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Installing Linux on a Microsoft Surface tablet isn't easy!

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#1 M.Sudoku


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:53 AM



If you have bought Microsoft Surface tablet and want to install Ubuntu or Linux Mint on it then it won't be as easy as it used to be. Like many other ARM devices, Surface also 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.


#2 Frylock86


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

Why the fuck are you doing that? Because I really want to buy a Ford, and install a Jetta engine.

#3 Elhuyar


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:38 PM

LOL, relax, some people like to test new shiny OS's.

#4 Villain


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:55 PM

MS did this on purpose, and I would like to see how Linux handles on the Surface.... It is up there with people install Linux on Mac Air and such.  People do it "just because" to see if it is possible.

#5 yanike


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 08:08 PM

I was wondering if that was possible. I was looking at tablets at Best Buy for this semester and really like the Kindle Fire. The only tablet I would probably get now will be the Ubuntu one.

#6 FalseAgent


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Posted 05 January 2013 - 10:12 AM

This is understandable actually. Installing Linux on the Surface might contribute to higher support costs for Microsoft. I think most OEMs do this. Maybe not on laptops, but on tablets, definitely.

#7 The Flashing Fish

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 03:33 PM

Why the fuck are you doing that? Because I really want to buy a Ford, and install a Jetta engine.


What's your problem with people who don't like the same crap you like? What business is it of yours to judge someone for wanting the Surface hardware but not wanting Windows 8? 


By the way, your analogy sucks. People do engine swaps all the time. It's called customization.

#8 Villain


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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:34 AM

It's called customization.

Very well said, Especially considering the WM is a Customizing site... +1 to you!

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