Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Linux on UEFI Windows 8 PCs, yes please

There is some great news for us Linux and Free Open Source Software (FOSS) advocates, there's a new tool that will let you run Linux on devices built for Microsoft's Windows 8. The Linux Foundation Secure Boot System will allow Linux to run on computers using the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware.

Microsoft's Windows 8 runs on new hardware controlled by UEFI firmware, which provides "secure-boot" technology. Although UEFI seeks to secure computers against malware by requiring a trusted key before booting, it has presented problems for other operating systems. Many in the Linux community feared that OEM may not provide a UEFI off-switch, effectively barring Linux from running on UEFI-enabled machines but now the latest releases of many major Linux distributions include a bootloader to work with UEFI, such as Ubuntu 12.10 and Fedora 18.

Linux Foundation technical advisory board member James Bottomley has been quoted saying the following, "The Linux Foundation wishes not only to enable Linux to keep booting in the face of the new wave of secure boot systems, but also enable those technically savvy users who wish to do so to actually take control of the secure boot process by installing their own platform key. The Linux Foundation bootloader provides a hash code certified by Microsoft, and supports the infrastructure to boot a generic Linux kernel. We have in place a protocol where Microsoft hands off the initial Microsoft signed EFI binary load to separately verified EFI binary chain, which individual distributions control. We did this because our mission is to enable any bootloader in the Linux ecosystem to work with secure boot."

I am very pleased to see there is a work-around for the new UEFI firmware so that I can install Linux on a machine or motherboard destined for Windows 8. Many of the newer motherboards are coming with UEFI and secure boot so this is great news for us Linux users. Does your motherboard have UEFI and secure boot?

-Ubu out
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