Secure Boot, Is Linux Ready?


There is growing trepidation in the Linux community when the phrase secure boot is mentioned as it applies to Linux or other open source operating systems. Are you ready for Secure Boot? I personally can see the good that can come from it giving a more secure environment but on the other hand I also see the potential for locking consumers into only certain product lines whether they are open or not. This to me is clearly not in the best interest of open source operating systems or consumers.

There are several Linux distributions that are openly working to be able to implement a secure boot version. A few that I know of are Red Hat with Fedora, SUSE and Ubuntu. There may well be more I simply have not read about so feel free to add to the list in the comments. But on the other hand again, not every camp is very happy with secure boot. Especially when the emphasis is being reported from a Microsoft standard point of view. Last February Distrowatch’s Jesse Smith reported how OpenBSD’s founder was particularly unhappy with Red Hat and Canonical embracing secure boot. I did a quick search and have come up empty with regards to BSD embracing secure boot. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Linus Torvalds, as reported in Wired, told ZDNet that although not a fan of UEFI, he could not see what the big deal is. Citing the $99 purchase of the right to distribute keys Fedora has purchased. Linus mentions here that the real issue is how the implementation could be vulnerable to hacking and thus not so secure after all.

So now we have major vendors embracing the concept, Microsoft pushing the standard and setting the bar for manufacturers, will you as a consumer have a voice? That is the million dollar question that only time will answer. I think in the end consumers will get the short end of the stick even if open source distributions survive these changes. The number of choices will ultimately drop on new hardware with the current specifications of UEFI unless changes are made in the direction reported by the Linux Foundation.

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