Microsoft Bans Linux On ARM PCs

When I talked to Linus Torvalds he said that Secure Boot is a good thing, but can be used in a bad ways. That’s proving to be true.

When Microsoft published The Certification Requirements for Windows 8 it was evident that the company wanted to use the secure boot to lock Linux out of such hardware, thus creating a Windows only hardware. The discovery lead to a strong protest from the FLOSS community. Microsoft allowed the non-ARM hardware to be able to run Linux if the hardware vendors chooses to allow that. But as we saw the arrival of ARM on desktop Microsoft “wasted no time in revising its Windows Hardware Certification Requirements to effectively ban most alternative operating systems on ARM-based devices that ship with Windows 8.”

On page 116 of Microsoft’s The Certification Requirements, there is a clear instructions for hardware vendors that under no circumstance should the installation of another OS be permitted.

MANDATORY: Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.

Which in other words mean that ARM based hardware must not boot into Linux. This also exposes the misleading information Microsoft throws out.

Microsoft blog states:

Who is in control?
At the end of the day, the customer is in control of their PC. Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with the best experience first, and allow them to make decisions themselves.

How is a user in control when Microsoft is making it mandatory to not allow the ‘owner’ of the hardware to disable the secure boot on AMR hardware?

Why is Microsoft secretly trying to lock ARM hardware in the name of security? Because ARM’s entry in the PC world is a major threat to Microsoft’s monopoly. GNU/Linux based operating systems and Android already run on ARM based devices and as ARM becomes popular on servers, Microsoft will have a very small chunk of that market as it can’t compete with Linux on technical an price ground.

So, what do to?

Just lock the hardware so that even if the companies want they can’t run Linux as the host. What you will have to do if you want to run Linux is buy Windows license with that box and the put Linux in a virtual environment. So even if you are running Linux, you will be forced to buy Windows License.

Microsoft’s strategy to kill Linux from the ARM based hardware is alarming and must attract extensive anti-competitive investigation from the authorities.

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About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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