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DRM Microsoft Operating Systems Portables Linux

Why Linux On Microsoft Surface Is a Tough Challenge 561

Posted by timothy
from the 5-feet-high-and-risin' dept.
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."
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Why Linux On Microsoft Surface Is a Tough Challenge

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  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:22PM (#42429011) Homepage Journal
    Before surface, MS WIndows ran on commodity hardware. If you needed a cheap *nix box you could go down to the store, but a MS Windows machine, through away the MS license, and load your favorite *nix.

    If you want a *nix that runs on MS Surface caliber hardware and aren't worrying about licensing, get an iPad. You can fill it up with important apps for under $100.

    If you want a cheap *nix pad, get an android. It still has licensing issues, but is the commodity hardware that was the MS Windows machine.

    The reality is that OSS is going to be a few years behind MS, which is a couple years behind Apple. Look at the office app. Openoffice.org was possible only because the office application is now legacy and MS did little to keep the product unique. While the GUI was available in high end Unix machines since it was available for Apple, commodity machines did not have graphic coprocessors that made GUIs efficient until the early 90's.

    So it is an advancement that we had a functional *nix tablet, in the form of android, before we had a functional MS tablet, in terms of surface. So I am not sure why we would want to make MS Surface anything other than a marginal device by standardizing it as a *nix device. I mean, one thing about windows is it was the standard for writing memos and the like, so if you could get the MS Windows applications running in *nix, then you would not have to have a MS license. But what Apps does MS Surface have? I mean MS is so desperate that they are buying banner ads on /. begging developers to write apps.

    Just let the MS Surface die a graceful death. Don't glorify it by even suggesting it should run and *nix.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:40PM (#42429151)

    Just because you're buying "hardware" doesn't mean you're getting the privilege of installing whatever the hell you want on the device.

    See ignoring the massive flag waving response. I have this belief that if I buy something I can do what the hell I want with it. When did I start hiring/licensing my computer!! Can Microsoft really not effective compete with Linux the OS you claim in not ready (It is has been for years) I believe the Android variant is set to eclipse Windows Next Year.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:41PM (#42429161)

    just another lesson learned from Apple.

    I'm tired of Apple being used to justify shitty behaviour from Microsoft. In this case its no even true.

  • Specious logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @08:44PM (#42429185)

    There are a thousand other things wrong with Linux right now and nobody seems interested in fixing them (yes, I'm doing my part, but I only have so much free time to spend fixing random issues and maintaining my own packages). No, instead, we're going to dump all our time and effort into making a device that was NEVER DESIGNED TO RUN LINUX, well, run Linux.

    Until relatively recently, no device was *ever* designed to run linux. If the Linux community accepted that approach, Linux wouldn't run on anything.

    I think it's important, and sends a message to big companies, that Linux run on everything. It tells them, you will not avoid us. You cannot lock your shit down. No matter what you do, we'll be there.

    If I was more clever, I'd do a rendition of a Police song to accentuate the point.

  • Re:Which tablets? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CajunArson (465943) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:22PM (#42429505) Journal

    So basically you are assuming that the Microsoft locked-down bootloader is impervious to hacking while all the Android ones suck and can be circumvented easily. Without knowing it, you've just complimented Microsoft's software engineering ability.

    If the Surface doesn't just bomb out in the market, there will very probably be some hacks that make it possible to load on a new OS. Frankly, my Android phone is much harder to install a new OS on that any other piece of hardware that I've ever owned even though it theoretically isn't "locked down" so I'm not going to point fingers at Microsoft for copy-catting everybody else in this space.

  • Re:Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Monday December 31, 2012 @12:45AM (#42430579) Journal

    You're seriously bringing $99 rite aid tablets into this discussion?

    Yes. I actually have many of these in the house. Two are SuperSonic SC-72MID. They are quite fine with a HTML5 browser, Google Play and even FlashPlayer preinstalled. There are many similar brands and models at this price which are quite fine as long as they have capacitive 5-point touch, acceptable display, uSDHC and Google Play, Android 4.0. $89 + tax delivered. Plus $12 for a uSDHC card. I've got one sitting next to me as I type this, and it's a huge win at the price. Not an Enterprise tablet, but well worth the money for home. Between now and summer given the progress in mobile you will be able to get tablets 2x as good for less.

    There are still some lame old resistive Android 2.3 tablets in the market, and I suspect that is the basis of your experience. Give the new ones a try.

  • by hazydave (96747) on Monday December 31, 2012 @10:59AM (#42432499)

    It's your hardware. You bought it with Microsoft's software, which includes their UEFI bootloader. You knew when you bought it that this loader was not acceptable for your uses, so your only real choice is to replace the bootloader -- not expect it to do other things. There's bound to be a JTAG port on that Tegra3 that would let you at the least wipe the Flash and install your own bootloader on your hardware... but most folks are expecting Microsoft to modify their software to do what you want your hardware to do. They aren't going to do that unless something forces them to (the law, consumer pressure, easing their karmic burden, etc).

    You can make all the mods to your house you want, but if you want to put a 20x10 picture window in place of a critical load-bearing wall, you're going to have problems. Better to have bought a house -- or computer -- closer to what you wanted from the start. And don't support products that don't meet you needs. Period. That only leads to the industry producing more products that don't meet your needs.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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