Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Does openSUSE 12.2 support secure boot?

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SUSE has come up with what is described as the best way of coping with secure boot. It starts with a shim, that is signed either by a SUSE key-exchange-key or a Microsoft key. This then loads the GRUB2 bootloader, after ascertaining that it can be trusted.

The shim will also allow the loading of keys that are specific to the machine in question, keys which can override the default SUSE key.

Once GRUB2 is loaded, it will communicate with the shim in order to verify the kernel that it is booting. The shim will check with the machine-specific keys and authorise the kernel being loaded.

openSUSE has a dual purpose; it offers an eminently usable desktop and also serves as a test-bed for the enterprise distribution. SUSE's priorities are different from those of Red Hat - which also has its own test-bed, the Fedora distribution. SUSE aims for both server and desktop, unlike Red Hat which has no interest in the desktop.

openSUSE 12.2 can be downloaded as a GNOME live CD, a KDE live CD, or a DVD that includes everything including the kitchen sink. One can also do a network install or download one of the derivatives built on openSUSE. True to the SUSE tradition, the installation is thorough rather than cursory.

One can choose btrfs as the default filesystem - though it is interesting to note that when does this, a /boot partition is created and this is formatted as ext4. An indication, perhaps, that in the minds of the openSUSE developers, btrfs is less stable than ext4.

In truth, btrfs is a little "stickier" than ext4; the system does not seem as responsive. This is not based on any benchmarks, just my own observation after using btrfs as default for a KDE installation and ext4 as default for an installation from the GNOME live CD.

Both KDE and GNOME are polished, and quite a bit different from the default. KDE surprisingly has no PDF reader loaded as part of the default install. A command-line tool for installation, zypper, seems to work pretty well in this release. But the Apper update tool, formerly known as KPackageKit, is buggy and loops when one tries to update using it.

That apart, one can find little fault in the the release. It is slick, neat and very polished indeed. One can try out other desktop environments like XFCE and LXDE, (by downloading the DVD).

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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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