2013: Installing Linux on Windows 8 PC is still a pain
Summary: It's still very hard to install Linux on Windows 8 PCs, and it's next to impossible to install Linux on Windows RT devices like the Microsoft Surface RT.
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
for Linux and Open Source
December 31, 2012 -- 02:58 GMT (18:58 PST)
Want to run Linux on your Windows 8 PC? Get used to looking at your PC's firmware settings screen.
In security's name, Microsoft has made it difficult to install Linux
, or any other operating system, including older versions of Windows, on Windows 8 PCS. In addition, Microsoft has made it all but impossible to install Linux on Windows RT devices
such as the Surface RT.
Microsoft has done this by adding a feature to UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface)
, the next generation of BIOS, called secure boot. Its avowed purpose is to prevent rootkits, malicious programs that run before the operating system boots, from running.
So far, so good as even the Free Software Foundation (FSF), an organization with no love for Microsoft recently admitted.
When done correctly, "Secure Boot" is designed to protect against malware
by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won't boot unauthorized operating systems -- including initially authorized systems that have been modified without being re-approved.
This could be a feature deserving of the name, as long as the user
is able to authorize the programs she wants to use, so she can run free software written and modified by herself or people she trusts. However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than Windows. In this case, we are better off calling the technology Restricted Boot, since such a requirement would be a disastrous restriction on computer users and not a security feature at all.