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    Arch Linux Secure Boot Tutorial

    Configure Secure Boot on Arch Linux.



    Secure boot is a security standard developed by members of the PC industry to help make sure that a device boots using only software that is trusted by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). When the PC starts, the firmware checks the signature of each piece of boot software, including UEFI firmware drivers (also known as Option ROMs), EFI applications, and the operating system. If the signatures are valid, the PC boots, and the firmware gives control to the operating system.

    Implementing Secure Boot


    I am not responsible for any hardware bricks. You do it on yourself, you agree to be responsible on what you do.

    Before you do anything

    Install efitools package as it will be needed throughout the tutorial. You also have to install sbsigntools and openssl as it'll be needed for the tutorial. Make sure your Secure Boot is still disabled and you have done nothing to it aside from disabling it.

    Backup all old stuffs

    mkdir -p SB/old && cd SB
    efi-readvar -v PK -o old_PK.esl
    efi-readvar -v KEK -o old_KEK.esl
    efi-readvar -v db -o old_db.esl
    efi-readvar -v dbx -o old_dbx.esl

    Create your own keys

    You'll find these kinds of file: .key, .crt, .cer, .esl, .auth commonly throughout the tutorial.
    As per Arch Wiki's reference:

    • .key : PEM format private keys for EFI binary and EFI signature list signing.
    • .crt : PEM format certificates for sbsign, sbvarsign and sign-efi-sig-list.
    • .cer : DER format certificates for firmware.
    • .esl : Certificates in an EFI Signature List for sbvarsign, efi-updatevar, KeyTool and firmware.
    • .auth : Certificates in an EFI Signature List with an authentication header (i.e. a signed certificate update file) for efi-updatevar, sbkeysync, KeyTool and firmware.

    First, create a GUID for owner identification:

    uuidgen --random > GUID.txt

    Platform Key:

    openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout PK.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Platform Key/" -out PK.crt
    openssl x509 -outform DER -in PK.crt -out PK.cer
    cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" PK.crt PK.esl
    sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k PK.key -c PK.crt PK PK.esl PK.auth

    Sign an empty file to allow removing Platform Key when in "User Mode":

    sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -c PK.crt -k PK.key PK /dev/null rm_PK.auth

    Key Exchange Key:

    openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout KEK.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Key Exchange Key/" -out KEK.crt
    openssl x509 -outform DER -in KEK.crt -out KEK.cer
    cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" KEK.crt KEK.esl
    sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k PK.key -c PK.crt KEK KEK.esl KEK.auth

    Signature Database Key:

    openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout db.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Signature Database key/" -out db.crt
    openssl x509 -outform DER -in db.crt -out db.cer
    cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" db.crt db.esl
    sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k KEK.key -c KEK.crt db db.esl db.auth

    Optional: Adding Microsoft keys

    This is useful when you're dualbooting Windows.

    Download this stuffs and copy it to the SB folder we made previously:

    Create EFI Signature Lists from Microsoft's DER format certificates using Microsoft's GUID (77fa9abd-0359-4d32-bd60-28f4e78f784b) and combine them in one file for simplicity:

    sbsiglist --owner 77fa9abd-0359-4d32-bd60-28f4e78f784b --type x509 --output MS_Win_db.esl MicWinProPCA2011_2011-10-19.crt
    sbsiglist --owner 77fa9abd-0359-4d32-bd60-28f4e78f784b --type x509 --output MS_UEFI_db.esl MicCorUEFCA2011_2011-06-27.crt
    cat MS_Win_db.esl MS_UEFI_db.esl > MS_db.esl

    Sign a db update with your KEK. Use sign-efi-sig-list with option -a to add not replace a db certificate:

    sign-efi-sig-list -a -g 77fa9abd-0359-4d32-bd60-28f4e78f784b -k KEK.key -c KEK.crt db MS_db.esl add_MS_db.auth

    Reinstalling GRUB

    There are some issues in Arch's GRUB currently that throws Error : verification requested but nobody cares. and to fix that, you need to reinstall GRUB first with tpm module and shim lock disabled:

    sudo grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=your-esp --bootloader-id=Arch --modules="tpm" --disable-shim-lock
    sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

    Change your-esp to, well, your esp path.

    See references for more info.

    Signing EFI binaries

    sudo sbsign --key db.key --cert db.crt --output /boot/vmlinuz-linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux # You can do others too
    sudo sbsign --key db.key --cert db.crt --output /path/to/esp/Arch/grubx64.efi /path/to/esp/EFI/Arch/grubx64.efi

    Change accordingly into your esp partition path e.g mine's /boot/EFI and your EFI path.

    Prepare pacman hook for automatic kernel signing

    sudo mkdir -p /etc/pacman.d/hooks && sudo mkdir -p /usr/share/libalpm/scripts
    sudo cp /usr/share/libalpm/hooks/90-mkinitcpio-install.hook /etc/pacman.d/hooks/
    sudo cp /usr/share/libalpm/scripts/mkinitcpio-install /usr/local/share/libalpm/scripts/

    Edit /etc/pacman.d/hooks/90-mkinitcpio-install.hook and replace:

    Exec = /usr/share/libalpm/scripts/mkinitcpio-install


    Exec = /usr/local/share/libalpm/scripts/mkinitcpio-install

    Edit /usr/local/share/libalpm/scripts/mkinitcpio-install and replace:

    install -Dm644 "${line}" "/boot/vmlinuz-${pkgbase}"


    sbsign --key /path/to/db.key --cert /path/to/db.crt --output "/boot/vmlinuz-${pkgbase}" "${line}"

    Put your firmware to "Setup Mode"

    Go to firmware settings and erase all certificates. This will put Secure Boot into setup mode. You can verify that by booting to the OS and run bootctl status.

    Enroll your keys

    Create the necessary folders then get in to the SB directory we created previously (since you're rebooting, duh):

    sudo mkdir -p /etc/secureboot/keys/{db,dbx,KEK,PK}
    cd SB

    Then copy all the .auth files into their respective directory:

    sudo cp PK.auth /etc/secureboot/keys/PK/
    sudo cp KEK.auth /etc/secureboot/keys/KEK/
    sudo cp db.auth /etc/secureboot/keys/db/
    ## If you're doing Windows keys
    sudo cp add_MS_db.auth /etc/secureboot/keys/db/

    See what changes will sbkeysync shall do to your system's UEFI keystore:

    sudo sbkeysync --pk --dry-run --verbose

    Before enrolling, change efivars file attributes so that no write errors are present using:

    sudo chattr -i /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/{PK,KEK,db}*

    Finally, use sbkeysync to enroll your keys.

    sudo sbkeysync --verbose

    We're not enrolling the PK yet, so in order to avoid some invalid arguments issues, use efi-updatevar instead:

    sudo efi-updatevar -f PK.auth PK

    If you got write errors when doing efi-updatevar then do sudo chattr -i /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/{PK,KEK,db}* once again before enrolling PK.

    After enrolling your PK, Secure Boot will enter "User Mode" again.

    Finishing Touch

    After all the hassles, you might want to get into your firmware settings and enable Secure Boot. Try booting your Arch Linux now with Secure Boot enabled. It should be all good.


    Well, no more words to say. Enjoy playing Valorant if you have Windows 11 installed!