UEFI Won't Trouble Linux Users Much

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 15, 2011

When the UEFI revelation hit the fan a couple of months ago I wrote my opinion of the situation in a dead-tree magazine for which I work. I basically said that some OEMs will not include the toggle but most quality motherboards will. We Linux users just won't buy any motherboard without the UEFI on / off option. But a reader wrote to say that may be true, but what about the prospective user that bought his computer off the shelf of Best Buys or Office Depot?

This reader, let's call him Bob, said those possible users will be locked out of trying Linux and seeing if they like it by UEFI and that would be a disaster. He feels that UEFI will be an insurmountable obstacle. His conclusion is that "the Linux user base would be more or less frozen as it is now, or it would even contract as its users pass on or pass away. I am no Linux evangelist, but I do want Linux to retain or increase momentum, enough for example to encourage hardware makers to write drivers, and to keep an active Linux community."

Bob makes a valid argument, one with which I can't argue. From that angle UEFI can be damaging. Top players in our Open world are working on solutions, but many ideas require OEMs to willingly participate. This will most likely not happen for a couple of reasons. First, OEMs rarely count on Linux users for any real revenue, but highly depend upon Microsoft. They can not and will not slam the door in Redmond's face by refusing to implement UEFI. Secondly, it's possible but doubtful many will spend the money to make sure their crippled BIOSs contain the disabling option. Linux just doesn't have the numbers. However, quality manufacturers will include the option and will probably list it in their selling points.

If worse comes to worst, UEFI will be on most pre-built off-the-shelf lower cost machines. Linux advocates will be stuck telling a few folks that "no, Linux will not run on your computer." Other braver souls will download and burn Linux only to discover it doesn't work with their machine and will tell all their friends that "Linux sucks! It won't even boot."

My point in my opinion was that Linux users won't be bothered by it much, but Bob's point was that many prospective users will.  We're both right.  I was trying to see the glass half full, but as commonly happens, my half of glass of milk was dumped out all over my keyboard.

But I don't cry over spilled milk.