In a display of goodwill towards the open source community, Microsoft has made it possible for Linux to boot on Windows 8 machines that feature secure boot.
Linux OS Cleared For Windows 8 Secure Boot
When Microsoft had released information about Windows 8 Secure Boot feature late last year, there was a lot of hue and cry about Linux and other open source OS’ being blocked out. Open Source operating systems are by nature unable to support a signing key that is required by the Secure Boot feature to allow a OS to boot. So whilst on one hand Secure Boot provided a hardened boot environment that prevented malware from booting in to a PC, it also technically prevented other OS’ from being booted on PCs.
The difficulty was with Linux systems getting their keys included in to the firmware of the machines so that they are allowed to boot. But now apparently that has been solved with due cooperation from companies that are interested in booting their OS on Windows 8 machines. Interested vendors can now register their keys through Microsoft’s key signing and registry service for $99.
Linus Torvalds expressed his opinion on the whole situation in an interview with ZDNet, saying that while he is of course “not a huge UEFI fan” but then he can see “see why you might want to have signed bootup etc.” He said that the $99 is cheap enough to get keys and that he could not see what the big deal was.
The $99 should not be a major setback for any vendor with a large enough scale of operation such as Fedora or Canonical’s Ubuntu. What it might hurt are the homebrewed versions of Linux that are often developed by a single coder who might want to invest money in to something that he is already giving away for free. Other than that though, those who want to dual boot a Windows 8 machine with a major Linux distro should be able to do so without any major problems.