Home > Brian Proffitt, Fedora, Red Hat > News flash: Sky NOT falling

News flash: Sky NOT falling

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this issue because it was really is not the huge, Chicken Little-esque matter some people — some people I once held in high esteem — are making it out to be. I’ve commented on this on social media outlets and in e-mail exchanges, and frankly I’m a little surprised at how this infinitessimally innocuous development has caused some in our happy little FOSS circle to become Harold Camping.

Actually, I’m going to let Brian Proffitt drive here, since he explains the whole Fedora/UEFI issue pretty well. In his blog, Brian points out that it is hardly an ideal situation, but it’s a trade-off. Not a very palatable one, but nonetheless a trade-off.

In fact, we can summarize Brian’s blog in a few words: The situation sucks. He’s absolutely right. But it is what it is, and it’s the most immediate of several upcoming ways around the UEFI lockdown for those who buy new machines and want to dual-boot (of course, the real solution here is not to buy UEFI-based hardware in the first place, opting for a Linux-based provider like ZaReason, but I digress).

Contrast that blog post with a hyperbolic rant on LXer.com, where the writer takes a corpo-babble press release from Red Hat writtin on behalf of Tim Burke and focuses in, laser-like, on probably the biggest non-sequitur wrapping up the missive.

Are you kidding me?

For the benefit of those who might need a team of proctologists to find their heads, let’s recap, shall we? No one does more for Linux and FOSS across the board — developing software and pushing it upstream, for starters — than Red Hat and Fedora. They do it pretty much thanklessly and while much of their efforts have made Red Hat a billion-dollar entity, they give back substantially to the FOSS community. Essentially calling Microsoft’s bluff on UEFI with this particular action is not capitulation, it’s just yet another thing Fedora and Red Hat are currently doing in order for people to be able to use UEFI-based hardware going forward.

[Which, of course, brings up a laughable e-mail exchange where someone wrote to me, in effect, "If Canonical did this, you'd be all over them." Actually, I wouldn't. First, if Canonical ever tore itself away from admiring itself in its own corporate mirror to do something to contribute back to Linux/FOSS in a substantial way, I'd probably die from the shock. Assuming I survive the shock, I'd give them credit for it once I regained consciousness.]

So while no one has said this yet, I will: Thank you, Fedora and additional thanks to Matthew Garrett, who has pretty much on top of this from the outset.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Categories: Brian Proffitt, Fedora, Red Hat
  1. Jef Spaleta
    June 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I expect even linux friendly vendors like ZaReason and system76 to ship SB capable motherboards in the near future simply because they’ll follow the industry trends. I don’t think we can really avoid this issue for very long even if we hold our breath. In the next couple of years we’ll all have to buy hardware with this capability baked in. Individual OS vendors will each choose to provide out of the box secureboot capable solutions or not based on the value they perceive in supporting SB. I would daresay that any OS vendor that expects a large portion of their userbase to want to dual boot with windows in the future will need to provide an out of box solution so their OS will work in an SB enabled environment. Fedora is ahead of the curve on tackling this. But at the end of the day, I expect all the major linux desktop oriented distros to have an SB enabled offering simply because their core audience do a lot of dual booting.

    The real issue here (for everybody really) is whether a particular vendor will make sure they provide a mechanism by which to disable SB in the hardware firmware/bios (whatever you want to call the actually piece of software the mobo uses.) Vendors who make sure to test that SB can be disabled and non-SB capable operating systems can be booted are our friends. Vendors who only test SB-enabled configurations are vendors of last resort. Vendors who delibrately make it difficult to disable SB or refuse to give us instructions on how to add trusted keys into the system so we can continue to roll our own software stacks and make use of SB in those stacks are our enemies.

    This is why the Win8 ARM vendors are our enemies and why Fedora is not supporting SB on ARM..where MS is strong arming vendors to produce aggressively locked down hardware where SB can’t be disabled. That must be fought. SB as a consumer customizable tech isn’t a problem. SB as a mandated tech you can’t disable or customize on hardware you have purchased is a problem.

    The extent at which vendors choose to give consumers the freedom to customize the SB configuration is ultimately the underlying issue. As long as vendors continue to sell hardware that will work with SB disabled..everything is fine. I expect vendors like ZaReason and System76 to really shine in this regard and do testing on both SB enabled and disabled configurations. As long as when you get that hardware, you can still have all the flexibility you had before with any OS you want…even rolling your own..everything is cool. And if you want to roll your own SB enabled OS (and I dare say that some people like institutional users will want to roll their own inhouse SB-enabled linux stacks once they understand how SB can benefit them) then Fedora’s tools will be available to help do that.

    -jef

  2. June 8, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I probably was a little too mean over at LXer over it, but seriously can we give the I HATE MICROSOFT crap a break already? That wasnt aimed at you Larry, I’m just venting.

    Hey by the way, Scott banned me again (without warning take two). Then he commented about it knowing full well I couldn’t reply. Such a spineless little dweeb playing dirty little games while pretending to be a “good guy”. ;)

    Anyway, on-topic. Yeah, it is definitely a less than ideal situation but there are clear benefits. A: RedHat doesn’t have to beg OEMs to include their key. B: It provides some level of protection from bootstrap attacks. C: It is a conglomerate of many vendors so it will become a functional standard.

    Besides, it’s only $100 for a decryption key. I’ve already set aside some money from my budget to procure one. I’m sure other distributions are doing so also.

    If the I HATE MICROSOFT club would fall off the edge of the earth, we’d be able to discuss the pros / cons without having to read about the sky falling all the time.

    It’s getting really old. :(

    Be careful, pretty soon the “community” over there is going to lump you in the same catagory as me, a M$ $hilling troll.

    Maybe it’s time to create a new news site where that sort of crap is delt with swiftly instead of just banning all the people that try to correct their distortions and outright lies. Meh..

    • June 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Andrew — Being accused of being a M$ $hilling troll is, laughably, the least of my worries :-) But thanks for the heads-up.

  3. June 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Well, it’s nice to see a rational post appear in the thick haze emotion and unthinking anger. I’ve been following how this gets played in Linux media and so far I haven’t seen anyone offer a viable alternative to Garrett’s proposal. Except, of course, if you discount posters on the Fedora forums who want to take to the streets.

    One characteristic of a cult is the desire and need to ignore reality in favor of belief. Rather a lot of cultists got themselves riled up this week.

    [The time to fight Secure Boot is over. That battle was lost a long time ago. That's what happens when only a few people pay attention. Maybe, just maybe, if an organized and persistent effort had been made at the right time, the UEFI standard could have written to allow an opt-in approach to Secure Boot.]

  4. June 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Larry :
    Andrew — Being accused of being a M$ $hilling troll is, laughably, the least of my worries But thanks for the heads-up.

    That was supposed to have been taken jokingly. :D

    • June 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Ha ha. So noted. :)

  5. colonelpanik
    June 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Blackmail, it is hardly an ideal situation……..

    Okay, sometimes you pay and never see the blackmailers again, sometimes.
    Very often the blackmailers ask for more. And more and more.
    The Rogues from Redmond will do blackmail just like they do all their business,
    slash and burn. Windows ?? which will be out in a year or so will exclude more
    people running on more platforms. Unless you pay let’s say $199? Something more?

    Thanks Redhat? No but nice try, your heart IS in the right place. A few of the biggies
    in FOSS will pay but we may soon see small players, like CrunchBang leave the
    playing field.

    Sky NOT falling. Again Larry is right, just not about what he wrote about. The sky
    is doing fine, there are even clouds to store you vital information. Why? Friends
    there is some kid (the proverbial kid in his mother’s basement) who will hand us the
    work-a-round 12 hours after that first W8 box is sold. Yeah, Larry please let this kid
    on your lawn.

    Also soon after W8 starts upsetting the enterprise folks there will be lawyers. Lots and
    lots of lawyers, a line stretching from Silicone Valley all the way to the front door of the Supreme Court.

    Larry and the Colonel are good a running old hardware, it is all moot point.

  6. Gary
    June 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Ok, so the sky is not falling. You have a good point in that this will be cracked pretty quickly. After which M$ and Company are going to scream bloody murder! That all being said… I can see SB being *AWESOME* for a corporate enviroment where heavy lockdown is required. Other than that no thanks. I mean I enjoy tinkering with my system too much to be playing this SB game. For me personally, what a pain in the backside. Not the end of the world, but definitely an inconvience! I say we “hire” a coreboot dev to fully port 1 or 2 of the most popular enthusiast boards and be done with it 100%. :)

  1. June 10, 2012 at 2:56 am

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