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Linux lovers left out in the cold

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A Windows host must be used to run Western Digital disk drive diagnostic software, forcing Linux, Unix and other O/S users to buy a Windows system if they want to use it.

This was the message given to Keith Edmunds of Tiger Computing, a company specialising in Linux, who suspected he had a problem with a pair of Caviar Green WD20EARS drives. He contacted Western Digital customer service and support, asking for an updated copy of its diagnostic software, as the version (5.04f) of the Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS (CD) that he downloaded from WD's site said that the drives were not supported. The reply contained this text:

Western Digital technical support only provides jumper configuration and physical installation support for hard drives used in systems running the Linux/Unix operating systems. In order to run the test using the DLG software, you must install the drive on the Windows computer first because it is not compatible with Linux OS. For setup questions beyond physical installation of your Western Digital hard drive, please contact the vendor of your Linux/Unix operating system.

Edmunds was somewhat puzzled by this and asked WD support to confirm "that the drive in question can only be tested under Windows? [and] that you seriously expect us to buy a copy of Windows simply to test a drive?"

The reply that came back said:

Unfortunately, the drive is question can be tested on Windows only. We manufacture our hard drives, build our software and test them on Windows operating systems only. Therefore, when other operating systems come to play, our technical support is strictly limited. It may not sound fair to you, but I am being honest and I thank you in advance for your understanding.

A Western Digital spokesperson said: "We don't have any WD Linux tool to test drives; we don't support Linux except for hardware installations. However there are Linux native tools a customer can use to test the drive, like hdparm or smartmon, which checks the SMART values of our disks, just like our software, but we don’t give any support with that."

Edmunds is left surprised that WD customers not using Windows are expected "to have to buy a copy of Windows simply to run a drive manufacturer's diagnostics". ®

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