11.26.12

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New PCs Cannot Boot Linux Due to Microsoft Dirty Tricks

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t boot, not approved by Microsoft

Denver boot

Summary: More people find out that PCs they buy ahead of Xmas refuse to boot Linux, and Microsoft is at fault

Microsoft’s Vista 8 is a confusing mess that motivates many people to explore GNU- and Linux-based operating systems. Microsoft knows this. It does not give Linux keys to machines it ruined by blackmailing OEMs and meanwhile we lose potential converts to software freedom:

The Linux Foundation’s promised workaround that will allow Linux to boot on Windows 8 PCs has yet to clear Microsoft’s code certification process, although the exact reason for the hold-up remains unclear.

As The Reg reported previously, the Secure Boot feature of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) found on modern Windows 8 PCs will only allow an OS to boot if its code has been digitally signed with a key obtained from Microsoft.

That’s a problem for many Linux distributions, because some lack the resources to purchase a Microsoft key, while others simply refuse to.

Where is the formal complaint from the Linux Foundation? Oh, wait, Microsoft paid to silence it, so UEFI continues to sabotage GNU/Linux adoption, as intended.

One report says: “Linux fans wondering why they still don’t have a friendly UEFI Secure Boot option for Windows 8 PCs won’t get a solution in hand this week, but they’ll at least get an explanation. The Linux Foundation’s primary backer for the alternative OS efforts, Parallels’ server CTO James Bottomley, has revealed that Microsoft’s requirements for signed, Secure Boot-ready code are tough if developers aren’t entirely onboard its train of thought. The Redmond crew demands a paper contract signature (remember those?), agreements on work beyond the relevant software and a packaging process that complicates attempts to use open-source tools. Bottomley has already overcome most of these challenges, although he’s still waiting for a Linux Foundation-specific key that should theoretically clear a major hurdle.”

Bottomley worked on some Microsoft projects when Novell paid him, so his response is too gentle. In the mean time expect more stories like this one:

There is a section of this forum about UEFI problems. An admin will probably move your post there. Steve Riley has done a lot with UEFI but if you box doesn’t have an switch in UEFI to disable secure boot then I am afraid that you’ve been screwed.

IMO, preventing the installation of Linux is the entire purpose of UEFI.

Will Hill says: “There are more reports of UEFI boot problems.”

We saw that coming right from the start. Partnering with Microsoft was dumb. Antitrust complaints ought to have been filed.

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2 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    November 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Gravatar

    More than anti-trust action is needed. Anti-trust is too slow, WordPerfect from 1994 is just now making its way through the courts. That’s a delay of almost 20 years and none of the possible remedies could be relevant. About the only thing that can have an effect would be a grass-roots movement. M$ has to be rejected from the bottom up or technology will go nowhere.

  2. Richard M. Dunleavy said,

    November 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Gravatar

    Question, isn’t it possible to just create a virtual boot loader, have it digitally signed by Microsoft, or any of the Certificate Authorities, and then release the FREE program to everyone, via the Pirate Bay as a magnet file?

    The virtual boot loader works as and boot manager, allow the PC user to select any software they want to boot up on their system.

    The other solution is to digitally sign your own software, which even if you had the Microsoft key to do it, who wants to waste time doing it over and over for every new modification to your software, like for development of Linux.

    The virtual boot loader would allow you to still use digitally signed keys, but instead of needing Microsoft’s own key, now you can generate your own x509 v3 certificate key. This method insures FREE software cost nothing still.

    It makes it easy to share with everyone else, they just import the key into the virtual boot loader. On Linux hardware, the same virtual boot loader can be used, directly without UEFI.

    In fact, why isn’t Linux promoting Linux hardware? This wouldn’t be an issue if ALL or nearly all PC’s shipped come pre-loaded with only Windows in the first place.

    Go into China, Italy, Russia, UK, Spain, France, Germany and the US, and you find 99% of every PC sold with “Windows on it pre-installed. But why isn’t that a global monopoly?

    Recently I was in Roma Italia, couldn’t get a refund despite using Ubuntu on the hardware because of Microsoft Mafia. This is outrageous! I am forced to pay a Microsoft tax no matter what even when NOT in the U.S.

    Microsoft can only compete when the customers cannot choose. Why isn’t the European Union taking Microsoft back to court which denies Europe their liberty and freedom to run free software, like Linux?

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