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MS Secure Boot on ARM Linux installs difficult

paulcolmer's picture

[b]Microsoft are at it again ![/b]

With Windows 8 coming out later this year, there has already been controversy about whether computers that ship with Windows 8 will have the ability to run Linux, either as a replacement for Windows or in a dual-boot setup. As we've reported, a process called UEFI secure booting prevents the booting of operating systems not signed by a trusted Certificate Authority?and hardware makers must enable the secure boot technology to qualify for a Designed for Windows 8 logo.

This would make it difficult, but not impossible, for Linux operating systems to be installed on Windows 8 computers. Hardware manufacturers can still give users the option of disabling secure boot and running any operating system they wish. However, it now appears that flexibility will only be available to Windows 8 systems running on Intel chips, and not ARM ones.

A Computerworld blog post points to a recent Microsoft document laying out the Windows 8 hardware certification requirements for client and server systems. This document mandates flexibility on Intel systems: "On non-ARM systems, it is required to implement the ability to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup," Microsoft writes on page 116 of the document. But the opposite is true for ARM systems running Windows 8. "On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. ? Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems," Microsoft states.

This may still leave open the possibility that makers of Linux distributions can provide a signed version of the operating system, so that it can be installed alongside Windows 8 on ARM systems. But the prohibition on disabling secure boot does place another obstacle in the way. We've reached out to Microsoft to see if the company has any further comment. UPDATE: Well, ok, it's not much of an update, but Microsoft responded to our inquiry, saying "Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate your request, as we have nothing further to share at this time."

By Jon Brodkin | Published a day ago