Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Casualties Mounting in the UEFI's Secure Boot Drama

Colosseum, Rome CC-Share-Alike Cathy Malmrose
What a Greek tragedy: two people who both need each other, cross paths, desperate to find each other, yet both fail having missed each other in transit, dying a tragic, needless death.

It's happening now, in 2012, a modern Greek tragedy in the tech sector.

The GNU/Linux distros are world-class software coded to power free and open in every way.

The GNU/Linux-specific hardware company ZaReason was built with a distribution chain that goes from OEM factories in China to Joe Smith's house in Ohio.

We need you; you need us. 

"We need you," has been widely recognized by the public: a company like ours would not exist without the GNU/Linux distros.

"You need us," is a concept that is slowly being recognized.
Now that UEFI's SecureBoot is here, people are beginning to see that GNU/Linux distros need a computer builder at OEM level who can keep things open, keep our collective foot in the door at the factories.

Games, CC-Share-Alike Cathy Malmrose
Here's our situation: We run an extremely tight ship. There is 0 profit.* If we ever did have profit, we would donate to support the EFF, FSF, Software Freedom Conservancy, LinuxFests, GNOME Foundation, various conferences, the works. Hopefully someday there will be but most months it's a stretch to make payroll. We would grow much more quickly in far more countries if we could get the word out there louder, faster, similar to what Cory Doctorow just posted on BoingBoing: "ZaReason, a computer company with freedom built in"


"ZaReason's mission isn't just to make free/open hardware: it's to ensure that there is always a free-as-in-free-speech option for your computing needs. This is a vital role, and they deserve kudos for stepping up to it... they have my endorsement and gratitude for keeping freedom alive, and putting ethics ahead of profit."

It's a Greek tragedy and I would like to rewrite the script right now. I would like to rewrite it to say, "It looked like UEFI's SecureBoot was going to be the norm, all computers built post-2012 were required to run __ (MSFT + whoever signs). But, there were a few small hardware builders who had been building GNU/Linux hardware for years. At the last minute the community got behind them and were able to keep their foot in the door. Now GNU/Linux hardware is known as the superior operating system, the code at the core of the infrastructure of our world, plus the software that runs computers of good people all over the globe."

Symbiotic Brothers CC-Share-Alike Cathy Malmrose
I'd prefer a story with a happy ending.

But to be honest I don't know how to motivate people. Devs have supported us in force over the years, but it has been a happy accident, not something we did on purpose.

Now that UEFI's SecureBoot is no longer avoidable, we need to put more muscle behind it. I have no idea how to do that other than to raise a flag for help. If any of you have any great ideas for how to avert this particular Greek tragedy, please speak up. Distros are weighing their options. No more time for delay.



* If you would like to see the 0 profit, we will gladly open our books to a CPA who could do an external audit and publicly verify that we are running Not For Profit. Send any CPA referrals to: cathy@zareason.com Three requirements:
1. Pro bono. We can't afford to hire one. The CPA will see why once s/he reviews our books.
2. NDA. There is no example (that I could find) of a company that thrived after opening it's books to the public. I'd love to be as transparent as clean air, but I won't sacrifice our ability to build hardware to do so.
3. CPA is a decent human being, someone with a history of supporting FOSS.

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