Windows 8 security feature could block dual-booting Linux

By on September 22, 2011, 1:38 PM

Microsoft's new secure-boot functionality in Windows 8 could prevent some users from running both Windows and Linux on their pre-built PCs, according multiple reports. Red Hat developer Matthew Garrett blogged about the possible lockout scenario a couple of days ago, where he explained the new Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) that Windows 8 will support, will prevent any unsigned executable or drivers from being loaded.

Although this is good news for blocking malware and rootkits at startup, it might also mean that users won't be able to dual-boot an alternative OS unless it's signed by a certificate authority, and the key that it is signed with is shipped on the system. According to Garrett, that's unlikely to happen if systems ship with only Microsoft and OEM keys.

In theory, the solution would simply be to disable the secure booting in the UEFI settings. However, it would be up to OEMs to include the option of disabling the secure boot feature and it isn't unreasonable to think that many will not -- if only for the sake of keeping users safe from themselves and lighten the load on their customer support staff.

As ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley notes, this probably won't be a problem for those who build their own systems, with motherboard makers likely including the option of disabling secure boot or somehow allowing users to add unsigned code to a whitelist. This scenario leaves out laptop computers, however, which are bought directly from manufacturers.

It's a little early to grab a torch and pitchfork as you march your way to Redmond. For one thing I would throw away any conspiracy theory about Microsoft trying to kill Linux on consumer PCs -- why risk the backlash and possible anti-trust scrutiny when Linux barely holds 1% of the market? Nevertheless, its implementation is something to be concerned about and so far Microsoft hasn't come forward to explain how it will handle this situation.

We should note that Microsoft will continue to support the legacy BIOS interface in Windows 8, so current machines dual-booting Windows 7 and Linux should be able to upgrade with no problems. Microsoft only requires new systems conforming to the Windows 8 logo program to ship with UEFI and secure boot enabled.




User Comments: 24

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tehbanz tehbanz said:

Saw this in slashdot yesterday, general consensus there was that it's not Microsoft's doing, it's the hardware manufacturers doing.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I've been moderately excited about Windows 8, but the recent spate of announcements has caused my enthusiasm to diminish considerably.

As the article says, hardly anyone runs Linux and people who build their own systems should be able to bypass it, but I don't like how things are going. But I suppose it's just inevitable.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Ihardly anyone runs Linux ...
you must be on the payroll of Microsoft, OR a professional Comedian

:giggle: :lol:

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

didn't anyone see the wiki on the subject?

Linux has been using the UEI for sometime now.

Talking aboud F.U.D. (look it up)!

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

I'm sure Linux users will find a simple way of allowing it to run duel boot. Linux users and devs are very technically savvy.

Guest said:

I had been excited about Windows 8 but this is a downer. I was going to by a new computer but have been thinking of waiting for 8 to come out but honestly I want to easily use Linux. I'm using Linux now.

Guest said:

1%? really? how did you come up with that figure? See ubuntu on facebook. Users now reaching a half-mil not including other linux web pages. Personally, I like ubuntu linux because there's no virus crap that can lay my pc in ruin. I can browse the internet with no worries. Boot from a live usb and start using it. Remaster a dvd for an all-in-one installation. Rescue my files from windows. Heck even a noob can do it.

Guest said:

I boot a live ubuntu usb on my new macbook. It uses EFI too right? My only problem was I could not read my internal hd as well as sound support. But I just plug-in a usb speaker and all is well.

aj_the_kidd said:

jobeard said:

Ihardly anyone runs Linux ...
you must be on the payroll of Microsoft, OR a professional Comedian

:giggle: :lol:

In your little world every man and his dog may use linux, but if you step outside your world and come into this little place we call reality you will realize hardly anyone knows about linux let alone uses it. FYI as stated in the article "Linux barely holds 1% of the market"

Back on topic, i think this little security feature will be easily overcome by developers

Guest said:

I see a Big "L" in windows 8 future. The trend now is compatibility for all systems. Look at android, google chrome, linux. Don't follow Apple's footsteps lest you become a minority later on.

Guest said:

Usage share of operating systems for August 2011

Windows XP (35.21%)

Windows 7 (31.21%)

Windows Vista (11.27%)

Mac OS X (7.31%)

iOS (3.38%)

Linux (2.25%)

SammyJames said:

aj_the_kidd said:

In your little world every man and his dog may use linux, but if you step outside your world and come into this little place we call reality you will realize hardly anyone knows about linux let alone uses it. FYI as stated in the article "Linux barely holds 1% of the market"

Back on topic, i think this little security feature will be easily overcome by developers

You're probably right about overcoming the limitation. But even more on-point, I agree that Linux isn't that useful. I've downloaded, installed, and modified various Linux distros. They all suck for one reason: I can't build a working synthesizer-based DAW with any of 'em.

It's become even more difficult to do that, now that the kernel has moved away from real-time processing. Yes, I know, I know -- I could still use an older rt kernel, or try to develop one myself. But that wouldn't be a good use of my time. I need an efficient real-time OS -- and although Windows doesn't do rt, at least ASIO drivers come as close as possible. And ASIO runs on Windows. (Don't even get me started on WHINE -- I mean, uh, WINE...)

Linux uses Jack and something else -- OAS or something like that. Whatever. I got sick of crashes, lockups, and no good available software for download that DIDN'T use Jack -- which has been called "the weakest link in audio production on Linux.".

I gave up on it. And to top it off, Linux is just Windows -- without all of the commercial support for Windows. You can't even use a Linux distro without a mouse. The whole thing is a JOKE.

Later.

- S

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

jobeard said:

Ihardly anyone runs Linux ...
you must be on the payroll of Microsoft, OR a professional Comedian

:giggle: :lol:

No, I just have a good command of the English language when it comes to choosing my adverbs, and the ability to read a pie chart when it comes to OS usage.

SammyJames said:

Guest said:

1%? really? how did you come up with that figure?

See ubuntu on facebook. Users now reaching a half-mil not including other linux web pages. Personally, I like ubuntu linux because there's no virus crap that can lay my pc in ruin. I can browse the internet with no worries. Boot from a live usb and start using it. Remaster a dvd for an all-in-one installation. Rescue my files from windows. Heck even a noob can do it.

Well... uh...

A half-mil = 500,000 people.

How many Windows XP users are there?

Answer: 38% (of what, exactly?) Well, probably about a billion PCs world-wide.

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp

So, if you are talking about a measly half-million, as opposed to the nearly BILLION computers out there, this is how we get the "1%" figure.

The point isn't even that. Look -- if something works well for you, then cool! USE it. This is what is exciting about life -- is that, if you aren't hurting anyone by doing something, then DO it. And be proud and happy about it.

People love to try to control each other. This leads only to sadness and despair, because you can't control humans. When humans control themselves, then real beauty happens. But anyway -- I'm going WAY off-topic. Just do what you gotta do, and stop being so pernicious about Linux vs. The World.

Really? Nobody cares. Hell -- if I could get my PC to accept a totally custom-made OS that used ONLY the ASCII keyboard -- without needing a mouse -- I'd be happier than a pig in ----

- S

Guest said:

2011 Win7 Vista Win2003 WinXP Linux Mac Mobile

August 40.4% 5.9% 0.8% 38.0% 5.2% 8.2% 0.9%

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Benjamin Disraeli

Tomorrow_Rains said:

aj_the_kidd said:

jobeard said:

Ihardly anyone runs Linux ...
you must be on the payroll of Microsoft, OR a professional Comedian

:giggle: :lol:

In your little world every man and his dog may use linux, but if you step outside your world and come into this little place we call reality you will realize hardly anyone knows about linux let alone uses it. FYI as stated in the article "Linux barely holds 1% of the market"

Back on topic, i think this little security feature will be easily overcome by developers

Is sarcasm really necessary to get your point across? More than 1% use Linux. Deal with it.

caravel said:

You can't even use a Linux distro without a mouse. The whole thing is a JOKE.

hitech0101 said:

hardly anyone knows about linux let alone uses it.

Then why is everyone talking about it.

Guest said:

@SammyJames: What? You don't even need to use any GUI in Linux. You can surf the internet from the terminal if you wanted to. Mr Ignorance stop talking about what you know nothing of.

Det Det said:

Every friggin' news here (or just about anywhere) about Windows and Linux gets filled with comments about which one is better.

Since this is the 500.000th time it is really starting get friggin' annoying. Just use which one you like and shut up.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

... stop talking about what you know nothing of.
That was my tongue-in-cheek point. Qualified experience needs not to diss another while limited experience seems to roll in it - - :sigh:

Those that have been here awaile know I'm an agnostic when it comes to platforms and use them all.

... I agree that Linux isn't that useful.
hmm; some can't use a tennis racket either but those that do have great fun and some even get well paid for doing so

eg: Linux servers are a kick to work with.

Yawn...

SammyJames said:

Guest said:

@SammyJames: What? You don't even need to use any GUI in Linux. You can surf the internet from the terminal if you wanted to. Mr Ignorance stop talking about what you know nothing of.

Uh...

What the heck was THAT?!

I AM TALKING about the GUI in Linux -- be it GNOME, KDE, or whatever else.

My point is that I want a GUI THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE A MOUSE.

I said NOTHING about using the terminal.to "surf the Internet."

And as far as ignorance goes...

[link]

Hah.

- S

SammyJames said:

@jobeard:

eg: Linux servers are a kick to work with.

Hey -- you're right. And I apologize for seeming to foist a view upon you that you did not express. That was my mistake -- and I didn't realize it until I had already posted the comment. I just wasn't expecting to get mauled by someone who wasn't reading my post carefully enough (meaning, of course, the "Guest" who over-reacted to my comment about the mouse.)

I just hate the mouse. That's it. I know -- maybe I'm off-topic. But Linux bugs me because I always envisioned it as being a counter-culture operating system -- one that would be more user-configurable. I understand that there are limitations to things -- and I suppose that my view of what an OS should be all about is different from what most others might think.

Again -- this is what makes life fun. We have endless chances -- opportunities -- to do cool things. Let's try to do that together, instead of ripping each other apart.

Guest said:

I use both Windows and Linux so this does interest me. I run websites that use shared hosting so uploading to these websites from home is a lot safer in Linux. Besides, I love Gimp, Kino etc. I mostly use Ubuntu/Mint. They are brilliant.

I still use Windows 7 on this drive now and then and would prefer to purchase a Windows 8 machine that I can use Linux on as well. I have four drives (only three in the image below) that I use interchangeably on my system; two with Windows and two with Linux:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/34F145p34g_qc7XESncItM
SFEbI8NoLw2wb6hf38Cw?feat=directlink

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