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Delays beset the Linux Foundation's Secure Boot workaround

'We're still waiting for Microsoft' to provide a validly signed pre-bootloader, the nonprofit consortium says.

Linux aficionados who have been watching the Windows 8 Secure Boot saga unfold in recent months will likely remember that the Linux Foundation itself last month unveiled plans for a workaround that would help Linux users get past the problem.

On Tuesday, however, James Bottomley, chair of the Linux Foundation's Technical Advisory Board, admitted that the effort was not progressing as quickly and smoothly as had been originally hoped.

"We have the code for the Linux Foundation pre-bootloader in place," Bottomley wrote in a blog post. "However, there was a delay while we got access to the Microsoft signing system.

"I'm still not sure what the actual problem is, but ... I suspect that the binary is signed with a generic Microsoft key instead of a specific (and revocable) key tied to the Linux Foundation," Bottomley explained.

In any case, the end result is that, despite paying its $99 fee, the Linux Foundation so far still does not have a validly signed pre-bootloader.

A public solution

Causing all this turmoil, of course, is the fact that Windows 8 hardware will come with Secure Boot enabled in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), meaning that only operating systems with an appropriate digital signature will be able to boot.

Ubuntu, Fedora, and SUSE Linux are all among the Linux distributions that have unveiled plans for working around the problem, which has also drawn attention from the Free Software Foundation.

Back in July Bottomley announced an effort among Linux developers to brainstorm fresh solutions, leading to the October announcement that the Linux Foundation would obtain a Microsoft Key and sign a small pre-bootloader that would enable Linux to boot on such hardware.

Once that was done, the Linux Foundation planned to place the pre-bootloader on the Linux Foundation website for public use.

'We're still waiting'

Now, however, it's becoming less clear with each passing day when that might actually happen.

"We're still waiting for Microsoft to give the Linux Foundation a validly signed pre-bootloader," Bottomley concluded. "When that happens, it will get uploaded to the Linux Foundation website for all to use."


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