Secure Boot

Secure Boot #

These are guides to install your system with your own Secureboot keys and enforce signed Linux kernels.

Tools #

Some useful tools I wrote for this job:

Guides #

Arch Linux #

My main system is running Arch in this configuration but I haven’t done a writeup for it yet ..

Fedora #

Installation #

Do a somewhat standard installation on an UEFI system. I used the Fedora 28 Server netinst image.

During partitioning, make sure to select at least “custom” partitioning and add a seperate EFI system partition in /boot/efi. Tick the boxes to encrypt your / and any swap partitions you might create. Technically, a seperate /boot partition is not required with the bundled kernels we are going to use but Anaconda complains otherwise and you will not be able to boot the system after installation. You could probably do all these steps from within a live rescue system but I haven’t tried that route yet.

Required Packages #

You will need to additionally (after a minimal setup) install:

  • git
  • make
  • binutils
  • sbsigntools

Then clone and install the above two tools: mkefikeys and mksignkernels.

cd /tmp/...
git clone
git clone
(cd mkefikeys && make -f install)
(cd mksignkernels && make -f install)

Signing keys #

Create a set of signing keys in /etc/efikeys:

mkdir /etc/efikeys && cd /etc/efikeys
mkefikeys certs der

The der target is required to output DER-encoded certificates in case you need to install those in your firmware. This is the case for OVMF, i.e. KVM machines. My Thinkpad needs authenticated “efi signature lists” .. generate them with mkefikeys auth.

Copy files required for installation to the unencrypted ESP:

cp /etc/efikeys/*.cer /boot/efi

Installing them in your firmware is out of the scope of this entry.

Do not enable Secureboot yet. We haven’t signed anything yet and your system will fail to boot.

Sign your kernels #

Now we need to sign the kernels. Simply running mksignkernels will probably fail with a not-so-useful error message because something will be missing. On virtual machines the Intel microcode is usually not useful and thus not present. Add an empty MICROCODE = line in /etc/

Additionally, you’ll want to use the same kernel commandline as is used for your default installation. You can get the commandline of currently running kernel from cat /proc/cmdline.

# blablabla
# ------- custom targets --------

CMDLINE = whatever_your_default_kernel_uses

Next, we need to create the output directory:

mkdir /boot/efi/EFI/Linux

Running mksignkernels should succeed now. Otherwise check all the prerequisites:

  • EFI stub in /usr/lib/systemd/boot/efi/linuxx64.efi.stub
  • Signing keys in /etc/efikeys/DatabaseKey.{key,crt}
  • Kernel in /boot/vmlinuz-*
  • Initramfs in corresponding /boot/initramfs-*.img

Use systemd-boot #

Check that systemd-boot is installed and you are indeed running UEFI, yadda yadda ..

bootctl status

To install it as the default bootloader, simply issue:

bootctl install

To enable the selection prompt uncomment the timeout in /boot/efi/loader/loader.conf. Otherwise it directly boots the default kernel.

Sign your bootloader #

Before you reboot and attempt to enable Secureboot now, you need to sign the bootloader itself:

mksignkernels sign SIGN=/boot/efi/systemd/systemd-bootx64.efi
mksignkernels sign SIGN=/boot/efi/BOOT/BOOTX64.EFI

I actually do not know if both are necessary, I just signed both just in case.

Reboot #

When you reboot you should see systemd-boot’s selection prompt instead of GRUB. If that is the case, there should be an option to “Reboot into Firmware Setup”. Do that and enable Secureboot now.

If all went fine you should be able to normally boot your system now. Starting your machine via GRUB should fail though, as neither GRUB nor any of the kernels it tries to boot are signed.