DRM, DRM, oh how I hate DRM...

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 23:43

I love flexibility. I love when the rules of engagement are not set in stone and allow us to lead a full, happy, simple life. (Apologies to Felipe and Marianne for using their very nice sculpture for this rant. At least I am not desperately carrying a brick! ☺)

I have been very, very happy after I switched to a Thinkpad X230. This is the first computer I have with an option for a cellular modem, so after thinking it a bit, I got myself one:

After waiting for a couple of weeks, it arrived in a nonexciting little envelope straight from Hong Kong. If you look closely, you can even appreciate there's a line (just below the smaller barcode) that reads "Lenovo"). I soon found how to open this laptop (kudos to Lenovo for a very sensible and easy opening process, great documentation... So far, it's the "openest" computer I have had!) and installed my new card!

The process was decently easy, and after patting myself in the back, I eagerly turned on my computer... Only to find the BIOS to halt with the following message:

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card (1199/6813).

System is halted

So... Got everything back to its original state. Stupid DRM in what I felt the openest laptop I have ever had. Gah.

Anyway... As you can see, I have a brand new cellular modem. I am willing to give it to the first person that offers me a nice beer in exchange, here in Mexico or wherever you happen to cross my path (just tell me so I bring the little bugger along!)

Of course, I even tried to get one of the nice volunteers to install Libreboot in my computer now that I was to Libreplanet, which would have solved the issue. But they informed me that Libreboot is supported only in the (quite a bit older) X200 machines, not in the X230.

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Anonymous's picture

Sometimes there are options

Sometimes there are options to allow new hw in very crazy named bios menus. Lookninto that.

gwolf's picture

Collection of off-band comments

There is lot of value in comments (that's one of my reasons to ever write!), so I'm collecting some off-band comments here:

- Via: IRC
- From: TiN

Fui a tu blog http://gwolf.org/ y quise entrar a la primer página (para hacerte un comment) y no pude
Parece que está roto
No tengo la x230, pero podes desactivarle todo DRM a la bosta, borrarle todas las keys de uefi y volverla "a la antigua"
al menos tengo una e470 y pude desactivarle todo (después de leer y probar bastante)
ah ok. No es para nada fácil en tu modelo :( http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Problem_with_unauthorized_MiniPCI_network_...

- Via: IRC
- From: mfv

I've read your blog post.

- Via: IRC
- From channel: #debian-devel

 anarcat | gwolf: just read your blog post: 1) the images do not load :) and 2) even if libreboot doesn't work, i've heard from a friend that coreboot might work around the BIOS lockout of other network cards
 anarcat | gwolf: and i concur, this "feature" is absolutely awful
  Corsac | gwolf: for what it's worth, the whitelist “feature” is known since ages on ThinkPads and there are a lot of webpages which might help you on that (including some with modded BIOS)
  Corsac | I wonder if it would not actually be easier to change the vid/pid on the card itself ;p
 anarcat | Corsac: i've been unsuccessful in hacking the BIOS to patch that, at least on the x120e
 anarcat | Corsac: the first working thing i heard was flashing with coreboot, which is quite an ordeal
 anarcat | but yeah, that thing is nuts
 anarcat | the x230 apparently has only *two* cards in the whitelist
 anarcat | two!
   olasd | I successfully patched the bios on my x230, ages ago
   olasd | and yes it's as horrible as it sounds
    murb | the other method is to patch the pciids on the device you're trying to use.
    murb | (And the driver.)
ukleinek | ..ooOO(or buy a whitelisted card)
  Corsac | if you're lucky the same driver handles it just fine
 anarcat | ukleinek: that's the thing - those are hard to find, and it's hard to figure out even what those are
 anarcat | the whole point is to replace cards with propriatery binary blobs, getting an "approved" card does not solve the problem
  Corsac | here it's not even the point :)
 anarcat | well it was the point for me :)
  Corsac | gwolf actually bought a Lenovo supported wwan card, just not the approved model for his laptop
  Corsac | also if you think there is no binary blob in a wwan card, you're quite mistaken
 anarcat | true enough :)
  Corsac | and I'd find it surprising if it's true for wlan cards nowadays, including atheros ones
 anarcat | it's kind of nuts that he got a lenovo-approved card, yet it wasn't actually approved
hvoltage | I was dissapointed in gwolf's block entry, he's a hacker he should just hack it!
 anarcat | riiight
hvoltage | s/block/blog
 anarcat | Corsac: you mean you'd be surprised if there are wlan cards without blobs?
  Corsac | yes
 anarcat | Corsac: i heard atheros are open in that regard
 anarcat | the problem is AC
 anarcat | there are no free firmware for those
  Corsac | (AC?)
 anarcat | but 2.4GHz is open, from what i understand
  Corsac | ah, 802.11ac
 anarcat | Corsac: 5GHz and newer standards
 anarcat | yes
 anarcat | always a struggle, freedom

- Via: IRC
- From: h01ger

you can put coreboot on your x230 and then the modem will work fine
i even have the hardware tools needed, and i'm on your side of the big pond :)
/me waves from minidebconf curitiba

- Via: email
- From: Wojciech


I think I could help you – you need to remove the whitelist check from your X230 to run this modem.

I did the same and I am Using MC7710 modem now.

You need to install a patched bios in your machine.

Please reply me if you are interested – the bios chip must be unsoldered, reprogrammed and soldered back.

I have the patch program that I can share.

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