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08.20.09

Microsoft Still Sabotages Linux MBRs in Vista 7

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“This is WAR, and in that regard, I believe we should design Janus such that if this multiboot partition (has a unique partition number (11)) is found, we should warn the user a foreign OS has been detected, give them a chance to exit and read the docs and possibly make a backup, and then repartition the disk, removing the multiboot partition. This way, we disable OS/2 2.0 in *all* cases.”

Microsoft internal mail

Summary: Vista 7 disables GNU/Linux by rewriting the MBR

SEVERAL MONTHS ago we wrote about Microsoft's long history of sabotaging bootloaders/MBRs. In short, Microsoft had resorted to nothing short of technical sabotage (bar the usual excuses) to make it painful if not impossible to run operating systems alongside Windows. Moreover, Windows has a built-in tendency to wipe out competing operating systems and the evidence speaks for itself.

We now have it confirmed that Microsoft has not corrected this bad behaviour in Vista 7. It’s not as though Microsoft did not have enough time or programmers. A blogger has just published “a word of warning for Linux users planning on installing Windows 7.”

Anytime you reinstall Windows, Windows replaces your MBR (grub stage 1), meaning you can no longer boot into Linux.

This may seem particularly timely now that Microsoft claims — falsely in fact — that it helps Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Watch this deceiving new article which Microsoft virtually planted out there to seed falsehoods. This article is filled with statements from Microsoft and the article does not permit comments. In Linux Today, however, there was this one corrective comment which said: “Wasn’t it revealed that Microsoft only released this code because it was potentially infringing the GPL of some of its components??” Indeed, as Sun’s Chief Open Source Officer reminded us just weeks ago.

Microsoft continues to play dirty against Linux. There is no clear sign of anything changing, not even in Vista 7. It disregards GNU/Linux even if it resides on a separate partition and then rewrites its MBR. Is this what Microsoft calls “interoperability”?

Hands talking

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13 Comments

  1. Will said,

    August 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. I never even expected this to change in 7.

    Anyone know if OSX does this as well?

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    OS X boots using EFI on all Intel Macs, making this issue moot.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Gravatar

    A safer option is to install GRUB into the boot sector, which Windows Setup won’t touch.

    twitter Reply:

    Please read the article.

    Anytime you reinstall Windows, Windows replaces your MBR (grub stage 1), meaning you can no longer boot into Linux.

    The only safe option is to swap hard drives. A more convenient but still dangerous method is to run Winblows in a VM. M$ is malicious and will do anything possible to damage their “competitors” and customers who use competing software. Vista and Windows 7 have little to offer that free software does not already do better, so the best option is to never run Windows.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    I did, and it said nothing about Windows destroying the partition boot sector.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Which is what I meant by “boot sector”, NOT the MBR, which Windows do re-write.

    twitter Reply:

    What good does that do? Winblows still wipes your MBR without warning, so you have to use a live CD or USB stick to boot your gnu/linux and fix the problem. M$ is screwing the user again and there’s nothing a user can do to get away from the malice besides ditch Windows.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Well, it is true that Windows will still wipe the MBR. I am talking about installing GRUB into a location that Windows do not wipe, which is the partition boot sector.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    To be more precise, Windows is replacing the MBR with the standard MBR, which loads the partition boot sector from whatever partition is marked “active”. By installing GRUB into the Linux partition boot sector and marking the Linux partition active, it will cause the standard MBR Windows installs to load the Linux partition boot sector, which will load GRUB. Since Windows, when it “wipes the MBR”, will install the standard MBR, this is safe.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “A more convenient but still dangerous method is to run Winblows in a VM.”
    Well, if any virtualized OS can damage the host, it is a bug in the hypervisor period, because a hypervisor is supposed to be secure period.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    And well, personally I have been booting to Windows less often thanks to Wine, which allows running Windows apps.

  3. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Also, the move to EFI is ongoing, which may make all the MBR and boot sector stuff completely moot as it adds a standard boot manager.

  4. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Gravatar

    Here is some entries on MS’s own Old New Thing blog on this issue:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/12/20/505887.aspx
    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2006/07/11/662325.aspx
    BTW, I have read this blog for years now I think, probably before BN and the MS-Novell deal even existed. I even have recently began to link BN when posting comments on it:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2009/05/21/9633075.aspx

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