Windows 8 PC makers should tell users how to kill UEFI, Linux group demands

Windows 8 PC makers should tell users how to kill UEFI, Linux group demands

Summary: Hispalinux has released the details of its complaint to the EC over Windows 8's UEFO Secure Boot, and says getting rid of it is just too complex for the average user.

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TOPICS: Linux, Microsoft, EU
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Hispalinux, a Spanish Linux group pushing for a European Commission probe into Microsoft's Windows 8 Secure Boot requirements, wants all Windows 8 PC makers to outline deactivation options for the security measure.

Hispalinux, which represents 8,000 Linux users, first filed a complaint with Europe's competition commission late last month.

According to the complaint seen by ZDNet, it has demanded a preliminary injunction that forces Microsoft to remove all wording that requires hardware makers to implement UEFI Secure Boot to gain 'Windows 8 Hardware Certification'. The group accuses Microsoft of using this certification to maintain its monopoly and stifling Linux.

The European Union's competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia in January said that it appeared that Windows 8 OEMs can give end users the option to disable UEFI Secure Boot.

In an amended complaint which adds to the original, Hispalinux notes that the Microsoft certification requires manufacturers to allow users to "alter" the UEFI key and enable the deactivation of Secure Boot. However, it says the means to do so currently exceed the competence of the average user.

Hispalinux wants Europe to impose a requirement on a list of 10 Windows 8 PC manufacturers, including HP, Lenovo and Dell, to spell out for consumers exactly how to deactivate UEFI and specify their rights. Other PC manufacturers on the list include Asus, Samsung, Toshiba, Acer, Sony, Packard Bell and Medion.

It also wants the vendors to determine how many certified Windows 8 devices it has sold within Europe and for them to define how Secure Boot has been implemented.

Topics: Linux, Microsoft, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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Talkback

149 comments
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  • I can see the jokes now

    "but people who can't figure out how to disable UEFI won't be able to figure out how to use Linux anyway! hahaha!"
    theoilman
    • Yep

      Typical Windows User who has no clue about how a computer works.
      Alan Smithie
      • It's only Windows users who don't know how computers work?

        The vast majority of people have no idea how a computer works. That includes people running (insert OS here).
        mikedees
        • I don't see anything wrong with that

          I probably have more interest in knowing how computers work than the average person, but it's not something I want to devote my life to.
          theoilman
          • PC with non-UEFI has much better

            ...aftermarket than those with UEFI. Everybody buying a new UEFI-PC have to remember it. These devices are like too hot stolen goods...
            MacBroderick
        • If you buy a Ford

          The manufacture should tell you how to switch the Ford engine out for a Toyota or GM one, or they be fined. Typical BS Linux fanboi logic.
          LBiege
          • Wrong metaphor

            The Windows 8 is not the engine of the computer. I can buy a Ford and change the sits and the interior in general. But the engine is the CPU not the OS.
            mil7
          • But ...

            Ford, GM, Toyota, etc. don't have to publish instructions on how to fit alternative seats, fuel injectors, etc.

            Oh, and, yes, the OS is equivalent to a major engine component - without an OS, your computer is useless.
            bitcrazed
          • Yes they do

            And they do have manuals for everything, you just have to buy the detailed ones. You obviously have no clue about cars.

            Like I cannot drive a car without a steering wheel, I do need an OS to “drive” it, but my computer works without it, it starts and waits for further instructions. So you obviously are clueless about computers too.
            mil7
          • But...

            manuals are available by Chilton for every make and model (and I suspect there are other publishers too). However, you don't have to have the car maker to write one and include it with the car. If computer users had to go buy a third party manual to find out how to disable it, as you would do for the car manuals that you mention, there would be far more of a hue-and-cry. Thankfully, it is so easy that a Linux manual writer can type it up.

            http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/18/html/UEFI_Secure_Boot_Guide/ch02s02.html
            slaskoske
          • @bitcrazed analogy

            Sorry, your analogy is extremely inaccurate. Here's why. Imagine I buy a Ford car/truck (following your example). I don't like their Bridgestone tires the truck is bundled with. What I do? I buy some other ones, like Firestone, remove the original and install those that I am happy with (or have a mechanic do it for me). So far do good, right?

            Now I feel that there is some dissatisfaction with my Ford auto I'd like to be compensated for. What do I do? Yeaaah, I sell the Bridgestone tires to someone else, they are a product and brand new! I get as much as they are worth of thanks to the free market. Oops, no Bridgestone/Ford mandates you not to sell the bundled tires. Well, if they are a product, how come I can't resell them?
            Well, maybe the Bridgestone Corp., Redmond WA gives their tires away for free.. No, they even managed to become one of the richest Tire-making corp in the world!

            So non-NDA agreements between OEMs and MS in bundling their product with Windows is a collusion, and cannot compare with bundling independent products. And it has gotten even more aggravating now due to the EUFI off-switch controversy when every OEM "invents" its own way of implementing it (say, Acer wants you to setup a BIOS/EFI password and never mentions this!) The other fact is that MS EULA hasn't even a "Decline/Don't Agree" button anymore, so it no longer can be considered an Agreement.
            eulampius
          • To continue your analogy

            If you have a car with a lock on the wheel to keep you from removing the tire without a key, and the dealer gives you a key, should you sue the dealership because you can't figure out how a key works? The process for disabling Secure Boot is pretty simple. It doesn't take more than a minute or two and is far less complicated than, for example, installing an alternative OS.
            slaskoske
          • Not what this injunction is about

            It wants to stop the manufacturer of those tires forcing all car manufacturers to always install wheels (alloys) that require a key before they are allowed to install those tires. That way anybody can change the tires without requiring to “unlock” things or having a mechanism specific for this manufacturers' tires. i.e. do not brand the machine a Windows 8 machine, like when it has a Symantec antivirus software does not mean that you will not remove it/disabled it if you do not like it.

            But eulampius’ very good analogy also touched another very good point, of being able to resell the unused tires. Then again that maybe difficult since not a lot of people want Windows 8 tires, but he has a point nevertheless.
            mil7
          • @slaskoske

            your analogy or the extrapolation of it is failing too.
            Unless the procedure is standard, or the key is visible and easily accessible, or there is a an attached documentation (alternatively, a link to it on the public website provided on the welcome screen etc), it is not elementary.
            eulampius
          • Not what it appears

            This petition isn't really about directions. It's about making sure that all manufacturers supply that "key to unlock the tires," which right now isn't required.
            daengbo
          • Install first Linux and then...

            Windows without overrunning Linux partition and GRUB. Can you do it?
            MacBroderick
          • Not to be a jerk

            but I would think the power supply is the engine and the transmission the cpu.
            calfee20
          • Seriously?

            So on a laptop the battery is the engine and the CPU is what?

            Do you guys have any idea how cars/computers work? :P
            mil7
          • Perhaps the have taught that slogan...

            ...in Redmond. I have heard many times that "car" metaphor since last summer.
            MacBroderick
          • no... its more like the key to ignition.

            Uefi secureboot is the same as ignition keys on a car, which anybody with some decent intsructions can switch out with a few hours effort. It is an antotrust issue, MS is making a move to block or force other OSs to be compliant at MSs price.
            rockfanMCE