06.13.12

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Red Hat Was Wrong About UEFI, Failed to Ask the Users

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI? Et tu?

Jim Whitehurst
Credit: Red Hat @ Flickr

Summary: Red Hat was not open about its decision to collaborate with Microsoft and consequently it upset many FOSS proponents, choosing to ignore their rationale

Red Hat’s and Fedora’s UEFI decision was a bad one because it does not improve security. A Fedora member seems to suggest that it’s a matter of convenience versus freedom and principles, which makes a poor excuse. To quote:

A big flame does not end suddenly, it continues with echoes and as echoes go further away, the more ridiculous they get. You can learn, for example, why do Fedora needs signed binaries for UEFI with Secure Boot: because is too hard for users to enter BIOS and change a setting there.

What about other distributions of GNU/Linux? Red Hat’s action legitimises Microsoft’s anti-competitive tactics and leaves all but Red Hat uncovered. Fedora members who are Red Hat employees complain about this piece for merely daring not to drink Red hat’s Kool-Aid (link to Google spyware, aka “Plus”, omitted). To quote Noyes:

Microsoft Loves Linux – as Long as It’s Not Red Hat

[...]

However, there’s one major Linux player that’s sort of getting left out of the lovefest. It’s enterprise Linux leader Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which has to sit by while other distributions, including RHEL community clone CentOS and market competitors SUSE and Ubuntu, get first-class treatment in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen Microsoft look to the “other” Linux distributions as leverage against Red Hat. Though some may be critical of Microsoft for its apparent selective Linux approach, the bottom line is that Redmond is among the broadest supporters of Linux in the industry today. HP (NYSE: HPQ) has historically been among the most aggressive, backing unpaid Linux distributions such as CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu — which is also a paid Linux option with support from Canonical.

Noyes was not alone in her criticism. If Red Hat would like to just shut its ear and shout, people will lose respect for it. Perhaps it’s not too late for Red Hat to admit it made a mistake; it’s probably too late to retract. Why didn’t Red Hat approach the public? There was no poll or survey, no referendum on the subject. This is Open Source? For a company that claims to champion the open source way (they have a site, opensource.com) it is proving to be as open on decisions as SUSE/Novell was. It’s not even meritocracy (like Canonical’s). Nobody was asked.

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2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    June 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Gravatar

    The problem is not Red Hat’s work around, it’s their defeatism and endorsement that chaffs. Red Hat should be telling people to avoid Windows 8 hardware because it’s a pain in the neck and their little escape hatch probably won’t work long in the real world. Ideally, Red Hat will stand with the FSF and endorse Coreboot instead. When reports of malicious hardware come flooding in, Red Hat will be forced back to this anyway and then they will recognize the mistake of trusting Microsoft for anything. None of us should assume that Microsoft’s restricted boot will be successful. There may be a little spurt of production but it is likely to sink with Windows 8.

    Red Hat’s good faith effort to work with Microsoft will be useful in the next big anti-trust case against Microsoft. It might be very difficult or impossible to turn off Microsoft’s restricted boot. I’ve read reports of oddball “forthlike commands” being required, different for each board and therefore difficult to find on the web. That too will make rich evidence of coercive intent.

  2. Dr. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Red Hat’s good faith effort to work with Microsoft will be useful in the next big anti-trust case against Microsoft.

    Same with Canonical.

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