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Bug HP Portables Wireless Networking

Recent HP Laptops Shipped CPU-Choking Wi-Fi Driver 243

Posted by timothy
from the good-reason-to-put-on-some-linux dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Computer manufacturers have recently come under fire for the continued practice of shipping machines with excessive bloatware. Software preinstalled on some recent HP laptops was worse than normal though, consuming anywhere from 25-99% CPU by making incessant WMI queries, resulting in overheating laptops and reduced battery life. Users on a computer Q&A site did some sleuthing, and revealed that HP Wireless Assistant — software which does nothing but tell the user when their WiFi adapter is turned on or off — was causing the problem. According to an HP support forum, the problem is fixed in later versions, but thousands of laptops have the software installed, and the software does not get updated automatically."
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Recent HP Laptops Shipped CPU-Choking Wi-Fi Driver

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  • HP is the worst (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shakahs (1923482) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:18AM (#35197672)
    As someone who fixes computers for a living, I can tell you that HP has the WORST bloatware, both preinstalled on new computers and included with their ridiculous, 200MB printer drivers.
    • Re:HP is the worst (Score:5, Informative)

      by clang_jangle (975789) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:22AM (#35197692) Journal
      They're pretty bad. But I'm glad to have the officejets, they do work flawlessly with hplip in *nix. The printers themselves are quite good, but those windows drivers just ruin it -- if I were a windows user I'd avoid HP like the plague. Maybe HP should just start refining hplip instead of shipping that bloatware.
      • Honestly, Bloatware sucks but at the same time it is a major source of revenue for them which in turn lowers prices. First thing I do when I get a new machine is wipe it out and start with a fresh OS install. Drivers from the MFG site and boom good to go no hours of uninstalling. My HP DV7 decent machine only cost $400. 2.2Ghz, 500GB, 4Gb Ram, 17.3 screen. Bloatware has its use. However I do agree for the Average user it causes a lot of trouble.
        • by GIL_Dude (850471)
          While those are good tips and I generally agree with the fresh OS install, you can often get similar results by purchasing from the company's small business site instead of their home site. I can't speak for HP, but I have done this with both Dell and Lenovo and been pretty happy. The last Lenovo notebooks I bought for home (the kids and I needed new ones last year) had only the Google Toolbar and a couple of the less useful Lenovo utilities to uninstall. It doesn't take much time at all to do that - faster
          • It seems that computer manufacterers are trying to make this harder and harder though. The last computer I got came with a re-install disk that did a re-image complete with all of the bloatware.
        • Re:HP is the worst (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @11:26AM (#35199388) Homepage Journal

          Speaking as a former HP tech, the bloatware rarely lowers prices as most of the bloatware is HP-made, thus it should have cost them MORE. What makes the prices so low is the garbage manufacturers and components they utilize.

          And half of the RAM is counterfeit Nanya, to boot.

          My DV7 is a LEMON REPLACEMENT for the shit DV9000 I had - guess what? It's a couple weeks before warranty, battery is GONE, and the unit overheats without me doing anything intensive. Even a simple video makes the laptop hot enough to keep my sake very warm if I leave it over the power button. I'm on the phone with support right now (or should I say HOUR THREE ON FUCKING HOLD, thank god I'm calling via skype on my desktop so I can prepare to chew these fuckwits out ASAP,) and as always, support is dismal - another reason the laptops are so cheap, HP cut support costs by cutting staff.

          HP is one of the worst-managed companies I've ever seen in my life. I run one of my own, and I certainly don't have half of the logistical nightmares (despite me sourcing parts from all over the globe,) or half of the quality issues (proper thermal design is my specialty.)

          HP should fire their entire engineering team and hire me. I can cram well over 500w of heat into their typical 17" case and still keep all electronics inside very cool. And I run semiconductors that are much more sensitive to heat - high-output SMD.

      • On my mac HP sofware is the most invasive POS I have. it's runs multiple daemons and keeps re-installing itself when I remove only parts of it. It's not compatible with the managed users (parental controls). It uses a few percent of my CPU. Since I hardly ever use my scanner I don't actually need to have it ready to respond to it. When I want to use my scanner I'd just as soon start up an ap to listen. I don't need the daemons running all the time. And of course they only make the software for you pa

        • by greed (112493)

          For scanners, I make sure the scanner works with something like VueScan or SANE. For printers, let there be PostScript.

          After dealing with one of the early, inexpensive home-use USB scanners (Microtek X6 USB or something like that).... It had drivers that worked with Mac OS 8.1. Not 8.0, not 8.5, not 8.6. Just exactly 8.1. Fortunately, SANE could run it, so scanning moved to Linux.

          I ultimately got a rather better scanner that works very well with VueScan, and gave the old one to a friend with a fairly o

    • by mvar (1386987)
      Removing all pre-installed software is the standard procedure for any new laptop that my clients buy. I wish the OEM's spared us of the trouble and gave the customer the option to install or not their bloatware on first boot.
      • by kill-1 (36256)

        Didn't Sony offer that for an additional charge?

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        I suspect and assume OEMs get cash-per-install for the third-party bloatware.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          Given that i have seen equal hardware products become more expensive simply by going linux vs windows, i agree.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Norton, etc., pay for the preinstalls, sure. OTOH I'm sure HP doesn't get a cent for all the HP crapware that comes with the machine. It's just some pointy-haired marker trying to justify his department's existence.

          • by micheas (231635)

            In major corporations business divisions bill each other all the time. The laptop devision may well be charging the other divisions for installing the shovelware.

            This doesn't help the hp shareholders, but it does help the head of the laptop division.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      I have an HP Mini 210 and the amount of crap preinstalled on it was unreal. The homegrown tools were the worst with an incredibly bloaty update center thing. I got rid of that but I must check since I think I may have left the wireless assistant there. I don't recall any issues with heat / CPU but it would be a gas if I got 10-20% performance boost by uninstalling it.
    • I once got into an argument with a guy at Microsoft about how Windows vs Linux handle virtual memory. At one point he mentioned that a certain printer manufacturer who he strongly hinted to be HP wrote drivers that would crash if virtual memory was disabled. He said that the drivers were "hardcoded to use areas of memory that would never exist in RAM." This was as an example of why Windows has to over-use virtual memory to work with legacy applications.

    • HP makes fantastic hardware. They just cant quite figure out how to get it to talk to the operating system, is all.

  • And this is why... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:19AM (#35197680)

    ... I make a DVD backup of the restore partition and wipe clean the HDD whenever I buy a new laptop.

  • by acoustix (123925) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:21AM (#35197682) Homepage

    I recently had the same issue with a loaded Dell Latitude E6510. The supplied video driver for WinXP consumed an entire core on my 3.0GHz i7. I contacted Dell on the issue and told them what was happening. I ended up using the driver from nVidia. The CPU would get very hot and the fan would run at full speed.

    I know, good story - right?

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      I have a Dell Latitude (sorry, but I don't remember the model name).
      I got the issue when I changed the OS from Windows XP to Windows 7, and I don't use the HP drivers.
      Every minute, the CPU would be at 100% for a few seconds, since the system was trying to read a missing file on the disk, making the CPU fan run at full speed.

      After searching everywhere, I found that it was an issue with the Wifi driver (I don't use HP's versions, but the standard ones with Windows 7).
      The easiest solution I found is to disable

    • I have that same laptop from Dell. However, I solved the problem by booting off a Kubuntu 10.10 USB pen-drive and half an hour later the pre-installed Win7 OS was "upgraded" to something more useful.

      HTH,
      Matt

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Didn't Windows Update have a newer driver available, or does MS not offer new video drivers on XP anymore?

      My practice is to grab the latest drivers and install them whenever I give someone a new machine, especially chipset, video, and NIC.

  • by leuk_he (194174) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:22AM (#35197686) Homepage Journal

    e.g. Did you know you cannot simply replace the HP buildin wireless with a pci-express card version because the wireless needs to be on a bios whitelist [hp.com].

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Wow, just the other day I found out Lenovo was guilty of doing that too.

    • by X86Daddy (446356)

      Not only is that evil, but it's also realllly stupid. Anyone remember IBM's attempt at desktop and server control called Microchannel [wikipedia.org]? Was this another horrible bit of Carly Fiorina damage that just hasn't been cleaned up yet, or is HP truly about to sink to the bottom?

    • Sounds a heck of a lot more attractive than Dell's RAID cards having a harddrive whitelist (consisting of only drives with dell firmwares).

    • HP has been doing this for way longer than I care to remember. I have a 4xPPro HP NetServer, which would only let you use "HP certified" Pentium Pro CPUs... and RAID controller... and hard drives... and probably everything else. If you tried installing rogue hardware, it would even refuse to POST.
  • Doesn't HP have something like Toshiba's "Tempro" utility to tell Joe Sixpack when to update his drivers and HP-related programs?

    • by rjch (544288)

      Doesn't HP have something like Toshiba's "Tempro" utility to tell Joe Sixpack when to update his drivers and HP-related programs?

      Yes, but only for drivers and applicati

    • by rjch (544288)

      Doesn't HP have something like Toshiba's "Tempro" utility to tell Joe Sixpack when to update his drivers and HP-related programs?

      Yes, but only for drivers and applications that don't need updating.

      (damn this new posting procedure - so damned slow *and* it just cut the end off my last attempt at a comment!)

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:27AM (#35197712)

    ...and the software does not get updated automatically."

    Let's talk about CPU-choking check-for-update services. Ever tried to disable GoogleUpdater? I mean really disable it? Or the Adobe "Let's interrupt the boot process with our bullshit" updater? Or my favorite this week - was recently straightening out a friends machine and found an updater service from Intuit running - my friend had installed and used TurboTax to do his taxes last year, so naturally a system service had to be running to check for updates to tax software for FY2009.

    I see the <i>italic</i> tags are still broken, damn this web 2.0 stuff is HARD, isn't it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:35AM (#35197742)


    while(true)
    {
          if(wifi_is_on())
                show_wifi_is_on()
          else
                show_wifi_is_off()
    }

  • This is why... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phoenix (2762) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:38AM (#35197756)

    This is why whenever I buy a computer or a laptop, the first thing that I do is to slick the damn thing and install the operating system as I see fit.

    Whether this be Windows or some flavor of *nix, I just wipe out all the partitions and install from fresh.

    I learned that lesson with an HP laptop I bought in 2005. No matter what I did, no matter what I uninstalled, I could not get more than 45% of my hard drive free.

    I did a fresh load of XP and low and behold, I was only using 10% of the drive with Office, XP, my music files, a couple of games and my applications in my "Must Have" list.

    Ever since, I do this on all of the ones at the hospital. I made a fresh load version for every configuration we have and I keep an image saved on our servers. Since we don't allow anything to be saved on the local computers that are on the hospital floors (our way of enforcing HIPPA on our electronically protected health information (EPHI)), this means that if someone sneaks online and lets slip in a virus, I can just wipe-restore from the network, run updates, and the computer is back in business in usually less than an hour. Less than 15 minutes in some cases.

    For administration PC's, it's a bit longer. I have to backup their data first and then slick and reload. Then I have to put the data back. So that's more in the 30-90 minutes category.

    • You know you don't have to go to the hospital to work on your computer, right? It's fine to do it at home.
      • You know you don't have to go to the hospital to work on your computer, right? It's fine to do it at home.

        Well, this IS Windows XP he's talking about.

    • For administration PC's, it's a bit longer. I have to backup their data first and then slick and reload. Then I have to put the data back. So that's more in the 30-90 minutes category.

      Uhhh... These are desktop PCs? You specified "laptop" in your first sentence, so I would have thought you'd specify it further down if that's what you meant. There's no reason to have user data stored on the local machine at all. All it does is needlessly choke up bandwidth when synchronising (you do sync it with the server, right? Or do you have some other backup mechanism in place?).

      As for the rest? Well done, you've started taking system images instead of reloading all of the patches, drivers, and neces

      • by Phoenix (2762)

        Uhhh... These are desktop PCs? You specified "laptop" in your first sentence, so I would have thought you'd specify it further down if that's what you meant. There's no reason to have user data stored on the local machine at all. All it does is needlessly choke up bandwidth when synchronising (you do sync it with the server, right? Or do you have some other backup mechanism in place?).

        My bad. At the hospital we use Desktop PC's except for the areas where we need mobility and we use laptops on rolling carts and more recently the Pellham Sloane PC's on Howard Medical mobility carts with built-in batteries.

        For those machines, we're using an application called Cerner which is a web-accessible, citrix application with the hosting computers (and all the data and the backups, and everything) located at the remote facility. So there is no need for the nurses and the doctors to have anything save

        • (PING [windowsdream.com]) works well, and it's free. Can't beat that with a stick.

          Personally, I beg to differ. PING is great if you're on a threadbare-shoestring budget and don't mind the 'minimalist' (and there I'm being generous) UI. It does do disk imaging well, but I find Acronis True Image to be worth the $40 they ask for it. In addition to Acronis being able to pull double duty and both do disk imaging and data backups, it's really nice in that images can be mounted and browsed like regular disk drives. This is a functionality that PING presently does not support, but has been inva

    • by JamesP (688957)

      Well, I do that to my laptops

      Except I install Linux on them

      Oh and you probably wiped the recovery partition/data.

      Problem with these software stuff is trying to make it easier and making it harder in the process. Brought to you by clueless engineers and even more clueless managers.

      • by Phoenix (2762)

        Oh and you probably wiped the recovery partition/data.

        Problem with these software stuff is trying to make it easier and making it harder in the process.

        Don't care really. Since the recovery partition usually contains the data needed to recover the hard drive to its bloated, choked and drowning in useless crap state, I'm better off without it. In fact that's where I store a local copy of my PING backup so I can recover my kid's computers when (not if...WHEN) they download something and really shag it up good and proper. And if the hard drive itself goes tits-up I still have my PING recovery DVD's I made as a backup

        • by JamesP (688957)

          I agree 100%

          Problem with a fresh install is, you usually can't use the license your notebook came, since the 'serial number' only works with "Windows from HP" or something similar.

          But I've seen cases where the recovery CD doesn't have all the bloatware it originally came with.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      to bad that never sends any info to the beancounters that the customers (or these days, "consumers") disapproves. You payed money for the product and did not return it, ergo you liked what you got.

  • Just format the damn thing over. I prefer to do it with Linux, personally, but if you prefer Windows, just buy a copy and wipe out your OEM's shitty version. They probably didn't install it the way you wanted it anyway.

    This would be easier if you could find an OEM willing to ship you a blank machine to begin with. Well not easier, exactly, but you could at least be happier not paying for any extra crap you weren't going to use anyway. Microsoft should be happier too, to be getting full retail for any copi

    • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Monday February 14, 2011 @08:32AM (#35198168)

      if you prefer Windows, just buy a copy and wipe out your OEM's shitty version.

      Why pay again for what you already bought? Install Windows from a downloaded/borrowed disk with the license key that was attached to your system. Dunno about the US, but in the EU you are legally allowed to do that.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      You'd have to obtain an OEM version of the Windows install disc somewhere. One without a Trojan.

      Basically Microsoft has two types of install codes for Windows: one for the retail discs, another for OEM discs, and one won't work with the other kind. If you've got an OEM disc from the same vendor, it'll notice a signature in the computer's BIOS and then automatically activate without needing you to input the code.

  • There should be a list of Programs that can (or should be) removed from a Factory Install for safe operation.

    Trackpad Drivers, Media Button Drivers and WiFi Drivers may be required to take full advantage of the hardware features, but most of the crap they put on is Third Party Crapware (on cheap machines) or Brand Enhancement software (on "Quality" machines). The worse stuff is the iLife wannabe software from a dozen Third-Party vendors that don't work together.

    Maybe MS need to expand their restrictions on

    • by daid303 (843777)

      Have you tried uninstalling crapware from an HP laptop?

      I have an HP laptop, and I uninstalled all the crapware on day 1. It took (no kidding) 1.5 hour to uninstall "HP Help Documentation". My 'fresh' new laptop spend well over 4 hours uninstalling stuff. In retrospect I should have done a wipe and reinstall.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Yes I have.

        Grab Pirated copy of OEM windows 7 CD I burned.

        use key off of bottom of laptop to activate it and it magically, by the use of Microsoft fairy dust, turns from pirated to genuine.

          Plus I get to enjoy a 15 minute talk with some random person in MSFT's call center in india... I love how "steve" had the thickest indian accent I have ever ran into.

        2.1 hours spent, 90% of the time with me watching tv and glancing at the laptop as it does it's thing.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:51AM (#35197804)

    There's really no reason wireless device and PC makers even need to have "assistant" type programs written for their hardware to start with. They only need a driver itself, as Windows since XP has had it's own configuration utility with a system tray icon telling you when you're connected or not.

    OT: PS to Slashdot coders: I'd really like to be able to use Firefox's spellchecker in here again. It highlights misspelled words but I can't correct them with it ever since you forced this dumb new layout on us. Same with italic tags not working anymore. Have you ever heard the phrase "if it aint broken don't fix it"?

    • by Tim C (15259)

      Same with italic tags not working anymore.

      Just use <em>.

      • So what's with <b>/</b> still working? Why didn't they deprecate that and force <strong> on us?

        Consistency fail.
    • Stylish plugin for FF + this user style fixes it:

      i
      {
      font-style: italic !important;

      }

      .quote
      {
      font-style: italic !important;
      background:#E1E1E1 !important;
      }
  • last summer I was given(by work) a hp elitebook(15 incher, about).
    recently I did the switch to using it, ssd'ing it as well. and damn, it's a nice machine, coupled with windows 7. with windows xp and the preinstalled stuff, not so much.

    the reason why the hp wlan manager sucks is simple too, it's unnecessary to begin with, it's decored so that it doesn't follow the native look'n'feel, it's designed by a USER EXPERIENCE idiot committee, not by a committee that knew what it actually could be used for or who kn

  • Bloatware is a major pita for any computer tech whose gotta remove it or for any average joe who actually notice that it's the reason their computer is slower than it can be. I argue that its a necessary evil for retail laptops though

    Next time someone asks you to help them pick a laptop tell them they can get x model for a bargain at $899 or they can get x model - hassle of bloatware for $1199. Just about everyone i know would take the model with the bloatware cause its cheaper and deal with the problem la

  • Are just plain evil to begin with. Broadcom, Intel, HP, Dell, whomever it comes from, I've yet to encounter one that didn't interfere with the normal function of the computer in some way.

    • try this one: Thinkvantage access connections
    • by Tx (96709)

      Worst is when people end up with multiple different ones; I had a guy with Dell laptop recently, he had wireless assistant type utilities from Dell, his ISP, and the wifi chip maker all trying to mess with his connection at the same time, which took ages to connect, and kept disconnecting and doing weird stuff. Uninstalled all of those utilities, fast and reliable connections ensued. Curses on those utilities.

  • Even though some might say that HP Wireless Assistant is bloatware, it isn't really.

    It lets you switch on/off individual "wireless devices", like Bluetooth, WiFi or the newer WWAN adapters. Turning the ones off you don't need will definitely save battery life, and it might add some security.

    And before anyone says "hey, that's what device manager is for", it's not. Device manager allows you to disable devices, but that would require administrator privileges, whereas the HP Wireless Assistant allows any user

  • One must ask, "Why are the manufacturers pre-installing this bloat?". My guess is that it helps manufactures keep low prices on machines that otherwise would be out of reach for many consumers wrt to price. Consumers are hungry for slick deals and manufacturers need creative ways to re-coup money lost on razor thin profit margins. So, the manufacture reaches out to other companies and say "Hey, I will put a link to a 30-day trial of your software on our core image of all new laptops, just give us $10.00
    • by Legion303 (97901)

      "if you saw an option on the build-your-own-laptop build site that said "Clean O/S Install - No Advertising or Bloat" with a price tag of $99.95 would you check the box?"

      Nope. I'd order it as-is and do hat I've always done with pre-built systems: first boot directly to install media.

  • Dell, HP, Toshiba all feel they need to install "helperware" that is nothing more than :Hinderware. Whenever I buy a new laptop the first thing I have to do is crack open the windows OS CD and reinstall the OS. IT's faster than stripping out all he crap that dell and the others shovel into these things. and that's only if I am keen enough to see the checkmark to include the recovery media when I buy it. HP tell you to go F***K yourself and will not give you any recovery media but make you waste 2 hours

    • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @10:06AM (#35198700)

      There is one vendor that does just that: Apple. Even if you buy it and never intend to run OS X other than for the 10 minutes it takes you to set a Bootcamp partition, the Windows experience on them is very good. All the drivers and necessary stuff you need is on the OS X install disc that comes with the machine (and also on every retail copy of OS X) and you just pop it in after the windows installer finishes and it automatically handles all the drivers and utilities and leaves you with a fully configured, fully working Windows laptop with zero bloatware.

      Hell, it doesn't even put iTunes on there by default ;)

      Whether the price premium for the machine itself and then a further cost for a copy of Windows is worth it is an exercise left to the individual.

      I've set up a quite a number of machines for a local businessman who liked the iMac's form factor but a major part of his business relies on Windows-only software. He started with a batch of 4 test machines that I set up for him and liked them so much he went and converted the whole office and workshop, ditching all the midi-towers and clunky keyboards he had before.

  • My Sony Vaio has Vaio Care which automatically notifies me of updates. So easy. Vaio is great!

    • by Salvo (8037)

      Vaio Care is an example of Crapware. Like HP Total Care and Dell Support Center, The software updates are never current (6-months out at least, and don't expect anything after the first 12 months) and it replicates Native Windows Functionality. Dell, Sony and HP only want you to spend money on a new machine when your old one becomes unusable. Microsoft want your computer to keep working until they release a new OS.

      Why ship a clone of Windows Update on a Windows Computer? It's like replacing the native Windo

  • HP printer drivers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Had an HP all in one and installed the driver on my laptop. If the priinter was not plugged in to the laptop the driver would continously look for the printer, to the tune of 90% CPU usage. This driver also killed my onboard card reader. Finally found the piece of the driver that was causing the trouble and renamed it. The pruinter still works fine without it.

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