sfcrazy writes "Quite a lot of people raised their eyebrows the way ex-Red Hat developer Matthew Garrett made Microsoft the 'universal' control of any desktops PCs running with UEFI secure boot. Though the intentions of Garrett were clear — to enable GNU/Linux to be able to run Linux on Windows 8 certified PCs with secure boot; it was clearly putting Microsoft in a very powerful position. Linus, while a supporter of secure boot, exploded at Garrett and Howells when they proposed its inclusion in the kernel. Linus responded: 'Guys, this is not a d*#@-sucking contest. If you want to parse PE binaries, go right ahead. If Red Hat wants to deep-throat Microsoft, that's *your* issue. That has nothing what-so-ever to do with the kernel I maintain. It's trivial for you guys to have a signing machine that parses the PE binary, verifies the signatures, and signs the resulting keys with your own key. You already wrote the code, for chissake, it's in that f*cking pull request.'" Update: 02/25 17:24 GMT by U L : The headline/article are misleading, since mjg seems to agree that the patch is a bit complicated : "(I mean, *I'm* fine with the idea that they're *@#$ing idiots and deserve to be miserable, but apparently there's people who think this is a vital part of a business model)". The issue at hand is a set of patches to load and store keys inside of a UEFI PE binary which is then passed to the kernel, which then extracts the keys from the binary. It's absurd, it's messy, and it's only needed because Microsoft will only sign PE binaries so not supporting it makes restricted boot even more difficult to support.
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hypnosec writes "The Linux Foundation's UEFI Secure Boot pre-bootloader for independent Linux distros and software developers has finally been released. Announcing the release of the secure boot system James Bottomley noted that the signed pre-bootloader was delivered by Microsoft on February 6th. Bottomley has released two validated files: PreLoader.efi and HashTool.efi. Bottomley has also created a bootable mini-USB image that provides 'an EFI shell where the kernel should be and uses Gummiboot to boot.' Just last week the pre-bootloader had to be rewritten to accommodate booting of all versions of Linux."
hypnosec writes "The Linux Foundation's UEFI secure boot pre-bootloader is still in the works, and has been modified substantially so that it allows any Linux version to boot through UEFI secure boot. The reason for modifying the pre-bootloader was that the current version of the loader wouldn't work with Gummiboot, which was designed to boot kernels using BootServices->LoadImage(). Further, the original pre-bootloader had been written using 'PE/Coff link loading to defeat the secure boot checks.' As it stands, anything run by the original pre-bootloader must also be link-loaded to defeat secure boot, and Gummiboot, which is not a link-loader, didn't work in this scenario. This is the reason a re-write of the pre-bootloader was required and now it supports booting of all versions of Linux." Also in UEFI news: Linus Torvalds announced today that the flaw which was bricking some Samsung laptops if booted into Linux has been dealt with.
hypnosec writes "With Linux enthusiasts and distro publishers eagerly waiting for a solution to Microsoft's UEFI SecureBoot, there are those who have already looked at the viability of Linux on Microsoft Surface tablet. Matthew Garrett, a.k.a. UEFI-guru, has revealed that those who are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping to find run Linux on Microsoft's tablet are on an uphill walk and it doesn't seem to be an easy one. So why is this? The answer is in the manner in which Microsoft has restricted the Surface from loading non-signed software / binaries by implementing UEFI SecureBoot. Microsoft has loaded on the ARM based tablet its private key instead of the 'Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher' key, which is needed to sign non-Microsoft software like Linux distributions or loaders. So, no publisher key = no signed non-Microsoft binary = no Linux."
Yesterday, we ran a story with the headline "Free Software Foundation Campaigning To Stop UEFI SecureBoot." It's more complicated than that, though, writes gnujoshua: "We want computer manufacturers to implement Secure Boot in a way that is secure. If a user can't disable Secure Boot and they are unable to sign their own software (e.g., bootloader, OS, etc), then we call that particular implementation 'Restricted Boot.' We don't want computer makers to implement Restricted Boot. We want them to implement Secure Boot and to provide a way for individuals to install a fully free OS on their computers. Many computer makers are implementing UEFI Secure Boot in this way, and we want to continue encouraging them to do so." The complete text of the statement they'd like people to sign reads: "We, the undersigned, urge all computer makers implementing UEFI's so-called "Secure Boot" to do it in a way that allows free software operating systems to be installed. To respect user freedom and truly protect user security, manufacturers must either allow computer owners to disable the boot restrictions, or provide a sure-fire way for them to install and run a free software operating system of their choice. We commit that we will neither purchase nor recommend computers that strip users of this critical freedom, and we will actively urge people in our communities to avoid such jailed systems."
hypnosec writes "The Free Software Foundation is on an offensive against restricted boot systems and is busy appealing for donations and pledge in the form of signatures in a bid to stop systems such as the UEFI SecureBoot from being adopted on a large-scale basis and becoming a norm in the future. The FSF, through an appeal on its website, is requesting users to sign a pledge titled 'Stand up for your freedom to install free software' that they won't be purchasing or recommending for purchase any such system that is SecureBoot enabled or some other form of restricted boot techniques. The FSF has managed to receive, as of this writing, over 41,000 signatures. Organizations like the Debian, Edoceo, Zando, Wreathe and many others have also showed their support for the campaign."
New submitter Nagilum23 writes "It looks like Lenovo only knows of Windows and RHEL where their Thinkcentre M92p desktop is concerned. While investigating UEFI boot issues, Matthew Garrett found the PC's firmware actually checks the descriptive string for the operating system, and will prevent unlisted operating systems from booting. Garrett writes, 'Every UEFI boot entry has a descriptive string. This is used by the firmware when it's presenting a menu to users - instead of "Hard drive 0" and "USB drive 3", the firmware can list "Windows Boot Manager" and "Fedora Linux". There's no reason at all for the firmware to be parsing these strings. ... there is a function that compares the descriptive string against "Windows Boot Manager" and appears to return an error if it doesn't match. What's stranger is that it also checks for "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" and lets that one work as well. ... This is, obviously, bizarre. A vendor appears to have actually written additional code to check whether an OS claims to be Windows before it'll let it boot. Someone then presumably tested booting RHEL on it and discovered that it didn't work. Rather than take out that check, they then addded another check to let RHEL boot as well." Note that this isn't a SecureBoot issue. Lenovo is aware of the problem and looking into it.
As tablets and computer-phones flood the market, the headlines read: "The Personal Computer is Dying." But they are only half true: an artifact of the PC is dying, but the essence of the PC revolution is closer to realization than ever before, while also being closer to loss than ever before.
Ever since news broke last year that Microsoft would require Windows 8 machines to have UEFI secure boot enabled, there were concerns that it would be used to block the installation of other operating systems, such as Linux distributions. Now, reader dgharmon sends this quote from Ars Technica about a new defense against that outcome: "The Linux Foundation has announced plans to provide a general purpose solution suitable for use by Linux and other non-Microsoft operating systems. The group has produced a minimal bootloader that won't boot any operating system directly. Instead, it will transfer control to any other bootloader — signed or unsigned — so that can boot an operating system." The announcement adds, "The pre-bootloader will employ a 'present user'; test to ensure that it cannot be used as a vector for any type of UEFI malware to target secure systems. This pre-bootloader can be used either to boot a CD/DVD installer or LiveCD distribution or even boot an installed operating system in secure mode for any distribution that chooses to use it."
itwbennett writes "Assuming that Microsoft doesn't choose to implement Secure Boot in the ways that the Linux Foundation says would work with Linux, there 'will be no easy way to run Linux on Windows 8 PCs,' writes Steven Vaughan-Nichols. Instead, we're faced with three different, highly imperfect approaches: Approach #1: Create UEFI Secure Boot keys for your particular distribution, like Canonical is doing with Ubuntu. Approach #2: work with Microsoft's key signing service to create a Windows 8 system compatible UEFI secure boot key, like Red Hat is doing with Fedora." itwbennet finishes with: "Approach #3: Use open hardware with open source software, an approach favored by ZaReason CEO Cathy Malmrose." When you can't even use a GPLv3 licensed bootloader to boot your system, you might have a problem. Why is everyone so quick to accept the corpse of TCPA in new clothes?
An anonymous reader writes "Despite weaknesses in the Linux-hostile 'secure boot' mechanism, both Fedora and Ubuntu decided to facilitate it, by essentially adopting two different approaches. Richard Stallman has finally spoken out on this subject. He notes that 'if the user doesn't control the keys, then it's a kind of shackle, and that would be true no matter what system it is.' He says, 'Microsoft demands that ARM computers sold for Windows 8 be set up so that the user cannot change the keys; in other words, turn it into restricted boot.' Stallman adds that 'this is not a security feature. This is abuse of the users. I think it ought to be illegal.'"
sfcrazy writes "The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published a whitepaper suggesting how free operating systems can deal with UEFI secure boot. In the whitepaper, the foundation has criticized the approach Canonical/Ubuntu has taken to deal with the problem. The paper reads: 'It is not too late to change. We urge Ubuntu and Canonical to reverse this decision, and we offer our help in working through any licensing concerns. We also hope that Ubuntu, like Fedora, will actively support users generating and using their own signing keys to run and share any versions of the software, and not require users to install a key from Canonical to get the full benefit of their operating system.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Canonical has laid out their plans for handling UEFI SecureBoot on Ubuntu Linux. Similar to Red Hat paying Microsoft to get past UEFI restrictions, Canonical does have a private UEFI key. Beyond that they will also be switching from GRUB to the more liberal efilinux bootloader, and only require bootloader binaries be signed — and they want to setup their own signing infrastructure separate from Microsoft."
First time accepted submitter Bucky24 writes "ZDNet's Ed Bott decided to contact major PC makers to find out the truth about Windows 8 SecureBoot. The responses are encouraging for those of us who run third party operating systems. Dell plans to have a BIOS switch to allow SecureBoot to be disabled, and HP assures us that they will allow consumers to make their own choice as to what operating system to run, though they have not given details as to how."
mvar writes "The Linux Foundation today released technical guidance to PC makers on how to implement secure UEFI without locking Linux or other free software off of new Windows 8 machines. The guidance included a subtle tisk-tisk at Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky for suggesting that PC owners won't want to mess with control of their hardware and would happily concede it to operating system makers and hardware manufacturers." Canonical and Red Hat have also published a white paper (PDF) suggesting that all OEMs "allow secure boot to be easily disabled and enabled through a firmware configuration interface," among other things.