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Microsoft Security Software Linux

How Microsoft Can Lock Linux Off Windows 8 PCs 899

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-penguins-were-secure-enough dept.
Julie188 writes "Windows 8 PCs will use the next-generation booting specification known as Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). In fact, Windows 8 logo devices will be required to use the secure boot portion of the new spec. Secure UEFI is intended to thwart rootkit infections by using PKI authentication before allowing executables or drivers to be loaded onto the device. Problem is, unless the device manufacturer gives a key to the device owner, it can also be used to keep the PC's owner from wiping out the current OS and installing another option, such as Linux."
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How Microsoft Can Lock Linux Off Windows 8 PCs

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  • by ge7 (2194648) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:12AM (#37466354)
    So it isn't really Microsoft that can lock you out, it's device manufacturer. Likewise they could lock you out of Windows if Linux was the OS that came with computer. Why don't we see a headline like "How Linux Can Lock Windows Off PCs"? Oh right, this is slashdot. We're here to bash Microsoft.

    Boot rootkits are a real problem. Microsoft is improving security here. In fact, Linux has had the capability to use (U)EFI for years. Now Microsoft is just making it default in their system, because quite frankly most people aren't that intelligent with computers and the OS needs to decide some security for them. It's funny how in other news Microsoft gets bashed for bad security, and then in other news they get bashed for implementing those security features.

    If you don't get the key when buying your computer, complain to your manufacturer. It's their fault. I don't know why you're buying a computer with Windows to begin with if you're going to install Linux anyway, you're just throwing away money. And nowadays there's lots of computers available without Windows, or you can just build it yourself.
  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:15AM (#37466394) Journal

    And why would a device manufacturer lock the device to a particular OS? Maybe for the same reason they could be coaxed to only sell the device with a particular OS?

    You're absolutely right, if you completely ignore history.

  • by kju (327) * on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:17AM (#37466402)

    In my opinion neither the title nor the article are overly sensational as claimed by you. While it is technically true that the device vendor does the lock out, this is nothing more than a smoke grenade tampering with the truth.

    The fact is that Microsoft will require the manufacturers to support this technology if they want to sell devices on which windows will run. Even more the fact is, that this means that they will have to include keys by Microsoft which will prevent the device from running unsigned code like Linux.

    And while it is still a rumor it can probably be taken as a fact that disabling this feature (if made possible by the manufacturers) will likely cause Windows to not start because this is what malicious software would do as well and allowing this would circumvent the security improvement.

    So cut the crap. Yes, it will be the device manufacturers who will effectively bring this restriction into life. But it will be Microsoft who forces them to do so.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:19AM (#37466420)

    Because it is anti-competitive. Unless the device manufacturers want their PCs and mainboards to be barred from being sold in the EU, they better find a way to make Linux installation possible.

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:21AM (#37466444)

    If you don't get the key when buying your computer, complain to your manufacturer. It's their fault. I don't know why you're buying a computer with Windows to begin with if you're going to install Linux anyway, you're just throwing away money.

    What about those people who buy Windows now, because they don't know any better, but then learn about Linux, and want to install it on their then old computer several years from now? This is not only a plausible scenario for installing Linux on a computer which had Windows initially, but it is also a scenario where complaining to the manufacturer won't help: he may no longer be in business by them, or not longer have the keys for obsolete machines.

    O, and another reason to buy a computer with Windows if you're going to install Linux anyways: maybe Microsoft is still so good at bribing most manufacturers that it is difficult to find computers of the desired spec without Windows.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:21AM (#37466446) Journal

    "Try it again?" They haven't stopped.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:24AM (#37466478) Homepage

    I don't know why you're buying a computer with Windows to begin with if you're going to install Linux anyway,

    Even if we ignore the new Linux installs, how about re-purposing an old PC, second hand PCs, corporate computers that are sold off for cheap, huge blocker for people wanting to migrate/test Linux and so on. Laptops pretty much all come with the OS preinstalled and the desktop market is dominated by OEMs. The volume of "virgin" hardware that's never been touched by Windows is just a few percent of the market (excluding Macs, but Apple might decide to do the same).

  • by ge7 (2194648) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:24AM (#37466490)
    Now you're just talking shit. Microsoft was fined 15 years ago for making deals with manufacturers and were forbidden for doing so. They stopped. Manufacturers still offer Windows because that's what most people want, believe it or not. Everything works with Windows, especially if you're a gamer.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:31AM (#37466550) Homepage Journal

    Are iPads legal in the EU?

  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:35AM (#37466588) Homepage

    They don't have to be coaxed, it's in their best interests to lock it out from the purchaser. It's the same reason they lock you out of android phones. Installing your own OS is something they don't want you to do because they think it drives up support costs and makes their built in advertisements go away.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:37AM (#37466612)

    I don't know why you're buying a computer with Windows to begin with if you're going to install Linux anyway, you're just throwing away money.

    Maybe because many manufacturers actually sell PCs with Windows installed for less than they sell PCs with Linux (or no OS).

  • Re:Caveat Emptor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:41AM (#37466666) Journal
    I'm aware. Does that mean I will have a choice then?
  • White Box Makers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang (1023425) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:48AM (#37466734) Journal

    I fail to see how this new tech will become a problem. The hardware makers want to sell hardware. Given their already thin margins, it would be stupid of them to agree to limit their boards to any one particular OS.

    That said, maybe Dell might try that in the name of security, but that is an end-product seller decision. There will always OTHER makers. You can buy new motherboards from the likes of Intel and Asus, build your own systems.

    IF this conspiracy theory did come true, the number of lawsuits and investigations into unfair business practices would drown a the targeted company into oblivion. I guess that is one benefit to be such a litigious country now.

  • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:52AM (#37466776)

    I'll be in the market for a new laptop soon, and I've already decided to use a thin Linux server install with a VMware installation, and just run any desktop, Microsoft, or "other" OS as a VM. That way I'm not having to screw with dual booting. Yes, I will have a bit of constant system overhead, but I'll have some serious flexibility and system security. This is the same strategy used on servers, yes?

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @08:58AM (#37466822)

    Its amusing to see that a preference for Linux is fine, you can make any comment you like and no one bats an eyelid - but a preference for Microsoft is absolutely verboten, there is no one who could have a positive preference for Microsoft without them having to be paid by Microsoft for their efforts.

  • by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:00AM (#37466872)
    What they want to achieve isn't to prevent you from running another OS (although making this operation painful or impossible is of course a nice side effect to them). They want to inject the end of a chain of trust inside your own machine, so they can control what software you run, what media files you play and so on. An OS installed inside a VM would be outside the chain of trust, and thus would be unable to run the software they want to protect (most likely "apps" from the forthcoming windows market) and to decode the media they want to protect.
  • by Linzer (753270) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:01AM (#37466884)
    "Vote with your feet", "vote with your wallet"...

    I'm sick of hearing that crap. How do you vote with your feet if there is barely any choice in the so-called "marketplace"? And if you vote with your wallet, will that count against the votes of others whose wallets are rather thicker than yours?

    All these "vote with" phrases make a mockery of democracy. Here is my suggestion: vote with your vote. I know, it's pretty damn bold.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:02AM (#37466894) Homepage Journal
    The iPad is not Turing complete. A machine that is Turing complete can run programs that calculate things that Apple prohibits programs submitted to the App Store to calculate.
  • by Orbijx (1208864) * <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMpixelechoes.net> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:04AM (#37466924) Homepage Journal

    Pardon me as I ramble.

    As a guy in the phone support trenches for a certain OEM, I just have trouble seeing this work well for everyone.
    I see often enough that businesses will buy a brand new machine with Windows 7 pre-installed, then blow away the OS load to immediately try to install Windows XP.

    I have a hard enough time trying to teach these people that they NEED to include the Intel RST driver bundle in their image so that they stop getting STOP: 0x7B on their attempt to install or boot.
    I have a hard enough time trying to teach these people that they need to make sure their image is aligned on the new Advanced Format hard drives that are going in some of the smaller form factor machines (usually it's a 2.5" drive), since they want to install XP on the damn thing, then complain a week later that the machine is very slow and almost unusable.

    I don't speak to customers too often that aren't running some flavor of Windows, but the few I do run into seem happy when they get someone who understands the issue they've got, and will help them despite this OEM's general policy of not assisting with an OS that the OEM did not ship. These calls are usually large corporations that run Red Hat or SUSE or something else in their corporate environment, and prefer to pay for hardware support from the OEM I work for, just so they can have coverage for all of their users in nearly any country they visit.

    Keeping that last bit in mind: An OEM that implements a lockout 'feature' that prevents an operating system other than Windows 8 from being installed had better have a backup plan that keeps businesses happy, or else they've just committed suicide. It's business sales, more so than consumer sales that keep OEMs going, because businesses buy big damn contracts. Piss off the big damn contracts, and you piss off your paycheck.

  • by ge7 (2194648) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:06AM (#37466958)
    Seriously, it's not that hard. Last time I bought a laptop (an 3000 euro one from Clevo, to be exact) it even explicitly stated that it doesn't come with any OS. I looked it up from internet and walked to get it from the store. It's not that hard, and this was even a laptop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:18AM (#37467154)

    Google is nice, which is why they included a hardware switch on Chromebooks to turn off signed-image booting. Microsoft is nasty, which is why we're afraid that they won't include such an option (or, rather, will pressure hardware manufacturers to omit it).

  • by DeathElk (883654) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:27AM (#37467298)
    Oh, for FUCK's sake, will you give it a FUCKING rest with the anti-swearing BULLSHIT. Don't like it? Leave. And spare us the FUCKING WHINING.
  • by FreonTrip (694097) <freontrip@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:27AM (#37467306)
    Simple solution: let Windows "fix" the bootloader, then boot from a LiveCD and reinstall Grub. I don't think the behavior is willfully malicious either. Microsoft's installers have always assumed that Windows would be alone on a given system because, in an overwhelming number of use cases, they are. *nix users have long stood by the maxim "install Windows first, THEN $foonix" for that very reason.
  • Re:moron. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:32AM (#37467368)

    Why would you need to find a job? Make a good business plan or come up with an innovative idea, get some financial backing behind it and there's your success. That's what I meant with working hard, not some dead-end McDonalds job.

    Oh, I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about reality here. You're right, everyone should just be an entrepreneur, what was I thinking?

    There's nothing, absolutely nothing stopping you from trying so.

    Well, except for that whole "lack of money" thing. Oh yeah, and a lack of time since you already work 2 full-time jobs just to continue living at a first world level. And the kids, yeah, we'll have our nanny take our kids off our hands for a few weeks while we hammer out a business plan and shop it around to investors (I mean, we all know venture capitalists, amirite?). If we blow off our annual trip to the Caribbean we should have enough to cover the mortgage and car payments for a month while we get our new business off the ground, and once the money from our business starts rolling in (it'll have to, there's no way a business could crash and burn!), we'll be on easy street!

    You've been reading too much pro-Capitalism propaganda. It's a game, and the game is rigged...it has been for at least a hundred years.

  • Re:(*_*) (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:55AM (#37467692)

    When Sony did the same thing, they were the one who sued the person who finally cracked it to be able to run whatever he liked, rather than what Sony allowed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @10:01AM (#37467760)

    Anyone who pays that much for a laptop is a fucking homo and should be using a mac.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @10:19AM (#37467980) Homepage

    The sad fact is, that microsoft was the great innovator in this space. IBM, who came before them, didn't allow any os but their own to use any hardware they produced, nor did they allow any competition on the hardware side of things. They were like apple's iphone business.

    Microsoft is the reason that you can install alternative operating systems in the first place. Everyone else managed to blow themselves up, despite having a really strong opportunity. DR-DOS, Concurrent PC-DOS, CP/M, FreeDOS, PTS-DOS, ROM-DOS, Novell DOS, OpenDOS and I'm not even providing a full list here. Geos, PC/Geos, GeoWorks, MAC/OS, OS/2, Amiga/OS, BeOS, Iris, NextStep, RISC OS, Visi On... Microsoft openly competed with all of them and won, mostly on technical merit. Apple was one of the companies that used the courts to prevent alternative operating systems from becoming possible, and has always been openly hostile to competition. Along with that, Microsoft created the market for hardware innovations (my apologies to any lisp/c64/... machine addicts, but ... even you know what I man). You should give them credit for that, even if that credit mostly belongs to Bill Gates, and little claim can be laid to it by the current microsoft crew.

    Microsoft is the canonical example of a company that faced lots and lots of competition and won mostly on technical merits.

    Besides, I'm kinda starting to hate this anti-microsoft bashing. It's been years since I've used any form of windows on my own machines, or at work. There is no anti-competition behavior microsoft might be doing of that apple isn't doing 10x worse. Compatibility with iWork ? Just try it. Yet apple is not just forgiven for being anti-freedom, but actually revered for it. "A curated experience is better" and so on. And on apple machines, you really can't install the software you want, because there are actual, technical control measures in place that actually try to prevent it.

    In this case, people are afraid of what microsoft *might* at some point, try to do. Great. Microsoft, today, isn't the problem. Apple is the big enemy of software freedom today. Microsoft is mostly becoming less free by imitating apple.

    So please, let's shelve this discussion until apple has been broken up into a hardware business entirely separate from the software business. Including on the iPhone front.

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @10:40AM (#37468300) Homepage

    I must say you are not getting the way of the future here. There won't be any machines you can build yourself. The best and newest mobos will not support anything but Windows. You've been outmaneuvered - they've been working on this for over ten years.

    Just as you can't shut off GPS tracking on your phone, or the mic for that matter, you will not be able to bypass the switch on the mobo. Try to deactivate it, and the encrypted embedded software will prevent the board from booting, period.

      And remember this: any encryption on that subsystem will enable Microsoft to invoke the Digital Millenium Copyright Act against anyone who "breaks" the encryption. You might have rights to mod the hardware, but you have *no* right to break the DMCA and decrypt the bootup blocking software. This is a trap sixteen years in the making. Welcome to the future we warned you about.

  • Re:moron. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @11:37AM (#37468978)

    Ah, the "I know a person that can do it, so that means everyone can" argument. I know it well, I hear it a lot when talking to people about the cyclical nature of poverty and wage slavery. "[Insert name here] made it out of the ghetto and became a multimillionaire, that means that everyone in the ghetto is there by their own choice!" "[Insert name here] started in the mail room and worked his way up to CEO, therefore everyone can do it if they really want it bad enough!"

    The reason why that is notable is because of the extremely long odds they beat to get where they ended up. For every person that made that climb from entry level to CEO, there are 99,999 that never made it beyond entry level, not because they were necessarily any less qualified or driven, but because they just weren't in the right place at the right time. You think the best man for the job gets promoted in today's business world? LOL

    For every person that is able to make it out of the ghetto and become successful, there are thousands more that try just as hard and don't make it. Once social services get severely curtailed, if not axed entirely, due to this carefully engineered economic crisis, even fewer people will be able to make it. Are they all lazy? I mean, it certainly sounds like that's what you're saying, 85% of people are lazy. Couldn't it be that they're trapped in a dead end job because they lack the resources required to go out and get a better one? That's even ignoring the health care aspect, you know, the people that are stuck in a shitty job because they need health insurance for their sick spouse or child, insurance they will lose when they change employers. What should they do? Throw caution to the wind and bet on "making it?" Those with money can afford to take risks, hell, we just got done handing trillions of dollars to banks to cover the losses of their speculation. Those working at Walmart can not, and even if they could, you think a bailout is waiting for them?

    If you're unable to see how much of this game relies on luck then you're either blind or willfully ignorant.

  • by spongman (182339) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:29PM (#37470312)

    Because if you RTFA

    RTFA, indeed:

    "Microsoft requires that machines conforming to the Windows 8 logo program and running a client version of Windows 8 ship with secure boot enabled"

    there's nothing in there about "all manufacturers". it's a logo requirement, nothing more. windows 8 will run fine on my homebrew PC and i'll still be able to dual-boot debian.

  • Re:moron. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by virg_mattes (230616) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @02:07PM (#37470754)

    Excuses are like butt holes. Everybody has them. "Oh my... I can't do X because of rich/capitalism/white man" BS. My next door neighbor is a single mother working two jobs and going to school to become a RN. She doesn't think working as a waitress it a good long term career option, so she is making the required changes in her life. Capitalism is all about how much you are willing to put into life. Period. Stop blaming society on your problems and do something about it. The USA is the great country it is, because of the entrepreneur spirit.

    That's a delightful story up to the point where something outside her control goes wrong. Let her get sick and see how well that dream plays out. What sort of medical benefits package does a waitress going to nursing school have? All it takes is one such event and the "American Dream" can easily fall to pieces because the societal safety nets aren't sufficient to cover the sorts of problems that the majority of Americans run into. I truly wish that capitalism was all about how hard one is willing to work, but I'm not naive enough to think that's the case in reality.

    Oh, and I wish your neighbor all the best, but considering that I know several nurses who have no trouble getting jobs but couldn't get a nursing job sufficient to pay for their student loans, I suspect her American Dream just might not have a happy ending, unless you count working two jobs (one of them as a nurse) to be success.

    Virg

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