Rich Freeman on 17 Oct 2016 17:47:03 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Linux Laptop

On Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 8:27 PM, Steve Litt <> wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:46:14 -0400
> Rich Freeman <> wrote:
>> However, as long as MS continues to sign alternate bootloaders it
>> actually is a relative non-issue.
> For those using mainstream distros.

I don't use a mainstream distro, and I'm not worried.

Microsoft has issued keys for non-distro-associated FOSS bootloader
projects.  You can boot anything using these.


In general it sounds like they're willing to sign generic bootloaders
that can be used to boot any OS, as long as the bootloader requires
user interaction the first time a new OS is booted.  So, this is
really no different from something like grub, except that you can't
just edit a text file to configure it (at least not without some kind
of interaction with the bootloader to confirm the changes the first
time).  What they don't want is a signed bootloader that could just be
configured by some malware to load a rootkit before it loads the OS.

> Also, it would be interesting to see what happens to a keyed distro if
> one recompiles the kernel with different stuff in it.

It depends on how their bootloader works.  If it were using something
like the Linux Foundation shim then you'd need to confirm the changes
at next boot.  If it were something like the Ubuntu approach then it
would refuse to boot.

The best way is to just change the keys trusted by your firmware, so
that only images you explicitly sign will run.  Then nobody can just
boot your system off of an arbitrary image.

Of course, you can get similar protection using a TPM chip and full
disk encryption backed by a verified boot path.  Then if somebody
tampers with the boot chain the OS will be unable to read the hard
drive, and the same will apply if somebody removes the drive from the
system.  They couldn't even beat you over the head to get the key
since you wouldn't know it, though they could just boot the system up
normally and ask you to log in (though if you had a duress password
that told the OS to instruct the TPM to wipe itself then if you
entered that it would destroy the only means to recover your data, and
whoever is doing this would have no way to verify whether your
password was valid other than trying it on the actual system; a disk
backup beforehand would be useless since it would be encrypted using
keys that were stored only in the TPM, which was just instructed to
destroy them).

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