Upon taking ownership of a new computer, especially a laptop, may of us like to make radical changes. I, personally, install a fresh copy of Windows 7, free of the bloatware than many OEMs like to install. There are a growing number of people however, that like to run their new computer on everyone’s favorite open source OS- Linux. However, many customers who have taken this step on their shiny new Samsung laptops have completely bricked the device.
Users booting Ubuntu 12 from a USB drive have been faced with a blank screen after a kernel driver on the machines crashed. Although some, upon powering down their machines and booting back into Windows have had no permanent damage, there are many reported cases of this crash damaging the firmware chip on the laptop’s motherboard, making the computer completely inoperable.
So far, the confirmed cases have been caused by attempting to boot Ubuntu 12, but like as not other Linux distributions will cause the issue. Samsung models reported to have the fault so far are the, NP700Z7C and 530U3C-series laptops, although this problem is believed to be more widespread, and I suggest you do not attempt booting Linux unless your model has been reported clear.
It is clear that the fault is not one of Linux, but of the laptops, and the blame seems to be pointed towards the Samsung hardware driver and UEFI, with the UEFI already proving unpopular. So far, Samsung has not released a date for a fix, and does not seem close to finding the fault, stating that they think it may be triggered by the kernel driver. The Ubuntu developer Steve Langasek has been discussing the problem with Samsung engineers and advises users to install Ubuntu using their latest live image which will force the machine to boot using our old trusty BIOS as opposed to the new UEFI.
Matt Fleming of Intel has been working on the problem and has come up with some workarounds here.