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I purchased a typical mid-range laptop in late March this year. It came with Windows preinstalled. As soon as I unpacked the computer I removed Windows and installed Linux. I have been using it without any problems until two weeks ago. The system kept crashing whenever I was upgrading a dozen programs or more at once. I ran various diagnostic commands and concluded that the cooling system was failing.

I visited the nearest offline customer service with my laptop and logs of the troubleshooters I ran. The technician quickly noticed that I was using a non-stock operating system. He claimed that the manufacturer does not guarantee the machine will run properly in any os other than the preinstalled one, and that my warranty had been invalidated by the swapping of the os. I argued that replacing the stock software with a verified alternative does not pose any danger to the underlying hardware and my warranty is still intact because I never tore the laptop open.

Then he said that it is my job to prove that there is a 0% chance Linux harmed the hardware in any way. I found this argument as absurd as his initial one but he didn't back down so I had to return home.

Is the technician correct? Can warranties expire just by installing software even though hardware was left untouched? Or is he just trying to deny the defect in the laptop and deny the free repair I deserve? Is the burden of proof on the seller or the consumer that the warranty is valid/invalid?

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    if warranties cover modifications or not depends on the warranty and the jurisdiction.
    – Trish
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:18
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    What does the warranty actually say? You shouldn't need to debate opinions about what is technically possible, ethical, etc. with a technician. Conditions should be spelled out clearly right there in the document you agreed to when you bought it. There is no universal answer. Jul 31, 2023 at 18:45

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It depends on the warranty itself. Here is one warranty, which only protects against manufacturing defects and excludes any software issues (whether pre-installed or user-installed). I'm a little surprised that a manufacturer is willing to include someone else's software under their warranty. This also excludes

failure or damage resulting from misuse, abuse, accident, modification, unsuitable physical or operating environment, natural disasters, power surges, improper maintenance, or use not in accordance with product information materials

failure of, or damage caused by, any third party products, including those that X may provide or integrate into the X product at your request

This does not say "If you change the OS, you void the warranty". But, if you change the OS and that causes hardware damage, that voids the warranty. The next question is, what evidence do you have that the problem is a manufacturing problem rather than a consequence of changing the OS. They would have to answer the same question in court.

It is legally absurd to claim that you have to prove that it is logically impossible that you contributed to the problem, you only have to prove by a preponderance of evidence, when you take them to court. The burden of proof rests on the person who makes a claim. You claim that the product was defective, now you must prove it. But you don't have to prove it to the standard of absolute ccertainty.

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Consumer Guarantees

Irrespective of the existence of any warranty, there is a statutory guarantee that goods sold to a consumer are, among other things, of acceptable quality and durability. That is, it must last for a reasonable time considering the nature of the good, the price of the good, statements made by the retailer or manufacturer, and any other circumstances.

For a “mid range laptop”, a reasonable time would be 2 or 3 years.

Now, if a good is used abnormally, then that may reduce what is a reasonable time. However, using a different operating system would not normally be abnormal use.

However, the operating system does tell the hardware what to do. It could, for example, disable a CPU fan and cook the CPU. That would be abnormal use. This is not the sort of thing an out-of-the-box Linux would do - the code’s author would have to make a deliberate choice to do things that risk damage to the hardware.

Where a consumer guarantee is breached, you have a right to a repair, replacement, or refund.

Warranty

A warranty is an extra promise over and above the guarantees. A warranty can’t take away the guarantee or suggest in any way that the consumer is not entitled to the guarantee.

Beyond that, a consumer must follow the terms of the warranty to have the benefit of it. If it says you can’t change the OS, then you can’t change the OS. If you do, you void the warranty but you still have the guarantee.

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  • Linux has triggered firmware bugs that brick laptops on boot. Deleting the wrong files in Linux also can brick your computer.
    – user71659
    Jul 31, 2023 at 23:03
  • "the code’s author would have to make a deliberate choice to do things that risk damage to the hardware" Software bugs exist. Aug 1, 2023 at 2:15
  • For the guarantee to become invalid, doing something risky doesn't count. It must be something that actually damaged the computer. As long as it wasn't the sellers fault. Whether you did something extremely stupid to damage your computer or had extraordinary bad luck doesn't make a difference then.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 1, 2023 at 19:43

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