Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce 'Secure' boot: Ubuntu goes one worse than Red Hat

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But GRUB2 does not figure in Ubuntu's method. There will be some other bootloader, under an unspecified licence. Canonical's reasoning is that if some manufacturer were to sell a machine running Ubuntu with secure boot enabled, then if a user wanted to disable it, or run modified software, the Ubuntu specific key would have to be revealed because of the terms of the GRUB2 licence.

The Free Software Foundation has pointed out that this is a fallacy; in such a situation, the hardware distributor would be the entity that has to provide the necessary information so that the buyer can run modified software. But is Canonical listening? I doubt.

In both methods, advocated by Red Hat and Canonical, one is dependent on Microsoft. A convicted monopolist, the company is famous for making little tweaks to things so that competitors' products become unusable. But both Red Hat and Canonical seem comfortable with snuggling under the same blanket as Microsoft.

It is unlikely that Ubuntu will change; the company has a rather mulish approach to suggestions from the community and while it has been at pains to emphasise the community aspect over the commercial, in reality this is mere spin.

The departure from co-operation with the rest of the GNU/Linux community is not unique for Canonical. Its distribution, which would not exist were it not for the excellent work of the Debian GNU/Linux developers, and to which it contributes very little upstream, does not even carry the Linux name. No, it is just plain Ubuntu.

The other better-known distributions like OpenSUSE and Debian are yet to announce their plans for dealing with Microsoft's ruse. But when the billion-dollar outfit, Red Hat, leads the way in paying homage, it would be difficult for community projects to adopt solutions which are from left field.

 

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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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