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05.07.14

Microsoft Still Imposes Broken ‘Updates’ and Breaks GNU/Linux Through UEFI Boot Restrictions

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The pressure against software freedom and user control over his/her PC a growingly serious issue

FAIR competition is a business risk that Microsoft cannot tolerate. Microsoft wants to mistreat many users by exposing them (for cash) to the NSA. With UEFI and remote updates, the NSA can even remotely brick computers — a serious risk that almost nobody is willing to speak about. It’s all about control (over users) and Microsoft goes out of its way to reduce users’ security. As Richard Stallman put it the other day: “Nonfree [proprietary] software is likely to spy on its users, or mistreat them in other ways. It is software for suckers. Awareness of this is spreading, which helps us make the case for Free software to people who are not computing experts.”

What’s even more troubling right now is that Vista 8 is self-updating (for the latest back doors to be installed) and Ryan tells us that “Microsoft is about to get rid of support for Windows 8.1 without the update pack, and it seems the broken Windows Update problem is still pretty common.” To quote: “Check your Windows Update log, if you’ve got a “Failed” entry next to KB2919355 then your PC will also become orphaned after May 8.” So much for ‘security’.

Interestingly enough and coinciding with the above, yesterday afternoon Jamie posted this review which complains about lingering issues with UEFI (some previous issues relate to Windows updates that allegedly break dual-booting), stating:

In order to install Linux from a bootable USB stick I need to be able to get to the Boot Selection menu, but on Acer systems with UEFI firmware, this is a bit tricky. The Boot Menu key (F12) is disabled by default, so I first have to boot to the BIOS Setup Utility, by pressing F2 during the power on or reboot cycle. Then in the Main setup screen there is an option to enable “F12 Boot Menu”.

That’s one trick down, but there’s another one which might be required. Depending on what version of Linux you want to install, and perhaps how you feel about Secure Boot, you might want/need to disable that. In the BIOS Setup Utility, on the Boot menu there is an option to disable Secure Boot – but I can’t get to it: moving the cursor down just skips over it!

I can change boot mode from UEFI to ‘Legacy BIOS’, but that isn’t what I want to do. I learned (the hard way) with my previous Acer Aspire One, that I have to go to the Security menu and set a “Supervisor Password” before it will let me disable Secure Boot mode. I’m sure this makes sense to someone, but whoever that is, it isn’t me.

In this case I am going to start by installing Linux with Secure Boot still enabled, so I don’t really have to do this, but I went ahead and set a supervisor password anyway, because I will eventually want to turn off Secure Boot anyway.

An ordinary computer user would give up at this stage.

It sure seems like control over one’s computer is getting harder, whether it’s due to artificial limitations or imposed back doors. Fighting for software freedom is important right now, more so than ever before. Some companies and government agencies truly dread the idea of people controlling their machines. The International Day Against DRM is a reminder of this [1,2,3] and based on a new report [4] the FBI is now “pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors.” Like CIPAV in Microsoft Windows?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. International Day Against DRM
  2. Mark the Day Against DRM with discounts on books and videos; join the EFF live video panel

    Today is the Day Against DRM, organized by the Free Software Foundation through their Defective by Design campaign against digital rights management (DRM), which they refer to instead with the more accurate moniker “digital restrictions management.”

  3. How DRM Harms Our Computer Security
  4. FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

    CNET learns the FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.

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