New Windows 8 PCs might be unable to dual-boot Linux
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While new security features included in Windows 8 make the operating system more reliable, they may also end up preventing users from installing Linux, according to Red Hat employee, Matthew Garret.
At this month’s BUILD conference Microsoft announced that new Windows 8 systems would be trading in BIOS bootloaders for the safer, faster and more reliable UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). The interface is currently used by Apple, and is meant to prevent unauthorized code from running while booting and will be required in order for PCs to receive Windows 8 Certification. However, as a drawback of the new “Secure Boot”, unsigned software such as Linux and other operating systems may be prevented from running due to a lack of necessary security certificates.
In a blog post, Garret raises the issue about Linux and Windows 8, and points out that in order to circumvent the feature, future editions of Linux would have to be signed and user development of kernels would become increaingly difficult (due to future integration of kernels and bootloaders). Furthermore, even if all the software were signed, the keys would need to be distributed to every OEM and they would have to be subsequently shipped with each PC.
Of course, this whole discussion may be moot, as Microsoft doesn’t require OEMs to lock in the UEFI, but rather for it to be enabled by default. As such, PC manufacturers would only have to offer the option to disable the “Secure Boot” and installations would proceed as normal. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be anything forcing the manufacturers to provide that option, which is why the issue is being raised now in efforts to push Microsoft or OEMs into making it mandatory.