Linux users threaten Microsoft with ACCC

Plans to enable a secure boot on Windows 8 machines have drawn the ire of Linux Australia's membership, and have the Linux Australia Council itself considering a campaign against Microsoft.

Plans to enable a secure boot on Windows 8 machines have drawn the ire of Linux Australia's membership, and have the Linux Australia Council itself considering a campaign against Microsoft.

Microsoft revealed plans recently that would require all alternative operating systems to carry Microsoft security keys to be compatible with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) and its secure-booting procedures.

This would make it impossible to install alternative operating systems like Linux, or even older versions of Windows, if the OEM doesn't bundle the secure keys with new OS releases and the hardware vendor doesn't enable the secure-boot feature to be switched off.

Members of Linux Australia are looking to petition the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), claiming that Microsoft's behaviour is anti-competitive. They are circulating a form letter addressed to the ACCC in an attempt to press the regulator into action, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to create a new complaint for investigation.

Linux Australia president John Ferlito told ZDNet Australia today that the council will be meeting on Thursday night to determine whether it will take up a campaign against Microsoft's secure boot practices.

Microsoft has already responded to community uproar that Linux could be blocked, saying that it isn't seeking to lock out other OEMs, but merely to secure the system from malicious pre-boot processes.

Microsoft's summary of why the community shouldn't be alarmed read:

  • UEFI allows firmware to implement a security policy
  • Secure boot is a UEFI protocol; not a Windows 8 feature
  • UEFI secure boot is part of Windows 8 secured boot architecture
  • Secure boot doesn't "lock out" operating system loaders, but is a policy that allows firmware to validate authenticity of components
  • OEMs have the ability to customise their firmware to meet the needs of their customers by customising the level of certificate and policy management on their platform
  • Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows.