ThinkPad x300 and the infamous 1802

As I've posted numerous times, my Lenovo x300 regularly freezes due to some unknown reason. It does this regardless of operating system (I've tried Ubuntu/XP/Vista/W7), happens more frequently on battery power, and the only way to bring it back is via a cold shutdown/reboot.

There's a specific post on the Lenovo support forums about others experiencing the same problem (update: also this and this). No official response from Lenovo yet. Some have suggested that it could be caused by a faulty WiFi adapter though and that replacing it fixes the problem.

My X300 (type 6477) comes factory equipped with an Intel 4965 802.11 a/b/g/n PCIe Mini Card. The process of replacing this is pretty easy and is documented here. So off I go to my local PC Yum Cha shop and buy a cheap 4965 replacement.

I go home, pop out the battery, pop out the old card, in with the new, screw everything back in, turn it on and...

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in
Power off and remove the miniPCI network card.

Ah, crap! I remembered reading about this before in regards with the 3G expansion cards but didn't think it would apply to other components as well. I guess I was wrong. Basically all Lenovo laptops have wireless card white-lists hard-coded in the BIOS. If you try to plug in a card that doesn't match certain serial/manufacturing IDs, then you get the infamous 1802.

Infamous because there are whole sites and forums dedicated to workarounds for this. Just do a Google search for 'no-1802 patch' to see what I mean. There are a number of apparent solutions, ranging from running a DOS patch to flip a bit in the BIOS, to decompiling, hacking and rebuilding your own BIOS, or taping up pin-20 of the card and inserting it in the 3G slot.

Now I haven't tried any of these hacks and don't intend to really. Hacking the BIOS could permanently brick your machine. Besides, mine's still under warranty as well so I'd be better off finding some time to send it in for diagnosis and repair.

It's very disappointing to find Lenovo doing this. I think it might be due to some FCC wireless transmission device approval laws in the US, but it sucks that it effects everyone world-wide, especially when you get bitten by it completely unexpectedly.

If you still want to replace the wireless card, you need to do it the Lenovo way. That is, do a parts lookup for your specific model, get the FRU part number, go to the Lenovo part store for your region, punch in the FRU, take out your credit-card and hand over all your cash.

For the record, I bought the 4965 locally for $48. The Lenovo sanctioned equivalent (FRU 42T0865) costs $151.80, over 3 times more expensive! And if you think that's bad...check out how much they charge for the internal 3G WWAN cards.


Popular posts from this blog

Wkhtmltopdf font and sizing issues

Import Google Contacts to Nokia PC Suite

Can't delete last blank page from Word