Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Red Hat deal with Microsoft is a bad idea

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You see, the whole secure boot approach is a major smokescreen introduced by a rather panic-stricken Microsoft, in the hope that it will at least be able to protect its turf with this initiative. Secure boot means that only an operating system which is recognised by a key in the firmware will be allowed to boot on a given device.

Believe me, after 17 years of disasters, the lack of security in Windows is of no bother to Microsoft. It has managed the issue as a PR problem and succeeded in getting people to treat it as just that. I'm surprised that dictionaries worldwide have not redefined the word security to mean "anything that has nothing to do with Microsoft". Microsoft is the Typhoid Mary of the internet, and will always be so.

No agency will give Microsoft grief on this score. The US government has long passed the point when it would pull the company into line; that point was passed after the anti-trust trial of the late 1990s. Had a Democrat administration been returned to office in 2000, the company would probably have been broken up into operating systems and applications divisions and that would have put it in its place. But we had the emergence of Dubya instead and Microsoft polished its lobbying skills, hired a few more smooth talkers to haunt Capitol Hill, and has never looked back.

Since then, Microsoft, under the wise (?) guidance of Steve Ballmer, has tried to enter various markets and failed. Abysmally. Music, Search, Mobiles, Tablets - the buzz-word in any of these silos is not Microsoft. It's not even second or third. The only market it can cling to is the desktop, an area in transition. And looking over its shoulder it can see Google approaching in the distance with its Linux-based Chrome OS.

Understandably, Microsoft wants some way of locking down this area. Hence the introduction of secure boot. The message echoes around - Microsoft is finally taking security seriously. Tell that to someone like security guru Bruce Schneier and he will laugh cynically. You could have a one-hour laughter session if you had a few others like Marc Maiffret and Dave Aitel present as well.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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