Windows 8 PC’s, Linux, and the UEFI

Microsoft’s Windows 8 should be making its debut around October 2012. For PC manufacturers, that will have the new OS it means that a new format for multiple OS operations will be strictly limited. At the heart of this is the notion that all Windows 8 licensed hardware will be shipping with secure boot enabled by default in their replacement for the BIOS, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Meaning, that PC’s with the Windows 8 format, will only be able to use Windows 8, no multiple OS on track, not even XP.

That said, Linux has found a way to make it possible to be a part of a Windows 8 PC. Buy a security key. This comes from Fedora Linux, which is Red Hat’s community distribution system. They have found a way around this: you have to sign up with Microsoft, through Verisign, to make a Windows 8 system compatible UEFI secure boot key. The cost is $99. And this will result in the Windows 8 PC to allow the adding of a separate OS to the PC system.

The Secure Boot

At the heart of this debate is the secure boot operation. Obviously, with all the security problems going around the world, it has become more important to have the BIOS more secure to help prevent breaches that can affect not only the OS but also the entire computer. Keeping the BIOS secure is important for that reason.

However, will that really work? We have seen how clever hackers have been. They have managed to go after the Justice department, Google, Sony, and other major players in government or corporations. Hacking the BIOS and by passing the security of the UEFI key may only be a matter of time.

Still, for Linux users, they may not have an alternative since most new PC’s will have the Windows 8 OS automatically installed, and with it the UEFI security key.


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