Mom & Dad, I know you read my blog. Please skip this post. Thanks. --Cathy
Note: This post assumes you know what UEFI and Secure Boot are and have followed GNU/Linux's progress over the years. It assumes you have perspective. It is not a fluff piece. It is an open letter to freedom fighters at the core.
If you have built your own desktop at some point in your life and you care about end user rights, please read.
When UEFI's Secure Boot is implemented at OEM level, all new PCs purchased (with the intent of loading your favorite distro) will have Secure Boot.
Yes, you can disable it. But "disabling" something that's "secure" makes you bad. Thieves disable security. (On a primal level, people crave security; this is a constant.)
FLOSS is being rebranded as "not secure". The branding will stick the same way that the Win key branded PC=Windows worldwide.
FLOSS will be benevolent only for those who have a history with it. Your legitimacy and ease-of-use is being striped. Incoming new users will decrease as disabling Secure Boot evolves to be increasingly more difficult. Your peers will age and disappear, the precursor to extinction.
Your legacy evaporates every time you use a PC or Mac* and others see you using it, accepting it and condoning it. Future generations will wonder what it is you were trying to accomplish, not just because end user rights are a thing of the past, but because your words and actions were incongruent. There is a lack of integrity between what you say (you value GNU/Linux and FLOSS) and what you use (PC or Mac).
I am not an idealist and I have no vendetta, no flag to wave, no pissing contest to win. What I do have is an unfortunate penchant to see multiple outcomes (think: chess, think: hyperactive executive function in the frontal lobe). Ask anyone who knows me, I'm not smart, I just have an annoying tendency to visually chart multiple outcomes and give them weight due to likelihood of occurrence based on factors x, y, and z. Ask the people who have to live with me; it's annoying, but occasionally handy.
After looking at as many factors as I can currently see from my vantage point working with factories in China, devs throughout the world, and customers in North America and now Australasia, this will continue to play out like a Greek tragedy unless we purposefully shift the storyline. Now.
Secure Boot makes sense to Ubuntu and Fedora teams. We can respect their choices and we also respect the end user. ZaReason does not require you to use any specific distro in particular. ZaReason builds and supplies rooted, open bootloader machines that have been tested to run the most mature distros.
Fedora is doing the best they can. They are making tough decisions. They are good people who have been faced with their worst nightmare -- a lack of control over how their software gets loaded on the computers of nice new people who want to use it. They had two choices:
1. Become "too difficult" to new users, slow death by suffocation, or
2. Try to survive the upcoming shift, but in the process, trust MSFT. In an FSF article by John Sullivan: "Users wishing to run in a Secure Boot environment will have to trust Microsoft."
Since the beginning of GNU/Linux in the 1980-1990s up till now, we have all had the luxury of tinkering, wiping and loading whatever distro we liked.
This gave you the ability to flip the bird to proprietary corporations.
See below? This is what Secure Boot does, as it is currently being implemented.
|Creative Commons - Attribution 2.0 Generic Neeta Lind|
Solution: Don't give them your hand. Stop buying Windows machines, damn it.
Strata 7330 we just launched has serious muscle at a competitive price.
But here's the part that blows my mind -- currently a freedom fighter may look at the Strata model and say, "Oh, I really wanted __ feature." It's a minor feature, low on his list, but since there is a plethora of available models at the store and since he doesn't put much value on GNU/Linux-specific hardware (to do would seem "fanatic"), a feature that is #18 on his list wins out. Yikes.
At ZaReason our days are long and without a shiny marketing budget our computers do not get the credit they deserve. Hearing from a freedom fighter that he didn't find GNU/Linux-specific hardware compelling made me want to cut my own middle finger off, give up, forget it. As I type, my husband is working on R&D for the tablet and has just taken a moment to rest his head on the desk in despair. He needs a larger dev team. Now he's banging his head on the desk.
Why do we bother? Because GNU/Linux and FLOSS are worth a little head banging. We love how free and open source software and the people in the community have improved our lives. Our original switch to Ubuntu caused a quantitative improvement in quality of life. ZaReason is in it's 6th year now and even though the hardware business is brutal, even though it has pushed all of us to our limits, I wouldn't change the last six years.
GNU/Linux and FLOSS are worth it.
*Apple introduced UEFI. There isn't anything Windows has done that Apple hasn't tried to do better. Think Apple won't implement a similar Secure Boot? Please don't be naive. Thanks.