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Linux Top 3: UEFI Secure Boot, Amazon AMI and Ubuntu 12.10 Donations

  • October 14, 2012
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Few topics on the Linux Planet are as contentious as those that deal with Microsoft, Secure boot and Money.

1) Linux Foundation Secures Boot

Microsoft's UEFI Secure Boot plans for Windows 8 have been an issue of concern to the Linux community for much of this year. With Secure Boot, only signed code can run at boot time on validated Windows 8 hardware, with the signing tightly aligned to Microsoft. The fear is that hardware that is originally built and shipped to run Windows 8, will not be able to run Linux.

Linux distribution including Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE have all proposed their own respective approaches and potential solution to the problem in recent months. Last week, the Linux Foundation weighed in, with a potential stop gap solution that is distribution agnostic and might just work for all Linux distributions.

"In a nutshell, the Linux Foundation will obtain a Microsoft Key and sign a small pre-bootloader which will, in turn, chain load (without any form of signature check) a predesignated boot loader which will, in turn, boot Linux (or any other operating system)," James Bottomley, Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board explained. "This pre-bootloader can be used either to boot a CD/DVD installer or LiveCD distribution or even boot an installed operating system in secure mode for any distribution that chooses to use it."

This pre-bootloader will be obtained by the Linux Foundation and made freely available to all Linux users. The issue with the Linux Foundation's approach though is that it doesn't necessarily enhance Linux security, but rather is just an enabling approach.

"The current pre-bootloader is designed as an enabler only in that, by breaking the security verification chain at the actual bootloader, it provides no security enhancements over booting linux with UEFI secure boot turned off," Bottomley said. "Its sole purpose is to allow Linux to continue to boot on platforms that come by default with secure boot enabled."

2) Ubuntu 12.10 Nears Release. Canonical asks for donations

The Ubuntu 12.10, aka the Precise Pangolin release is set to officially become generally available on Thursday October 18th. While Canonical will offer various forms of commercial support (Ubuntu Advantage, Landscape) that provides monetization options, Ubuntu 12.10 offers a few new options.

One of them is the option to simply donate.

"By introducing a ‘contribute’ screen as part of the desktop download process, people can choose to financially support different aspects of Canonical’s work: from gaming and apps, developing the desktop, phone and tablet, to co-ordination of upstreams or supporting Ubuntu flavour," Canonical's Steve George wrote in a blog post. " It’s important to note that Ubuntu remains absolutely free, financial contribution remains optional and it is not required in order to download the software."

3) Amazon Linux AMI update

One of the most popular and widely used Linux distributions in the cloud, is the Amazon Linux AMI virtual distribution.

The Amazon Linux AMI 2012.09 update provides the Linux 3.2.30 kernel, PHP 5.4 and OpenJDK 7.

"After we removed the “Public Beta” tag from the Amazon Linux AMI last September, we’ve been on a six month release cycle focused on making sure that EC2 customers have a stable, secure, and simple Linux-based AMI that integrates well with other AWS offerings," Amazon Linux AMI developer Max Spevack wrote in a blog post

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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