Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Installing Windows 8 with secure boot

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In the last 13 years of building systems, I have bought MSI boards only once, when building a batch of 20 PCs for a charity. That turned out to be a bad experience and I have never bought anything other than ASUS or Gigabyte before and after this purchase, with a preference for ASUS boards as they are not as conservative as Gigabyte.

MSI's implementation of the UEFI BIOS is neat; it can be navigated using a mouse. One enters the interface the same way one did in the past with machines that have a BIOS supplied by AMI - hit the Delete key a few times as soon as it is switched on.

One can update the UEFI BIOS without entering the operating system interface, but this can be done only if a Linux-based utility named Winki, available on the manufacturer's DVD, which contains other drivers as well, is installed. This board needs an update to support secure boot.

My first install of Windows 8 was, thus, done without secure boot. After installing the utilities that the manufacturer provides on a DVD, I upgraded the UEFI BIOS to the latest version as of November 19.

I then entered the UEFI BIOS and began looking around. After a while, I gave up and began wondering if I had bought the wrong board. Inserting an Ubuntu start-up CD indicated to me that secure boot had not been turned on by the system on its own after the upgrade, as Ubuntu booted to its regular interface.

Searching the Windows 8 install provided no clue either. But after digging deep into the UEFI BIOS I finally discovered an option titled Windows 8 configuration (seen above) under the Advanced option for mainboard settings.

Two steps beneath that was the menu item Secure Boot (above). Hurrah!

Below this is an option called Image Execution Policy (below) that can be used to specify how the system treats images which are presented at boot-time; all images that support secure boot can provide the option of being booted if one selects the proper choice.

More important is the option of Key Management (below); here I installed the manufacturer's keys which will always support secure boot for Windows 8. There appears to be scope to install other keys as well but that experiment will have to wait until some other operating system which is designed to boot on a secure boot-enabled PC turns up. Some GNU/Linux distributions like Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu have versions in the works.

Once secure boot is turned on, one no longer has access to the operating system that was installed without this feature turned on. I had to reinstall Windows 8, and chose to wipe the first install as I no longer needed it.

After this is done, the machine ignores any other bootable medium that is inserted at start-up - unless it supports secure boot.

One can also check for secure boot by opening a Windows PowerShell as an administrator and keying in "confirm-securebootuefi". If secure boot has been set up correctly, the output that is returned is "True" . (below)


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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.