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Adventures in Microsoft UEFI Signing

| Thursday, November 22, 2012
As I explained in my previous post, we have the code for the Linux Foundation pre-bootloader in place.  However, there was a delay while we got access to the Microsoft signing system.

The first thing you have to do is pay your $99 to Verisign (now Symantec) and get a verified by Verisign key.  We did this for the Linux Foundation, and all they want to do is call head office to verify. The key comes back in a URL that installs it in your browser, but the standard Linux SSL tools can be used to extract this and create a usual PEM certificate and key.  This is nothing to do with UEFI signing, but it’s used to validate to the Microsoft sysdev system that you are who you say you are.  Before you can even create a sysdev account, you have to prove this by signing an executable they give you and upload it.  They make strict requirements that you sign it on a specific Windows platform, but sbsign worked just as well and bingo our account is created.

Once the account is created, you still can’t upload UEFI binaries for signature without first signing a paper contract.  The agreements are pretty onerous, include a ton of excluded licences (including all GPL ones for drivers, but not bootloaders).  The most onerous part is that the agreements seem to reach beyond the actual UEFI objects you sign.  The Linux Foundation lawyers concluded it is mostly harmless to the LF because we don’t ship any products, but it could be nasty for other companies.  According to Matthew Garrett, Microsoft is willing to negotiate special agreements with distributions to mitigate some of these problems.

Once the agreements are signed then the real technical fun begins.  You don’t just upload a UEFI binary and have it signed.  First of all you have to wrap the binary in a Microsoft Cabinet file.  Fortunately, there is one open source project that can create cabinet files called lcab. Next you have to sign the cabinet file with your Verisign key.  Again, there is one open source project that can do this: osslsigncode. For anyone else needing these tools, they’re now available in my openSUSE Build Service UEFI repository. The final problem is that the file upload requires silverlight.  Unfortunately, moonlight doesn’t seem to cut it and even with the version 4 preview, the upload box shows up blank, so time to fire up windows 7 under kvm. When you get to this stage, you also have to certify that the binary “to be signed must not be licensed under GPLv3 or similar open source licenses”.  I assume the fear here is key disclosure but it’s not at all clear (or indeed what “similar open source licences” actually are).

Once the upload is done, the cabinet file goes through seven stages.  Unfortunately, the first test upload got stuck in stage 6 (signing the files).  After about 6 days, I sent a support email in to Microsoft asking what was going on.  The response: “The error code thrown by our signing process  is that your file is not a valid Win32 application? Is it valid Win32 application?”.  Reply: obviously not, it’s a valid UEFI 64 bit binary.  No further response …

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