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07.01.13

Ingesting Microsoft Traps: FAT and Restricted Boot

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eating the bait like it’s candy

Sweet tooth

Summary: Acceptance of notorious vectors for patent extortion and denial of booting for free operating systems

Several years ago Tuxera signed an obscure Microsoft deal and began promoting Microsoft tax in Linux. “Tuxera is still pushing Microsoft products and patents into Linux,” says a reader to us.

“Further,” he adds, “it is injecting them *as closed source* into Linux”

According to TomTom, this will be trouble. Even TomTom is exiting this trap. This new promotion of Tuxera says “Tuxera announced a new FAT filesystem for embedded Linux- and Android-based devices claimed to deliver faster data transfers than previous FAT implementations. The Tuxera FAT technology offers improved application responsiveness and power savings, while providing features including fail-safe operation.”

This is not news, it is rehashed PR. Tuxera and Paragon do this all the time because new version are out, advancing Microsoft file systems at the expense of Linux ones. Over at Michael Larabel’s site, another exFAT booster is shown:

A Linux developer has released a native Linux kernel module for implementing Microsoft exFAT file-system support within the Linux kernel. This is different than earlier exFAT Linux modules that were implemented via FUSE in user-space.

Appearing on GitHub is a new exfat-nofuse project. This is a Linux non-FUSE read/write kernel driver for the Microsoft exFAT file-system.

This should not be embraced, it is a patent trap. A lot — if not all — Linux and Android patent deals that Microsoft signs involve FAT. The OIN told this to us.

Speaking of Microsoft traps in software, there is also UEFI restricted boot, which Debian and other freedom-respecting distributions are shunning (for UEFI shunning by Debian see [1, 2, 3]), excepting lesser-free derivatives like Knoppix or Ubuntu (on the Red Hat camp there is Fedora).

One reader told us: “There still is some conflation of Restricted Boot and UEFI. Have the UEFI people even begun steps to undo that?”

“Here is one example,” he says, pointing to Slashdot where not OpenBSD but FreeBSD is again being used to advance the UEFI agenda. To quote: “Microsoft has implemented secure boot for Windows 8, using cryptographic keys for authenticating the kernel that is being loaded. This means that any other operating system looking to load itself on a secure boot-enabled Windows 8 system has to also be able to authenticate itself.”

FreeBSD plays along:

FreeBSD will soon support secure boot, as per a report from itwire. Most new computers that come pre-loaded with Windows 8 have UEFI secure boot enabled which makes it difficult to install other operating systems. Some GNU/Linux distributions have found a workaround and are able to run on Windows 8 machines. However, this will be the first time a BSD derivative is being developed to support secure boot.

This is not good. Restricted boot need to be antagonised, not caught up with. The same goes for FAT, which is technically inferior to what Linux already offers and definitely helps Microsoft engage in racketeering against Linux and Android.

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