03.28.13

Gemini version available ♊︎

Awareness of UEFI Restricted Boot Injustice Raised

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A form of protest, not just legal action

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Summary: How a formal complaint about Microsoft’s abuse of hardware assemblers is already helping, irrespective of the outcome of this belated complaint

Nearly a year of OOXML corruptions had taken place before the European Commission took note (when it was too late to do much). Around the same time Microsoft tried to impede Linux booting, drawing complaints which apparently had the company dodging the original plan. The press did play a role. Time is critical. This time passage or delays let Microsoft get away with criminal deeds. Just see the WordPerfect case, which is still ongoing decades later. What about the Web browser abuses? Justice was never served. The implicit message is that it pays off to play dirty.

“Maybe someone will stop Secure Boot,” said one reader of ours, who wrote to drop this link about the formal complaint and Posgon wrote:

I hope the EU orders restitution to damaged computer-buyers and a 10% of revenue fine or whatever their maximum is. With a serial psychopath like M$ there is no use being gentle with them. This will be the third case of anti-competitive activity in a decade. I think M$ should be banned from doing business in any country that values a free market in PC operating systems and everything else in IT.

A complain is filed after we wrote about 50 posts on the topic, urging for antitrust action by big vendors. There is a lot of press coverage which itself is good publicity for the controversy and some coverage publicises the complainer, too. Not just Linux sites did this. Meanwhile we learn that UEFI itself is proving to be an issue for some. Jamie Watson wrote:

So, here is the summary. LMDE does not support EFI Boot out of the box, but there are ways to get around that. It also does not support GPT partition tables, and there is no way around this other than wiping the disk and changing it to DOS BIOS/MBR partitioning. I’m quite sure this is what Clem meant when he wrote in the FAQ “you could do it but it would require wiping the disk”. There is actually a slim chance that you could install successfully to a GPT disk, but that would require simple partitioning and a good bit of luck.

Dr. Garrett, says LWN, is saying that the source of trust is the issue. “I think the FSF’s definition is a useful one,” he writes, “Secure Boot is any boot validation scheme in which ultimate control is in the hands of the owner of the device, while Restricted Boot is any boot validation scheme in which ultimate control is in the hands of a third party. What Microsoft require for x86 Windows 8 devices falls into the category of Secure Boot – assuming that OEMs conform to Microsoft’s requirements, the user must be able to both disable Secure Boot entirely and also leave Secure Boot enabled, but with their own choice of trusted keys and binaries. If the FSF set up a signing service to sign operating systems that met all of their criteria for freeness, Microsoft’s requirements would permit an end user to configure their system such that it refused to run non-free software. My system is configured to trust things shipped by Fedora or built locally by me, a decision that I can make because Microsoft require that OEMs support it. Any system that meets Microsoft’s requirements is a system that respects the freedom of the computer owner to choose how restrictive their computer’s boot policy is.”

In practice, however, PCs are being shipped with Microsoft in change (control at stake), even if you boot BSD or Linux. Hence it is anticompetitive.

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