Stand up for your freedom to install free software

Dear Supporters of Free Software,

Free SoftwareThe free software movement has come a long way over the past 25+ years. While we still face many challenges ahead for us to create a world in which it is normal and expected for computer users to have freedom, we have made steady progress. Right now, however, there is a potential threat that could put us back years. Microsoft has announced that if computer makers wish to distribute machines with the Windows 8 compatibility logo, they will have to implement a measure called “Secure Boot.”

When done correctly, “Secure Boot” is designed to protect against malware by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won’t boot unauthorized or modified operating systems. This could be a feature deserving of the name, as long as the user is able to authorize the programs she wants to use, so she can run free software written and modified by herself or people she trusts.

However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than unmodified Windows. In this case, a better name for the technology would be Restricted Boot, since such a requirement would be a severe restriction on computer users and not a security feature at all.

We’re looking at a world in which it could become impossible for the average user to install GNU/Linux on any new computer, so too much is at stake for us to wait and see if computer manufacturers will do the right thing. “Secure Boot” could all too easily become a euphemism for restriction and control by computer makers and Microsoft — freedom and security necessitate users being in charge of their own computers.

So please, join us in signing this statement against Restricted Boot, and consider encouraging your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.

If you are part of an organization or company that would like to prominently show their support, please contact us at

For your convenience, here is a list of additional articles and resources related to this statement:


John Sullivan
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation