Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

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48 Replies - 5390 Views - Last Post: 21 August 2012 - 12:42 AM

#1 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:50 AM

http://www.itworld.c...x-windows-8-pcs

Quote

Here's Microsoft's plan: Every new PC sold with Windows 8 will be locked up tight with Microsoft's UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) secure boot on. Microsoft says that this is to help secure your PCs from rootkits and malware. It also happens to stop you from easily installing Linux or any other operating system, such as Windows 7 or XP, on a Windows 8 system. Thanks Microsoft. We really needed that kind of protection!


I can't imagine this going over well with consumers who actually want to use Linux.

Over on HackerNews, somebody shed some more light:

Quote

gvb 1 hour ago | link

I bought a $300 eMachines EL1360G-UW11P for a home server to replace my 2001 vintage 800MHz P-III.

I installed linux but it wouldn't boot. Major bummer.

It wasn't clear that UEFI signing was at fault, but there was no other reason for it to refuse to boot the image. The install went fine right through the reboot. I re-installed linux trying several different things, all unsuccessfully. I also booted a "rescue" image and verified the install looked valid.

There was no way to turn off UEFI signing in the BIOS menus.

I went to the manufacturer's web site and found they had a "Linux BIOS" image. http://support.gatew...fault.aspx?t... I was able to reflash the BIOS with the P01.C1L image, but I had to force it by looking at their "flash.bat" file adding a /X flag to the flash command in there.

With the "linux" BIOS image, the board booted linux just fine. Huh.

Lessons Learned:

* UEFI is a real risk. Most mainstream PCs nowadays boot linux out of the box. I lived through the times when I bought a new PC "at risk" because it might have chips that were not supported by linux. UEFI brings that risk back, but through software, not hardware. Sucks!

* The hardware manufactures apparently are getting the "it must run linux" message, even for low end throw-away machines. Yeah!

* Reflashing BIOSes, especially when the user has to manually override "self protection" aborts, is not something an unsophisticated user is going to be able to do. Sucks.


Is the EFF going to do something about this? I can't imagine how ugly it's going to be to buy a computer and not be able to install Linux on it easily.

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Replies To: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

#2 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:56 AM

*
POPULAR

Don't buy a computer with Windows 8 pre-installed if you don't want Windows 8.

I personally consider this more an issue of availability of computers with out Windows pre-installed. As opposed to the blocking of booting other OS's easily on machines coming with Windows pre-installed.

Furthermore, as UEFI becomes more common place, the knowledge of its existence will be more common, so the turning it off will become more readily known. It's not like this is the first time a computer system may have needed tweaks to the BIOS if not a reflash to get it to work properly with some distro of linux... and it won't be the last.

It's a free market, Microsoft isn't monopolizing all computers with this, it's a feature they offer with the computers that come WITH Windows 8. So again... if you don't like it, don't buy it.




And what about Mac? Their EFI used to cause tons of headaches installing linux on a Mac, and still does on some models today. Tools exist to assist you along the way (like rEFIt), similar tools will probably be made to assist in installing on Windows 8 UEFI registered systems. Big whoopidy doo da day.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 31 July 2012 - 12:02 PM

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#3 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:05 PM

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It's not like this is the first time a computer system may have needed tweaks to the BIOS if not a reflash to get it to work properly with some distro of linux... and it won't be the last.


I haven't needed to do any tweaking to install Linux on any of the many machines I've formatted for the past 6 years. Is it because I'm buying hardware in Bolivia, not the US? Does hardware sold in the US come with more restrictions?
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#4 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:17 PM

It's because your experience spans only the last 6 years.

Linux has been around for a far longer period of time then that. As well as the multitude of other operating systems that run on the x86 platform.

You're also ignoring the other systems that linux can be installed on. Such as the issues of installing on Macs (as I previously pointed out), as well as several other hardware platforms linux is compatible with. Linux users like to gloat about how it can be installed all over the place, but a lot of the platforms require all sorts of prep work first off!

Why is it Microsofts job to create openings for you? While all the other platforms are forgiven?

Anyways, Microsoft doesn't actually manufacture these systems. It's a security feature they've designed, that manufacturers can implement. If you bought a computer with some feature linux doesn't have support for is it the manufacturers fault or your own for wanting to use it? (I remember when the Core 2 Duo came out, the SATA controller on my board wasn't well supported by the linux kernel, I had to manually compile a custom kernel to support it).

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 31 July 2012 - 12:18 PM

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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:29 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 31 July 2012 - 01:56 PM, said:

Don't buy a computer with Windows 8 pre-installed if you don't want Windows 8.


I think there's more to it than that.
One of the major sources of linux machines from the beginning has been converting discarded windows boxes. This move promises to put a crimp in that supply, which is a major bummer, since Windows is still going to suck, and require vastly more power than it needs to provide the services it provides - meaning free discarded corporate and personal machines galore.

This is an issue because groups like freegeek (freegeek.org) have been using these machines to provide free linux machines to students, non-profits, and other folks for a while. I don't know how this is going to affect that sort of effort, but the fact that Microsoft is trying to make this more difficult is both stupid and evil.

Another consideration is whether this will affect dual-boot installs. I have no idea, but it seems likely to make them more annoying.
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#6 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:34 PM

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This is an issue because groups like freegeek (freegeek.org) have been using these machines to provide free linux machines to students, non-profits, and other folks for a while. I don't know how this is going to affect that sort of effort, but the fact that Microsoft is trying to make this more difficult is both stupid and evil.


Wait - so parasitic groups arise and latch onto a given product life cycle... that product cycle shifts and now it's all dramatic finger pointing and casting aspersions of being evil?

I don't know about that...
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#7 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:36 PM

1) not Microsoft's job to make these people's lives easier

2) It's not impossible to do, at the current moment merely requires a BIOS Flash, and in short time tools will exist to make their lives fine and easy (as seen with Macs and the existing 2 second tools like rEFIt to deal with its EFI chip). It's not like the job of recycling said machines is simple anyways, they have to perform multiple refurb steps to get the old machine up in order... and big whoop if that means an extra small step in updating the BIOS which they probably would be doing anyways as the machines probably have old BIOS versions on them in the first damn place.



How is any of the evil? Is it's Mattel's job to make sure Barbie can survive long enough to be donated to goodwill? Is it Oreo's job to make sure Oreo's can survive being donated to a food drive?

It may be a nice gesture to keep them in mind. But when it hinders the vision of the product... it's not required. And as stated... this is not mandatory, and it is completely reversible! Microsoft is not forcing this onto people, manufacturers elect to implement it, and those manufacturers also supply a method to reverse it. If a specific manufacturer fails to supply a reversal method, that is NOT Microsoft's fault, that is the manufacturer's fault.



"Waaaah, Microsoft is evil because if I buy their product and want to modify it to my likings I have to take an extra 60 excrutiating seconds out of my time to do so... waaaaaah, how tyrannical!"



Important notice - I AM A LINUX USER, as well as a Windows/Solaris/a few off brand OS's used internally for work.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 31 July 2012 - 12:44 PM

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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:44 PM

"Parasite" is not exactly the term I'd use for free geek. "Scavenger" might be more appropriate - they find waste material, do some work on it, and return it into useful life.
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#9 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:46 PM

but you get the point. ;)
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#10 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:58 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 31 July 2012 - 02:36 PM, said:

"Waaaah, Microsoft is evil because if I buy their product and want to modify it to my likings I have to take an extra 60 excrutiating seconds out of my time to do so... waaaaaah, how tyrannical!"


Oh, stop. If microsoft is intentionally building their software to lock itself into your hardware, they're intentionally trying to trap their customers. If Rocket Brand gasoline put an additive in their gas which lingered in your vehicle and caused it to seize up if you put in another sort of fuel, you'd call that evil, right?

It's one thing to not go to any effort to make uninstalling easy. It's another thing to take developer time to make it harder.

I'm not saying it's not their privilege to be evil or stupid (See Spolsky's essay on "barriers to exit" for the argument that they're stupid). I'm just saying it's both evil and stupid.

View Postmodi123_1, on 31 July 2012 - 02:46 PM, said:

but you get the point. ;)



I suppose I do, but I think it's not a very convincing one.
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#11 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:58 PM

Just to be clear - we are including Apple in being evil and stupid too, right, or do they get a pass for being so gosh darn cute?
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#12 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:59 PM

They created a boot mechanism that when enabled validates that the install is proper. Increasing security (in theory).

It is not mandatory, it is reversible, and it is up to the system manufacturer to implement it.

You don't have to buy a fucking windows machine, so if you really don't want it, don't fucking buy it. What do people say about Macs and the difficulty of exiting their platform? Is it that Mac is evil? Or is it DON'T FUCKING BUY IT!
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#13 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:01 PM

I've installed linux and windows on boot camp without trouble, so I haven't had a problem. If you find that Apple's making it difficult to install linux on macs, that'd be evil and stupid, yes.

Apple's long-time policy of general lockdown strikes me as a stupid and evil policy, even though I understand why they pursue it.

So no, they don't get a pass.
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#14 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:03 PM

Macs EFI used to make it difficult. But developers (including those from Apple) made it easier with tools like Bootcamp. If you want to completely remove OSX and go full linux you'll need to edit the EFI settings... tools like rEFIt exist to assist that (like I've stated repeatedly).

Oh wait... what's that called? EFI? That seems rather familiar? UEFI, EFI, hrmmm...

UEFI for Windows is new. At the moment it requires a bit more manual work to get around (reflashing on some machines), but it's only just now coming out. It's not like Apple had Bootcamp ready the day they flip to intel, it was a good while later that they finally released it. And it still doesn't allow you to EXIT from using OSX, it allows you to dual-boot.

What about tablets, embedded systems, rooting/jail-breaking cellphones, blah blah blah blah blah. Why aren't they "evil" for making it difficult for me to replace the existing OS with my favorite linux distro?

Or are you saying they are as well?


And to break the tension...


This post has been edited by lordofduct: 31 July 2012 - 01:08 PM

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#15 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Microsoft is at it again with their shady, downright unethical choices

Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:08 PM

Sweet.. with that I'll probably check out of the conversation because all the major news sources I just skimmed indicate they don't have a freaking clue on what will happen (outside of the ARM lock down).. and how it will depend on the brand and motherboard settings to see hwo hard it would be to turn off... all that will happen is Windows8 advocates it should be on when the pc ships. Now if Toshiba* decides to toss around a bag of dicks and make it something difficult to turn off then that's on them.

Not to mention if it *DOES* take a bit more time, searching, and flashing to get linux on a computer think how much that will skyrocket linux's image! The exclusivity of knocking off the low hanging fruit users means the community becomes more lean and mean! (I sort of.. ah.. joke about that)


*fyi I have no idea on toshiba's position.. so this could very well be Sony, HP, Compaq, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Gateway, etc..
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