You will be able to install Linux on Windows 8 computers

The Linux Foundation just announced that they have found a solution for the new BIOS of the upcoming Windows 8 PC. In short, if you are to purchase a Windows 8 PC in the near future, you will be able to install your favorite Linux distro on it.

It has never been a problem to install Linux alongside with Windows on store-bought Windows computers. However, Microsoft makes it more difficult with Windows 8 because Microsoft insists that all PCs that ship with Windows 8 will have to use UEFI ( which Mac computers have been using for years instead of the good old BIOS, and the UEFI secure boot will be enabled by default. This secure boot feature makes a computer check for a security key when it boots, and if there’s no key, there’s no boot. The main benefit of this Secure Boot feature is that it protects your computer from viruses or other malware while it boots. However if Secure Boot is enabled, there’s no way to run unsigned software — like a program to install a Linux-based operating system. Some PC manufacturers may enable the option to disable Secure Boot manually, but this is still not 100% guaranteed.

Some big names in the Linux world like Ubuntu, Fedora and SUSE have worked out their own solutions but it may not help anything if you are not a user of these distros. That's why it is a really good news for all Linux users when the Linux Foundation has developed a system that will let you install most open source operating systems on most computers with Secure Boot enabled.

Basically, the Linux Foundation will pick up a license key from Microsoft, and then sign a pre-bootloader tool. This will let you chain load additional software without running another signature check.

In other words, the pre-bootloader will be signed, but anything you run after that doesn’t have to be. Effectively this kills any security benefits you get from Secure Boot in the first place, because it’s a way to run unsigned code.

For now you can check out the source code provided in the announcement of the Linux Foundation. Until the Linux Foundation actually obtains a key from Microsoft though, you won’t be able to do much with the code.
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