Multiboot Linux and Windows

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yogi
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Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » 11 Jun 2019, 17:32

We tend to be a little bit random here and not stick to the subject line for very long. That's perfectly fine with me, but it does create a problem when I'm trying to recall a sub-topic we were discussing. So, the solution is to start a new thread and tell you it's related to something we talked about before. LOL

I know you have installed Linux on an existing Windows computer. The dual boot concept is pretty straight forward and fairly well documented, albeit a bit of a pain in the butt in that Windows has taken control instead of Grub. The next step is to multi boot, and you suggested you were going to try doing it with Linux Mint. I have tried that with no success; Mint and UEFI don't seem to get along. In an effort to find some guidance, I ran across a guy who actually did all this. He blogs for ZDnet and seems to know what he is talking about. He writes a lot about Linux and might be worth following just for that reason. Back in 2015 he did a series of three articles regarding multi booting Linux on a Windows UEFI machine. It caught my eye because he specifically singled out Linux Mint as being a problem (he also referred to Debian as having similar issues). The problem is the way Mint calls itself Ubuntu in the EFI partition. That confuses things when you actually have Ubuntu installed along side it.

After reading all three of J.A. Watson's articles, I am totally convince that this multi boot thing is possible if you know what to do. It requires some exposure to Grub and bootloaders in general as well as an ability to edit config files. I think you have all that in your resumé. Be that as it may, I finished reading the articles with a headache. While it's all very possible, it's way too complicated for the average person. It's just not worth doing. I will be quick to say that the articles were written four years ago and perhaps the gods of Linux and EFI have looked favorably upon us mere mortals. I did in fact find some programs that will automatically do what Watson suggests, more or less, if you want to pay for them, but no guarantees implied.

Anyway, here are the links. I think they are worth a read just to give you some idea what you are up against. The best solution for multiboot is an idea I expressed here more than a few times: never ever put Windows and Linux on the same machine. :lol:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/hands-on- ... ot-my-way/
https://www.zdnet.com/article/hands-on- ... ot-part-2/
https://www.zdnet.com/article/hands-on- ... m-solving/

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Kellemora
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by Kellemora » 12 Jun 2019, 11:51

Perhaps you may want to install Ubuntu first, and the Linux Mint.
On the little pint sized UEFI only computer I bought for Debi that has Win10 on it.
The same one I partitioned and added Ubuntu to.
I noticed a new partition was created by Ubuntu named EFI_boot.
I have a hunch this is where GrubII is located and lets me select between Windows10 and Ubuntu.
After I knew the computer worked, I've not been back to it again to try to do anything with it.
If I do ever find the time, I will see if I can get Linux Mint on it.
The reason I have Debian on everything, even though I would like to change to Linux Mint, is because I could not install Linux Mint on a couple of my computers. I never knew why, but it could be because of UEFI.

After I got one older computer fixed, I installed Ubuntu on it, and there is NO EFI_boot partition, so I assume it does not have UEFI but only BIOS. And since on Debi's computer, it was not there after I used GParted and shrunk Windows and tested to make sure Windows still worked. That Partition did not appear until I installed Ubuntu, and even then I only noticed it when I used the program to check disks to see which partition name Ubuntu used. I like to have the name of the OS in the Label area of each drive. Especially when I'm plugging in externals and SD cards.
For some reason, Linux does not always how other partitions as sda1, sda2, etc. I have one computer with only one HD in it but several partitions, and it is showing Windows sda, Ubuntu sdb3, Mint sdc1, and the external as sdd1. The Swap file is shown as sdb4, Strange! Now it could be because I let Ubuntu set it up and did not create extended partition manually like I usually do.

GLAD I read all of those links before I tried to install Mint.
Looks like Ubuntu and Mint both use EFI/Ubuntu.
Although he came up with a complex work around that requires many steps.
I think if I decide to change from Debian to Mint, I will go with one or the other.
Especially since I have most of the major distro's on other computers already, and never use them.
I just added them to try them out, and there they sit.

Good Idea splitting up these long threads into meaningful topics!

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yogi
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » 12 Jun 2019, 13:42

It's a shame in some ways that Linux is as flexible as it is because it appears there is little if any standardization among the popular distributions. The unpopular distributions are a game of Russian Roulette in that several don't work even on legacy BIOS.

Based on what I already tried with Linux Mint in the UEFI world, I can see already that it's not going to be easy to install it anywhere but in a legacy system. The added complication of duplicate names pointed out in those articles just reinforces my negative feelings for Linux in general. Why in Hell did Mint decide it needs to be called Ubuntu when installed in UEFI? The answer is that there is a problem in UEFI that the Mint developers have not addressed yet. Their problem, unfortunately, becomes my problem when I want to use something other than Ubuntu.

Today was the day I decided to capitulate to the greater forces of the dual platform system and install Linux side by side with Windows 10. This attempt was a concession to the mainstream thinking that only two OS's should be on any given computer. I know it doesn't have to be that way, but I need at least one success to encourage me not to abandon Linux altogether. So, the LTS version of Ubuntu, 18.04.2, was my choice of OS's to install on the MSI laptop.

Your observation of an added /efi directory by the Linux installer is standard procedure. That's how Linux can run in the UEFI mode. It needs that small partition with efi scripts in it. Normally in a Linux only system Grub would go there, but I have no proof that it actually can. When Windows 10 is present Grub gets installed in the Windows /efi directory regardless of what the Ubuntu installer program tells you. The theory is that all the Linux OS's you may install on a shared hard drive (with Windows) will be installed in the Windows EFI partition and there should be a list to choose from in a Grub-look-alike menu somewhere. Those Linux generated EFI partitions do have something necessary in there,, but they are not the primary bootloader in a dual boot with a Windows 10 system.

First things first, I have a Windows equivalent to Gparted and used it to delete a "data" partition that was taking up nearly 200GB of free space. I did this before I tried to install Ubuntu because their idea of a partition editor sucks and I get confused more often than not. The LTS iso I have is on DVD and that boots up just fine. The BIOS boot order setting looks at the optical reader first and doesn't even get to Windows when an iso is in that DVD drive. The standard Grub menu appears and I select try without install. It moves along slowly and the progress dots under the Ubuntu logo move back and forth, but then stop. After a while the optical reader stops spinning. The system is frozen. I try booting again but this time press "e" to edit the kernel commands by putting "nomodeset" or "nouveau.modeset=0" where I think it belongs: near the no splash command. There are four or six possible places for this command to go, but none of them allow the boot process to complete.

Next I went back into WIndows and created a USB version of the 18.04.2 iso. The same problem occurred. It is not actually a boot problem. The cause of the freeze is that I have an nVidia video card in the laptop that cannot be disabled via BIOS. Normally I would use the recovery mode to boot into Ubuntu and install the nVidia drivers from there. But, the iso has no such mode available and you cannot update drivers on an image disc to begin with. Thus the only options are the kernel commands I may or may not edit in the Grub boot script. And those do not work.

You might be thinking about now that I'm shooting myself in the foot by having those damned nVidia boards in my computers. That would be true only in the case of Linux OS's. But I am not a lone wolf here. Even the folks over at Canonical now understand that nVidia is a force they must deal with if they intend to stay viable as an OS. The reason I say this is because after all the troubles I've had with the LTS version of Ubuntu, I decided to give their interim distribution (19.04) a shot at working side by side with Windows. Amazingly it does. This is due to the fact that they no longer use the same kernel as previous versions of Ubuntu. Beginning withe the 19.04 release they upgraded the Linux kernel to 5.0.0.x which apparently has some new code to accommodate nVidia fans. The kernel commands in Grub are not anything like previous versions, PLUS the 19.04 distribution of Ubuntu has a "safe video" mode to select from Grub's installation menu. Using that mode allows "nomodeset" to work (it's been deprecated for a while now) and installation to complete successfully. The nVidia drivers still have to be installed, but at least now it is possible to do so.

In all fairness it must be noted that the latest and greatest Ubuntu from Canonical is a pretty spiffy looking operating system. I have yet to make a final judgment, but if Linux Mint doesn't prove to be workable in a UEFI environment,, any replacement for Windows 10 is probably going to be a version of Ubuntu. The new laptop hardware also has a positive effect on Linux in that everything works noticeably faster. Everything but the boot and shutdown that is. Linux was typically pretty fast coming up to begin with, but now it looks like my Windows 10 is faster.

There is a downside to dual booting with Linux, and I'm not sure it's me not knowing what to do or if it's a fact of life. The Windows bootloader has replaced Grub as the default boot control mechanism. I have seen articles explaining how to fix that, but by default Windows takes control of what boots on any machine it is sharing with some other OS. What this does in my case is force me to boot into Windows so that I can select which OS I actually want to use. Back in the legacy days of BIOS there was a hot key to bring up a boot device selection menu. That's no longer available in UEFI. That menu is very difficult to find, and it's totally undocumented, on this MSI laptop. The boot device selection is only an option when UEFI is turned off completely and legacy BIOS is operational.

And one final observation. Technically Linux is UEFI compatible. It works best in an all Linux environment. The secure boot feature is also available if you select it, but then you must supply a passcode of your own choosing to make it all happen. You don't want to do this secure boot thing in a multi boot system, however. It's a nightmare without it and only gets more complicated when you turn on secure boot. Of critical importance is to know that not all Linux distros are UEFI compatible. I have a feeling Debian is one of those. Linux Mint needs something special to work, but I guess technically it can be done if you have a degree in sorcery.

I'll be tinkering with Ubuntu and Linux for a while. After I'm satisfied it actually works I will attempt to install a third OS and see what the Windows bootloader does with that. It has no problem with multiple versions of Windows, but nobody seems to be talking about how to do it with Linux, or anything else.

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Kellemora
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by Kellemora » 13 Jun 2019, 11:19

I may be wrong here, but Ubuntu is the OS, and Linux Mint is really Ubuntu with different bells and whistles added.
When I was playing with Ubuntu, I could add the Mint Maya desktop to Ubuntu and it looked and performed exactly like Linux Mint.
Although I use Debian, it does not have some of the features I like about Linux Mint, and no way that I know of adding them to Debian without adding Ubuntu programs first and then adding the Mint programs.
Linux Mint uses the Ubuntu repositories, but there are things there you don't see if you are only in Ubuntu and not Mint.
Why I don't know.

Well, I tried Linux Mint on the frau's computer. Basically just sticking the DVD in the drive and booting from it. It never booted up past the splash screen. Seems like the same thing that happened before which is why I stuck with Debian.

I did learn, and you mentioned this once before. It is best to use Windows partitioner to shrink windows. Apparently it does something a little differently than the new version of GParted does.
Before adding a program to windows, I told it to set a restore point, it could not find where to do that, so I did mess something up. At least I have a Windows10 disk now so I can reinstall it. If and when I can find time.

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yogi
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » 13 Jun 2019, 16:03

Again, your comments remind me why I question the sanity behind the FOSS philosophy. I will give it points for price and flexibility, but nothing else about it fits into a logical and ordered computer environment. Then again, that's what turns on some people. Go figure..

You are correct in pointing out that Mint is built upon the Ubuntu shell. Ubuntu, in turn, is derived from Debian. So, you can say that you are actually running Debian when you use Ubuntu and it's derivatives. Each one of them, and all the various distros of Linux, use the Linux Kernel which is supposed to be the fundamental building block of them all. Yet, when you examine any random Linux OS, you are highly likely to see different versions of the kernel powering them all. Debian may be using 3.0.x and Mint may use 4.0.x, while Ubuntu is up to 5.0.x, which is not the latest kernel in the wild which is 5.1.9. It's insane, and I dare anybody to know off the top of their head what the differences are.

We can agree that it's the Linux kernel that provides basic functionality to whatever coding you interface with it. Each kernel obviously has different functionality. But, the Linux developers are not happy with that simple distinction. They went ahead and created various flavors of "desktops" that may add to or take away from the basic kernel's built in functionality. The desktops are even more insanely diverse than the kernels: GNOME, KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, Pantheon, Budgie, and Unity to name a few. Frequently you can install different desktops into a given distribution to create something that never existed before. I recall one experiment where I installed Ubuntu with the Unity desktop. I read it is possible to have more than one desktop to select. The advice was not to mix them in a single account but to create a separate user for each different desktop. That is how I installed GNOME into an Ubuntu Unity OS. I switched users to change the desktop environment to suit my mood of the day.

Having said all that, FOSS goes by a single axiom that is noteworthy. All the popular Linux distros of Linux do not come with any proprietary software installed. In the case of video drivers, the FOSS community is in love with something called nouveau. This generic graphics driver works quite well until it is asked to work with a chip set that is not standard motherboard fare. I'm talking Nvidia here. In some cases the generic Linux graphics driver, nouveau, does well with Nvidia hardware. In many, if not most, cases it crashes the system and renders it unusable. This is the struggle I've been telling you about as I try to bring my new MSI laptop up to the same performance level as my old Toshiba laptop. There are quite a few tricks, work arounds, and hoops to jump through in order to get the average Linux operating system to work with Nvidia hardware. The essence of it all is in the ability to kill the nouveau driver long enough to be able to install the correct Nvidia driver. This is no easy task given that things tend not to work in the absence of any graphics software.

Last night I accomplished the task that eluded me since day one of my owning the MSI computer. I now have Windows 10, Ubuntu 19.04, and Kali 2019.2 all installed, bootable, and working on my laptop. My goal of creating a multi-boot laptop has been accomplished. I know I mentioned to you here when I started this adventure and it has taken until last night to finally realize the goal. It's not happening the way I want it to happen, but it is usable. For example, there is no initial Grub menu to select which system I want to boot into. Instead of Grub there is the Windows 10 blue screen with boxes that enumerate what choices I have for booting. Thus, if I want to boot Ubuntu, I must first boot Windows, then press SHIFT and restart. This will bring me to the blue screen wherein I can select an OS. Selecting Ubuntu, for example, gets me to the version of Grub associated with that OS. This Grub shows all the choices in the typical Grub fashion, but it adds a whole new meaning to dual booting. I now have to boot twice to get to Linux. This is all due to Microsoft's paranoia about security wherein they insist on being in control of the boot process. You may want to fault them for doing this, but on the old Toshiba laptop Linux grabbed control without my consent just as Windows is now doing. So it's the same thing I was doing all along, but reversed. Windows has Linux by the short and curlies.

One more small rant before I end this. Tech support for Linux is worse than that for Windows. Neither of the two have a clean and seamless method of solving everybody's problems, but the Linux community, no matter which flavor, is in total chaos. I learned how to make Linux play nice with Nvidia until I tried to install Kali Linux. I tried Kali because this is their first attempt at making their OS UEFI compatible. They get a 10/10 in that regard. It boots flawlessly and installs just like it is intended to. But it crashes due to that nouveau driver problem. None of the tricks I learned to make other OS's work did any good with Kali. I know when I'm defeated and thus went to the Kali community for help. There were several posts citing the same problem I was having and they all suggested things I already know and tried. At that point I signed up and posted my own problem and asked for a solution. Well, that community is moderated. No post gets put up for scrutiny until it has been vetted. In the mean time good luck finding a solution elsewhere. I'm still waiting for my post to appear on their board. So much for technical support from the Linux community.

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Kellemora
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by Kellemora » 14 Jun 2019, 12:06

You do know besides FOSS Linux Distro's, there are ALSO Proprietary LInux Distro's with the same or better Tech Support than you get from Mickey$oft.
The largest proprietary Linux Distro is of course RedHat Enterprise.
The next largest is Ubuntu Enterprise Advantage.

You can get close to the RedHat proprietary edition by downloading CentOS, but it does not have a lot of what RedHat has in it. You get the help you need yourself on-line through CentOS users groups.

You can also get Ubuntu FOSS distributions, which are nearly identical to their Ubuntu Advantage. Same here, you get help on-line through Ubuntu users groups.

Now tell ME, where can I get FREE non-supported Windows Distributions from?
Most of the time, the help you get for Windows problems is through on-line users groups, not directly from Mickey$oft, and in some cases they even charge to help you. Probably in most cases from what I've heard from others.

As far as your Ubuntu problems with NVidia, you could have Called Cannononical Support for $165.00 per hour or tried to figure it out yourself on-line for free. You've always had that option.

I spent well over $200.00 trying to get an HP scanner working on a Windows computer, and even went as far as buying an HP branded computer that the HP scanner was supposed to work with. It didn't work with it either. I did find out myself why several months later, and it was HPs own fault. They didn't make drivers for Windows XP Pro MCE edition for their scanner, yet that was what was installed in the HP computer they had me buy to get the scanner to work.
So I was out the cost of the Scanner, about 150 bucks, the cost of the initial service contract 200 bucks, plus a computer I didn't really want 450 dollars, and it didn't last three years before it died.
This is why I would not buy anything HP for many years! They did not play nice with Windows!

Trying to compare Proprietary Windows with FOSS Linux is like trying to compare Store bought Radio to a home brew Cats Whisker and Razor Blade radio. There is no warranty or service available for your home brew project.

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yogi
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » 14 Jun 2019, 15:13

The problem you describe with HP is not a problem with Windows. You admit that yourself when you say HP did not supply the drivers. Likewise Linux does not supply the drivers for anything Nvidia because of their commitment to FOSS. I have no arguments against paying for products that meet my expectations. You get what you pay for, and that's a fact.

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Kellemora
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by Kellemora » Yesterday, 10:20

At the time of this incident, I had an old Windows XP Home machine, but only 512megs of RAM in it, and a brand new built-up machine with Windows XP Pro MCE on it with 2 gigs of RAM. My flat-bed scanner I was using with the XP Home machine worked great for years, but then after I got the new computer and started doing a bunch of pictures, it finally gave up the ghost.
This is when I went out and bought the see-through HP Scanner. I never could get it to work at all. HP did some test on it while I as on-line with them, and said it appeared something was wrong with it, so they sent me a refurbished replacement, they tested and knew it worked.
Once again we could not get it to work either.
I tested it on my old Windows XP Home computer and it worked on it just fine, but apparently I didn't have enough memory to use the high resolution mode. It would get half way through a photo then stop.

As I went to move other hardware items I owned over to my new computer, I found out I had to download new drivers from each manufacturer for my new computer. There was something different about XP Pro MCE than with XP Home or XP Pro, thus the reason they all supplied new drivers.
The only hardware I had that did not have new drivers was HP for the scanner.
I talked to them on the phone, and their exact words were XP is XP and we are not writing new drivers for their MCE model.
They also suggested I go and buy an HP computer model number such and such, because it is 100% compatible with the scanner, and it was the computer the scanner was designed to go along with.
Now I was a poor as a church mouse at the time, and had just bought a new computer a couple of months before.
I figured I could give my frau my new computer after I bought a new HP computer.
The exact make and model they told me to buy, happen to come with Windows XP Pro MCE installed, and guess what, their scanner would not work with it.
I took it back to the store and told them this model is NOT supposed to have MCE on it, only XP Pro. They said they have nothing to do what comes installed on the computer from the factory, and could not exchange it for a different one.

So there you have it: I had new HP computer and new companion HP scanner, designed to work together, but didn't.
And as I said in the last message, the HP computer, the very newest computer here, was the first to burn out too.
What I finally ended up doing was replacing the XP Pro MCE, with a dealer install clean copy of XP Pro, and then the scanner finally worked, for a couple of years, and then it died.
Now you know why I hate HP, and they love to kick you when your down too. They are still that way!

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yogi
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » Yesterday, 15:08

Yes, I do indeed understand your feelings about HP in general and some of their specific products. I can't say with certainty after reading your dialog, but it is possible that you were victimized by ineptness of the service representatives you had to deal with. Those people are a problem onto themselves that must be resolved before you try to solve the problem given by the software/hardware you purchased from their company. I'd guess that in this particular case you were focused on the product not working and missed the fact that the service rep didn't know what they were talking about. This is true in a vast number of cases. All those people do is read a script and follow a flow chart. They don't know anything that has not been predigested for them.

Of course the service rep will say the consumer is even dumber than they are. Well yeah, if the consumer is dumb enough to buy a product that doesn't performed as stated in the specs - which is not the same as what is advertised. You have run into wild claims before where a statement was made in the ads but did not prove to be true when the specifications were read closely. If a product does not work as is written in the spec sheet, then you have a warranty claim and/or a law suit as a resource. I can easily recognize an air head when I talk to them on the phone. Sometimes they are pretty clever and make you question yourself. But, if you have all the facts at hand, and their service people can't help, then it's time to escalate the situation. I have found from previous experience that contacting the manager of marketing will not only fix the problem but most likely get you a tee shirt to boot. :grin:

Bygones must be bygones, and there isn't anything you can do about that HP experience. The sad part is they do make some good products but due to somebody's ineptness you were left with a very negative impression of the company and its products. Spec sheets are not always easy to find and even more difficult to understand should you get your hands on one for the product of interest. Unfortunately, they are the only way you can know you are getting what you think you are getting.

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Kellemora
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by Kellemora » Today, 10:53

The thing that irked me the most about the printer itself was it was defective from the factory.
Since this was the first printer I had from them, I didn't know it wasn't right.
The service department had me try different drivers, but since I was on Linux, they poo pooed what I was doing.
And of course blamed the problem on me.
The printer had a self-test mode, and not knowing what I was looking at, or what it was supposed to look like, it looked OK to me. So they had me try different programs to send a print job, and some of them looked OK to me, but not all of them.
Since I'm so busy all the time, taking time to try to figure out a problem gets put on hold.
It wasn't until I bought a new printer that I knew for certain the problem was with the printer itself, and by then the warranty was out.

I'm sure if I wanted to pay an attorney to fight it for me, he could win, because the unit was defective from the factory. I did talk to a local repairman who used to do HP stuff, he would take a look at it to see if it was something simple, but then said he did some checking and it is nothing he could fix that would cost less than buying a new machine. Apparently that model has had the same problem several times, enough so it was mentioned on wherever he gets his repair info from.
He no longer handles HP warranty work either. Said they are slow to pay and also says such n such was not covered all too often.

All that being said. I really like the new HP printer, same make and model, but no duplexer. It works great, so no complaints with this one.

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yogi
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Re: Multiboot Linux and Windows

Post by yogi » Today, 13:02

I've lived through a lot of design cycles and know how very possible it is to develop a product that is nothing more than a lemon. A lot of reasons can go into explaining poor design and it seems to happen in every industry. Even when the fundamental design is superior, a few rejects will escape the production lines into the wild. Then there are those cases where the product is perfect but the end user has an unintended application for that product. Those odd applications can't be written out of a warranty because they cannot be anticipated in advance. I'm thinking that's where Linux drivers for printers are most vulnerable. There isn't a lot of need for them and also not a lot of talent available to write the code. My laptop is a good example of that. I have shown to myself and the world that Linux OS's will function when installed in the laptop, but MSI explicitly excludes Linux from their support and warranty. My assumption is that they don't have the talent on board to support Linux applications. That's where reading and understanding the specs comes in handy. Don't buy anything that isn't designed to perform to your needs.

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