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BIOS Will Be Dead In Three Years

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the legacy-notwithstanding dept.

Hardware 532

Stoobalou writes with news that MSI is planning a big shift towards UEFI (universal extensible firmware interface) at the end of 2010, possibly spelling the beginning of the end of the BIOS as we know it. "It's the one major part of the computer that's still reminiscent of the PC's primordial, text-based beginnings, but the familiarly clunky BIOS could soon be on its deathbed, according to MSI. The motherboard maker says it's now making a big shift towards point-and-click UEFI systems, and it's all going to kick off at the end of this year. Speaking to Thinq, a spokesperson for the company in Taiwan who wished to remain anonymous said, 'MSI will start to phase in UEFI starting from the end of this year, and we expect it will be widely adopted after three years.'"

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first post! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32498846)

first post!

Oh noes! Wahhnaaaay! (-1, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498848)

I'm takin' this. I'm takin' this couch.

A GUI for the motherboard? (2, Funny)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498856)

Absolutely brilliant! Why didn't I think of it?

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498898)

i seem to recall Compaqs with GUI bios in the late 90s

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (4, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498946)

I've seen quite a few machines like this when I did computer repair. Most were major brands at the time -- Compaq, Packard Bell, etc -- and the GUI tended to be a knockoff of Windows 3.1.

Presumably this was to make users less afraid of changing their BIOS settings, although considering some of the users I dealt with, that might not have been such a good idea.

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (5, Informative)

nigelo (30096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499398)

Oblig:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFI [wikipedia.org]

It's more a strategy to remove 16-bit and other legacy restrictions from the firmware interface:

"The Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) is a specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. EFI is a much larger, more complex,[1][2]:4 replacement for the older BIOS firmware interface present in all IBM PC-compatible personal computers."

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499534)

My first post was meant to be sarcastic, but the more I read up on this, the more I like it.

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499422)

It's more than that. This will cause a DOS compatibility issue. This means that the floppy boot process and other handy-dandy things we've been doing that uses DOS of some kind (Microsoft, IBM, FreeDOS, whatever) to boot up and get devices working through the config.sys and all that used BIOS hooks to get much of the I/O accomplished.

I don't know whether or not UEFI's services provide compatible techniques or if whole new things need to be created, but it would seem to me that many low-level recovery and imaging tools may be lost to us. Perhaps Symantec needs to update its Ghost to run on Linux, for example, as Ghost currently runs on DOS which uses BIOS hooks for I/O.

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499558)

You should switch to FOG, it is free and uses PXE. It is better than Ghost in every way.

None of what you speak of should be done with dos floppies in 2010, linux boot usb sticks are the way to do this stuff.

Re:A GUI for the motherboard? (4, Informative)

jtdennis (77869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499586)

Ghost also runs in the WinPE boot environment without any problems. WinPE should boot off EFI based systems without a problem as it's used in the Vista and 7 boot DVDs. Just run Ghost32.exe from within WinPE and use Ghost like you always have.

OhNo! (2, Insightful)

rwiggers (1206310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498884)

Am I the first to say that dumbing down low level config is a bad idea?

--
big idiot operating the system

Re:OhNo! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498990)

Heh. Nice sig.

Re:OhNo! (0, Offtopic)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499072)

Speaking of sigs, what about government's bodyguards? Their guns could be used on the people they are supposed to protect. well, I say 'people'....

Re:OhNo! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499462)

I'm sorry, was there a point in there somewhere?

Re:OhNo! (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499616)

I believe the purpose was to troll...

Security (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498888)

With how extensible the new firmware is, I must wonder what sort of security holes we'll be seeing due to it.

Re:Security (1, Informative)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499178)

Oh, yes. There will be blood.

Re:Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499320)

Exactly, the issue and in particular the use of C to code vs. Assembly. In addition the BIOS/UEFI has been gaining in storage size which allows more exploits to be present.

Real question is how small an exploit code has to be to function?

Can we say UEFI Rootkits.

But... (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498908)

Bios sounds cooler and is easier to say. (Yoo-fee? Yoo-Figh? ooweef... damnit)

And whenever that clunky UI comes up, computer illiterate people go into a daze and stop asking so many questions.

I guess I'll start spending as much time with it as I can before it goes away... Start - Shutdown - Restart. F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12

I read the article... (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498912)

Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

Re:I read the article... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32498988)

Just some marketing bullshit, don't worry.

BIOS vs. EFI (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499076)

Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

EFI, which is already used in Mac computers with Intel CPUs, doesn't implement the syscalls inherited from IBM PC BIOS. Things like Boot Camp add PC BIOS on top of EFI.

Keep Apple's crap away from my PC. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499272)

I don't want a Mac because I want an unencumbered, truly-free system.

I don't want their "technology" creeping into my PC, which runs nothing but Free and Open Source Software.

BIOS & Firmware (1)

xororand (860319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499506)

I don't want a Mac because I want an unencumbered, truly-free system.

I don't want their "technology" creeping into my PC, which runs nothing but Free and Open Source Software.

So you're not using your motherboard manufacturer's closed source BIOS but coreboot instead? Are you 100% sure that none of your devices use non-free kernel code either? Yes, the default Linux kernel contains non-free firmware.

Re:I read the article... (3, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499100)

What am I missing here?

So far as I can tell, it just means that now the BIOS is going to consist of a complicated, semi-unintelligible set of menus (and/or icons) and point and click options rather than a simple tree of text-based menus with descriptive names. Don't worry though, by fixing something that isn't broken, things will get better.

Re:I read the article... (0)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499376)

So far as I can tell, it just means that now the BIOS is going to consist of a complicated, semi-unintelligible set of menus (and/or icons) and point and click options rather than a complicated, semi-unintelligible set of text-based menus with non-descriptive names.

FTFY

Re:I read the article... (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499504)

If phrases like, "CMOS Settings," and, "IDE Controller," aren't descriptive enough for you, or they seem complicated and semi-unintelligible then you have no business dicking around with the low-level settings of your motherboard.

Re:What am I missing here? (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499120)

Booting from >2TB partition. Well, and easier "hackintoshabulity" too, i guess.

Re:I read the article... (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499164)

I'm just glad it's UFEI and not UFIA.

Re:I read the article... (5, Informative)

xianthax (963773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499168)

traditional BIOS are an archaic nightmare really.

Most new technologies in them are work around hacks required to maintain some support for very old communication protocols (6GB SATA drives still have to support IDE mode why?) etc.

Give this a read:

http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/how-computers-boot-up [duartes.org]

Re:I read the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499202)

Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

BIOS does not support booting from hard drives larger than 2TB while UEFI does.

Re:I read the article... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499342)

BIOS does not support booting from hard drives larger than 2TB while UEFI does.

Don't you just need GPT support for that? My BIOS boots from a GPT partition table though switching from GRUB1 to GRUB2 seems to have screwed that up somehow.

Re:I read the article... (3, Informative)

xianthax (963773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499494)

GPT is part of the EFI standard.

It is used on some BIOS based system.

The problem with the standard MBR is that it does not support _partitions_ (note partitions, not disks) greater than 2 TB.

It also doesn't allow the start address to be higher than 2TB. This means your boot partition has to start in the first 2TB of the disk and be smaller than 2TB. The disk can actually be larger than 2TB.

Re:I read the article... (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499266)

I think they're just wrong to put the stress on EFI being "a point and click interface". I was under the impression (correct me if I'm wrong) that the deal with EFI is that it was a design of firmware for the system that ditches a lot of old legacy stuff. Incidentally, by upgrading the design, it will allow manufacturers to create a GUI to configure this stuff. But the GUI isn't really the point.

Re:I read the article... (3, Insightful)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499308)

It may be _a_ basic input output system, but it is not the BIOS, which -- if I understand correctly -- was originally how all [wikipedia.org] input/output was done through PCs. Nowadays, your computer only uses the BIOS for input/output during startup, and then switches to something more advanced for your actual interface. In short, it's a holdover from the early days of PCs, is now only used for this niche role, and has required backwards compatibility all the way back to the original PC. I don't think that's wasted a huge amount of resources or anything, but I've always thought of it as old cruft ready to be replaced.

Re:I read the article... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499380)

TFA is largely worthless; but EFI is actually a pretty big deal. In essence, it keeps the really hair and complex bits of the BIOS(y hello thar, ACPI, I am talking to you) and adds a giant heap of further complexity. Haven't you always wanted a BIOS that needs its own FAT32(or HFS+ in Apple's freaky nonconformant implementation) partition in order to store its own device drivers?

UEFI is *anything* but BASIC (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499498)

BIOS used to be basic. Initialize the memory, enumerate the PCI bus, find a boot device and hand off to the OS. Now that UEFI has come along, "BIOS" is megabytes of device drivers written by dozens of different groups, all trying to get access to core services, initialize their hardware, and publish their protocols so other drivers can talk to their hardware. If you thought a BIOS bug was a problem before, you ain't seen NOTHIN' yet! Oh yeah, did I mention that all of this stuff is single-threaded? Makes sense in a world where EVERY system has more than one core, but adding support for multiple execution threads was too much for the UEFI designers. :(

Re:I read the article... (1)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499578)

Its also bloat ware. We need bloat ware in the most basic operating software in our systems!

What is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32498922)

I can't remember the last time I adjusted something in the BIOS so I don't care if it is GUI or not just so long as it is understandable and works. Seems like a waste of resources to me.

Re:What is the point? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499538)

can't remember the last time I adjusted something in the BIOS so I don't care

This is slashdot. Please turn in your nerd card.

So .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498934)

Other than the fact that there won't be any BIOS left, how does this affect most of us?

Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD? Or is it just all going to be status quo but with an old piece of technology no longer present? Will the *AA's insist that the replacement allow them to lock down machines so we can only do what they approve of?

I really have no idea of the ramifications of the loss of BIOS.

Re:So .... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499068)

Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD?

Nothing big other than another variable to throw in the mix... Macs have never had a BIOS and seem to run Windows, Linux, and BSD pretty well. IIRC, they just emulate a BIOS.

Re:So .... (2, Informative)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499090)

Any modern operating system will not be affected.

Older operating systems, like DOS, used BIOS services to accomplish certain tasks - like accessing the floppy disk, if I recall correctly. This kind of legacy operating system will stop working when the BIOS is gone.

BIOS do have other rules [wikipedia.org] . But nothing major.

Re:So .... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499496)

roles*

^a correction; happy? ;)

Re:So .... (3, Informative)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499170)

Linux has supported EFI for quite some time. And EFI has BIOS compatibility modes (or it can.. that's one of those "extensible" things). Mac's, for instance, use EFI and have since they went Intel (possibly earlier, but I think the Intel macs were the first).

Linus is not a big fan of EFI though.. says it's a bigger, clunkier bios.

*BSD and Linux support EFI (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499198)

Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD?

Intel Macs already use EFI [wikipedia.org] ; therefore at least one BSD (Darwin) already supports it. Linux supports EFI too.

Re:So .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499230)

EFI allows you to mount filesystems, use network services, load device drivers, etc., before the OS loads. Most of these are of value to operating systems (it makes for a cleaner design sometimes if you can mount your root filesystem before loading the kernel). In some cases users may want to do those things (e.g., if you've fucked up your root filesystem to the point where it won't boot). It also avoids the annoying 16-bit limitations of BIOS, but again, those freedoms are mostly of value to operating systems rather than users. Most users probably won't have to care at all.

Re:So .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499298)

Per wikipedia, "Linux has been able to use EFI at boot time since early 2000, using the elilo EFI boot loader or, more recently, EFI versions of GRUB." There is nothing about BSD booting from it however it is proven possible (Macs and hacked versions boot from UEFI firmwares).

Re:So .... (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499532)

Basically, it won't do much beyond making the config menus look prettier and be able to detect larger disks more easily. Since UEFI can actually contain a BIOS payload, most OSes don't even know or care that there is UEFI underneath somewhere. But that being said, most newer OSes support UEFI natively. Most Unixes have supported it since the early 2000s when EFI first showed up on Itanics and then MS followed suit much later for x86/amd64 Windows with Windows Server 2008 and Vista SP1.

I doubt this has much if anything to do with the *AAs since UEFI is basically a BIOS replacement and apparently doesn't require any DRM schemes to be in place. If the *AAs were behind this, bet your bottom dollar that multiple layers of DRM would be absolutely mandatory. I bet it has to deal with larger disk support and making a "friendlier-looking" pre-boot environment.

Re:So .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499610)

I doubt this has much if anything to do with the *AAs since UEFI is basically a BIOS replacement and apparently doesn't require any DRM schemes to be in place. If the *AAs were behind this, bet your bottom dollar that multiple layers of DRM would be absolutely mandatory.

Oh, I don't think they're behind it ... but I also know they have a decided preference for adding DRM at a very fundamental level in any hardware/OS so they can define the terms in which a computer can operate.

I'm just cynical enough to believe that if someone decides to swap out BIOS on machines, they'll be making loud noises to get their DRM injected into machines.

MSI, huh (2, Insightful)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498956)

As soon as I have a good-to-great experience with an MSI motherboard, this will be relevant to me.

They've been nothing but finicky to me.

Now, if ASUS, Intel or Gigabyte pick this up, or at least a few other mainstream manufacturers, let me know.

about time (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498970)

Macs went to EFI [wikipedia.org] over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it. Good bye, and good riddance.

Re:about time (5, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499026)

They'll do the same with EFI.

Re:about time (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499070)

Exactly

Of course MS didn't bother with it (maybe Windows 7 is compatible, I'm not sure about Vista), and manufacturers neither.

I'm not sure it's going to be better (that is, they're going to do it properly)

What, floppy drive for installing Win XP in Sata?? EFI would take care of that

Re:about time (4, Informative)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499360)

No, Microsoft implemented EFI in Vista, although they only put it in the 64 bit versions IIRC. I can't wait for 32 bit Windows to die a horrible death... then more people (like Adobe) will start fully supporting 64 bit windows (and no, 64 bit Photoshop is not enough, let's get a 64 bit flash).

Re:about time (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499192)

Macs went to EFI [wikipedia.org] over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it. Good bye, and good riddance.

"Windows machines"

I think you mean PCs, we don't all use Windows you know.

The difference is a rounding error (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499330)

I think you mean PCs, we don't all use Windows you know.

As I understand it, virtually all ready-to-run desktop and laptop PCs sold in the United States that aren't Macs still come with Windows, not Linux. There is a difference between ready-to-run "PCs" and ready-to-run "Windows machines", as seen for example on Dell Ubuntu [dell.com] , but the difference is a rounding error compared to the total sales of ready-to-run PCs.

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499372)

Or more specifically IBM-compatible PCs

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499390)

"PCs"

I think you mean Windows machines. Macs are PCs too you know.

Re:about time (2, Informative)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499280)

My thinkpad 600x has a gui bios for the date/time, this is about 1993 vintage. Back then apple were trying to sell tablet devices.

Re:about time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499304)

I don't think you understand UEFI. UEFI is not an open standard. It is far more locked down and proprietary than the BIOS has ever been. There is a big push to use LinuxBIOS instead of UEFI because of the proprietary and narrow minded approach that UEFI takes.

Re:about time (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499552)

It is far more locked down and proprietary than the BIOS has ever been

Why do you think Apple has been using it for years ?

It's just another for hardware vendors to bundle their own software (ala USB keydisks that insist on loading their own crapware services) together with the hardware.

And we'll end up having to write BIOS emulators to lay on top of all the proprietary UEFI versions just to get our bootloaders' INT13h calls to work.

Re:about time (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499318)

As with most Mac "firsts", it is and it isn't. The Gateway 610 Media Center came out with an EFI-based motheboard firmware in 2003, 3 years before Apple started shipping units with EFI. It offered no particularly compelling advantages over legacy BIOS, so there was no great rush among other manufacturers to do the same.

Apple's "first" was not doing it; but doing it exclusively across all their models.

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499328)

Macs went to EFI [wikipedia.org] over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it. Good bye, and good riddance.

Windows machines? What does BIOS has to do with Windows? I guess this PCs don't run Linux and other OSes, right?

Re:about time (1)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499468)

Windows can boot from EFI bios... there just hasn't been a reason to.

Re:about time (5, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499484)

Macs went to EFI over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

The average user doesn't know and wouldn't give a shit if they did. Ergo, this kind of change in the PC market is driven by the interests of the vendors, as the consumer essentially has none. That said, it's worth noting that some consumer PCs have used EFI since 2003 and Itanium workstations were using EFI back in 2000, and x64 versions of Windows added support for EFI in 2008.

BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it.

It's worth noting that one advantage of EFI to vendors is precisely that it better enables them to lock down a system than BIOS does. While it doesn't have to be used that way, you can safely bet that many vendors will use it that way to the detriment of the consumer. It's also not without (in my opinion, valid) criticism for adding additional complexity to the system without actually resolving the problems of BIOS.

The main advantage appears lie in offering a GUI for end users to manipulate system settings that they lack the knowledge or inclination to tinker with. To be fair, it does add some convenience features and better support for large drives, but I haven't seen anything about EFI to get terribly excited about.

Re:about time (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499560)

"That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it."

Umm, failure to think ahead, much? What makes you think they STILL won't lock things down?

Re:about time (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499608)

Macs went to EFI [wikipedia.org] over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it. Good bye, and good riddance.

As people have said, windows machines have been capable for a few years now. But due to the broad variety of windows machines, its not as easy to move forward. Microsoft has to support legacy stuff for enterprise customers or they are going to piss a lot of people off. Windows XP needs BIOS as far as I can tell, so if you buy a PC and can't install XP on it, some people might get upset. Macs are tied to their hardware more intimately, so apple can control this.

But mostly, I think is because it's not that big of a deal... Most users NEVER interact with the BIOS directly (well... you know what I mean!) so it doesn't much matter.

And I'm amused that you assume that if BIOS goes away, PC manufacturers will suddenly stop locking down hardware... I'm sure UEFI can be just as restrictive...
-Taylor

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499620)

According to wikipedia: "Intel’s first Itanium workstations and servers, released in 2000, supported EFI 1.02."

ugh (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498972)

That screenshot lowers sperm count.

If they can't make it look nicer then I'll keep the old clunky, please.

Increasingly old and gray gen-xer says (3, Funny)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 4 years ago | (#32498974)

You kids today with your GUI firmware. Spoiled rotten! That's what you are! WHEEZE.. Excuse me while I go get more of these tattoo's removed. Ouch, arthritis.

No more hardware control for your OS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32498996)

EFI is the end of your OS controlling the hardware, the DRM-trolls will love it.

So, where can we find motherboards with OpenBIOS [wikipedia.org] or Coreboot [wikipedia.org] ?

Wow (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499004)

That is the worst reporting on EFI I've ever read. They spend half the article trying to make the false claim that the switch from BIOS to EFI has anything to do with its visual interface (I was using a pixel-and-mouse-based GUI BIOS 15 years ago and I was using a text-only EFI interface just a couple days ago). Then they end with a quote about how the biggest difference between BIOS and EFI is that EFI is written in C? How would that have any relevance? Maybe they were trying to say that EFI requires the execution of architecture-independent code (the EFI Bytecode)?

Sadly there was no mention of Open Firmware, either. Is there any reason Intel made their own Open Firmware knock-off beyond NIH syndrome?

Pretty graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499310)

Sounds like a "tech pundit" who is more impressed with pretty graphics than functionality. He uses the opportunity to paint all "text-based" operations as crude and outdated, when in reality, most of the world's system administration (and certainly the most important and critical system administration) occurs on -- yes -- a text-based terminal. This certainly isn't because Google (for example) can't afford a pretty GUI, but rather because a pretty GUI has absolutely no business doing that kind of mission-critical work.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but to somebody in the business, the modern unix command line is anything but crude and clunky.

Re:Wow (5, Informative)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499500)

EFI has been around for about 15 years, but was an Itanium thing... UEFI was created about 5 years ago and adapted it for use with x86 and x64 computers. Apple has been using it since 2006 in all their Mac based PC's.

Unfortunately, OpenFirmware was withdrawn from the IEEE in 1998, so OpenFirmware isn't really a standard. And there wasn't really an Open Source implementation until 2006 (a year after UEFI was introduced).

So to say (paraphrasing) "Why didn't intel use OpenFirmware instead of creating their own?" is to ignore the face that OpenFirmware was a non-player at the time.

Re:Wow (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499600)

"Then they end with a quote about how the biggest difference between BIOS and EFI is that EFI is written in C? How would that have any relevance?"

The EFI will likely be much more easy to compromise, rootkit, and use to PWN someone's system.

whats old is new again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499008)

AMI WinBIOS, circa 1995. I don't see the point of it Moving from a text-based interface to a gui isn't really going to make it friendlier if the user doesn't understand what any of the parameters mean.

Re:whats old is new again (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499332)

I agree, I suffered through WinBIOS, and it sucked ass when you did not have a mouse installed. Looks like UEFI is gonna be better for keyboard use, but it is still pointless to move the bios to the graphical realm...after all, what if you run headless and use linux/bsd at the console, or even windows server as a console only install.

That;s okay - I'll just get another battery for it (3, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499032)

n/t

BIOS For nubs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499036)

GUI's are a pain in the ass for anyone who knows what they're doing. Anyone who doesn't know what they're doing should probably not be messing with low-level system configuration...

Clunky text-based? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499074)

What is clunky about " text-based"?

I will take a clunky Apache "text-based" conf file over a gui with tabs, multiple layers, long lists of unsearchable graphic checkboxes and options any day.

BIOS has been dead for 10+ years already... (4, Interesting)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499104)

The PC BIOS started out as a simple nifty way to abstract away the underlying hardware from the operating system so that we didn't have to have drivers for every little thing.

Nowadays, we have drivers for every freaking little thing.

Why? The BIOS failed to evolve into the 32bit era.

It would be great if there could be a piece of flash memory on the motherboard which contains all the Basic I/O driver for each of it's peripherals... And for all expansion cards to have a bit of flash memory for their drivers.

Then the operating system (Windows/Linux/whatever...) can just use all the devices through their firmware driver.

(Fed up of drivers)

UEFI == BIOS (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499122)

UEFI is just a fancy name for BIOS - the program that runs on startup to test and configure all of the hardware so that software can talk to it.

AMI had a GUI BIOS back in the early 1990s.

Re:UEFI == BIOS (2, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499618)

I suggestion you spend some time here [wikipedia.org] . While you can say "it's just a bios" with a very loose definition of "bios", it's really not. Saying so means you don't really understand what a bios is, nor what EFI is. BIOS is very specific.. it has a specific set of interrupt vectors it services with a specific set of commands. Whether or not it has a GUI is irrelevant, because there are already GUI based BIOS's and there are text based EFI's.

EFI, on the other hand, is extensible in that you can plug in different modules (such as a BIOS compatibility module), or a MacOS module. Apple use EFI, and part of bootcamp is to include a BIOS module for it's EFI.

BIOS is written in assembly. pretty much as to be. UEFI (other than the bootstrapper) can be written in almost any language, including C.. it's possible to use Java or C# or whatever, but it would require implementing a runtime that could work in EFI which I don't think exists right now.

In short, the BIOS has been holding PC's back for decades. Moving to EFI will allow a lot of new functionality.

Oh, I hope not (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499146)

I looked into EFI a bit (the technical details of GPT partition tables), and it just screams overengineering to me. GPT, specifically, bothers me because it allows partition records to have variable size and even to cross sector boundaries, which makes bootloaders way harder to implement (that was the context in which I did this resarch). Despite all this, there is an upper bound to the number of partitions you can have (512 I think), which is not the case in DOS tables.

Now, I don't know all that much about the rest of EFI, but I have gotten the impression that things are the same here. It contains a complete driver infrastructure, with drivers that are guaranteed to be broken and incomplete, and reimplements basically everything. And what is the point of all of this? Prettier boot screens.

It's not even the right way to go about it! That would be to load Linux in the simplest way possible (for which BIOS is enough) and show a pretty menu using all of the available software and libraries, and switch OS using kexec (or equivalent in other OSs). If I were to write such a program, I could boot CDs, netboot, do power management (pretty off button) and have pretty 3D graphics, and perhaps even use a library like GTK. Then, what would be the point of all the stuff going on in the EFI? DRY is right. Let that thing die.

Re:Oh, I hope not (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499354)

It's not even the right way to go about it! That would be to load Linux in the simplest way possible (for which BIOS is enough)

Even BIOS is overkill to load Linux if your chipset supports coreboot.

Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse? (3, Interesting)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499166)

Will I be able to change BIOS/UEFI settings using my bluetooth keyboard/mouse, or will I still have to plug in my old keyboard whenever I want to configure something?

So we get to replace a simplisitc load of crap... (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499182)

...with an insanely complex load of crap (but it's "graphical" so it must be better).

Finally! (2, Interesting)

Denis Lemire (27713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499264)

It's about time we drop the kludge that is BIOS. EFI is also required for Windows to be able to boot from GUID partition table drives which in turn are going to be needed to handle upcoming huge drives that exceed BIOS LBA limitations.

I for one will not miss the BIOS. It's about time commodity PCs catch up to standards that Apple has implemented way back in 2006 (all Intel Macs use EFI and GPT).

They have been saying that for 10 years (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499284)

Since about when Win 2000 came out they have been saying we no longer need a bios and soon will not have one. But they keep making them. I had an off brand MB that had a graphical bios interface, used the mouse and icons. It was on an AMD K6 200mhz if I remember correctly, must have been 97-98. I remember it because the MB was junk and died in 2 weeks, brought it back for a name brand.

Re:They have been saying that for 10 years (1)

Denis Lemire (27713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499426)

I remember such boards, but just because it had a GUI doesn't mean it wasn't BIOS. Simply it was a GUI based BIOS.

Re:They have been saying that for 10 years (1)

Denis Lemire (27713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499472)

...and after re-reading your post I see you made no such claim... Must have confused your post with another. All well, I shall hang my head in shame and move on.

It's Been Done Before... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499290)

Back in the mid-90s one of the less popular BIOS companies released a GUI BIOS for select motherboards. It didn't exactly change the way the world worked, and I don't see any reason to suspect this one would have that ability either. Convincing people that low-level changes should require a mouse when it didn't before won't be easy...

Everything old is new again... (1)

neowolf (173735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499346)

I seem to recall a similar prediction at least ten years ago. I'm still waiting... It would be nice to see it happen though. Modern OSs seem to bypass just about everything in BIOS anyway, although their still needs to be something to launch the OS. (I know- RTFA.)

Primordial? (2, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499364)

The PC was never "primordial". It was an assemblage of mostly off-the-shelf components that was inferior to its competition but had the IBM label slapped on it. Immediately, it became the reference standard against which competitors benchmarked themselves in order to be able to advertise "100% PC Compatible", with the ability to run Microsoft Flight Simulator being the strongest test of compatibility. A reference standard is not "primordial". To the contrary, it took years to add the slightest bit of flexibility to this rigid standard -- e.g. defining the bus timings independent of the CPU clock in order to accommodate faster CPUs.

BIOS is not dead (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499382)

From the faq at uefi.org:

Q: Does UEFI completely replace a PC BIOS?
A: No. While UEFI uses a different interface for "boot services" and "runtime services", some platform firmware must perform the functions BIOS uses for system configuration (a.k.a. "Power On Self Test" or "POST") and Setup. UEFI does not specify how POST & Setup are implemented.

The 2TB thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499406)

Somebody who has RTFA, please explain this. As I understand it, BIOS points to MBR, MBR loads Grub, Grub sees a small partition, loads kernel, kernel sees 2.5 TB system and says 'OHAI I CAN HAZ MOUNT PLZ?' . So how can a BIOS *not* boot a 2TB hard drive? Don't tell me it can't find the MBR - the MBR is just the first sector.

EFI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32499518)

I have my HP Probook 4710s for a year now,
and it has already an EFI Firmware.

BEOS will be dead in three years.. (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32499572)

... is how I read this. Probably the biggest wtf moment of my day.
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