Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce SUSE likely to follow Red Hat on secure boot

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SUSE Linux seems likely to adopt the same method for secure booting on Windows 8 certified PCs that Red Hat has, according to a posting by SUSE Linux Enterprise director Olaf Kirch.

While Kirch has only gone as far as to say that the enterprise distribution - as opposed to the community distribution openSUSE - will adopt a shim bootloader to chain onto Grub2, as Red Hat has outlined, it looks pretty certain that SUSE will follow the enterprise leader.

Red Hat's method will use a shim to load Grub 2 and then load the operating system which is signed by a key that Red Hat has purchased from Microsoft via Verisign. For Red Hat, this involves signing up to the Microsoft developer program.

For SUSE, there is no additional signing up needed; it signed a five-year patent-licensing deal with Microsoft back in 2006 and that was renewed last year for a further four. SUSE merely has to pay the extra $US99 for the key that will enable the loading of its bootloader.

Microsoft has put in place a requirement for Windows 8 that necessitates a so-called secure boot process; while this can be turned off on the x86 platform, at least two GNU/Linux distributions, Red Hat and Ubuntu, have indicated that they will go along with secure boot and create processes so that they can boot alongside Windows 8, if needed.

Though Kirch has left open the possibility that openSUSE will adopt a different method for adapting to secure boot, that seems highly unlikely. No matter what anyone says, openSUSE is a development pool for the enterprise distribution; the chances that the community distribution will go in another direction to the enterprise one are very small indeed.

Kirch has also left open the possibility of having a SUSE key for signing the boot loader; this, again, is unlikely given that the cost involved is more. The method that Red Hat devised and then announced for Fedora has met with less resistance than that announced by Ubuntu. SUSE is in competition with both companies and hence it is only logical that it will go with the solution that has won more favour.


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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.