I contacted Western Digital and (as expected) didn't get anywhere. They claim
they don't support OSs other than Windows and OS X, so once you ask questions
beyond that, they are less than helpful.
I did make some progress in terms of potentially determining the cause of the
Every drive has the same model number, except for the
trailing characters that denote color. No one specific color works or
doesn't work. The model numbers all begin with WDBBEP0010B and end with BK,
BL, RD, or SL.
Functional drives are internally denoted as "My Passport" and have firmware
There are two sorts of broken drives, one listed as "My Passport (Z)" and
others called "My Passport Essential". Versions of firmware that do not work
are v1.010, v1.033, v1.042, and v1.049. The last one appears to
be the most current version.
So it seems possible that if I could install firmware v1.019 on the other
drives, they would all behave. Of course, ideally, I'd like to have FreeBSD
Just Work with all the drives, but one way or another I'd like to actually be
able to use these things, and I'm less concerned with the nature of the
solution at this point.
WD claims they have no means of installing older versions of the firmware on
the old drives, but their brains shut down once they hear a scary word like
"FreeBSD", so I doubt they're being accurate.
Somewhere exists an installer with that version of the firmware (they have a
recently-updated installer with a newer version than was on my most
recently-purchased drives, which also doesn't work with FreeBSD), but they
don't offer it to the public.
Unfortunately it's hard to find ANY hardware that is explicitly approved for
FreeBSD, so I did the next best thing. I bought some samples to make sure they
worked first, and they did. I wasn't prepared for them to change the product
without explanation and without changing the model number first.
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