Hacker Newsnew | comments | ask | jobs | submitlogin
acqq 240 days ago | link | parent

I have a Windows 8 notebook and for the first time in my life I have no control over my own general purpose computer:

- I can't enter BIOS before entering OS.

- Once I enter the BIOS from the OS I can't activate the hard disk password.

- I can't install the Windows 8 OS clean. The MSFT has the deal with the computer producers that doesn't allow them to deliver the pure OS medium, you can only backup the already present installed files to some external HDD.

- Because of the previous and the fact that the binaries are controlled on the hardware level (TPM), I have no control of what's running on my computer -- I can't know, to be precise.

- It's even worse than that, there is some Intel built-in technology on the hardware/BIOS/drivers level which also has built-in "features" that allow communication with some external "command and control center" which I don't control. It supposedly allows, among other "features" disabling the notebook once it's stolen. But I don't control how it's done, and I don't know if it has additional backdoors. It proudly claims to facilitate "remote access."

It's scary how it looks like all together. I haven't even figured out how I'd be able to install Linux on the computer. In some forums people claim that the OEM should allow that, but apparently a lot of people haven't managed to actually install it on different specific computers -- there are BIOS problems that can't be avoided, and the OEMs don't give you support or the updates. Mine is an Intel i5 processor-based modern Acer. It's fast, but I have no control. Definitely not FUD.

Personally I like Apple approach more: thanks to their approach of the OSX or iOS (no third party pre-installed crap) at least I have to just trust Apple. Here I have to trust Microsoft, Intel and every company who has the drivers on my machine. Much more chance for some of them to do what they want, in the name of "cloud." Remember routers that are controlled from the producer of the router, even "protecting" you from browsing all the sites? Remember Android phones which upload all your passwords to the cloud of the mobile operator? That's where the "cloud" support of the driver writers goes now. It is scary.

(Globally, we're talking about this: http://xkcd.com/743/ -- We've been giving up the control of "infrastructures" for a long time)



ZanyProgrammer 240 days ago | link

My roommate bought a Windows 8 equipped Asus a few months back and installed Mint on it. Seriously, Google 'How to install Linux on a Windows 8 laptop' sometime.

-----

acqq 240 days ago | link

My point is still: new made-for-Windows 8 computers (especially notebooks) are bigger security risk than older Windows 7 computers. Installing Linux on the Windows 8 hardware can help if you avoid some issues, still even then there has to be independent evaluation of the modern BIOSes, appearing more and more in Windows 8 computers, that know how to connect or answer to the Internet and that provide the level of execution which user can't observe.

-----

btb 240 days ago | link

What brand notebook is that? Just so I can make a mental note to avoid purchasing that brand in the future :)

-----

acqq 240 days ago | link

It's Acer, but I as far as I know almost nothing it Acer specific -- it's a Windows 8, all OEMs must accept what MSFT wants, plus the concept of third party additions, plus the Intel technologies. I'm surprised how little coverage there is on this all aspects.

The discussions of kernel-level "giving up control" existed in Palladium and "technologies formerly known as Palladium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next-Generation_Secure_Computin...) even 10 years ago but with Windows 8 they start to be ubiquitous and nobody even notices.

-----

amanne 240 days ago | link

It was Apple that implemented Palladium in on iPads and iPhones and many technical folks even cheered it on.

-----

acqq 240 days ago | link

I like iPad and iPhone as they are. Apple devices don't come with random crud from the third parties preinstalled. Windows computers have problematic things even in BIOSes: different software from companies that claim to "protect" your computer but can even provide remote access for third parties.

-----

ZanyProgrammer 240 days ago | link

I had Windows 8 RTM installed on an old ThinkPad that I eventually wiped clean and put Ubuntu on. Granted its not a new laptop with Windows 8, but still, its not impossible to install Linux on a Win 8 laptop.

-----

acqq 240 days ago | link

The notebook hardware made for Windows 8 behaves differently than all PC hardware before. It's irrelevant that the old ThinkPad works, it didn't magically change because the new software arrived.

-----

bskap 240 days ago | link

No it doesn't. There were plenty of pre-Win 8 motherboards that had UEFI on there. Apple's been using it in their computers since the Intel switch in 2006. I don't know what you think is going on with your computer, but every other Windows 8 computer I've touched behaves identically to all other PCs, with the exception that Secure Boot is turned on by default.

-----

acqq 240 days ago | link

I talk about the new Windows 8 notebooks not "motherboards."

-----

bskap 240 days ago | link

Notebooks use motherboards, just like desktops do. And they run the same firmware. Apple's Macbooks have shipped with EFI since 2006.

-----




Lists | RSS | Bookmarklet | Guidelines | FAQ | DMCA | News News | Feature Requests | Bugs | Y Combinator | Apply | Library

Search: