The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has chosen the winning entry in its Restricted Boot webcomic contest. Erik Steinmann's cartoon, which draws attention to the "Secure Boot" feature in Windows 8 ARM-based machines is currently on display on the FSF home page.
As we explained in March, The FSF campaign aims to raise awareness of the way in which Secure Boot or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) restricts consumers ability to use alternative operating systems while making the feature sound like a benefit. In fact the FSF prefers the term "restricted Boot" to emphasis the fact that it is indeed a restriction on use.
Commenting on the response so far Josh Gay, FSF's licensing and compliance manager, said
"I'd like to thank everyone who submitted an entry to the contest, as well as our panel of judges. With over 30,000 signatures to our statement and over a dozen high-quality submissions to our contest, I'm confident our message that Restricted Boot is a mistake has the attention of Microsoft and computer-makers alike. Now we need take the next step of turning this support into tangible results."
While "end users" may be concerned about the restriction means they can't opt to use Linux or Android or any other open source OS on a machine they have bought, Secure Boot is a particular problem for developers who are effectively prevented from working on OS development.
This seems to be another attempt to impose a lock in under the cover of security. Companies such as Ubuntu are currently negotiating to use Microsoft's keys so that they can install their operating systems on protected hardware. This still leaves Microsoft in control of what you do with the hardware you paid for and own.
As FSF's John Sullivan puts it in the groups new white paper:
“Under the guise of security, a computer afflicted with Restricted Boot refuses to boot any operating systems other than the ones the computer distributor has approved in advance,”
You can still add your signature to the statement "Stand up for your freedom to install free software", urging computer makers to implement "Secure Boot" in a way that gives users the freedom to install and run a free software operating system of their choice.