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We need the facts on Win 8: Linux Aus

After its membership began petitioning the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this week, Linux Australia, the country's peak open-source body, has pledged to embark on a fact-finding mission to get to the truth of the Windows 8 secure boot issue.

After its membership began petitioning the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this week, Linux Australia, the country's peak open-source body, has pledged to embark on a fact-finding mission to get to the truth of the Windows 8 secure boot issue.

The Linux Australia community began petitioning the ACCC this week after Microsoft aired plans to mandate the enabling of Unified Extensible Firmware Interface's (UEFI) secure boot feature for devices bearing the "Designed for Windows 8" logo.

This means that any software or hardware that is to run on the firmware will need to be signed by Microsoft or the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to be able to execute. This would make it impossible to install alternative operating systems like Linux, or even older versions of Windows, if OEMs didn't bundle the secure keys with new operating system releases, allow users a facility to update the secure key list or allow the secure boot feature to be disabled in the firmware options.

The Linux Australia council met overnight, and decided that launching an anti-Windows 8 campaign due to the UEFI secure boot issue was pre-empting the situation. Linux Australia president John Ferlito told ZDNet Australia today that the situation is clouded by a barrage of highly charged opinions on both sides of the debate.

"There's a lot of information out there, a lot of FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt]. We want to sit down and find out what's going on and what Microsoft and original equipment manufacturers are really doing.

"It's too easy in this debate to say Microsoft is evil; it may not be as bad as it sounds. We just don't have enough information yet," Ferlito said.

Ferlito will look to engage other Australian open-source organisations and meet with manufacturers, including Dell and HP, over the next month, as well as Microsoft.

The Linux Australia president added that he would also try to write a public letter from the council to the ACCC, as opposed to the communications from individuals that had already occurred, to ensure that the council's position is clear on the matter.

"We want to step back and put together a well-researched message," he said.

The ACCC responded to Linux Australia members who had petitioned the operating system lockdown this week, saying in a canned response that the situation described may meet the criteria of anti-competitive behaviour.