Over the last month or so, we’ve written a few pieces about the curious case of the popular Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 being stuck on ChromeOS 116. We hardly noticed anything with the update to 117, but when 118 had a rocky roll-out and we were keeping tabs on Chromebooks that got the update and those that didn’t, the issues with the Duet 5 became a bit more obvious.
However, the Beta Channel of ChromeOS 119 was available on the Duet 5 right alongside all the other Chromebooks just a week or so ago, so we simply figured it would update to 119 when that update began showing up early this week. But that didn’t happen.
A hardware issue
As it turns out, there is a hardware issue with the USB Type-C port that is causing boot loops in devices attempting to apply the ChromeOS 117 update (and all future updates as well, presumably). Reported by About Chromebooks (via Reddit), there is a bug report for this issue that is currently in limbo. Here’s what is being said from the ChromeOS team’s side in the latest update about a week ago (emphasis mine):
We’ve managed to get one device that was in the “Something Went Wrong” state and analyze it. As expected from all the logs provided by people (thanks!), the device was stuck updating the firmware of one of the components associated with the “Type C” port. We tried a number of ideas to try to make the update go through and talked to the vendor that provided the part but we had no luck there. The vendor has asked us to send the misbehaving part to them for failure analysis and we’re hopeful that they will will provide a solution to allow us to recover these parts, but we’re back in the waiting game here.
We do know for certain that replacing the daughterboard containing this chip fixes the problem. Replacing it on the unit we had in hand made the device boot normally again. For the curious about what the part looks like, I managed to find the part on Lenovo’s website. The one we had to replace was on the left side so I believe it’s “USB Board H 82QS Typc C_L” (part number 5C50S25268), there’s no reason that we’re aware of that the same issue couldn’t affect the right side board which would be “USB Board H 82QS Typc C_R” (part number 5C50S25269).
While we’re waiting for failure analysis (and hopefully a way to recover devices in this state), we continuing to look for other workarounds. If we come up with anything we’ll post it here.via the Google Issue Tracker
What this means moving forward
According to the current state of things, we’re not entirely sure how this will play out. Clearly, replacing the part on the board fixes things, but I can’t see a scenario where Lenovo recalls all these devices for repair. They’ve sold too many of them for that to be realistic, I think.
So that means a software fix will have to happen in order to resolve the problem. While there’s no fix just yet, looking at the bug report, they’ve only really been looking into this since late October. I have confidence that after Lenovo looks into things and gets back to the ChromeOS team with some specifics, a firmware update can happen to alleviate the issue.
Until then, however, those of you with a Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 will be stuck on ChromeOS 116 for a bit longer. Oddly enough, you can go to the Beta Channel of ChromeOS 120 right now, and I don’t fully understand why that is possible if a Stable Channel update is boot looping Chromebooks. Either way, that’s your path to updates for now if you’d like to play with any of the new things that have arrived since ChromeOS 116. Hopefully a fix is coming sooner than later.