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Richard Stallman Speaks About UEFI 549

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-wonder-what-he'll-say dept.
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.'"
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Richard Stallman Speaks About UEFI

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  • Crippled Hardware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:03PM (#40681007) Journal

    The Hardware is crippled for the sake of Microsoft. Period.

    Secure boot is Microsoft's attempt to maintain computer OS market share as their influences is being stripped away by the likes of Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). With HTML5 on the way, we will have WEB based applications that rival desktop versions, and run on ANY device. The OS is just a layer to get to where the real work gets done, information exchange.

    AND the worst part is, secure boot doesn't actually fix the problem it pretends it solves. It can't. This is the whole DRM of DVD's and BluRay all over again. Look at how well that is working out.

    DRM is broken by design.

  • by andrew3 (2250992) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:09PM (#40681043)

    It's not that simple. Many users don't know what UEFI or Restricted Boot are. If they see a Certified for Windows 8 logo on a computer when they're buying it, they don't know that means extra restrictions for them.

    Not everybody cares about computers, which is why Restricted Boot is so bad.

  • Shackles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:10PM (#40681061) Journal

    If Microsoft got what it demands, that ARM devices that runs Win 8 be permanently locked, then the only option that I have, as a consumer, is to NOT BUY THAT DEVICE
     
    No point of supporting dictatorial regime, be it political dictatorial, or hardware dictatorial
     

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:13PM (#40681073) Journal

    It only applies to ARM devices, not all PCs.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:15PM (#40681095)

    Don't like it? Go into your BIOS and turn it off. The specification mandates that it have a disable option.

    Yeah, and?

    Windows 9 will probably make 'Windows Lockin' mandatory on x86 as it does on ARM, and it dramatically increases the difficulty of installing an alternate OS. No more booting Linux from CD and installing without even touching the BIOS.

  • by exomondo (1725132) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:15PM (#40681097)
    Why not? There's no hardware lock preventing them, turn SecureBoot off and you're good to go. Or if you want to leave SecureBoot on use an OS from a vendor that provides keys. Or if you want to use an OS that doesn't provide keys yet still want SecureBoot on then get a key from a CA like Verisign.
    I don't see what the problem is here.
  • Re:Shackles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:15PM (#40681099) Homepage Journal

    Of course, the salesdroids would point the finger squarely at ARM, should the sales numbers not measure up.

    Voting with your wallet only works correctly if the fallout falls in the right place.

  • by goruka (1721094) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:19PM (#40681127)
    Manufacturers should be free to do whathever they want with the devices they create. If they want to lock them, fine. If they want to lock them because a carrier asks? fine, lock it for that carrier or ignore the carrier. It's still their choice
    I also can understand hardware requirements for a licensed OS, such a certain button layout, screen resolution, etc. Those make sense and ensure it runs as intended. The same way, Microsoft can make their own devices and lock them and it's their choice.
    But manufacturers being forced by to lock the devices by the mobile OS supplier? That's abuse!. It's Microsoft abusing their desktop PC monopoly power, patents, etc. against the OEMs. What is MS afraid of, people installing Android or Ubuntu on their newly acquired devices?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:21PM (#40681141)
    ...for now. Don't think MS isn't salivating at the prospect of locking in all x86 and ARM devices forever that ship with any version of Windows. You'd be a fool to believe otherwise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:22PM (#40681147)

    If you don't know what a BIOS is, you probably shouldn't be changing what OS you're using.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:24PM (#40681163)

    Yeah, this will be great you naive fool right up until the time x86 boards stop shipping with secure boot disableable and when Verisign stops selling keys for less than 99,000 dollars for "security" reasons. The funny thing is the hackers will just find a way to infect your machine around this scheme and the consumers will be left holding the bag. Again. I hope the EU steps in and brings MS to their knees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:27PM (#40681181)
    Then why haven't they done it? If they wanted to do it and could do it then they would have done it, but the fact is that would violate anti-trust law. In the tablet/smartphone market it is generally accepted that systems are sold as devices, hardware built for specific software. MS' early offerings in the tablet space didn't have these restrictions but the world changed and while MS is late to the party they are following the trend laid out by companies like Apple.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:27PM (#40681183) Homepage Journal

    the only option that I have, as a consumer, is to NOT BUY THAT DEVICE

    There is no way to run Windows RT applications if you do NOT BUY THAT DEVICE. What do you recommend for people whose job involves running a Windows RT-exclusive application? Or do you expect such applications not to exist?

    No point of supporting dictatorial regime, be it political dictatorial, or hardware dictatorial

    Tell that to anybody who has ever bought a video game console.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:28PM (#40681193)

    Let me explain ... me I just bought an wireless access point ... and I have no intention at all of using it
    as an access point. I want a device with a set of excellent antenna's, great rx sensitivity and it has to
    have monitor mode so I can capture raw 802.11 frames and I have to be able to make it send arbitrary
    802.11 frames as well.

    Yeah I found a great little device for doing just that ;-)

    Thankfully this device is not locked down with a secure boot loader !!! I did have to open it up and access
    the serial port on the board to load dd-wrt (an alternative linux distribution for wifi routers) but it was *easy*
    and the chipset it has is a.) linux supported and b.) the chipset and the linux driver support monitoring
    and injection.

    IF SECURE BOOT COMES AROUND WE WONT BE ABLE TO DO THAT ANYMORE!!

    If the router had had a secure boot scheme I would have had to first work hard on getting around that. JTAG.
    Glitching, and in a few years from now even these techniques might not work anymore. In FACT ... the ARM
    chips do have a jtag interface but now there's SECURE MONITOR MODE for jtag meaning you have to first
    do a cryptographic challenge/response sequence before you get access to the chip via JTAG.

    WTF!! I FUCKING OWN THIS BOX WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO KEEP ME FROM USING IT AS I SEE FIT, YOU SCUM!!

    Anyhow here's the game plan that's been decided in the back room .... There will be secure boot on commodity hardware.
    Vendors who are in the club will get their code signed easily. For a while small fries will also get their code signed for a
    fee. The consumer will have the impression that there is still choice, Linux is not going to go away tomorrow, a signed and
    authorized kernel will be available.

    However, you will find that you're going to be locked out more and more out of your system. At some point you will not be sure
    anymore what is running in the background and what backdoors are introduced into the system. You will have to trust a kernel
    image that is given to you encrypted and that may contain all sorts of things.

    It's the future they want. The ability to access/erase/modify your data, activate your microphones and video cameras, prevent you
    from doing anything they don't want you to. Sure there will be exploits for a while and ways to regain access however limited or temporary
    but as the game plan advances.. give it another 10-15 years at the rate tech is advancing and it will be VERY HARD TO IMPOSSIBLE for
    YOU small fries to do anything about it. Maybe someone with millions of $$$ can hack their devices but you with a small salary will
    not ... and they will detect that you tried and put you away.

    Well that's their game plan .... Now YOU!!!! need to do something about it!!!

    IT STARTS WITH SAYING NO TO ARM AND BROADCOM HARDWARE
    IT STARTS WITH INFLUENCING BUYING AT WORK.
    IT STARTS WITH GETTING RID OF THEIR STOCK
    IT STARTS WITH CALLING THEM UP AND BUGGING THE SHIT OUT OF THEM
    IT STARTS WITH EDUCATING EVERYBODY ELSE AROUND YOU.
    Enough all caps. But yeah to drive the point home.

    It starts with easy things and yes.. the way freedom is going away it may well end someday with a whole lot of violence, blood and tears ...

    Enough. Think this one through. Do you want to spend the rest of your life with locked down ipads never sure if
    they're watching you with it, too scared to type anything 'radical' into it, too locked down to do what you want
    while the box has the 100x the power tech has to do but is using that to make your life hard and miserable???

    Help me out here, I don't want this kind of future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:31PM (#40681219)

    You say that like they cannot possibly be the same thing.

    No he didn't, he said ARM devices are "not all PCs." Read better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:36PM (#40681255)

    Then why haven't they done it?

    Boil the frog slowly, son. Boil him slowly.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:41PM (#40681287)

    And when that happens, you will have a good reason to get upset. Until then it's just speculation.

    Yes, you're right. Microsoft would never, ever even think of locking all other operating systems out of the PC market.

    How could I possibly have been so stupid?

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, the day you're locked out of all new PC hardware is a day too late to get upset about it.

  • by cmat (152027) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:42PM (#40681293)

    I think the implication is that should Microsoft choose to not support x86 devices, then ARM devices may be "all PCs" that can run Windows 8.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:46PM (#40681315)

    If Microsoft got what it demands, that ARM devices that runs Win 8 be permanently locked, then the only option that I have, as a consumer, is to NOT BUY THAT DEVICE

    No point of supporting dictatorial regime, be it political dictatorial, or hardware dictatorial

    The elephant in the discussion is the iPad, an ARM based device with a locked bootloade. No one wants to talk about making it illegal, only Windows RT tablets must be outlawed, Apple is free to do whatever they want. Say you bought an iPad on Slashdot, automatically get +5 for not choosing a PC with Windows. But guess what? Apple bans Firefox from the iPad while you can even install Linux on a PC.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:48PM (#40681329) Homepage

    AND the worst part is, secure boot doesn't actually fix the problem it pretends it solves. It can't. This is the whole DRM of DVD's and BluRay all over again. Look at how well that is working out. DRM is broken by design.

    That depends on what problem it is you think it pretends to solve. A computer made to only run signed code doesn't have the same fundamental weakness as DRM has where the private key has to be somewhere to decrypt it, nobody but Microsoft is going to have Microsoft's private signing key and unless they give you that option disabling the signature check is going to be extremely hard. Getting any other code to run - except user space code in Win8's application sandbox - will be as hard as cracking the Xbox360 or the PS3. I suspect that with a "boiling the frog" strategy the current document said people MUST be able to disable it on x86, the next one will say MAY and with a nudge and a wink to the OEMs it's going to end up at MAY NOT.

  • Good for Stallman (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quixote9 (999874) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:49PM (#40681345) Homepage
    He may be dogmatic, but he's also right WAY more than he's wrong. All of open source owes him a lot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:53PM (#40681371)

    If Microsoft got what it demands, that ARM devices that runs Win 8 be permanently locked, then the only option that I have, as a consumer, is to NOT BUY THAT DEVICE

    No point of supporting dictatorial regime, be it political dictatorial, or hardware dictatorial

    The elephant in the discussion is the iPad, an ARM based device with a locked bootloade. No one wants to talk about making it illegal, only Windows RT tablets must be outlawed, Apple is free to do whatever they want. Say you bought an iPad on Slashdot, automatically get +5 for not choosing a PC with Windows. But guess what? Apple bans Firefox from the iPad while you can even install Linux on a PC.

    And if the Windows RT device is made by Microsoft themselves, they are free to lock it down howerver they like, just as Apple does with its iPads. But since when does Microsoft get to lock down at the hardware level what software can or can't run on devices created by companies they don't, e.g., Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.?

  • Re:Shackles (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:01PM (#40681413)

    ARM has nothing to do with this. The security bits are designed by the CPU manufacturer not ARM (although ARM is moving to standardize this area). Regardless, the security hardware can be used in various ways. It can protect the user's interest or the OS designer's interests. Guess which way Microsoft is going to use it.

    Personally, I'll never purchase a device that is boot-locked. I'm the geek here so members of my family and friends that listen to reason won't either.

  • Re:Shackles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IAmR007 (2539972) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:13PM (#40681497)
    It also only matters if enough people vote with their wallets. The majority of people don't care about other operating systems or even care about having the choice.
  • by DeathFromSomewhere (940915) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:19PM (#40681535)
    Hopefully none because the slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy.
  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:19PM (#40681537)

    If I want to buy a Windows lockin computer to run Windows, that doesn't keep anyone from producing a product that can run any free os.

    That is correct, but playing devil's advocate here... the market for such a product would be relatively small, and it would need to be purpose built for that market, and purpose bought.

    The days of taking home a used PC from the office that had been retired and popping linux on it to play around would be over.

    The days of dropping a live distro in would be over.

    The days of buying a PC and dual booting linux would be over.

    We would instead need to special order a linux capable product, and use it for that purpose. Its not the end of the world, but it would be the end of an era that would be greatly missed by those of us that care.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:30PM (#40681589) Homepage Journal

    the slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy

    Logical fallacies work only in the case where all premises are known with certainty. Where premises are not knowable with such certainty, or where premises change over time with a change in culture, fallacies become heuristics.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:40PM (#40681673)

    Boil the frog slowly, son. Boil him slowly

    Can we stop using this old folksy saying now? It just isn't true.

    No.

    The *concept* communicated by that saying is a valid one, even if the actual "froggy-facts" don't support it's literal meaning in the real world. It has become part of the culture and popular language usage.

    Deal.

    Strat

  • Re:Shackles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:56PM (#40681779)
    Actually, psychologically almost everyone finds way that others are to blame and they themselves are innocent. It is a hard thing to do to recognize this subjective behavior in yourself, and understand that people will also be doing this to blame you (even in their own minds) no matter what the facts are.
  • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @12:05AM (#40681827)
    > And when that happens, you will have a good reason to get upset. Until then it's just speculation.
    speculation true .... but also foresight. Why wait until the obvious happens before you do something about it - it is pretty clear the direction that technology is headed in at the moment, "THE CONSUMER IS THE ENEMY". It is like this with game consoles, TVs, media players, phones, music, movies, iPads etc etc. Isn't is obvious that the open-ness of the general purpose computer is something that the big corporations are angling to lock down - to prevent users from having full control over their own hardware (which Stallman has been talking about all along - he has more foresight that most of us). Despite all the locking down of computer devices and software there are still people like yourself who think people complaining about it (or what will obviously happen next) is overblown. There are very good reasons to "be upset" with current trends. Just you wait and see what the future will bring.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:36AM (#40682303)

    Problem is - you cannot generate your own key. You HAVE to get the key somewhere else, and getting that key will cost money (yes for non-commercial use it is free .... for now). Some operating systems are self build, and they have to get a new key every time they change something at kernel level. That will be a great hindrance.

    Now - you can say "big deal - just switch off secure boot". The problem with that is a lot of people just want to dual boot with Windows. Problem with that is - if your distro has no key, yo are forced to do a cumbersome "reboot - go to BIOS - switch off secure boot - save settings - reboot again - start the distro" and when you go back to windows you have to do "reboot - go into BIOS - switch on secure boot - save settings - reboot again - boot Windows". This gives a physical and psychological barrier, that will be a big hindrance for acceptance of any other OS than Windows. In fact all not-signed disto's will be "flagged" as difficult to use, just because the hoops you have to jump trough to get everything working. This creates a unfair advantage for windows (because secure boot is on by default if you want to have a Microsoft certification).

    And there are problems with getting this key. The user cannot generate the key themselves. If that would be the case all problems where over. No the user politely have to ask for a key, and so are depending on a third party if they are allowed to use the hardware they just bought for dual-booting. As I said - for now it is free, but there are no guarantees it will stay that way. And if you are making a OS for commercial purposes, you have to pay $99 - again ... for now. This could easily be raised to $999, or $9999 or $9999999 or whatever they want.

    And last - if Microsoft has secure boot in place it is a given fact (make no mistake - you wont get a MS approved certification if the hardware you make has no secure boot, so most hardware makers wont take any risk and comply to the demands of Microsoft). And when secure boot is in place Microsoft can increase the demands surrounding this secure boot (if this will be in the field of key generation or increased "safety" demands is to be seen, but you can be sure it will generate a increased barrier for other operating systems).

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:53AM (#40682391)
    For now. Secure boot is Microsoft building a big 'destroy linux' button and promiseing they won't push it.
  • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:01AM (#40682437)

    I got a neat "rotten Apple" sticker from the FSF that begs to differ with your sentiment about Stallman... "and his ilk."

    He's right (on this he is VERY right and not off in the weeds with the details like some other things he talks about), and ARM is just solidifying the already convicted company of trying to do an end-round on the market to lock people into their OS and their OS alone. It bit them in the ass once, and now they're trying a different tactic... crippling the hardware.

    Sorry, there's nothing "Anti-MS" about this news. It's MOTS from a company (like Apple) that has been fucking us in the ass for years. Thank FSM for Stallman and Linus Torvalds. I refuse to use Windows and I refuse to allow general purpose computing hardware to be compromised so Microsoft can play catchup to its competitors by locking down hardware. The fact that I can rip out my stupid Windows license and install Linux after I unpack my PC is one of the reasons I've not taken a pitchfork to Bill Gates' and Steve Ballmer's collective scrotums. What I would really like to do is take a dump in an envelope and mail back my Windows Recovery CD to Ballmer's office, C.O.D. When they perfect the lockdown on ARM, who doesn't honestly (and with a straight face) believe they won't be doing the exact same thing to x86 platforms? Hmm? If anyone believes that the venerable PC is safe from Microsoft's disease has been asleep for the last 20 or so years...

  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:03AM (#40682447)

    I agree with pretty much everything you said... But getting rid of ARM? What sort of stupid bullshit is that? The problem has *NOTHING* to do with the architecture and everything to do with Microsoft. Putting it into perspective - there is not a single ARM device that you can buy today that has UEFI... And somehow the problem is ARMs' fault?

    I guess perhaps the mindset of the embedded industry who don't think that proprietary blob drivers are a bad thing (hey, nobody but us will ever update the software!) is partly to blame. Yes, most of these companies use ARM, but it still has nothing to do with ARM.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:14AM (#40682507) Journal
    Yeah right, Sweden and Norway are chock full of death camps.
  • by hazydave (96747) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:01PM (#40687765)

    Of course Microsoft will support x86 PCs.

    The difference is that simple "here's what the lawyers are telling us" thing. Microsoft was judged a monopoly, but very specifically on x86-based PCs. That's just the way the court defined it. Now, as with their IE vs. Netscape things, it's not necessarily kosher for a proven monopoly to use their monopoly powers to grab some new territory. But as Microsoft has always proven, it's better to do that damage now and get slapped on the wrist later, with the damage probably undoable, than to just not do it.

    So they'd like to lock-down all PCs. We have known that for years -- they've been talking about doing just that for years. But the lawyers are certainly telling MS brass that you can't just go and make it virtually impossible to put something other than Windows on every new PC. So they're leaving that option in the hands of the manufacturers, and the simple fact that virtually all PCs will be shipped with the locks enabled, if there's a key hidden in there were only we computer savvy folk know where to find it.

    But ARM isn't x86, and Microsoft has no monopoly there. So they're going for it -- grabbing for all they can. Same reason the ARM systems won't allow anyone who isn't Microsoft to use the Win32 APIs. They're all there on the ARM machines, just as on the x86 machines. But Microsoft is legally bound to make all OS calls they use available to all developers. But clearly, the lawyers have decided that, too, only applies to x86 machines.

    This is very likely to be a train wreck of a launch. Buyers have enough trouble understanding the tech, now they're going to have to figure out why one tablet sold with Windows will run all their existing Windows programs (though it'll need a mouse and keyboard, but ok, I like those on my Android tablet when running shells, etc), and the one sold next to it will only run brand new stuff you have to buy directly from Microsoft. Should be fun to watch.

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