[personal profile] mjg59
The Microsoft Surface is a fairly attractive bit of tablet hardware, and as a result people have shown interest in running Linux on it. The immediate problem is that (like many ARM devices) it has a locked-down firmware that will only run signed binaries - unlike many other ARM devices, this is implemented using an existing standard (UEFI Secure Boot). Microsoft provide a signing service for UEFI binaries, so it's tempting to think that getting around this restriction would be as simple as taking an existing Linux bootloader, signing it and then booting. Unfortunately Microsoft's signing service signs binaries using a different key (the "Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher" key) to the one used to sign Windows, and the Surface doesn't carry that key. Booting Linux on these devices would involve finding a flaw in the firmware and using that to run arbitrary code.

Could this also be a problem on x86? In theory - Microsoft don't require that vendors carry the driver publisher key, and so a system could be Windows 8 certified and still not carry it. It's unlikely to occur in practice, though, since any third party expansion hardware will then fail on that device. As a result, anything with PCIe or Expresscard slots is effectively certain to have this key. If anyone finds any counterexamples, please let me know.

Quite irrelevant

Date: 2012-12-31 12:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Unless you count Android, we don't have any Linux environment to run on tablet computers.

And please don't say GNOME runs on tablets, it is utter crap and there's not the slightest light at the end of the tunnel. Really.

Re: Quite irrelevant

Date: 2012-12-31 12:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Meego, Mer, Jolla, Meaomo, E17, plasma active, tizen.

Re: Quite irrelevant

Date: 2012-12-31 01:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
And five out of these seven are really just the same thing at different times in development (or subsystems of others, such as Mer).

Re: Quite irrelevant

Date: 2013-01-01 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Of the non-android Linuxes for tablets I've seen these are the only feasible ones.

Gram's (HP) WebOS
Jolla's Sailfish

I haven't had the privilege of using e17 or plasma active so can't really comment on those. e17 definitely would provide a solid foundation but I haven't seen a specific tablet focused implementation.

Gnome and Unity thoughrally disappointed me on tablets. Considering how many users they abandoned I n pursuit of the tablet, they have done a very poor job.

Re: Quite irrelevant

Date: 2012-12-31 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Pengpod, runs Andriod AND Debian (thus Libreoffice)


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at CoreOS. Member of the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board and the Free Software Foundation board of directors. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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