July 02, 2012, 9:00 PM — There's still no end in sight to the ongoing Secure Boot saga arising from Microsoft's Windows 8 plans, and just recently we've seen both Fedora Linux and Ubuntu Linux respond with two very different approaches to working around the problem.
Both the Linux Foundation and the Free Software Foundation voiced their own perspectives last fall when the issue first came up, but over the weekend the Free Software Foundation felt the need to speak out again in response to the approaches being taken by these two popular distributions.
In a nutshell, the advocacy group isn't thrilled with what either distro has proposed, but it prefers the Fedora approach over Canonical's solution. It also has a number of suggestions of its own.
To recap, the heart of the issue is the fact that future Windows 8 hardware will come with the Secure Boot technology enabled in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), meaning that only operating systems with an appropriate digital signature will be able to boot on such machines.
Instead of "Secure Boot," the Free Software Foundation uses the term "Restricted Boot" instead.
"Under the guise of security, a computer afflicted with Restricted Boot refuses to boot any operating systems other than the ones the computer distributor has approved in advance," explains FSF Executive Director John Sullivan in the group's new white paper on the topic. "Restricted Boot takes control of the computer away from the user and puts it in the hands of someone else."
'There Should Be No Problem'
Users should have either a way to disable Secure Boot restrictions, or a failproof way to install the free software operating system of their choice, Sullivan asserted.
And indeed, while ARM-based hardware won't allow users to disable Secure Boot, x86 Windows machines will, as well as making it possible for users to employ their own keys.