After failing to install Linux on a recent Lenovo laptop, a Reddit user claims to have received a short reply from Lenovo’s support team: “This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft.” Which is how the story started.
The company is reportedly shutting discussion threads on its official forums to prevent “disruption,” though the snarl of links and outrage flying around makes everything rather murky. The core facts at hand appear to be that a) the BIOS is programmed to enforce a RAID setup that is currently compatible only with Windows 10, and b) there’s no technical rationale for it, it’s just there to prevent other operating systems being installed. A is, of course, more plausibly true than B.
In this specific case, Lenovo’s firmware defaults to “RAID” mode and doesn’t allow you to change that. Since Linux has no support for the hardware when configured this way, you can’t install Linux (distribution installers will boot, but won’t find any storage device to install the OS to). The problem is related to how the systems have been configured by Lenovo, and not some shady deal foisted upon them by Microsoft.
The model in question is the Yoga 900, pictured above; if you buy one of Lenovo’s machines and plan on installing Linux, research it in depth beforehand.
Reporter Matthew Garrett too says that the “Microsoft made Lenovo block Linux” story isn’t true and that he has a complete report. He says this is a “sensationalist” story and claims it’s happening because “Intel have not submitted any patches to Linux to support the ‘RAID’ mode,” and the Lenovo support statement about Microsoft is probably just a misunderstanding.
This has been confirmed in a statement from Lenovo.
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 -https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/documents/pd031426. Unsupported models will rely on Linux operating system vendors releasing new kernel and drivers to support features such as RAID on SSD.”
So no Microsoft involvement, just a lack of drivers on Linux’s part.