Freedom to install free software

Freedom to install free software

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.


The above is a place trying to get signatures for a petition not to have it mandatory to install Windows 8 with no other choice. I put this in not because I support the petition but because this is where I got the idea for writing this article.

I would like to take you back a few years to start as this isn’t just something that fell out of the woodwork yesterday. Microsoft started out development of Vista with it being named Longhorn as a development platform, while it was being coded. This idea of a Trusted Computing Chip that protects the computer system came along during the development stages.

Various RCs (Release candidates) followed over the next 5½ years starting out in 2001, turned over to the beta testers for test driving problems in the software. One of the builds released as an RC became known as Palladium. The Palladium build featured what was known as Next-Generation Secure Computing Base or more infamously known as the TPM (Trusted Platform Module). The TPM was a special chip to be added into the circuit to check and make sure that the OS was not compromised or that infected software would not be run.

It sounds great in practice until you realize that it could also control what you could install on the computer. It could prevent installation of anything Microsoft deemed to have problems with such as Linux.

Microsoft has already demonstrated it had problems with losing licensing fees with business converting to Linux as a cheaper alternative software to the MS licensing tax. It’s first solutions to hearing of a major business changing over was one of obstructionism, followed by enforcement actions, through using the BSA (Business Software of America).

What it developed as a tactic was to send it’s best and most pushy software salesmen to those businesses with the idea of offering discounts to remain within the Windows group or if that did not work then to occupy the time of the team leader responsible for the change over. If that failed then followed an inspection from BSA for illegal software usage. The BSA looks for commercial software licenses should be paid on and if the business does not have the original sales receipt showing it purchased the software it was then considered infringing and unlicensed software with appropriate fines and mandatory licensing fees billed to the company. This was done in an effort to slow the change over or punish businesses that did change over to Open Source Software. It resulted in business not publicly saying they were going to do a change over until the last minute.

Microsoft later teamed up with the Linux distributor Xandros to get into the inside of Linux software legally. This in turn resulted in a fallout with Xandros later where Microsoft then used the legally gained inside knowledge to claim patent infringement against Linux. More often than not, businesses look at patent trolls and their licensing demands on those patents as a form of extortion where it is cheaper to pay the fee than fight it in court. Call it a cost of doing business.

The whole idea behind all this was to put some sort of road block to keep companies and governments from changing over and Microsoft losing income because of the drop in usage at a time when Microsoft was steadily raising those fees.

The whole purpose of the above is to set up the point that Microsoft has a problem with Open Sourced Software taking chunks of it’s income and what it has attempted in the past to prevent it. This is what the Freedom To Install Free Software is worried about. Is that with this newest TPM method it could prevent the installation of Linux on your personal computer, leaving you no choice but to use Windows and pay the Microsoft licensing tax to do so.

Posted in Thoughts.

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