slackware64-current ISO which I sent to a USB thumb drive via 'dd'. The USB drive has its own Grub2 menu from which you can boot the ISO, or any operating system on the machine's drive.

Now, I remember that the EFI settings parameters for allowing booting from USB were not exactly clear in the config screens, but it is doable.

Linux recongizes the hardware well. The only issues were the trackpad (no right button, corrected with virtual mapping) and the sound won't mix among applications (unresolved, annoying).

Cheers,

Eduardo Asuncion, Paraguay
penguinist

Dec 17, 2015
10:52 PM EST
Hola Eduardo, It's great to hear that at least one Toshiba model can be dual booted.

In my case a live disk booted with SecureBoot disabled, however not in UEFI mode. This prevented the installation from having access to EFI variables. It sounds like the particular model you are using does allow booting of Linux in UEFI mode, or maybe you found a workaround procedure that I was not patient enough to discover.
sombragris

Dec 18, 2015
3:23 PM EST
Thanks penguinist. My hunch is that it could be done with enough patience.

Now, i remember something: I have another laptop (a chinese clone-brand). The hardware is baseline-reasonable. The laptop came with windows 8.1 under UEFI. But the UEFI config was totally borked. It looked a gpt partition table while the hard disk had in fact a mbr boot table. (But booted with uefi, go figure that). The point is: while that particular computer was able to boot an USB drive via UEFI, it was downright impossible to set-up a dual boot scheme with a partitioned drive due to that gpt/mbr snafu.

So yes, I think the UEFI situation right now is a mess and approaching Russian lottery.

So far, my experiences with Toshiba have been good regarding Linux compatibility. So, if you can get UEFI boot working, a Toshiba brand name is *usually* a reasonable hint that hardware troubles won't be showstoppers, if any.

Hope you discover the workaround, penguinist. Long live Tux!!
cybertao

Dec 18, 2015
4:54 PM EST
It's might not be a snafu, but a Hybrid partition table. The harddrive is picked up as GPT or MBR depending on the tools you are using.
hvymetlrockr

Dec 30, 2015
12:41 PM EST
I have encountered the same issues on HP Pavillion laptops as well. I also have owned Toshiba laptops in the past only to have nothing but problems with them. Toshiba's solution was to pay for extra support to get assistance with the problem. I always tell people to steer clear of anything with Windows 8 on them and buy only computers and or laptops with Windows 7 especially if they have aspirations of installing Linux on them. I also tell them to spend the extra money and buy better quality and buy either Lenovo, ASUS, or Acer. I never had any problems with Acer which I have owned two of them-one laptop and one desktop. Note that Dell is Linux friendly also as long as Windows 8 is not on them. Guess it all goes back to the old addage-buyer beware.

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