Lennart Poettering Talks Up A "Brave New Trusted Boot World" For Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in systemd on 25 October 2022 at 03:00 PM EDT. 213 Comments
Systemd lead developer Lennart Poettering has written a lengthy blog post entitled a "brave new trusted boot world" in which he outlines current issues with the Linux boot process and how there is a trajectory for providing the Linux boot experience with more robustness, simplicity, and trust.

Among the problems viewed by Lennart and others with the current Linux boot experience come down to initial RAM disks (initrds) being generated locally and thus unsigned, the lack of code signing to protect the initrd, no user-space components are typically measured for measured boot process scenarios, and the kernel installation process can be complex with an assortment of boot scripts. Lennart also refers to operating system updates as "brittle", updates of a boot loader are not robust, the lack of rollback protection, and other protections lacking.

Envisioned is having a fully-signed and fully-measured execution path, rollback protections, more simple and robust updates, remote attestation, and built around TPM 2.0 functionality - among other considerations.

The proposed design relies on a "Unified Kernel Image" (UKI) that are a combination of the Linux kernel image, initrd, and UEFI stub program that in turn are distributed as a single UEFI PE file that could be started straight from the UEFI firmware or a bootloader. The enhanced Linux boot process and Unified Kernel Images would be built around various systemd components.

Those wanting to learn more about the proposed Linux boot architecture of the future by Lennart Poettering can stop by his blog for the detailed read in full.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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