Red Hat: Windows 8 could block dual-booting Linux

Earlier this week Microsoft's official Windows 8 blog site had an entry about the upcoming operating system's booting features. Part of the blog entry talked about Windows 8's use of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) which provides a more graphically pleasing look when Windows 8 boots up. But now an employee of Red Hat, the company that provides a Linux-based PC operating system, has written his own blog post which calls into question whether or not Windows 8 will allow Linux to have a dual boot set up.

The Windows 8 blog post did show via a screenshot that Windows 8 users will be able to dual boot with Windows 7 installed. But Matthew Garrett, who works as a mobile Linux developer at Red Hat, claims that Windows 8's UEFI, which uses a secure boot protocol, could keep Linux off a Windows 8-based PC. He states:

Microsoft requires that machines conforming to the Windows 8 logo program and running a client version of Windows 8 ship with secure boot enabled. The two alternatives here are for Windows to be signed with a Microsoft key and for the public part of that key to be included with all systems, or alternatively for each OEM to include their own key and sign the pre-installed versions of Windows. The second approach would make it impossible to run boxed copies of Windows on Windows logo hardware, and also impossible to install new versions of Windows unless your OEM provided a new signed copy. The former seems more likely. A system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux.

While Garrett adds that this situation is "probably not worth panicking yet" he does say that people who want access to a Linux OS from a Windows 8 PC should be "concerned". So far Microsoft has yet to respond to Garrett's statement.

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