15 January 2018

Summary: Ubuntu's 17.10 bug 1734147 which makes motherboards unusable is now fixed

The last time I tried Ubuntu 17 was on a non-Intel motherboard, so nothing happened. But there was something that I didn't like, so switched back to 16. Now I read that Ubuntu 17.10 has a bug which corrupts the BIOS and prevents USB boot.

Why it happens: This happens because Intel's SPI driver (allows the OS to rewrite firmware's flash memory) causes the firmware to become write protected. This happens only in Intel Broadwell and Haswell machines with serial flashes with SPI_NOR_HAS_LOCK set.

If your BIOS is affected: Try the fixes mentioned on this page. If it doesn't work, you may have to replace the flash memory chip or the entire motherboard, depending on how it is manufactured.

Is it fixed? Yes. This page mentions the problem, the fix and the machines affected. You can now fearlessly download Ubuntu versions higher than 17.10, and you won't have any trouble.

Lesson: Although contrary to conventional advice, it helps to not have automatic updates enabled, and to upgrade to a new version of an OS only after some time has elapsed since its release.

No comments: