If you have ever tried dual (or triple) booting your Windows system, you probably know that the current Windows boot manager is completely text-based. Well that has all changed with Windows 8.
Microsoft decided to use a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) to boot any operating systems on the computer instead of using the BIOS. The UEFI has many security features that were demonstrated at the BUILD conference.
One is designed to stop rootkits by preventing drivers and executable files from loading without a special signed key from the actual machine vendor. This is both good and bad. The good part is that it would help increase the overall security of your machine.
The bad part is for anyone who wants to dual-boot Windows 8 with another operating system such as Linux. Obviously Linux won’t include any of the vendor signatures, so technically it won’t be installable.
Red Hat developer, Matthew Garret wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that, “It’s probably not worth panicking yet, but it’s worth being concerned.”
There are a few things that you can do, but there are a few problems that Garret pointed out:
“There is no centralized signing authority for these UEFI keys…[so] if there is a vendor key installed on the machine, the only way to get the code signed with that key is to get the vendor to perform the signing.” he says.
“A non-GPL bootloader would be required,” he added, “Grub and Grub 2 [the most common Linux bootloaders] are released under the GPLv3 and GPLv2, respectively.”
Garret noted that it might be possible that Microsoft would release firmware support for disabling this feature and running unsigned code, but that even if Microsoft did this, it would be unlikely that all hardware would ship like that.
“Kernals would have to be signed,” Garret said, “If Linux distributions sign for themselves, then the required keys would have to be included by every Original Equipment Manufacturer. [OEM]”
Overall that is a really complicated way of saying that it would be very hard to get different kinds of operating systems running on a Windows 8 computer.
Personally for me this would be a big turnoff if I was looking for a computer to buy. I currently have three operating systems on my computer one being Linux based.
But, of course, I am not the average computer user. Most computer users don’t even think about installing another operating system on their computer, so they wouldn’t notice anything bad.
If you really want Linux, I would recommend using a computer other than one with Windows 8 installed.
Other than the one problem about not being able to run other types of operating systems, the new UEFI boot method is a great alternative to the text-based boot managers. It is a lot more intuitive, it looks nicer, and it gives easier to understand directions.
What are your thoughts on the new boot manager?
Leave your comments below.