How Microsoft Is Riling Up the Linux Masses

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Linux
Microsoft

It was just the other day that Linux bloggers were celebrating the news from researcher Net Applications that desktop Linux had surged in popularity in recent months.

Now, the mood in the blogosphere has plummeted once again as a result of the latest developments on the Windows 8 front. Secure Boot, that is -- a topic astute readers may remember from last fall but that lately seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Exhibit A: "Microsoft confirms UEFI fears, locks down ARM (Nasdaq: ARMHY) devices," as the the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) recently summed it up.

Exhibit B: "Why UEFI secure boot is difficult for Linux," in which Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) developer Matthew Garrett explains why things aren't looking much better on Windows 8 PCs.

Bottom line?




Microsoft vs. Linux?

gcn.com: Microsoft's Windows 8 "secure boot" feature is the controversy that just won't die, at least among Linux users.

Initial fears by the Linux community -- that Microsoft's requirements for secure boot on future Windows 8-based machines would thwart Linux use -- appear to be half-correct. The catch seems to be that Linux will have trouble dual booting on Windows 8 ARM-based hardware only. Unfortunately, Microsoft has added nothing new to clarify this confusing matter.

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UEFI and bugs

Matthew Garrett: The fundamental problem is that UEFI is a lot of code. And I really do mean a lot of code. Ignoring drivers, the x86 Linux kernel is around 30MB of code. A comparable subset of the UEFI tree is around 35MB. UEFI is of a comparable degree of complexity to the Linux kernel. There's no reason to assume that the people who've actually written this code are significantly more or less competent than an average Linux developer, so all else being equal we'd probably expect somewhere around the same number of bugs per line. Of course, not all else is equal.

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