Report: Linux Cannot Be Installed on Microsoft Signature Edition PCs, Laptops and Tablets

Microsoft Signature program is designed to make sure certified devices offer the best possible experience for users, as they can not come with bloatware, include Windows Defender, and must meet strict hardware requirements. However according to a Phoronix report, “providing the best possible user experience” also includes blocking installation of alternative operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian, or other Linux distributions.

The issue was discovered by rijesh who attempted to install Ubuntu 16.04 on his Microsoft Signature Edition Lenovo Yoga 900 13-ISK2 laptop, and noticed that while the BIOS and Windows 10 could see his 512 GB hard drive, Ubuntu was unable to find it, and a customer support representative answered that:

This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft.

Another user reports having successfully installed Ubuntu 16.04 on his Lenovo YOGA 900-13ISK, so the devil is in the details. At the beginning, several users thought that Ubuntu was actually the culprit, as some speculated it might support the very latest hardware…

Anyway if you want to avoid that issue, and have control over which operating system to install on your hardware, Microsoft has a list of devices not to buy prepared just for you…

[Update: Microsoft and Lenovo now claim it was not intentional]

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21 Replies to “Report: Linux Cannot Be Installed on Microsoft Signature Edition PCs, Laptops and Tablets”

  1. Anyway, once more your post title gives the wrong idea.

    Ubuntu cannot be installed, at least in a easy way, but for sure other distros will be able to, so
    “Linux Can Still Be Installed on Microsoft Signature Edition PCs, Laptops and Tablets”

  2. @JotaMG
    What makes you think other distributions can be installed?
    Which word don’t you understand in the sentence “This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft.”?

  3. Hi!
    I can ask you exactly the same:
    Which word don’t you understand in the sentence “This system … . It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft.”?
    😉

    Ubuntu has that deal, but, does Puppy Linux, as an example, also have that deal??
    Of course I did not try, I’m no fool to ever own a “Signature Edition PC” – or using Windows 10, for that matter – but, if it is only a licensing problem, I can safely bet that you can install other Linux distros.
    Or not?

  4. Not having free hardware is gonna be cheaper for customers? otherwise it should be illegal, nothing more to be said. I hope Europe laws block that practice, since windows 10 can be bloatware for some users

  5. @cnxsoft
    Now that I had time to get more info, I understand that the M$ agreement was not with Ubuntu, but with Lenovo.
    Your phrase ” Ubuntu was unable to find it, and a customer support representative answered that: ” put me on the wrong track.
    You should had wrote instead:
    ” Ubuntu was unable to find it, and a Lenovo customer support representative answered that: “

  6. Another butthurt from linuxoids of nothing. One guy did install and another didn’t, but the whining is on the entire Solar system and surroundings.
    I don’t get why on the earth one could buy a premium PC class computer to install there linux, but even so, first one should figure out reasons of his inabilty to do such a perversion and then only make whining about something illegal. I am pretty sure what those vendors and MS did is legal, so there is nothing to complain about, legal wise.
    We are talking about the choice for a customer all the way, but equally there should be a choice for the maker. Suppose you are a maker who decides to produce linux laptops, ad you don’t bother to support other systems, moreover, you get some investitions from another linux fan which make sure you get needed financial resources and on the other hand, there will be linux installed on there, nothing else. how do you would feel if I would sue you for not having your laptop to be supplied with Windows or FreeBsd? You force me to use linux? omg, how dare you? It’s stupid. It’s your choice to make such a device and if I want something other, I should search somewhere else. Isn’t it? If lenovo wants to make a laptop with Windows, certified this way, it’s their choice, you might buy something else, for which it’s real to install linux and if you are happy enough – even try to use it. Can you install your linux on iphone? Why don’t you complain about this?

  7. It doesn’t sound like the whole story is revealed yet. Possibly some hardware issue caused lenovo to do a crappy fix by forcing ssd into a certain mode to prevent some other failure while running windows or in general. Yes the rep mentioned some agreement with MS, but I doubt the guy posting has first person info on such an agreement. The user who flashed the bios and was able to change the ssd mode and install Linux succeeded, but will he have problems later because he undid a fix for some unknown issue?

  8. Read this guy. He is a FSF and linux guy. https://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/44694.html
    Next, what Lenovo did was locking the RAID mode for the controller. It’s not “locking to Windows” as those zealots bitch there. Because first – why linux can’t support RAID mode of the controller and happily run with this configuration? It’s a responsibility on its side, right? And the second, another (not from lenovo installation) versions of Windows, a clean install, doesn’t work too! How this could be a “Microsoft lock”? This looks like poor support of some new intel thingy, which forced Lenovo to workaround by locking to the configuration where their driver (or the intel one) could deal with it. Neither default windows driver nor linux at all can support this. Lenovo locked RAID mode as a dirt hack to prevent Windows default driver to run, in order to get their driver to run. And Linux, DOESN’T support this and noone – and in the linux development camp too – does work on this to bring it there. Is this “a lock from MS”? Come on! Some clumsy answer on some support lines in comments got all zealotry to the massive butthurting.

  9. @cortex-a72 While you’re right and this is unlikely to be some conspiracy, note RAID is a vendor-specific hardware controller that requires firmware and drivers that, for this specific controller, weren’t available for Linux.

    So, it’s not that linux was somehow faulty… It’s just that it’s lacking the drivers.

    The blog you linked blames Intel for not mandating some standard in disk access. They have AHCI as an optional choice. But can, and in this case do, ignore those.

    Overall, this isn’t a new problem. It’s just a high profile case where a 1000$ consumer laptop targeting power-users broke\ignored linux compatibility without any warning.

  10. Yes, I can now confirm that it was a specific Lenovo hardware/driver problem (and they are getting lots of “problems” lately, aren’t they – maybe they have grown bigger than they can support?)

    So, this all affair is stupid “news” with stupid conclusions.

  11. This is already happening on non-“Signature” laptops. Lenovo (one example only) loves to put components and subsystems in their laptop that have little or no Linux driver support (the horrible Broadcom wireless modules are a good example). I have a Lenovo S20-30 11.6″ laptop bought early last year that had basically no dependable WiFi (and no BT at all) due to no decent driver support. Only recently are new distro releases coming out that have only basic WiFi working on this laptop (still no real BT). I’m going to try and avoid buying Lenovo in the future.

  12. Thanks for covering this! Even if it isn’t what it sounds like (but I’m sure it is), people need to know about what Microsoft is trying to do to other operating systems. Remember the whole UEFI thing when that came out?

  13. Just do not use vendor locked hardware. There bunch of useless companies produces them – intel, lenovo, nvidia, broadcom, etc. No sense to waste time for the problems they constantly bring to the users. They all are like m$ in opensource world – trying to close and hide the things that nobody will use for serious projects. It is just marketing with obscurity for the housewifes.

  14. @Jake

    You’re wrong, my friend.
    Microsoft does what it needs to do, and is no more bad than other companies, look at Google, Apple, Oracle, etc. etc…

    Windows 10 is a rip-off? don’t use it
    Gmail is a rip-off? don’t use it
    You need to complain only when you have no other options!

    And yes, UEFI was, and still is a problem, but, you can still buy motherboards with good old Bios, did you know?

  15. @JotaMG
    >”Microsoft does what it needs to do, and is no more bad than other companies, look at Google, Apple, Oracle, etc. etc…”

    They’re all bad but that doesn’t make their unethical behavior right.

    >”You need to complain only when you have no other options!”

    I know I have other options. That’s why tt pisses me off and it’s plain wrong when these companies try to suppress choice by pulling shit like this.

  16. I would rather run Linux than windows it is just better faster and safer but the truth is Linux is not up to date their driver database is out of date and they are not even trying to get it up to date and every new release looks just like the last the best Linux distro I ever used was call peach and it was not based off of Ubuntu like all of the others and the second best is Linux mint sadly it is based off of Ubuntu and if you install it on a newer model PC you have to disable secure boot in your bios in order to install the right drivers to make it run Half way the drivers are out of date that they use but it will work half way decent.

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