Linux gets secure boot options, will play nice with Windows 8 PCs

Many hardcore PC users have been worried about how they might get Linux-based operating systems to run on PCs with Windows 8 installed as the main OS. This is due to the fact that Windows 8 uses the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) in place of the BIOS that previous versions of Windows have used.

Basically, UEFI Secure Boot is designed to make Windows 8 more secure, but it could also keep some Linux-based operating systems from being booted up on Windows 8 PCs. Well known Linux company Red Hat has already announced plans to provide the appropriate keys for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora to run on Windows 8 PCs.

This week, the Linux Foundation claims it has come up with a way for Linux, and indeed any open source-based OS, to run on PCs with UEFI Secure Boot setups such as Windows 8. In a post on their web site, the foundation states:

In a nutshell, the Linux Foundation 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). The pre-bootloader will employ a “present user” test to ensure that it cannot be used as a vector for any type of UEFI malware to target secure systems. This pre-bootloader can be used either to boot a CD/DVD installer or LiveCD distribution or even boot an installed operating system in secure mode for any distribution that chooses to use it.

The source code for the pre-bootloader is already available for download. The Linux Foundation states, "The process of obtaining a Microsoft signature will take a while, but once it is complete, the pre-bootloader will be placed on the Linux Foundation website for anyone to download and make use of." It added that it " ... sees the pre-bootloader it is releasing as a stop-gap measure that will give all distributions time to come up with plans that take advantage of UEFI secure boot."

Source: The Linux Foundation

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