Hmmm …

Saw this linked from /.. UEFI boot is to be replacing the old BIOS boot. There are positives about this and negatives. New software is always buggy, and UEFI won’t magically become bug free. UEFI has security controls for signed OS booting (ostensibly to protect users).

But the abuse of security systems to exclude competitive/alternative booting … yeah … maybe not such a good idea.

It looks like Microsoft is trying to demand that its hardware ARM partners not enable anything but Windows 8 or an equivalent signed OS (is Android signed?) to run on the system.

As with other systems, I believe this will be eventually cracked, and OS mods will be created for such platforms.

This said, I really don’t expect Windows 8 to manage to make much of a difference in the market. Windows 8 for phones has a commanding … what … 2% of the market? And its not growing very fast at all? Windows tablets? Again, one has to ask “why” ? I really like my iPad2. It is very good. The android tablets I’ve tried, maybe, ok … not so good, but getting better. Still nothing compared to iPad2. The application ecosystem for both are large and growing with very low cost apps available on each.

I can’t imagine a windows pad ecosystem with cheap apps, stable OS, and non-virus infected experience. Yeah the UEFI supposedly will stop a rooted OS from booting. So … get a virus and brick the device. Er … can you say “misdesign”, or “design flaw”, or “abject failure to understand the dynamics of this market” ? I thought you could.

I am not expecting a Windows tablet to fare much better than a windows phone. Actually expecting much worse.

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One thought on “Hmmm …

  1. Joe,

    The UEFI secure boot thing requires a signed bootloader, not kernel. So (for instance) grub would need to be signed. Problem is that grub is GPLv3 and so would require the release of the signing keys so it’s probably unlikely to happen soon.

    Interestingly the first comment on the brief LWN item on this quotes Microsoft showing that on x86 UEFI devices it will be mandatory to allow the public keys to be changed or deleted (and if deleted, disable secure boot)..

    For anything UEFI & Linux related I strongly suggest following Matthew Garrett’s blog:

    He works for RedHat on UEFI issues and has a very good handle on what’s going on here (and what isn’t – for instance there are no secure boot UEFI systems at present). He was also involved in the joint Linux Foundation/RedHat/Canonical paper looking at UEFI, Secure Boot and Linux here:

    As for signed kernels, well the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet running Android already implements restrictions to their own signed kernel’s, so until someone breaks that (and they’re getting close) it’s pretty well locked down. People have been whinging about that claiming that B&N are in breach of the GPL but given the kernel is GPLv2 only (and Linus and others have publicly stated that they don’t consider signing keys to be covered by it) a court is unlikely to find in their favour.


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