UEFI Secure Boot Still A Big Problem For Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 17 January 2012 at 09:12 PM EST. 33 Comments
Matthew Garrett has provided some insight regarding some of the problems still outstanding for Linux to handle UEFI Secure Boot.

Matthew Garrett, the Red Hat developer commonly working on power management and UEFI/BIOS matters for Linux, has a new blog post related to UEFI Secure Boot. This latest posting is simply entitled Why UEFI secure boot is difficult for Linux.

The post covers that the code for Linux to handle UEFI Secure Boot is practically done, but there's many other issues outstanding related to the handling of custom secure boot mode, out-of-tree kernel drivers, licensing, key distribution, and other matters. Microsoft has said that for x86/x86_64 systems it should be possible to disable UEFI Secure Boot, but recently it's come to light that ARM-based Windows 8 systems will not be permitted to disable this Microsoft-inspired feature.

Garrett also points out that using Secure Boot under Linux would effectively kill out-of-tree kernel drivers like the AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA graphics drivers. "Signed Linux kernels must refuse to load any unsigned kernel modules. Virtualbox on Linux? Dead. Nvidia binary driver on Linux? Dead. All out of tree kernel modules? Utterly, utterly dead. Building an updated driver locally? Not going to happen."

Matthew summarizes the current situation as, "We can write the code required to support secure boot on Linux in a minimal amount of time - in fact, most of it's now done. But significant practical problems remain, and so far we have no workable solutions for any of them."
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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