1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Linux On The Microsoft Surface Won't Be Easy

Hardware

Published on 29 December 2012 06:25 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
18 Comments

If you were hoping you would be able to run your favorite Linux distribution on Microsoft's new Surface Tablet, it doesn't look like it will be an easy task to accomplish.

After going through the state of Linux distributions handling SecureBoot, UEFI-guru Matthew Garrett confirmed via his blog that Linux on the Microsoft Surface is likely a lemon.

The challenge with loading Linux (or any non-Microsoft operating system) on the new ARM-based tablet is that while it implements UEFI SecureBoot, it doesn't have the "Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher" key. This is the key used to sign Windows drivers and other non-Microsoft software (e.g. the signed Linux UEFI boot-loaders). Microsoft meanwhile has its own private key and this is the only UEFI SecureBoot key present on the Surface. Without the Surface having the "Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher" standard key, it's simply not a matter of having OS boot-loader be signed already to have support for this tablet. Microsoft only wants its OS on their tablet.

The Microsoft Surface tablet is based upon NVIDIA's Tegra 3 (T30) SoC with quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.3GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, storage capacities of 32GB or 64GB, and runs the Windows RT operating system. Being based upon the common NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, the hardware itself isn't too attractive or unique. You can already find plenty of other Tegra 3 tablets on the market capable of running Android/Linux like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, Google Nexus 7, Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, and NVIDIA's Cardhu reference tablet.

As Matthew mentions in his post, loading Linux or any other operating system to this first-generation ARM-based Microsoft Surface tablet would likely involve finding a vulnerability within the device's firmware in order to execute arbitrary code.

About The Author
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 and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. AMD Launches New FX CPUs, Cuts Prices On Existing Processors
  2. Preview: AMD's FX-9590 Eight-Core At Up To 5.0GHz On Linux
  3. Intel Launches The Core i7 5960X, Mighty Powerful Haswell-E CPUs
  4. AMD Radeon R9 290: Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Drivers
Latest Linux Articles
  1. Ondemand vs. Performance CPU Governing For AMD FX CPUs On Linux 3.17
  2. How Intel Graphics On Linux Compare To Open-Source AMD/NVIDIA Drivers
  3. The Fastest NVIDIA GPUs For Open-Source Nouveau With Steam Linux Gaming
  4. Testing For The Latest Linux Kernel Power Regression
Latest Linux News
  1. Marek Lands Radeon Gallium3D HyperZ Improvements
  2. Mozilla Firefox 32 Surfaces With HTML5, Developer Changes
  3. Nouveau X.Org Driver Released With DRI3+Present, Maxwell, GLAMOR
  4. Microsoft & AMD Release C++ AMP Compiler With Linux Support
  5. AMD, Wine & Valve Dominated August For Linux Users
  6. Linux 3.17-rc3 Kernel Released Back On Schedule
  7. Lennart Poettering Talks Up His New Linux Vision That Involves Btrfs
  8. Mesa 10.3 RC2 Arrives Via Its New Release Manager
  9. Ubuntu 14.10's Lack Of X.Org Server 1.16 Gets Blamed On AMD
  10. MSI Motherboard BIOS Updating Remains A Pain For Linux Users
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Lennart Poettering Talks Up His New Linux Vision That Involves Btrfs
  2. AMD graphics doesn't work with AMD Catalyst drivers
  3. Best Radeon for a Power Mac G5?
  4. The dangers of Linux kernel development
  5. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  6. AMD Releases UVD Video Decode Support For R600 GPUs
  7. SSD seems slow
  8. Is laptop with Intel CPU and AMD dGPU worth buying considering especially AMD Enduro?