Windows 8 Secure Boot – or How Microsoft Is Riling Up the Linux Masses
“The trusting (ironic this is all about Trusted Computing) side of me wants to believe this is just a spec from Microsoft to ensure their OS runs correctly on hardware platforms,” said Slashdot blogger yagu. “But history, track record, and all evidence to Microsoft’s tactics since forever make me nervous… “I’m quite convinced (my opinion) Microsoft’s motives remain the same as always.”
What a difference a week makes.
It was just the other day that Linux bloggers were celebrating the news from researcher Net Applications that desktop Linux had surged in popularity in recent months.
Now, the mood in the blogosphere has plummeted once again as a result of the latest developments on the Windows 8 front. Secure Boot, that is — a topic astute readers may remember from last fall but that lately seems to have taken a turn for the worse.
Exhibit A: “Microsoft confirms UEFI fears, locks down ARM (Nasdaq: ARMHY) devices,” as the the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) recently summed it up.
Exhibit B: “Why UEFI secure boot is difficult for Linux,” in which Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) developer Matthew Garrett explains why things aren’t looking much better on Windows 8 PCs.
Bottom line? “The Controversy Continues,” as it was put at PCWorld.
‘The Exact Thing They Said They Wouldn’t Do’
“Controversy,” of course, is Linux Girl’s middle name, so she whipped out her Quick Quotes Quill and started taking notes.
“And there we have it,” began consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack down at the Linux blogosphere’s rowdy Punchy Penguin Saloon last Friday. “Microsoft is doing the exact thing they said they wouldn’t do, and I still can’t imagine how they think this will actually make things more secure.
“I buy PCs based on my ability to do what I want with them, and the same goes for my mobile phone,” Mack added. “I don’t tolerate Android makers with locked boot loaders, and I already wouldn’t buy an iPhone or iPod. This is just one more set of products I will never spend money on.”
Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site, had even more choice words on the issue.
‘They Need Software Viagra’
“Nasty, short-sighted, and if you think about it for a moment, a blatant admission that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), despite having a golden opportunity to abandon all their previous deficient coding practices and cruft when moving to new hardware, still isn’t able to produce an OS that is more than semi-hardened,” Hudson told Linux Girl.
“They need to see a doctor to get some software Viagra,” Hudson added.
“This is not about security,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “The local user can always compromise a PC in hand one way or another.”
Rather, “this is about creating a rejuvenated monopoly on ARM,” Pogson asserted.
Fortunately, “it won’t work, Pogson predicted. “The OEMs have seen FLOSS sell like hotcakes on ARM and they know it is profitable. They no longer need M$ to ensure profitability.”
Some will “produce ARMed units to please M$, but consumers won’t buy them because they know they no longer need M$ on small cheap computers,” he added. “Other initiatives of Wintel will fail similarly: ultrabooks and ’8′ on anything. ’7′ on x86/amd64 could not save M$ from a drop in revenue; ’8′ will not either on ARM or x86/amd64.”
With “an effective monopoly on retail shelves, M$ cannot get more than 60 million PCs per quarter to take their license,” Pogson pointed out. “30 million are installing something else — old copies of XP or GNU/Linux. The world is tired of their old monopoly and wary of a new one. Good-bye, M$.”
‘Microsoft Products Dominate Shelf Space’
Indeed, it’s the purchase decision that Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza was focused on.
“I participated in some spirited conversation on this issue with some apparent astroturfers who insisted that if I don’t like hardware which denies my right to choose what software I’d like to run on it, my sole recourse is not to buy it,” Espinoza told Linux Girl.
“This, of course, ignores numerous issues, including the secondary market,” he pointed out.
“It is a valid point in that when we purchase this hardware we are funding our own abuse, but the simple truth is that the masses purchase that which is presented to them, and Microsoft products dominate shelf space,” Espinoza concluded. “When the choices presented are Windows on x86 and Windows on ARM, the user will end up with ‘secure’ boot either way.”