Dell implements DRM on bios to prevent non-win8 installation

My friend recently pruchased a Dell XPS 15 laptop, and after realising how crap windows 8 is, decided to format and install windows 7. This has proven to be extremely difficult, due to the fact that Dell has implemented a combination of UEFI (Unified Exstensible Firmware Interface) which replaces the BIOS and disables access to boot devices and Secure Boot, which only allows the pre-installed OS to boot. This IMO has to stop NOW. If I purchase a machine I want to be able to boot whatever OS I choose. This sort of OS restriction has been going on for years with Apple, but power users don't use Macs so it hasn't been a big issue. The freedom of the PC is at stake. I don't have all the facts, so I would appreciate if the community could help me to look into this potential breach of consumer rights.

that's not going to be a problem since dell is moving to ubuntu so they don't have to keep paying microsoft lisencing fees and proprietary crap

This is fairly promising news. I'm glad that even the manufacturers aren't tolerating this kind of monopoilstic arrogance.

I'd like to know how the release of this draconian hardware seemed to fly under the radar.

If Ubuntu is going to be used then why did they lock down the BIOS so you cant install anything OTHER THAN Windows 8 (and completely stop one from installing Ubuntu). Sounds kind of illogical to me.

Don't worry about it. The Dell machines I've come across with UEFI Secure Boot and Windoze 8 preinstalled, all had secure boot enabled, but set to accept ANY key. The same goes for a lot Lenovo, HP and Samsung laptops. So sign the software with any key, make one yourself for that matter, and it will boot.

That's the security concept of microsoft: force hardware manufacturers to only enable the microsoft key, then sell the microsoft key to anyone that wants one, including hackers and such, so that they can sign their malware with the microsoft key so that it's instantly trusted by the systems with UEFI secure boot. As a consequence, the hardware manufacturers that sell computers to the enterprise market, can't disable secure boot because that would make microstufft angry, but they can't deliver it to their clients because they don't want a locked down system because they use linux, so they modify the UEFI so that secure boot is always on, but accepts any key, no matter what kind, because in modern linux distros, that will enable the clients to use their own keys, and linux doesn't limit itself to the mechanism of the UEFI secure boot, but add to that a hardware specific key that provides the real security, independent from the microsoft key that everyone and their dog has.

This made me lol. Thanks for the detailed reply :)


can't easily install Win7 on a new labtop = defective , send it back

if they don't learn, they must feel the pain !


I go even further, I order laptops with the explicit specification that it shouldn't be pre-loaded with non-FOSS software and that it will be used for Fedora/RHEL and that everything should work out of the box.

Never had any problem with that, it seems that is a pretty usual request these days. I do have to say that I only order Asus laptops with Intel or Intel+nVidia arrangements, and Asus offers almost all of its products with linux except in the western world, I've never had any problem with linux on Asus.

Several years ago, I needed a BSD laptop for a customer, and Asus had changed the WiFi adapter before delivery in order for it to work flawlessly, now that is real-world customer-oriented thinking.

What bothers me most, is that Windows is pre-installed on laptops offered in the western world. It automatically means that the product is 100 USD overpriced, and that you get less for the money, because you have to calculate all that time lost reformatting the drive and using the Fedora trick to open up the Microsoft-key-only secure boot, it's just bloody inefficient for enterprise customers or real-life power users. With what laptops cost these days, that useless Windows preinstall actually means a useless price premium of 5 to 30% for those customers in normal outlets.

And also for consumers, Windows preinstalls are getting bothersome, because I get calls from non-tech-savvy people that want to order a laptop, and they've seen for instance an Asus FX-55 or Acer Aspire E-1 on some online store for 300 USD and that fits in their budget, but those are linux-preloaded models without Windoze, and the linux distro on there is linpus, which is popular in the Eastern World, but not suitable for Westerners, so for a 300 USD laptop, I have to install Fedora on these things (which is only like 10 minutes, but still, manufacturers should preinstall tier-one linux distros on those machines, and I'm pretty sure that the reason they don't do that, is because they have some kind of deal with Microstufft about that, and the only way for them to sell laptops at a reasonable price, is to avoid the Microshaft tax, and the only way to do that, is to use the exemption for asian linux systems).

In any case, the number of non-tech savvy people (that just want to use a computer for daily stuff like browsing, mailing and banking) that is using linux, especially fedora and opensuse, is growing enormously, because for IT people are being attacked legally when they have delivered a system that isn't secure on the internet, and whatever you do, you can't guarantee a minimal level of security when you deliver a windoze system to non-tech savvy people, they will screw it up, and if you put them on fedora or opensuse or another SELinux distro, even if they click bad emails or do stupid stuff, there is almost no chance that something bad will happen, and they get their PC's cheaper. There is no chance in hell an elderly couple that buys a new laptop will sign a document exonerating the IT professional that has recommended them that system in case the system is insecure, they know nothing about computers but they know the phone number of their lawyer by heart. If you want to make a buck in an industry that is bleeding profit, you have to offer services, and you're responsible for those services, and Windoze just won't let you do your job right.

Then another thing: try to convey the concept of Windows 8 desktop to elderly people, there is not a chance in hell they'll be able to use the system, you have to click 500 times to get to basic stuff, and they just won't follow, because it's a fucking miserably un-userfriendly GUI, it's even user-hostile, someone that just want to use a computer and has no computer experience is not managing the Windows 8 GUI at all, it's illogical, it's a detour nightmare, it's chaotic, it's insecure, it's not doing what it should do, there are the stupidest warnings and threats, it's just a very crappy product. Windoze 7 at least was just that bit transparant to use because of the start menu: one action for everything, one click to do something. In Windows 8, first they have to memorise how to navigate back to the tiles, but then they don't know where the rest of their work is, they can't find specific maintenance or file operating functions because it's hidden somewhere deep in a special type of menu that only pops up if you radiate the windows 8 logo with 2000 Bequerel whilst standing on your head wearing one blue and one red sock...

Oh dear, time for my pills, someone said the W-word...

Dell isn't switching... the very most that can be said is that they are testing the concept with their Alienware lines.  (only the x51's last I checked)

Most of Dell's chosen market is productivity laptops for companies and as of right now Ubuntu can't compete with the power of Office... I mean they have some good competition but with office going to cloud.

The earliest they will consider it will be 5 years... or more.

this means that consumers and technicians can't test the RAM, as memtest86+ is a linux distro (albeit a very minimalist distro). same for rescue disks.

I have had no problems running backtrack or memtest86+ on my asus laptop, and all of the hardware from asus is pretty solid.

yeah, well microstufft has failed, with the fedora shim, you can still do what you want without them seeing it, because the stupidest thing is that on a laptop from a major north-american manufacturer with a short acronymic name, a friend of mine that does large corporate projects was denied support because he had imported his own keys in UEFI for the custom corporate software that is legally mandatory for certain governmental reporting duties of his customer.

i feel your pain, i migrated all my non tech savy computer aid leachers to linux mint a few years ago, since then i am actually able to pursue my hobbies in my free time.

This is interesting. When I eventually get a laptop I might request that it has no Windows Operating System with it because I wont be using Windows 8 anyway. I assume that without that installed I can save a bit of money and then do  what I want with said laptop OS wise. EDIT: Do I need to buy it from the official vendors site to request this? Because I really like the look of this MSI laptop that is only $1300. They do not list it on their site and instead forward you to resellers/online stores.

Not being able to run rescue discs without a "security key" sounds quite annoying.

I can see the shareholders being pissed about this in the not to distant future

"I can see the shareholders being pissed about this in the not to distant future"

it depends, won't unserviceable computers mean more sales in the future, isn't that a bit like gluing in the battery as a means to artificially reduce life-span ?

I doubt it. Apple can get away with shit like that because of their slick marketing and cult following. Pretty much no one likes dell as it is, this bullshit can only make things worse for them.


I'll say this once, stay away from dell. Go with Asus! I recently got the Asus Eee PC 701D (yes its an older netbook) but it runs nicely. I did find it in my cousins computer shop and he said i could keep it. the only thing it was missing was the Mini PCI SSD, but I did obtain one. Which is in the mail now fom cosmosus which he did have. He needed 2 GB of ddr ram and trade complete. Soon my netbook will be running full force here pretty good. I'm currently using a 16GB microSD card I had in my MP3 player to.

- If you want to buy a pc without windows preinstalled, just go to a specialised IT store, not a supermarket, the price will be the same or better anyway, and the way it works is that a lot of supermarket stores have an agreement with a distributor that they get like a month of exclusive sales rights for a low price on a new product, or they sell overstock or grey market stuff, because that's what they do. So if you want the same price elsewhere where you do get real support by people that like their IT jobs, just wait a month till the price is the same or lower, then email them and tell them you want to buy a particular model without windows, and ask for a quote on that. That's how I do it, and most can't really afford to lose sales enough to humour the customer.

-I agree with skullabyss, if you want to run linux, buy Asus, their linux support is huge, almost all Asus models have the hardware button support and Asus-proprietary power management features (which are worthwhile) built-in into the linux kernel, no drivers needed, seemless and painless install, and Asus is like the Mercedes of PC's, the models may look a bit boring, but they look stylish, and the hardware quality is always exemplary and they actually do real support, wherever you buy, as in you don't have to buy a new laptop when you need a new fan or battery or power chord, and the prices are not too crazy. Ever tried to buy a new battery for a Lenovo, good luck getting one under 150 USD, Asus may charge you 60-70 bucks, which is still expensive, but the difference is still huge.

I really didn't expect this thread to continue but I'm happy that it did. I'm glad I'm not the only one on this forum who still can't stand windoze 8, it's just an unfriendly and frankly arrogant response to PC users, who were quite satisfied with an interface that has been refined over the past twenty years. I will never find a touch screen more productive than a mouse and keyboard, and a dumbed-down interface doesn't make things any easier. It adds insult to injury that it's now incredibly difficult, even for seasoned PC users to install an OS other than windoze 8 on a machine that is seemingly licenced by microsloth. Speaking of licencing, it is now also impossible to buy a retail version of windoze, meaning you have to buy an OEM licence, which ties the product key to that machine. Hence why I bought a retail licence for windoze 7 pro before they sold out.