Jan 17, 2012

How will UEFI secure booting on Windows 8 impact Linux users?

I've seen that Windows 8 will (may?) ship with UEFI secure booting enabled. What will be the impact on Linux fans that want to install it on Windows 8 machines? Will it still be possible to install Linux?


think jimlynch hit the nail on the head.  The one "window" that is still open for Linux users, no pun intended, is that while Microsoft requires PCs to be shipped with secure booting enabled to get the "Designed for Windows 8" sticker/logo/splash screen, hardware vendors can still give purchasers the choice to disable the secure boot feature.  That would make it a non-issue.  However, the operative word is "can", which means that manufacturers do not have to provide the option, and I would bet that many will not.  The thing is, UEFI secure boot offers very real security advantages.  It lets IT Departments prevent any unapproved OS from being booted, and protects against rootkits.  From a purely rational point of view, Microsoft has little incentive NOT to require secure boot.  It does offer real advantages to most users, and the percentage of customers that will even be aware of it is very low, and the number that will be upset is even less.  I hope most machines ship with the option to disable the secure boot feature, but I wouldn't bet on it.   

Well, it certainly doesn't seem like it will be good for Linux. Given Microsoft's past behavior, it seems clear that they are aiming at Linux with this awful move. Nothing ever really changes with that company. They are still behaving like a large predator, using every little advantage they can to try to prop up their aging Windows monopoly.

Let's hope that regulators are paying attention to this and that Microsoft is blocked somehow from doing this. If they get away with this we'll just see more behavior like it later on, and that's not good for anybody.

You might want to check out this article from Ars; it's a pretty good overview of the whole mess.

Windows 8's locked bootloaders: much ado about nothing, or the end of the world as we know it?

"Microsoft has published the hardware requirements that manufacturers must follow if they want to slap a "Designed for Windows 8" sticker onto their systems. In among many innocuous requirements—multitouch systems must support at least five points of touch, there must be at least 10 GB of free space available to the user, and more—are a set of requirements for Windows 8 systems' firmware. These requirements have reignited Linux users' fears that they will be locked out of Windows 8 hardware.

The concerns revolve around the use of a new feature called UEFI Secure Boot. All Windows 8 systems that meet Microsoft's certification requirements must use UEFI firmware with Secure Boot enabled."
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