Bonum Certa Men Certa

What is Secure Boot?

posted by Roy Schestowitz on May 27, 2024,
updated May 27, 2024

Fire Fighting Equipment Displayed

"Secure Boot" is a boot that constitutes many layers of fire retardants and durable (to high temperature) soles. There are some companies around the world which make very sophisticated boots for firefighters. There are televised documentaries about the manufacturing and assembly process of such boots. It's fascinating how the boot design (and materials) evolved over time.

In the context of computing, a Secure Boot would be a booting (as in, bootstrapping) process that is robust to various external factors like erosion. For instance, it would continue to work even when hardware integrity is somewhat lacking and it would issue "BEEPS" using some sound pattern which indicates what goes wrong (assuming no display mechanism exists on the motherboard and a screen cannot be attached or made to receive input).

Security means the user feels safe and secure - i.e. confident that the machine would continue to work following a reboot or a system upgrade (or kernel upgrade/downgrade) [1, 2]. If nothing works/functions, and not due to unauthorised access or a breach, then it is a catastrophic failure. That's a universal rule or common sense. What good is file system-level encryption mechanism that locks out a trusted user due to a bug or unfortunate bit-flipping (physics/physical integrity is not always deterministic)? That would result in data loss.

Secure Boot has existed for decades already. It generally worked. If some component like the GPU got fried, the user of the computer would be notified (usually via monotonous sounds akin to Morse code).

Niklaus Wirth giving a lecture in Ural State University (2005)

Techrights supports Secure Boot. It does not support a booting mechanism that demands Windows or something which Microsoft (an untrusted third party) authorises along with the NSA.

Let's focus on what real security means. It means the opposite of Microsoft. It should be simple, standardised, and easy for all to understand. When Niklaus Wirth died the media described him as "Evangelist of lean software..."

BIOS is good enough for almost everything.

A Plea for Lean Software by Wirth

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