Microsoft has asked Lenovo to make it harder to boot Linux on their computers.

obviously I know some really cool people who work at Microsoft but it's very funny to me that people have been harping on us FOSS types for not instantly forgiving them for 20 years of malice, and now we've got this. [1]

when Microsoft is asking manufacturers to prevent people from booting other OSes and not communicating as to why, they are positioning themselves as the enemy. it's that simple. if they want to be trusted by Linux users, they need to earn that trust.

we're about 2y away, by my estimation, from living in a bizarro world where x86 PCs are less open to free desktops than ARM Macs.


@tindall i dont know why but the "microsoft ❤️ open source" thing has been scarily successful and a lot of people are actually convinced that microsoft is "good now and cares about users more than profit"

then every time microsoft does something like this they act surprised as if "how were we supposed to know?" when people have been warning them for years and they have been ignoring it

@AgathaSorceress it's a gaslighting tactic in the true original use of the term. we who were harmed, or remember our predecessors being harmed, are essentially being told that we're imagining things, while the people who harmed us are able to benefit from our work without consequences

@tindall @AgathaSorceress Yeah I mean. I called it out as another EEE tactic when it first happened but got shouted down lol

@tindall @AgathaSorceress Like - hmm, I wonder. This company that wrote a fuckload of memos in the late 90s about how they were going to lose to open source and linux in general, a company has a history of doing FUD and if that fails, EEE. Has stopped doing FUD, and is suddenly embracing open source software and linux? hmmmmm. hmmm I wonder what is going on heree

@alexandria @AgathaSorceress yep! "Noooo it's not EEE they just ❤️ open source"

I genuinely hate the people at Microsoft who decided to do this.

@tindall @alexandria from my experience its especially common among dotnet devs who really like the "but they switched CEOs! the new one is good and wont do EEE anymore!! they truly love open source!! look they contributed to the linux kernel!" excuse

@tindall @alexandria the worst part being that microsoft's biggest contribution to linux is creating WSL, which is essentially "we made it so you can use linux on windows so you can stop using full linux now"

@AgathaSorceress @tindall @alexandria and don't forget Azure! which is… running Linux on Hyper-V… so, i guess kind of the same

but there's also their Kubernetes offering (and involvement) which is probably the best way to run your Google like infrastructure, since… Google won't sell you (useful) support… even if you… paid for it

@AgathaSorceress @meena @tindall @alexandria kubernetes is a google offering, not MS (sorry if that’s what you intended!)

@mood @AgathaSorceress @tindall @alexandria Kubernetes is a Google invention, but it's FLOSS, and MS' offering is probably one of the best supported by actual real engineers

@AgathaSorceress @tindall @alexandria

"OS/2 had a chicken-and-egg problem. Its best selling point was its compatibility with MS-DOS and Windows applications. However, this meant few developers took the time to write OS/2-native apps. So, why run OS/2 at all?"

Many devs out there are too young to remember how MS killed OS/2

@tindall @AgathaSorceress I think it's really hard for people to not anthropomorphize corporations; but they aren't people, they are systems. good people can and do exist inside if those systems. Sometimes they are able to rock the system back and forth, at great personal stress and exhaustion, from the inside and shake loose some resources toward something good.

Maybe some queer employees get a pride initiative going; maybe someone is able to get their job to divest from ChildLaborCo™️. Maybe someone can make the case to their boss that open-source is good, actually;

But at the end of the day, these systems are paperclip maximizers, but for profits. They have one, singular goal, and absolutely no consideration is given to anything else in pursuit of that goal unless it endangers that goal.... over the next quarter or two.

This is how you can have a corporation that can do rainbow shit all June and really mean it; and at the same time donate money to queerphobic politicians and ALSO really mean it.

Anyway. The point is, you can't trust these COs. Maximize what good you can extract from them, but don't loose sight of the fact that they are going to steamroll your whole family if it comes down to it.

@rgegriff @tindall @AgathaSorceress they also aren’t usually coherent in their decision making, especially Microsoft. The people running GitHub aren’t the same people making Lenovo lock down their bootloaders

@rgegriff @tindall @AgathaSorceress still gotta remember that corporate profit is theft though. Even at their best gotta remember that they’re stealing your labor and your time

@tindall this happened with vscode and intentionally crashing their extensions in open source builds, this happened with the recent minecraft microsoft account migrations and moderation features, and now this, and yet every single time people act as if nobody could've predicted that this would happen


@tindall wait, do they actually want lenovo to make laptops where you can't enter setup mode and add your own keys in?

@devurandom right now they are shipping laptops where that is the default, yes.

@devurandom @tindall I mean you already can't, right? Linux boots using a shim signed by Microsoft

@tindall @alexandria @devurandom To elaborate, they've disabled the key for that shim by default now. There's a switch in the UEFI settings to enable the shim's key, but it's off by default so you have to know it exists.

@vwbusguy @be @tindall @alexandria @devurandom

This is exactly the point!

All those who are calling criticism of alarming vendor-lock-in "alarmist" are missing it ... entirely.

Freedom is not when they let you have the choice. Freedom is when they can't deny you the choice.

@vwbusguy @be @tindall @alexandria @devurandom

To rebut some of the talking points that inevitably crop up:

"it concerns only a tiny fraction of devices" (so what? This is part of a long-term strategy to consolidate control),

"it's good for security" (nope, single points of trust or failure never are),

"majority don't need or want alternate OSes" (or maybe they just don't know they maybe would, and now never will???)

@alexandria @tindall i'm not a security person, this is not security advice, but

iirc: on my laptop it goes like this: it starts off in "user mode", where keys are predefined and unchangeable. booting a system signed with the wrong key fails. but i can enter "setup mode", in which the uefi allows you to add other allowed keys. once the keys are added, the system goes back into "user mode" and prohibits other keys, but allows the ones you've added.

i added some hooks to make the linux kernel compile with my own personal key whenever it's updated, added the key to uefi using a special tool and now it will boot my distro, but not a third-party kernel.

this is useful if you have an encrypted drive setup, because you can't encrypt the boot partition, so if you think someone can use that to slip in a counterfeit bootloader/kernel that'll leak the encryption keys, you need to prevent that by using secure boot and signing the kernel with a key they don't have access to.

@tindall what's your take on builders like System76 and Framework ?

@elmiko they're expensive and fragile (as companies). It's good that we have them but it's not enough

@tindall @elmiko Voting with money, supporting companies like these, making them less fragile and their products less expensive, sounds like a more plausible plan to me than sabotaging MS into not being evil (?!) 🤔

@m0xee @elmiko exactly how would that work, when the largest companies and governments on earth are supporting Microsoft?

@tindall @elmiko It already worked! MS is far from being a friend of free software, but MS we have today is a shadow of its former self. I remember the days when there was no Purism, no System 76, no linux support for most hardware — chances were good that even your wired network adapter won't work. And MS could shove just about anything down your throat.
It's not like that anymore. As average Joe moves to mobile MS is close to being irrelevant.

@tindall @elmiko And MS doesn't feed on support from governments and enterprises, MS exists off your money. Not directly, but still. So that is how it would work — buy a computer that comes with linux. Tell the market what you want instead of adapting to it yourself by buying a system designed for Windows and installing Linux on it. Capitalism kinda works in this case. Even HP has models like Dev One which comes with Linux — looks like a decent piece of hardware to me 🤷

@m0xee @elmiko this is factually incorrect in just about every way.

@m0xee @elmiko Microsoft makes most of its money from enterprises. companies generally do not give much of a shit about what consumers want because, especially in this space, they can dictate what's available, and they choose to make the things that are most profitable to them available. People who care about this make up a small minority of consumers at most.

You are being hopelessly optimistic here.

@tindall @elmiko You are right, it does make most money from enterprises, but if you take a look at revenue structure you'll see that "cloud" stuff is a huge part of it. They are changing their business model precisely because you can't stay profitable just by selling Windows and Office licenses anymore.
Windows is still a major player in education, but MS is jumping through hoops to prevent Chromebooks from eating into their market share.
True, I am optimistic, but I'm not unreasonable.

@tindall @elmiko I think I digressed and didn't make a point. You are right, consumer market is not the only thing keeping them afloat. But we do not want to kill MS off completely, do we? 😅
We just want them to stop influencing consumer market by pushing Windows aggressively, I think we can. They gave up on Edge and went with their Chrome clone, they gave up on Windows 10 Mobile and went with Android. They can still sell their hardware running Windows and have their enterprise cake, no problem!

@m0xee @tindall @elmiko There's nothing wrong with trying to vote with your dollar and trying to support better alternatives, I certainly do, but the fact is that these companies act the way they do because that is what's most successful given the ruleset handed down by capitalism. Actual regulation or, better yet, ditching capitalism entirely are the only ways to actually begin to address the problem here.

Those with disposable income can do all they want to support companies trying to do the right thing, but even with that they'll never be able to compete with the low costs that become possible from extracting every cent possible like the giants do.

@vanilla @tindall @elmiko Buying from companies that squeeze every cent including by paying workers less is not a proper way to abolish capitalism 😋
If you are low on funds just buy older hardware — used hardware. This way you do not support evil corporations AND help reducing e-waste. I'm still using an HP laptop from 2013 myself. I've upgraded RAM to 16 gigs, added a 1Tb SSD, installed #VoidLinux — and it is extremely good at everything I throw at it except for 4k video!

@m0xee The thing is, neither is buying from System 76 or Pine64 or getting everything used. You're not going to ethically consume your way out of this problem.

I'd certainly encourage people to buy used: it means less waste! I'd also encourage them to buy hardware that is more open: it means they get devices which respect them! There are real benefits! But there is no future where a ton of people choose to put their financial realities aside and flip the industry on its head by simply buying something else. It will not happen, ever.

Open hardware and free software are beautiful things, but they can't change the world on their own.

@vanilla I agree, we can't solve every problem out there with this, but we already did a lot to shake the Intel-Microsoft monopoly. Google got more dangerous than MS ever was in the process, but that's a different story.
We have somewhat open hardware, free ROMs for phones and truly free smartphones by Purism and Pine64, we have federated social networks and federated IM. Yes, most people don't use better alternatives, but honestly, I don't see modern world as some kind dystopia tech-wise.

@elmiko @tindall are there another vendor, which use not Intel CPUs - maybe ARM or RISC which are good and maybe stabil?

I only know the pinebook pro as an Linux compatible ARM notebook. (Which does no fit my needs of quality and performance)

@genofire @tindall i'm only familiar with pine64, but i have no experience using them.

@ulPa @tindall Presumably, yes, but you have to realize that MS is not like other corps. MS is structured for corruption & under-handed tactics. Recall that MS knowingly sold o365 licenses to school districts in Africa that didn’t even have computers in a scheme where they gave a kickback to their accomplices in the school districts. MS has no limits. The SEC mysteriously failed to investigate.

@ulPa illegal != doesn't happen. the us govt has essentially given up.

@tindall they’re doing this for “security” and yet they also made Windows the only option

@tindall so did Google and yet arm/x86 Chromebooks can run non Google oses. Microsoft is just a shittier company than Google somehow.

@tindall computers get worse by the day

kill corporations

@tindall there's layers and layers to mandatory secure boot. It makes it harder for platforms even smaller than Linux to survive, it makes it harder to experiment with new ideas with OS development as a hobby, it encourages further e-waste by running the software obsolescence treadmill even faster, it locks people in to specific bootloader ecosystems which can be exploited by hostile parties. And so on.

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