Windows 8 and UEFI: dual-boot with Linux uncertain
September 22nd, 2011 - 10:45 am ET by J. G.
With Windows 8, Microsoft was promoting UEFI and a secured boot sequence. This could make dual booting systems with Linux problematic on machines that come pre-installed with Windows 8.
It was a Red Hat developer who has raised the uncertainty around Microsoft’s future OS, although it is still difficult to draw any definitive conclusions at this stage.
With the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft is pushing the use of UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) to replace the traditional BIOS in machines, with this to allow new possibilities in terms of fast boot and security. Microsoft has also made mention of a secured boot sequence which will provide protection against rootkits.
Thanks to a secured boot, the UEFI could prevent drivers or unsigned executables from being loaded (secure keys required). Matthew Garrett writes that to get to the Windows 8 logo, a machine will also have to be delivered with secure boot activated. "All drivers and software in the boot process will have to be signed by a trusted certification authority".
It is perhaps for this reason that a dual-boot Linux system is in question (or any other operating system for that matter). For machines with the Windows 8 logo and secure boot, Windows will be signed with a Microsoft key, with Matthew Garrett believing that "a system with only Microsoft and OEM keys won’t be able to boot a generic Linux system".
In his post, Matthew Garret details the difficulties a few changes to signed Linux versions can make, like licensing issues with the Grub boot loader.
The aim of his post is to raise eventual concerns about future OEM machines with UEFI and secure boot activated.