It was recently announced that Windows 8 would support a shiny new feature that is known as “secure boot”. In case you have been living with your head under a technological rock for the last couple of weeks, this feature would allow hardware vendors would have the option of only allowing operating systems signed with their secure key to boot on the hardware.
This means that Linux, BSD and even older versions of Windows would not be able to boot on the hardware that ships with secure boot enabled.
A good deal of open source operating system users are upset at this announcement – and with good reason. Having a physical hardware lockout to prevent alternative operating systems from being used is very much bad news bears. Now, before I continue I’d just like to say I do not endorse Microsoft in any way, in fact I don’t have any of their software installed on any of my (many personal computers). If you don’t believe me take a little bit of a closer look around my blog.
That being said – I think everyone that is crying foul on Microsoft about this whole secure boot thing really needs to reexamine what is going on here.
Microsoft is simply adding a feature to their operating system. What do I mean by pointing this out? Simply that if a market lockout does happen at the hardware level it is the hardware makers you need to be outraged at. Just as easily as they can give their hardware key to Microsoft they can also give it to Linux distributions. In fact it will ultimately be up to the hardware maker whether they have secure boot enabled in their hardware at all.
Meaning that if you are really worried about the future of this feature – start contacting hardware vendors and stop attacking Microsoft for adding a feature to their operating system. In reality only time will tell what will happen with the addition of this feature to Windows 8.
I don’t see anyone getting outraged at Google because they allow device makers to lock down ARM hardware. In fact ARM hardware is one of the hardest things around to install an alternative operating system to. Where is the outrage over this if we really want to see true software freedom for all devices?
If you are looking for more reading on this subject check out this excellent post.
So until we see how things pad out just chill out and keep using your favorite penguin powered operating system.