Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal Elbereth's Journal: Why I'm not scared of the Windows 8 secure boot feature

Adapted from a recent comment.

Slashdot has a long history of shrilling crying out doom and gloom, and it's been wrong on every occasion that I can remember. I don't blame someone for thinking that a paranoid rant on slashdot is total bunk. When RFID chips were first discussed on Slashdot, people worked themselves into a paranoid frenzy, suggesting that you microwave any clothes that you buy from a retail store, so that you destroy any errant RFID chips. I laughed then, and I'm laughing now, as I recall it. Slashdot has always had a loud paranoid wing, and most of us have learned to tune them out. Their first reaction is always to predict a wildly unlikely worst case scenario, then rant and scream about how we're headed toward some fascist police state, because their Pentium III has a serial number (that can be disabled in the BIOS). I've heard it all before, I wasn't impressed by it back in the late 90s, and I'm still not impressed with it. The Pentium III serial number, RFID, Vista's DRM, Trusted Computing... these have all been complete non-issues. I agree that there's deeply troubling potential, but let's face it:

1) People generally want authoritarianism. It makes them feel safe and secure, regardless of the reality. Ranting about how walled gardens are evil is just going to make all the Apple fanboys tune you out, rather than convincing them to ditch their iProduct.
2) Security, by design, reduces functionality and ease-of-use. People hate that. Thus, security is generally minimized, unless it's authoritarian in nature. In that case, refer back to the first point.
3) Most -- not all, but most -- authoritarian controls can be disabled. Occasionally, it requires some action that voids your warranty.

Once I realized these things, I stopped caring so much. When I heard XP was going to require activation, I thought it was going to change everything. When I heard that Vista was going to have all kinds of evil DRM, I thought that would finally kill off everything that I loved about PCs and turn them into locked-down consoles. When I heard that Windows 8 was going to have secure boot, I'd shrugged my shoulders and said, "So fucking what? Slashdot has been wrong about everything they've ever panicked about, and I'm not falling into that trap again."

Maybe the Windows 8 secure boot will turn out to be a huge issue, and Linux will be locked out of 90% of all new brand name PCs, but I seriously doubt it. Every other time that Slashdot has panicked over DRM, trusted computing, or other initiatives, it's turned out to be a huge non-issue. If this does turn out to be a legitimate threat to Linux, open source, or the PC architecture, I'll deal with it then, rather than panicking about it now, like some slashbot version of Chicken Little.

p.s. I'm not saying we're not headed toward a fascist police state, but CPU serial numbers are not one of the warning signs of fascism. It may be indicative of a tolerance for fascism, but it is not, in and of itself, any barometer of political discourse.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why I'm not scared of the Windows 8 secure boot feature

Comments Filter:

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor