FSF publishes whitepaper with recommendations for free operating system distributions considering Secure Boot
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Saturday, June 30th, 2012-- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today published a whitepaper entitled, "Free Software Foundation recommendations for free operating system distributions considering Secure Boot."
The paper can be downloaded as a PDF from http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/secure-boot-vs-restricted-boot/whitepaper.pdf or read online at http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/secure-boot-vs-restricted-boot/whitepaper-web.
In the paper, the FSF outlines the difficulties Secure Boot poses for the free software movement and free software adoption, warns against the threat of Restricted Boot, and gives recommendations for how free software developers and users can best address the issues. The paper also responds to recent announcements made by two popular GNU/Linux distributions, Ubuntu and Fedora, detailing their intended approaches to implementing Secure Boot.
Because Microsoft's security key will be installed on nearly every laptop and desktop sold, there is a temptation for free software operating system distributions to connect their key to Microsoft's in order to facilitate easy installation.
The FSF rejects any approach to computer security which requires users or computer distributors to place their trust in Microsoft or any other proprietary software company, and instead stresses the importance of enabling users to both easily disable Secure Boot and to use security keys they generate themselves, so that they -- and not a third party -- can determine which software should and should not run on their computers.
"We will do what we can to help all free software operating system distributions follow this path, and we will work on a political level to reduce the practical difficulties that adhering to these principles might pose for expedient installation of free software. The FSF does want everyone to be able to easily install a free operating system -- our ultimate goal is for everyone to do so, and the experience of trying out free software is a powerful way to communicate the importance of free software ideals to new people. But we cannot in the name of expediency or simplicity accept systems that direct users to put their trust in entities whose goal it is to extinguish free software. If that's the tradeoff, we better just turn Secure Boot off," writes John Sullivan, FSF's executive director.
About the Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.
About the GNU Operating System and Linux
Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html.
In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html.
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