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CoreBoot (LinuxBIOS) Can Boot Windows 7 Beta

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the now-you're-just-messing-with-me dept.

Hardware Hacking 207

billybob2 writes "CoreBoot (formerly LinuxBIOS), the free and open source BIOS replacement, can now boot Windows 7 Beta. Videos and screenshots of this demonstration, which was performed on an ASUS M2V-MX SE motherboard equipped with a 2GHz AMD Sempron CPU, can be viewed on the CoreBoot website. AMD engineers have also been submitting code to allow CoreBoot to run on the company's latest chipsets, such as the RS690 and 780G."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623043)

That's one small post for trolls. I giant crapflood for troll-kind.

What's the point... (-1, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623169)

...of using a Linux BIOS to boot Windows?

I guess some self-proclaimed "Geek" will tell me it's because it's possible, but why has he downloaded Windows to begin with? Why didn't he get out, get in shape, find girls and have a foursome?

BTW: why do the MS guys still specify this OS is a beta version?

Last time I checked, these were all beta versions, except ME which was less-than-alpha crap.

Final question: why is the FP that lame? and why don't they make the LinuxBIOS an on-the-fly C Compiler to answer Eldavojohn(son) ?

Re:first post (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623533)

Idiot! It should be "One small post for a troll."

The original misquote only worked because of the double meaning for man. Stupid troll.

Why as AC? (0, Offtopic)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625097)

Idiot! It should be "One small post for a troll."

Sweet historical slam on an FP troll. Sweet. Just wish I could have used my mod points on you.

You do know that with the historical reference you would have gotten modded up if you hadn't posted AC?

Re:first post (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625789)

Recent analysis of the tapes show that he DID say "One small step for a man".

Zing.

What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623053)

On CoreBoot's benefits page, it lists:

Written in C, contains virtually no assembly code

What is the benefit of writing a BIOS in C over assembly code? Is it for transparency? Easier to catch bugs? Does compiling from C to machine assembly protect you from obvious errors in assembly? Is it for reusability of procedures, modules & packages?

Oftentimes I have wished I knew more assembly so I could rewrite often used or expensive procedures to fit the target machine and try to optimize it. I don't know assembly well, however, and therefore don't mess with this. Doesn't handwritten assembly have the potential to be much faster than assembly compiled from C? I thought often run pieces of the Linux kernel were being rewritten into common architecture assembly languages because of this?

I'm confused why mainboard companies don't write their BIOS in C if this is an obvious benefit--or is it that they do and all we ever get to see of it is the assembly that results from it?

Can anyone more knowledgeable in this department answer these questions?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623095)

One word: agnostic. It becomes agnostic in C as opposed to ASM.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623201)

One word: agnostic. It becomes agnostic in C as opposed to ASM.

Alright, at the risk of further revealing my stupidity--what does this matter? I mean, isn't the BIOS tied to the architecture of the chipset anyway? It's not like I'm going to write a C program that compiles into the BIOS for an x86 chipset and--oh, by the way--thank god I can also compile that down to a PowerPC binary! I don't think that any piece of that integrated circuit is going to be developed in a mirror fashion on a PPC architecture ... or is that common practice?

Doesn't each BIOS target one particular machine assembly language anyway?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Insightful)

richlv (778496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623459)

as coreboot targets many bioses and platforms, i'd expect portability to become so much more important.
btw, i found an interview with coreboot developer at http://www.heise-online.co.uk/open/The-Open-Source-BIOS-is-Ten-An-interview-with-the-coreboot-developers--/features/112353/2 [heise-online.co.uk] . from there :

"The real accomplishment was to be able to write memory and other early initialization code in C. Which is much easier to write and maintain then assembler. Assembly code is fragile when you change it, especially when you don't have a stack. C is much more robust â" the code is easier to change without breaking everything. This makes coreboot easier to work on, to contribute to and to maintain."

Yay! Let's trade speed for dumb. (0, Troll)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623637)

In our ever-increasing need to "dumb down" all things related to computers, this will only result in more bloated, slow code.

*sigh*

I for one look forward to our "21 freaking seconds to access BIOS?!" overlords.

Re:Yay! Let's trade speed for dumb. (0)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624141)

Why do you assume it to be slower? I would rather the compiler optimise the assembly then a human which tends to make mistakes.

It's true that human optimisation of assembly used to be faster but these days and on multiple different processors, I very much doubt it.

Re:Yay! Let's trade speed for dumb. (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624339)

Actually you get massive speed gains if you use SSE assembly (and your app benefits from SSE) because the compiler often doesn't produce it willingly.

SSE-intrisinc functions are much better though.

Re:Yay! Let's trade speed for dumb. (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625845)

Actually you get massive speed gains if you use SSE assembly (and your app benefits from SSE) because the compiler often doesn't produce it willingly.

SSE-intrisinc functions are much better though.

I'm not sure what the SSE instructions are, I have never coded assembly outside of one class in college. However, maybe the key is to fix the compiler to produce the proper SSE code. If a human can produce better assembly than a compiler, he can probably teach the compiler to do the same.

They probably need to give compiler specific hint flags therefore marrying the build to a specific compiler. This still produces code that can be changed quickly and is free of the errors that the particular automations prevent. However, this still speeds up development time, at the cost of forcing everyone to use the same compiler.

Re:Yay! Let's trade speed for dumb. (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624425)

In our ever-increasing need to "dumb down" all things related to computers, this will only result in more bloated, slow code.

*sigh*

I for one look forward to our "21 freaking seconds to access BIOS?!" overlords.

I'm sure there are a lot of #ifdefs in there for specific things. A lot of the code is probably generic enough that asm isn't required (variables, structures, control structures such as if/while, etc)

Most of the BIOS is probably generic (5, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623467)

There may be SOME architecture specific code, even a lot of that can probably be written in C. 99% of the Linux kernel is C and that has to interact with hardware too.

As far as efficiency goes, in the old days it was true that a coder with an intimate knowledge of the architecture could usually hand code more efficient assembly. Modern C compilers however can do a LOT of optimization and generally the resulting code is faster than anything that could be coded by hand, or at least AS fast. Even if it is microscopically slower it is still a LOT easier to use C. Plus if hardware abstraction is done properly even a low level driver back end should be portable for the most part.

Manufacturer BIOS may be written in Assembly since they are A) targeting a specific board which is going to obviously only run that one family of chip and B) probably have a lot of legacy assembly code they would rather not bother to port to C. Neither of those would apply to Coreboot.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (3, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623507)


what does this matter? I mean, isn't the BIOS tied to the architecture of the chipset anyway?

I'm not a BIOS writer, but I am a software developer.

My best guess is there are parts of a BIOS that are tied to the hardware architecture, and there are parts that aren't.

For instance, what if you want to write a BIOS that can read an EXT3 partition? Or has a TCP/IP stack in it? These might be bad examples, but I can certainly see that there's generic things to be done that aren't necessarily tied to a particular processor.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Insightful)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624493)

My best guess is there are parts of a BIOS that are tied to the hardware architecture, and there are parts that aren't.

For instance, what if you want to write a BIOS that can read an EXT3 partition?

Actually, a BIOS that can read EXT would be kickass. My bios can only read FAT12 (and maybe FAT32 for a hdd) off the floppy. If I wanted EXT3 (or 2), I'd have to put that stuff in the "kernel" that gets loaded by the boot sector. That kernel, however is on a FAT12 partition =P As for TCP/IP, that would be nice to allow diskless boots. PXE anyone?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625643)

That is exactly what this is for, think about the new chipsets that want to boot mini mode, to offer web access without booting the OS....this stems from such tasks, as now the C library that could be referenced was already tested and made for such things, although now I believe the bios to be possibly more open to viruses.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (2, Informative)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623787)

Only very small sections of Coreboot are specific to a particular architecture. The rest can be reused without modifying source code.

 

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625621)

Alright, at the risk of further revealing my stupidity--what does this matter? I mean, isn't the BIOS tied to the architecture of the chipset anyway?

No, not really. Small parts of a standard bios are, but if you notice BIOS version numbers for say, Award or AMI, you'll see that they don't actually vary much by motherboard; just by manufacturing date. There are also major bits that stay the same -- PCI drivers, for instance, even across different architectures like x86, AMD64, PowerPC, Alpha, etc.

Essentially, the BIOS stays the same, with a few changes for each chipset. This applies even more so, with CoreBoot, which is intended to be very open and reuseable across many chipsets, manufacturers, and even platforms.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623147)

Gawd! You're such a friggen lamer. And the sad thing is: the other mental retards on this site will mod you up. Is there a tech-site where one isn't bothered by losers like this one? Please?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (-1, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623307)

There are so many private jokes here that I guess you won't be modded (+1) flamebait as you might have posted something that other "nerds" might find (-12) Insightful of (-42) Funny.

So tell me, "big guy"(not), is it like these fucking star wars movies?

Have you been taught to address people that way when you were a child and you found it cool or are you really lacking manners?

Why is it that your typing looks like it smells of shit?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Insightful)

sprag (38460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623389)

Being in C, it is easier to see what the person writing it was doing, compared to assembly.

Consider if you had to do some nasty computation such as finding what address is used for a given row and column on the screen:
(in bad assembly)

mov ax, row
mov bx, col
shl col,#1
xor dx,dx
mul ax,#80
add ax,bx
mov pos,ax

Whereas in C it is:

pos=(row*80)+(col*2);

and much more readable.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (3, Funny)

sprag (38460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623461)

Those should have been multiplies by 160 instead of 80.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (3, Insightful)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623977)

Those should have been multiplies by 160 instead of 80.

I would have thought that immediately ( 160 ) since I did so much assembly with CGA, however I may be even older and some of the displays were 40 characters wide, so 80 would be correct for that. On the issues of coreboot, that is fantastic and I want it for my machine now. I want instant boot to linux and ext4 for my next upgrade. On the other issue of _asm_ as faster, I bet I could make some of it faster, but gcc is way good anymore and I often objdump my "c" code to look at the assembly and the people who write the compiler are virtually magicians with that code. I have tried competing with the compiler and it is a waste of time for most things and unless I was doing firmware or a device driver, I wouldn't even consider assembly. As far as the code, the one thing I wouldn't do is a "mul" just for the cycle cost, I would combine shifts and adds to get (16x+64x).

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

CompSci101 (706779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623401)

I thought C compilers had gotten to the point where C was just a convenient syntax for assembly anymore?

I'm only half-kidding here. I'm sure the main reason is for portability across different chipsets, as well as ease of debugging. But, as I said, I think a lot of current C compilers can generate code that's not appreciably larger than hand-written assembly.

Compiler writers, please educate me otherwise.

C

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623449)

Compiler writers, please educate me otherwise.

Given your nickname it may have been wise for you to omit your response to this question.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623501)

Given that 101 indicates entry-level courses, the GP post isn't really that surprising.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623447)

Doesn't handwritten assembly have the potential to be much faster than assembly compiled from C?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: rarely. Optimizing compilers are so good these days that very few humans would be capable of writing better assembler, and I contend that no humans are capable of maintaining and updating such highly-tuned code.

Embedded assembler makes a lot of sense when you're embedding small snippets inside inner loops of computationally expensive function. Outside that one specific case (and disregarding embedded development on tiny systems), there's not much need to mess with it. Note that need is not the same as reason. Learning assembler is good and valuable on its own, even if there are few practical applications for it. If nothing else, it'll cause you to write better C.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623929)

Short answer: no.

Long answer: rarely. Optimizing compilers are so good these days that very few humans would be capable of writing better assembler, and I contend that no humans are capable of maintaining and updating such highly-tuned code.

Actually, in my experience it's more about the modern CPU than the modern compiler. If you look at the output from modern compilers, there's some truly awful code in there. gcc can be particularly awful (Intel and MSVC appear to be substantially better).

But tricks like hand-reordering matter little when you've got a superscalar CPU with a 20-instruction reorder window.

I suspect it would be a lot more obvious on platforms like the Atom or the consoles, which are all using in-order cores.

That doesn't mean that the technology doesn't exist to make the compilers better, but if it does, nobody's bothering because it isn't making a difference (on most x86, at least).

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

slyn (1111419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624313)

That doesn't mean that the technology doesn't exist to make the compilers better, but if it does, nobody's bothering because it isn't making a difference (on most x86, at least).

The LLVM [llvm.org] + Clang [llvm.org] project would probably disagree with you.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26624265)

You're doing it wrong!

Short answer: no.

Long answer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (courtesy of George Lucas acting academy)

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Interesting)

agbinfo (186523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624687)

Doesn't handwritten assembly have the potential to be much faster than assembly compiled from C?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: ...

I don't know how good compilers have become but I've had to optimize generated code (for space and speed) a long time ago.

To do this, I would write the best possible code in C first, then compile it and then optimize the generated assembler code.

My point is that if you already start with the best code the compiler will provide, you can only improve from there.

Also, in some situations, looking at the generated assembler code helped identify clues as to how writing the original C code could result in better performance.

This was a long time ago, for an embedded application with very limited CPU and memory. I haven't had to do that since.

You forgot one thing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26625697)

Specialized instructions (MMX, SSE, etc) can provide substantial speed boosts with certain code. Unfortunately no C compiler really takes full advantage of those features (if at all) despite them being widely available nowadays.

So in those cases it may be a whole lot faster to use assembly. Usually this is just embedded within a C function because of the specialized nature.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Informative)

.tom. (25103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623471)

Easier to maintain, more portable accross platforms, easier to do more complex stuff, easier to integrate/reuse existing librairies/code, etc.... ?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623617)

Turns out that the amount of bugs in a given amount of lines of code is fairly constant, regardless of language. Thus, it takes fewer lines in C code = fewer bugs.

Also, it is extremely rare that the compiler cannot emit more optimal code than what is hand-written - compilers are extremely good at optimizing these days. The more common trend is to provide hints & use intrinsics so that you get all the benefits of writing in C code (type checking, more readable code), but the compiler is better able to generate the assembly you want.

You will almost never write better assembly than what the compiler outputs - remember, the compiler takes a "whole program" approach in that it makes optimizations across a larger section of code so that everything is fast. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to match this - your micro-optimization is more likely to slow things down.

There is actually very little in the Linux kernel that is written in assembly (relatively compared to the amount of C code) - the only time it is, is because it is the only way of doing it to support multiple architectures, not performance. For performance, by far, the kernel code is written in C and relies on working with the compiler people to make sure that the code is optimal.

Hence, One line Perl scripts (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624249)

I always wondered why people thought they were so cool...but if you can equate bugs to 'lines of code' I have a feeling they are pretty efficient. ;)

Re:Hence, One line Perl scripts (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625229)

One of my favorite sections from the book "Learning Perl":

Now, we're not saying that Perl has a lot of bugs. But it's a program, and every program has at least one bug. Programmers also know that every program has at least one line of unnecessary source code. By combining these two rules and using logical induction, it's a simple matter to prove that any program could be reduced to a single line of code with a bug.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625575)

Turns out that the amount of bugs in a given amount of lines of code is fairly constant, regardless of language. Thus, it takes fewer lines in C code = fewer bugs.

Ahh, I envision the "God" language...

Do_What_I_Want();

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

trjonescp (954259) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625925)

Turns out that the amount of bugs in a given amount of lines of code is fairly constant, regardless of language.

I'm not sure if this applies to Perl. It's probably one of the few languages, where you can have about 10 different bugs in one single line of code.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623723)

It's easier to write structured programs in C than assembly.

Well, it's much easier to write anything in C than assembly, but assembly lends itself to small pieces of self-contained code that do one thing only.

The idea is that assembly is only used where is needs to be, because you have to do something that you can't do in C, such as fiddling around with the CPU's internal state. The rest is written as a collection of modules in C. To build a BIOS for a particular board, you just link the required modules together.

That suggests the question "why not write the BIOS in C++, or Java, or whatever". Anything higher-level than C tends to require more complex runtime environments (which are usually written in C), while C requires nothing more than assembly. It's the highest level language commonly available that can run with absolutely no OS support at all.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623751)

What is the benefit of writing a BIOS in C over assembly code?

Maintainability. Further, it's fairly common knowledge that C compilers these days can often produce code that is more efficient than hand written assembly, so it's a no-brainer to write C instead.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Insightful)

salimma (115327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624103)

Doesn't handwritten assembly have the potential to be much faster than assembly compiled from C?

For a piece of software that gets run once per boot, speed is probably not very critical. A typical BIOS completes its run in a couple of seconds.

Using an optimizing C compiler also has a further potential benefit -- given that motherboards specifically target certain CPUs, you can optimize the BIOS code for that CPU family. Not sure how much improvement this will yield, though.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625633)

Never much heard of BIOS interrupts, eh?

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26624499)

Is it for transparency? Easier to catch bugs? Does compiling from C to machine assembly protect you from obvious errors in assembly? Is it for reusability of procedures, modules & packages?

Yes.

Re:What Benefit Does C Have Over Assembly? (4, Informative)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625027)

Writing in 'C' is an order of magnitude faster than writing in assembler; if you're building a system with 10 man-years of coding in it, that becomes really, really important.

Imagine writing a host-side USB stack in assembler; a BIOS has to have that. Or writing an Ethernet driver and TCP/IP stack in assembler. Or any of the other large subsystems of a BIOS; the task would be daunting to me, a 20 year veteran of embedded systems (yes, my 'C' and Assembly mojo is strong).

Assembler has proven its worth when sprinkled through embedded systems. When profiling finds the routines that are bottlenecks for time-critical functions, a good assembly programmer can often speed up the 'C' code by a factor of 2 to 10. But, this generally involves very small chunks of code - 10 to 50 lines of assembly.

In most real systems, the vast majority of the code is executed rarely, and rarely has a performance impact. For example, on a modern dual-core, 2 GHz processor with a GB of RAM, the code used to the display the BIOS setup UI and handle user input will execute faster than human percepption in almost any language you could imagine (say, a PERL interpreter written in VB which generates interpreted LISP). There is no reason in the world to try to optimize performance here. Even in things like Disk I/O, the BIOS' job is mostly to boot the OS, then get the hell out of the way.

This is awesome (3, Insightful)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623113)

I'd really like to see the buggy vendor bioses get the boot and be replaced by this. The BIOS on my motherboard has all sorts of quirks, like missing one stick of my ram during detection randomly, to really laggy page switches. Windows support is what CoreBoot needs to get accepted.

Re:This is awesome (3, Insightful)

richlv (778496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623215)

some fully supported desktop mobos is what coreboot needs ;)
if a mobo was fully supported, that would be a huge plus when i'd choose.
we've seen a lot of issues where even if a bios isn't massively buggy by itself, future development of hardware leaves a lot to be desired, but vendor has dropped any support. this includes servers by ibm, hp, desktop boards...
problems have been various during the years (and i really mean only the problems that can be fixed in bios) - larger disk drive support, larger memory support, proper booting from hdd (for example, ibm netfinity 5000 stops booting when an ide drive is attached), proper booting from all cdroms, usb booting...
so, amd, if your products will be fully supported by - or even shipped with - coreboot before everybody else, it is very likely that my future purchases will go to you :)

Re:This is awesome (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623239)

Well, there's two issues there. One is that Vendors haven't cared a lot about getting it right, and two that the BIOS itself as a specification is pretty limited.

Replacing the BIOS with EFI or something more up to date and extensible could potentially solve the second problem.

But, ultimately vendors are lazy and tend not to bother doing it right. More often than not they just use a stock BIOS which is itself buggy. Really it's probably the BIOS manufacturers that ought to be taken to task for screwing it up.

Re:This is awesome (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623545)

More often than not they just use a stock BIOS which is itself buggy.

So let's start encouraging manufacturers to start using Coreboot as the "stock" option instead.

Re:This is awesome (1)

theJML (911853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623801)

Wow. Sucks to be your board. I don't think I've ever had any big problems with BIOSes on desktop boards (or even on server boards passed the "a few updates after public release" point. My current setup doesn't have ANY that I know of, or care about... and newer versions of the BIOS simply add support for newer procs/stepping.

Now on server boards, I've only really had problems with boards from Tyan. Though mostly it was because they mislabeled things or couldn't spell ("CPU1 FAN DOESN'T DETECTED" comes to mind, when there's only one CPU in the system. luckily it wasn't a fatal error.) Everything would work once they got their boards to a certian code rev, but that was really only something we saw where I worked because we got pre-pre-pre-pre-production boards with wires running along the board for traces they missed/forgot) Usually everything is ironed out before they go public. At least IMHO. And I've worked with a few hundred boards if not more.

So then I'd like to know how stable these things are for server & 24/7 environments. Is this the kinda thing I'd want to put on that pre-pre-pre-release board to make it work without having to wait for the vendor to udpate their stuff? Sounds kinda iffy to me.

Re:This is awesome (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624171)

I don't think I've ever had any big problems with BIOSes on desktop boards

You've never run across the "Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue booting" motherboards before?

Re:This is awesome (2, Interesting)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623913)

So with windows support, CoreBoot can be accepted? Leads to the question: Is anyone here using it now?

What is your experience.

I would be terrified by the risk of harming my MOBO, but I may be the only one so timid.

Re:This is awesome (1)

makeajazznoisehere (976878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625985)

Missing one stick of your RAM randomly...

Sounds like a hardware problem to me. :/

This is great news for us all (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623123)

Our ability to choose Microsoft Windows will help us defeat the monopolistic G$$GLE evil empire. Horray for Stephen Ballmer who is a genius and an anti-imperialist hero to millions. I have a cellular telephone!

Re:This is great news for us all (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623725)

Sign on a Google desk:

"The chair stops HERE"

Yes, but will it run... (0)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623159)

Oh never mind.

Re:Yes, but will it run... (-1, Offtopic)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623373)

Yes, but will it run $distro ?

Re:Yes, but will it run... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26625687)

Ninnle Linux runs just fine on it.

Ignorance (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623345)

Excuse my ignorance but is it already possible to have a fully working computer that doesn't perform a single unknown operation?

Open cores (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623811)

Excuse my ignorance but is it already possible to have a fully working computer that doesn't perform a single unknown operation?

Possible? Yes. Feasible for an enthusiast? Not in the first quarter of 2009. Intel and AMD CPUs contain secret microcode. There exist Free CPU cores such as the MIPS-compatible Plasma [opencores.org] , but as far as I know, none are commercially fabricated in significant quantities.

Help! I'm conflicted! (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623361)

I've been buying Intel because they support their 3D graphics with open source code really well under Linux, unlike AMD/ATI.
But Coreboot says support AMD, because AMD helps them run on AMD chipsets, unlike Intel.

Help!

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (5, Insightful)

KasperMeerts (1305097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623521)

What's more important to you? OSS graphics drivers or OSS BIOS? And by the way, if you need a decent graphics card, you're gonna need ATI or nVidia anyways, Intel doesn't make really high performance cards.

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (5, Informative)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623643)

Also, ATI has open source 2D drivers and just yesterday released specs that should allow for good open source 3D drivers. Sometime in the next 6 months, their graphics cards should support OpenCL, too. ATI is the way to go for open hardware support at the moment.

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (1)

Haiyadragon (770036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624375)

Sometime in the next 6 months, their graphics cards should support OpenCL, too. ATI is the way to go for open hardware support at the moment.

Maybe when those good open source 3D drivers are released. Somehow I think it's going to take a while. Right now, you'd be lucky to get either composite or xvideo working, nevermind both.

Right now, NVidia is the way to go. Their drivers actually work.

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (2, Informative)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624805)

ATI's binary drivers actually work, too. They had problems in the past, but I've recently bought a new card from ATI to replace my Nvidia card and I can say easily that they both work very well with the binary drivers.

That's beside the point, though. We're talking about open drivers.

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623985)

Wait for Larrabee, which should be available as a discrete card. Buy AMD motherboards and CPUs, and Intel video cards.

Or wait longer, for the open source ATI drivers to start working -- most of the specs have been released.

Re:Help! I'm conflicted! (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624287)

I have an ATI 4850, it doesn't run all that well in Linux but I can guarantee that it will still run better than whatever Intel is trying to pass off as a graphic card.

Limited chipset support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623489)

LinuxBIOS/CoreBoot is fantastic for embedded work, but no one has been performing ports to hardware with Intel chipsets.

Boot Windows 7? So what? (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623633)

Why is it "news" that it can launch Windows 7?

I guess what I am struggling to understand is why the news isn't - "CoreBoot can now boot x86 operating systems."

What is special about Windows 7 that made it harder to boot / run under CoreBoot as opposed to Windows XP or 2003 Server?

Should a bios even be able to tell the difference between booting Linux and Window's bootloaders?

Re:Boot Windows 7? So what? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623951)

Booting Linux (and other free operating systems) is relatively simple: They quite robust against quirks in the BIOS, as they're usually not part of the testsuite of the BIOS vendors.
It's also possible to boot Linux (and a smaller set of other free operating systems) without any PCBIOS interface (int 0x13 etc), as they don't rely on that.

Windows does. There has been, for a couple of years, a useful, but very fragile hack called ADLO, which was basically bochsbios ported onto coreboot, to provide the PCBIOS.
Recently, SeaBIOS (a port of bochsbios to C) appeared and was a more stable, more portable choice (across chipsets) in that regard.

So yes, we're proud that we can run the very latest Microsoft system, simply because it's less a given than booting Linux.
Even VirtualBox (commercially backed, and all) seems to require an update (very likely to its BIOS!) to support Windows 7. "We were first" ;-)

Re:Boot Windows 7? So what? (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624653)

I've run Windows 7 in VirtualBox. I told it it was "Vista", because it didn't know about 7 yet.

No update needed.

Re:Boot Windows 7? So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623967)

Given that the computer market is such a horrible mess of drivers and incompatibility, i would think that, yes, a BIOS really would need to know how to load a specific OS because the bootloaders are almost certainly different.

Correct me if i am wrong, never really looked into BIOS related things much.

Changes (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623715)

Just a random ramble, but why change the name from LinuxBIOS, surely it would have been easier to point out the irony of Windows needing Linux to start itself. Maybe it would have got some people to think more of the capabilities of Linux then?

Re:Changes (1)

anothy (83176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624979)

because it isn't linux, and really has nothing to do with linux. the original name was a marketing gimmick.

Re:Changes (2, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625785)

What is Linux BIOS?

We are working on making Linux our BIOS. In other words, we plan to replace the BIOS in NVRAM on our Rockhopper cluster with a Linux image, and instead of running the BIOS on startup we'll run Linux. We have a number of reasons for doing this, among them: ... [LinuxBIOS.org, Aug. 2000 [archive.org] , at the bottom of the page]

You're wrong.

Re:Changes (1)

McFly777 (23881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625337)

This may not be the reason that this project changed its name, and IANAL, so take this with a block of salt, but one reason that I can think of immediatly is Trademark Dilution. Since the BIOS has little to do with Linux (and visa versa), using Linux in the name simply confuses things by suggesting a connection that isn't there. Really "Open BIOS" is more accurate than Linux BIOS, and CoreBoot is probably better yet from a trademark standpoint.

Now, before somebody else says it, I read in another thread that Linux was one of the earlier OSs that this BIOS could boot, but that is because Linux doesn't use the bios for much at all, whereas Microsoft OSs rely much more heavily on the BIOS. Thus the reason that this article is news.

Re:Changes (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625889)

the irony of Windows needing Linux to start itself

First, CoreBoot isn't Linux. Second, Windows doesn't need it; plenty of closed-source BIOSes will boot Windows.

The irony is that [closed-source] Windows can now use an open-source BIOS to boot itself, which reflects on the capabilities of OSS and not necessarily of Linux in particular.

EFI? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623737)

Given the slow move towards EFI, would it not make sense to make CoreBoot an EFI loader, with the BIOS support option? If it is EFI compatible I couldn't see it clearly marked on the website.

Re:EFI? (4, Informative)

mhatle (54607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624083)

EFI is useful in the same way Open Firmware on PowerPC and Sparc is useful. It gives you an extensable system that can do different things with devices. This is great on a system where you don't know what the hardware may be (i.e. Workstations).. but starts to fall down when you get to servers, blades or embedded systems.

On most systems these days BIOS or any type takes between 3 and 30 seconds to boot to the OS. This is simply not acceptable to many blade and embedded system designs.. (Even some server designs this isn't acceptable.)

I can boot a system with coreboot in a second or less to the OS. This is really the most important part of coreboot. (For embedded systems, most of the time our target is in the .2 to .5 range from power on to OS start... this almost all but excludes ia32 from many embedded applications today.)

Re:EFI? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624847)

The only EFI I deal with is on Itanium servers. Not your typical "system where you don't know what the hardware may be".

Re:EFI? (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625367)

EFI allows lightning-fast boot.

First, you can put your kernel in EFI (if there's enough flash) and boot it directly from there.

Second, EFI itself is pretty much efficient - you have access to lots of RAM, CPU works in protected mode, etc.

It's quite possible to have 1 second until kernel startup with EFI. Almost like on my 166Mhz MIPS board :)

Why???? (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623745)

My view is .. "it ain't done till Windows 7 doesn't run"

I think they should tweak it so that Windows 7 boots, but every 30 mins or so it crashes. Call it ... Karma!

Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623749)

I thought modern operating system (i.e. not-DOS) make no BIOS calls once the drivers are loaded. Does any of this code get executed from the desktop?

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623819)

But the code is in the BIOS is needed in order to initialize they memory, display (basic), CPU, HDD etc in order for the OS to boot.

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625179)

Why? It only needs to load some code from the disk to some RAM and then start it. That means the CPU needs to be in the right mode to run 32 or 64 bit code, init the VM system enough to use some memory, init the disk drive and read in some blocks. It doesn't need to touch the display unless something bad happened. I suspect that most of what a typical BIOS does isn't needed at all unless it can't find a kernel on the disk.

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625619)

True, some of what a BIOS does (e.g. initializing the display, sending reset to printers etc) is not really needed. Including the POST. But much of it makes diagnostics easier, in case of an OS boot failure.

You can follow the early boot process if the graphics is initialized - if it fails, control is never returned to the BIOS, so you would end up with a black screen and a dead computer without graphics.

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625897)

No. Modern OSes initialize hardware by themselves. CoreBoot simply passes off to a kernel as soon as possible (generally 1 sec).

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624229)

You still need a video BIOS to display VGA until/unless the OS provides real drivers.

Perhaps more importantly, you still need the BIOS to provide hard drive support until the native support is loaded.

In the case of Linux, all the needed drivers will be loaded from the initramfs within the first few seconds of boot, but the bootloader (Grub or Lilo) still needs the BIOS to read the kernel and initrd from disk. Only way around that, that I can think of, is for coreboot to natively support loading and running the kernel/initrd.

Either approach means the BIOS needs to either reproduce the old BIOS bug-for-bug, or be compatible with a specific OS.

Re:Does the OS still use the BIOS? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625963)

Only way around that, that I can think of, is for coreboot to natively support loading and running the kernel/initrd.

This is exactly what LinuxBIOS used to do. The system was for clusters and booted directly to a kernel. I haven't followed the project in maybe five years, so things may have changed.

Congrats (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623767)

Congrats to the team.

At first you think no big deal, then you realize they are making their own bios, something most of us would fear trying. Congrats for doing something difficult, well.

Interested in free printer chips and ink formula (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26623793)

I wish we in the OSS world had "Open Source" printer chips and toner formula. These would enable anyone with the ambition, to build "free" printers instead of shelling dough to these greedy companies.

Some questions.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26623997)

There are some things I don't understand about CoreBoot, so perhaps someone can enlighten me ;)

Let's say i replace the BIOS of my mainboard with CoreBoot. How do I configure the system? I know that Linux doesn't really do any BIOS-calls any more (legacy-free), but how do I for example change ram-timings, voltages, memory speed, change the multiplicator of my cpu, disable certain onboard devices, or tell the system do boot from cdrom and not from disk? To me it seems that CoreBoot makes sense for "locked" devices, like routers and stuff, where you don't actually need/want to change these things. Am I right or wrong? :-)

AMD Geode (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624019)

Looking at the CoreBoot site, it seems there best support is for the AMD Geode chips. It is ironic that this Slashdot article is one after the article saying AMD has no successor planned for the Geode line and it may fade away.

they need to do better, sys info pics are differen (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624047)

I noticed in the first system info image that the processor and memory fields said "Not Available" but in the 2nd image labeled "system information closeup" it then shows data populating those fields.

Maybe I've been trained to look for tricks in marketing campaigns run by Microsoft but these kinds of details should not be overlooked or else it gives a sense of being falsified.

LoB

Shouldn't have told 'em . . . (1)

frankenheinz (976104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26624353)

. . . now they'll fix things so that it can't.

This is a Mission Critical OSS Project (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625019)

It deserves praise and support previously reserved for deities. I'm only overstating this a little.

The benefits of CoreBoot are many:
1. Cheaper motherboard manufacturing. TPM chips are expensive components when mass producing motherboards.

2. CoreBoot gives hardware manufacturers a viable market that Microsoft and Apple cannot touch.

3. Keeps the hardware open for all operating sytems and devices. This simple fact cannot be stressed enough. As the world slowly migrates to 64-bit everything. Microsoft has locked hobby driver developers out of Vista in 64-bit land.

TPM BIOS modules have the capacity to lock out unapproved operating systems, devices, etc. Are they widely implemented? No. Is it possible to the point of being well documented? Yes.

What about Intel? (1)

ygslash (893445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625377)

Will it also boot Windows 7 on an Intel chipset?

What about EFI? (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26625899)

BIOS is way, way obsolete. The bigger question is whether or not Windows 7 will be bootable on EFI machines. This article [is.gd] says that Windows 7 "delivers support" for EFI. It is likely that means that it will be bootable on EFI equipped machines, but there's wiggle room there.

EFI and GPT offer real improvements beyond merely sweeping away the legacy cruft of decades of backwards compatibility. It's time to move on.

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