Back in April, we looked at the Linux kernel patches for Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), a mechanism to verify the integrity of the kernel before booting it. Since that time, another version of the patchset has surfaced. The relatively few comments on the feature were largely concerned that there might be opposition to its inclusion—not because of technical considerations, but instead because of ethical concerns about what TXT could enable.
Ted Ts'o had the most to say about what TXT (also known as LaGrande) enables, not necessarily in opposition to adding the feature, but outlining the concerns of those who might. He warned: "So we should expect a certain amount of controversy and people lobbying to resist the acceptance of this patch." The basic problem is that TXT can enable Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems that are largely uncrackable.
Ts'o's message is worth reading in its entirety, but the basic point is that TXT enables Hollywood (or another DRM-happy entity) to take away some of the basic functionality of the hardware in order to preserve their "rights". Essentially, this takes away users' rights to protect companies' perceived or actual rights. The truly nightmarish scenario is one where one cannot do anything on a computer that isn't contained in a signed (presumably proprietary and closed source) application, running on a signed operating system. TXT could enable just that kind of functionality.
In the meantime, though, it seems likely that Linux will end up with TXT support somewhere down the road. The objections have been few—technical or ethical—at least so far, and the code obviously exists. There is no barrier to a hardware manufacturer (or distribution) incorporating it and enforcing whatever restrictions it wishes. Given that there are benign uses as well, the code is likely to improve from its inclusion in the mainline. When (almost certainly not "if") those uses turn towards total lockdown, it will be a social battle, on multiple fronts, to preserve the hardware and software freedoms we enjoy today.
An older statement by Linus Torvalds referred to by the above article: http://lwn.net/Articles/30048/
In my opinion I believe this should be kept out of the "Linux Mainline Kernel". If a user or business wants to add it to theirs thats fine, but I dont want it in mine. The kernel wont be free anymore if anyone can force whether something works or not, on someone else's machine. Give big companies or governments the opportunity, they will BORK and control you no doubt. Its what they do best!
KEEP THE LINUX MAINLINE KERNEL FREE