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Computer scientists warn that proposed changes in firmware specifications may make it impossible to run “unauthorized” operating systems such as Linux and FreeBSD on PCs. Proposed changes to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware specifications would mean PCs would only boot from a digitally signed image derived from a key-chain rooted in keys built into the PC. Microsoft is pushing to make this mandatory in a move that could not be overridden by users and would effectively exclude alternative operating systems, according to Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University and other observers. UEFI is a successor to the BIOS ROM firmware designed to shorten boot times and improve security. The framework, a key part of Windows 8, is designed to work on a variety of CPU architectures. If the draft for UEFI is adopted without modification, then any system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux. A signed version of Linux would work, but this poses problems, as tech blogger Matthew Garrett explains.