Linux Foundation still working on booting Linux on Windows 8 PCs

We've been covering the efforts of software companies who want to offer a way to boot up Linux-based operating systems on PCs with Windows 8 installed for some time. In October, the Linux Foundation announced that it had come up with a way for any open source-based OS to be booted on a Windows 8 PC.

While Microsoft set up Windows 8 with a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) for better security, it also makes dual booting to another OS on the same PC more difficult. The Linux Foundation says its solution will " ... obtain a Microsoft Key and sign a small pre-bootloader which will, in turn, chain load (without any form of signature check) a predesignated boot loader which will, in turn, boot Linux (or any other operating system)."

It's been over a month since that announcement, however. ZDNet.com contacted the author of the Linux Foundation announcement, James Bottomley, for an update. He stated, "We're all done and dusted with the signed contract with Microsoft and the binary ready to release."

Bottomley added that there have been some technical issues that have kept the solution from being released. The issues appear to be on Microsoft's end. "I'm not sure how long it will take MS to get their act together but I'm hoping its only a few days," he said.

Source: ZDNet.com

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I thought there was an exploit for this? I believe there was a video demo post here, showed how a malware could get pass the secure boot.

" ... obtain a Microsoft Key and sign a small pre-bootloader which will, in turn, chain load (without any form of signature check) a predesignated boot loader which will, in turn, boot Linux (or any other operating system)."

They shouldn't have needed to do this, it should be able to dual-boot just like every other version before, it's clear to me that Microsoft just wants to use their current monopoly on the desktop, even though they know Windows 8 sucks, they want to keep everyone else from using something better at this point, and that would be Linux, or one of the other UNIX variants.

Win 7 + ubuntu, upgraded to win 8, and nothing changed. Still dual boot with GRUB installed on my 2nd disk (Unix/non-windows boot drive)

srbeen said,
Win 7 + ubuntu, upgraded to win 8, and nothing changed. Still dual boot with GRUB installed on my 2nd disk (Unix/non-windows boot drive)
Secure Boot is a hardware feature, not part of Windows 8 itself; it is enabled by default on new systems, preventing the installation of unsigned operating systems, but it can be easily disabled. Systems with Secure Boot disabled or unimplemented can install any operating system as always. Future versions of Linux (and Windows) will be signed so that Secure Boot doesn't have to be disabled to use them.

Edited by Arkose, Nov 21 2012, 12:28am :

Arkose said,
Secure Boot is a hardware feature, not part of Windows 8 itself; it is enabled by default on new systems, preventing the installation of unsigned operating systems, but it can be easily disabled. Systems with Secure Boot disabled or unimplemented can install any operating system as always. Future versions of Linux (and Windows) will be signed so that Secure Boot doesn't have to be disabled to use them.

Thank you for clarifying that. I didn't understand your explanation at first, but I refused to spend $200 more on a laptop to get the same network card I bought on eBay for $20. So, because I refused to pay, I was ignorant to such technology advances.

thealexweb said,
So until it's actually released Microsoft has a monopoly on new PCs? The European Commission won't like that.
nope, you can still turn Secure Boot off (I believe either via Control Panel or the boot menu itself). this whole thing the Linux Foundation is working on is making it so linux can boot without having to turn off Secure Boot and losing that extra blanket of security

Brando212 said,
nope, you can still turn Secure Boot off (I believe either via Control Panel or the boot menu itself). this whole thing the Linux Foundation is working on is making it so linux can boot without having to turn off Secure Boot and losing that extra blanket of security

That's okay then

The only place where's it's locked down is on RT based tablets, tell me again why you're going to pay all that money for a RT based tablet just to install Linux when you can get a cheaper Android based tablet, hundreds less, and install Linux on it.

Didn't Fedora and SuSE come up with a couple of fixes each to mitigate secureboot?

Also there are a significant number of us not using Gnome 3 or Unity.

Which is great news for people wanting to buy Surface Pro that want to boot to Linux. Recommended it myself to a few people, the promise of a slim and light laptop / tablet hybrid with a physical keyboard dual-booting Windows and Linux environments is great.

Since we're mostly Gnome 3 users and it already supports touch input, gestures and the UI is suited for touch, the Surface Pro seems like a great device to carry.

Shame it's not running on an ULV AMD Trinity, oh well I guess AMD needs to market their stuff more aggressively to OEM's and people.

Some folks in our computer department always say Linux is better than windows in the department forum... always asking people to try Ubuntu... but I always ask them and some lecturers that since its a computer science department and you believe Linux is more powerful and does everything... why not replace the 1000 pcs in the department with Linux? load em up besides its free... and they wont know how to respond.

KSib said,
Until it has proper driver support and any relevant games what-so-ever then I don't want it.

I used it and it is ****. I still have to use it cause my course I need it for shell commands. they way the copy the task bar is awful.

KSib said,
Until it has proper driver support and any relevant games what-so-ever then I don't want it.

Linux has full driver support, usually before windows does? Linux even supports ARM GPU devices and everything which windows doesn't. There's official intel, nvidia and amd drivers plus unofficial, please tell me what driver you think is missing...

n_K said,

Linux has full driver support, usually before windows does? Linux even supports ARM GPU devices and everything which windows doesn't. There's official intel, nvidia and amd drivers plus unofficial, please tell me what driver you think is missing...

Full support? right...not even close on laptops.

benalvino said,
... and they wont know how to respond.

It is because x-window system (X11). Linux, as a OS, is pretty powerful. However, the interface (KDE, Gnome, just name it) is funky at best.

oliver182 said,

Full support? right...not even close on laptops.

Actually I setup Ubuntu on my laptop and it detected all of the devices fine.

oliver182 said,

Full support? right...not even close on laptops.


Again as I said, give me complete specifications of the hardware you lack drivers for. 'laptops' is complete garbage, majority of laptops are using intel or amd CPUs (linux has microcode for both but BIOS should be loading that anyway), graphics chipsets are likely to be intel/amd/nvidia or a mix and once again, there is full support for all of them in linux via propietry and open source drivers. Synaptics touchpads have full support too, keyboards don't need their own laptop input so are supported by default, then what? USB ports are again generic so they'll have drivers. Ethernet cards will generally be in the chipset or added on, so intel/realtek/broadcom/etc. again all have fully supported drivers, wireless there's many drivers and sets depending on what you're trying to do as wireless on linux is much more open and flexible then on windows...
So really, I cannot at all see your point, no.

KSib said,
Until it has proper driver support and any relevant games what-so-ever then I don't want it.

Cohesive OS model with unified driver framework would be nice, but then it wouldn't be Unix-like and it would be Linux anymore.

n_K said,

Again as I said, give me complete specifications of the hardware you lack drivers for. 'laptops' is complete garbage, majority of laptops are using intel or amd CPUs (linux has microcode for both but BIOS should be loading that anyway), graphics chipsets are likely to be intel/amd/nvidia or a mix and once again, there is full support for all of them in linux via propietry and open source drivers. Synaptics touchpads have full support too, keyboards don't need their own laptop input so are supported by default, then what? USB ports are again generic so they'll have drivers. Ethernet cards will generally be in the chipset or added on, so intel/realtek/broadcom/etc. again all have fully supported drivers, wireless there's many drivers and sets depending on what you're trying to do as wireless on linux is much more open and flexible then on windows...
So really, I cannot at all see your point, no.

Ya you don't get this. Windows was beaten for moving application level driver support into the OS in the early 90s, but Microsoft knew what they were doing.

20 years later, with the insane fragmentation of driver frameworks and device support, the *nix would does not get they are starting with a broken model and trying to get it to be all nice and easy and smooth.

Just getting a sound driver that has universal software and hardware support is STILL impossible on Linux. And then you get to have fun dealing with latency and resampling quality issues and on and on and on... If it wasn't for the Intel HD Audio specification, getting sound out of Linux would be even more insane, and even with it, you can't expect the audio jacks or other features to be supported by the driver framework and applications.

The whole OS needs to have a standardized driver model for every class of peripheral and not five or ten for every freaking type of device. This is what people don't get.

Sure you can slap together some crap and get sound out, and it might work ok, or get a USB camera to kind of work or a TV tuner to 'maybe' work or even get the correct settings for your laser or inkjet printer. However, none of this is easy or guaranteed and always is a compromise in functionality or features because of a lack of OS level support.

And that doesn't even dig into the insanity of dynamic loading of drivers and having to generic abstraction drivers, or the loss of performance because the kernel is using these 'tricks' instead of having the drivers compiled in as the Linux kernel is designed.

This is what Linux people do not get.

This is also why Windows was/is successful, it was the melting of software and drivers for everyone with a solid set of standards to reference.

thenetavenger said,

<snip>

I get what you mean about there being no universal driver model in *nix yes, and it's pretty daft along with having 6 'drivers' (alsa, pulseaudio, oss, gstreamers, etc.) that does the same thing, it really is a waste of time, but I've yet to come across a card that personally hasn't worked out the box with pulseaudio and alsa.

"or the loss of performance because the kernel is using these 'tricks' instead of having the drivers compiled in as the Linux kernel is designed."
Well that's only really applicable to the majority of linux users though, e.g. for my arch and gentoo kernels I built them from scratch and all drivers/kernel modules needed are included in the kernel so they don't need to be loaded at runtime/modprobed, but there is a good reason for modprobe, imagine an ordinary PC having the kernel load every single driver, it would run slow and take ages! I'm sure there's better ways to do things but the whole kernel would need changing...
And who knows, maybe one day it'll get that change

n_K said,

Linux has full driver support, usually before windows does? Linux even supports ARM GPU devices and everything which windows doesn't. There's official intel, nvidia and amd drivers plus unofficial, please tell me what driver you think is missing...

Full driver support? Okay. We'll just act like all mice and printers and other peripherals have the same driver support as Windows even though that's not true. HP printers definitely do not, and nor do Razr mice.

No one seemed to have anything to say about the game support.

KSib said,

Full driver support? Okay. We'll just act like all mice and printers and other peripherals have the same driver support as Windows even though that's not true. HP printers definitely do not, and nor do Razr mice.

No one seemed to have anything to say about the game support.


HP printers have FULL support in linux for **** sake, http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/index.html there's the OFFICIAL HP SITE for them. So razor don't want to support linux and haven't created a driver for them, that's not the fault of linux is it, that's razor's fault. If there were drivers that the company made for linux and they didn't bother to make them for windows, they would NEVER be made for windows and even if they did, they'd never be signed so they'd never work.
Now let me just copy this off the arch wiki about razor mice;
'There is currently no official driver for the Razer gaming mice in Linux. However, Michael Buesch has created a tool called razercfg to configure Razer mice under Linux.'
Oh would you look at that, someone created their own stuff to make razor mice work under linux and it works.

Come holla back at me when you can do that in windows.

shinji257 said,
Actually I setup Ubuntu on my laptop and it detected all of the devices fine.

Two words: Switchable graphics.

I own four laptops, all four of them have switchable graphics (intel integrated + AMD discreet), and there's simply no support for it under any Linux distro. The best I can do is get the Intel integrated graphics working, but that leaves the AMD GPU idleing away with no power management because there's no driver loaded for it.

Result? If I try to run Linux on any of these systems, I'm stuck with low-performance graphics, massive heat output, and 1.5 hours of battery life on laptops that usually last 10 hours when they're running Windows.

n_K said,

Again as I said, give me complete specifications of the hardware you lack drivers for. 'laptops' is complete garbage, majority of laptops are using intel or amd CPUs (linux has microcode for both but BIOS should be loading that anyway), graphics chipsets are likely to be intel/amd/nvidia or a mix and once again, there is full support for all of them in linux via propietry and open source drivers. Synaptics touchpads have full support too, keyboards don't need their own laptop input so are supported by default, then what? USB ports are again generic so they'll have drivers. Ethernet cards will generally be in the chipset or added on, so intel/realtek/broadcom/etc. again all have fully supported drivers, wireless there's many drivers and sets depending on what you're trying to do as wireless on linux is much more open and flexible then on windows...
So really, I cannot at all see your point, no.

The Fn keys(BatterySwitch/Camera/AlienFX/touchPad/Wifi/CommandCenter/StealthMode) on my Alienware M15x don't work under all *nix distros I've tried, solutions?

spudtrooper said,
The only systems with UEFI and secure boot are Surface systems. I don't know of a single OEM PC locked down other then Apple's

UEFI and secure boot are standard on all Windows 8-certified PCs, though secure boot can be disabled. For all RT tablets (not just Surface), it is locked down and cannot be disabled.

Josh the Nerd said,

UEFI and secure boot are standard on all Windows 8-certified PCs, though secure boot can be disabled. For all RT tablets (not just Surface), it is locked down and cannot be disabled.

maybe you cant disable it on surface, but OEM systems all have a option to enable or disable secure boot, they all can run other OS's if you want to you just go into the UEFI setup and turn Secure Boot off... already had too do it for a few systems at work we used downgrade rights on to go to windows 7 without UEFI

neufuse said,

maybe you cant disable it on surface, but OEM systems all have a option to enable or disable secure boot, they all can run other OS's if you want to you just go into the UEFI setup and turn Secure Boot off... already had too do it for a few systems at work we used downgrade rights on to go to windows 7 without UEFI

I think you've misunderstood a bit. Windows 8 x86 machines can disable Secure Boot, but Windows RT machines cannot - this is a requirement from Microsoft and will apply to all OEMs. RT is locked down, 8 is not.

Kushan said,

I think you've misunderstood a bit. Windows 8 x86 machines can disable Secure Boot, but Windows RT machines cannot - this is a requirement from Microsoft and will apply to all OEMs. RT is locked down, 8 is not.

I forgot to add the on x86 you can part, that's why I said can't on the surface meant to say on the surface and other RT devices but left it out on accident