UEFI Boot Fix

Feb 12, 2013

A new universal workaround will keep Linux booting on the next generation of UEFI-enabled personal computers.

The long saga of the UEFI boot debacle moved a step closer to resolution as the Linux Foundation announced that a solution is now in place to boot Linux from a system that uses UEFI boot security. The UEFI boot scandal emerged several months ago, when it was discovered that the new UEFI secure boot system championed my Microsoft and used with many new PCs entry the market today included a devilish detail that prevented the user from booting an installation disc for an alternative operating system such as Linux. Unless the new system is configured with a verifiable digital security key that is available to the UEFI system at boot, the new system won't install. Of course, the complexity of securing a key for every version of every possible Linux made the UEFI boot system extremely unfriendly to Linux -- and all other non-Windows systems.

Although some major distributions, such as Red Hat and Ubuntu, initially announced plans to make their own arrangements for secure boot security keys, the Linux Foundation wanted a solution that would work for all Linux variants. Linux kernel developer (and Linux Foundation board member) James Bottomley led the effort to find a solution. Bottomley announced in his blog that the fix is now available. At this stage, however, the solution is not recommended for everyday users. Bottomley's blog links to a pair of signed files <C>preloader.efi<C> and hashtool.efi, that must be integrated programmatically with the boot software on the disc. Bottomly also announced that he has put together a mini-USB boot image as a proof of concept that "...has an EFI shell where the kernel should be."

This universal UEFI fix will now begin its trek out into future Linux releases and will eventually become part of the Linux installation process.

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