System76 vs. The LVFS Firmware Updating Service
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 12 May 2018 at 06:37 AM EDT. 45 Comments
HARDWARE --
This week the latest open-source drama was a differing of opinions between Richard Hughes of Red Hat who maintains Fwupd and LVFS for Linux firmware updating from the desktop and that of Linux PC vendor System76.

Richard Hughes volleyed a blog post that recommend not buying System76 hardware for those wanting firmware updates via LVFS (the Linux Vendor Firmware Service). He wrote that post based upon System76 not currently using UEFI UpdateCapsule for BIOS updates, System76 developing a Rust tool to flash the embedded controller, and them rolling out their own firmware update handler that officially targets Ubuntu and Pop!_OS. Richard then encouraged Linux users to buy Dell XPS laptops instead.

Richard's post in full can be read here.

On Friday, System76 responded to those accusations. According to System76, Richard expressed via email that the approach System76 is using for firmware updating likely wouldn't work with LVFS and also their distributing of a proprietary firmware flashing tool likely wouldn't be approved by Red Hat legal and they also found flashing the embedded controller from user-space to be sub-optimal.

System76's firmware flashing tool also works on more than just Ubuntu/Pop!_OS according to System76. Another differing of views System76 has with LVFS is that data collection is enabled by default, thereby effectively channeling sales data to third-parties.

The System76 response can be read here.

This isn't actually the first time I've seen Hughes toss a company under the bus for not explicitly supporting LVFS. Richard previously made claims about another company not caring about Linux due to not supporting fwupd/LVFS based upon a customer support ticket. In reality, even before that blog post was out there I was talking to those involved with Linux at the hardware vendor in question and they do/did plan on supporting fwupd/LVFS when the need actually arises. I believe they had even sent out some hardware last year to a Red Hat office in Germany for some sort of evaluation and are still working on some Linux efforts albeit doesn't happen overnight and hasn't even announced their Linux laptop yet but was already defenestrated for not supporting LVFS.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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