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AMD Provides Fusion Support For Coreboot

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the rms-will-be-pleased dept.

AMD 71

An anonymous reader writes "AMD has done a big code drop providing Fusion support for Coreboot, the project that once was called LinuxBIOS for providing an open source BIOS implementation." A lack of vendor support has long made the task of the coreboot developers difficult. Support for what is slated to be a common chipset is pretty encouraging, and will hopefully make it easier to run an entirely Free Software system for diehards like RMS.

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71 comments

Wait! (3, Insightful)

otravi (1289804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382098)

What's this? A Phoronix article where I _don't_ have to click through eleven other articles to find the source?

Other than that: Hopefully this will make coreboot's future brighter, by a lot.

Speed (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382194)

Open source altruism aside, i want a stable, flexible, fast-booting BIOS. The standard BIOS that comes with most motherboards is awful, and is frequently missing important features.

Re:Speed (2)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382268)

Open source altruism aside, i want a stable, flexible, fast-booting BIOS. The standard BIOS that comes with most motherboards is awful, and is frequently missing important features.

What's so wrong with your motherboard's BIOS? What features is it missing?

What brand and model motherboard do you have? I'm predicting it's not an Asus board, because Asus has awesome BIOSes.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382528)

I'm not going to get into desktop PCs, since the last desktop I built was now 6 years ago, but laptop BIOSes are notoriously minimal, a ploy to get you to frequently upgrade. It turns a laptop with good 4-year hardware into something you replace in 2 years because it can't be fully exploited.

Re:Speed (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384132)

And you just hit the nail on the head of why this will NEVER take off...planned obsolescence. The OEMs want you to have to blow cash for a new laptop every couple of years, and having a tweak-able BIOS doesn't help in that regard. The same goes for the ass raping most of these companies charge for replacement parts for laptops. Often it is cheaper to shitcan the laptop and get another one and that is precisely the point in a nutshell.

Sadly I doubt we'll ever see a truly open laptop BIOS because it is in the short term interest of the companies to make laptops into disposable devices, damn the waste and effect on the environment. This is just another example of why "damn everything but the quarterly earnings report!" hurts us all in the long run. It is a waste of material, a waste of resources, a poisoning of the environment, all to make a product that could easily last 10 years with a little thought into a 2 year or less disposable item. Just sad.

Re:Speed (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385136)

I agree with you about the OEMs' attitude, but I don't think they're that concerned about planned obsolescence to pass up an essentially free feature that they can use to differentiate against their competitors.

Often laptops require upgrading because consumers like the latest shiny processor/screen/form factor and not because they aren't suitable for using. In my experience, laptops often get handed down when they're "upgraded" to a newer model and I, for one, try to avoid manufacturers that don't treat their customers fairly (although I did buy an HP netbook, but that was because the keyboard and screen were excellent quality for the price - shame about the VIA processor). When I next buy a laptop, support for an open BIOS would be a big bonus for me and I'd be prepared to spend more money on a system that supports tweaking. The last camera I bought was a Canon mainly because of the existence of the CHDK firmware for it (waterproof Powershot D10 - excellent little camera) even though Canon don't actually help with CHDK.

I don't see how the BIOS makes much difference to upgrading a laptop's components, anyway as it's not usually practical to swap any of the chipset in a laptop. Usually the only upgrades you can do are the hard disk and memory and a crappy BIOS doesn't prevent you doing that.

Re:Speed (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35386332)

Go ask anyone who bought a laptop where the CPU supports Intel VT but the laptop vendor has completly disabled and locked out the support in the BIOS, preventing you from using it.

Re:Speed (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35386852)

Exactly! It was BS like this along with the compiler and OEM rigging that got me to switch to AMD for me and my customers. At least I know when I buy or recommend an AMD laptop/desktop that it will have all the standard features without having to play "CPU Bingo" just to find out what it has/doesn't have. That way all I have to do is look at the speed/cache/cores and decide what is right for their needs without having to worry about "missing features" like Cool&Quiet or AMD-V. Hell some of the Intel laptop chips I looked at disabled enhanced Speedstep! I mean how fucked up is that?

In the end while there is nothing I'd like more than laptops to become bog standard commodity machines like PCs I just don't see it happening. Keeping PCs longer and longer because they have gotten "good enough" for the tasks the user does is the norm (I even have some customers on 7+ year old machines, they do what they need them to so they're happy) whereas with laptops by locking them down, using substandard parts, making it hell to get replacement parts at a fair price, and generally screwing the customer at every turn makes for increased profits. Too bad it comes at such huge amounts of waste and toxic materials dumped on the third world, but hey, as long as the quarterly earnings report is met, right?

I'm seriously starting to wonder if the death of capitalism for something like a resource based economy might be a good thing for everyone. The amount of waste we generate focusing everything only on the short term profits is poisoning the world and wasting precious resources we'll be hard pressed to replace. Maybe if the "race to the bottom" ever increasing profit motive were removed we could go back to building items that lasted again. It is pretty sad that my nearly 30 year old stereo still works great while I've tossed dozens of DVD players and other e-waste in that same time. Just no quality to be had anymore.

Re:Speed (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388256)

I haven't seen an example of that. All the motherboards I've used have allowed you to enable the hardware virtualisation if the processor supports it. I'm typing this on an HP 6530b that fully supports hardware virtualisation - KVM runs fine on it - and typically HP are a bunch of asshats.

Re:Speed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385346)

It's all a shame. All of that just to squeeze a little bit more cash out. I fucking hate businesspeople*

* most. there are the rare exceptions

Collusion only works with 100% participation. (1)

ReedYoung (1282222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35386754)

The first brand(s) to offer an open BIOS will win new customers, and if they do it right, loyal customers.

Re:Speed (3, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382726)

I've got a Jetway mini-ITX, and its BIOS/ACPI is so FUBAR that they managed to break *all* power management stuff along with access to the temperature sensor and fan speed controls. Y'know, the main reasons for buying a low-speed mini-ITX in the first place.

And unlike all other mobo manufacturers I've used (Asus is good, and so is Gigabyte), this one seems to never, ever put out updates to fix their broken firmware, let alone add features to it.

Re:Speed (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35386046)

Funny, I've used their Atom boards to build lots of firewall devices. The BIOS has always worked exactly as expected for me.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35387104)

"...Jetway...so FUBAR..."
Yeah, redundant much?

Re:Speed (1)

dow (7718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382920)

Really? I have an Asus board and although it has lots of features, it takes longer to POST than it does for Win7 to boot from an SSD harddrive. When I go into setup, it doesn't look much different than the BIOS of twenty years ago. I had a board back around '96 which gave me a pseudo WIMP environment. For 2010 when I bought the board, this is poor.

Maybe Asus have awesome BIOS's compared to most other manufacturers, but it is still a turd.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385484)

Odd, I don't have any problems with mine. ASUS M4A88TD-V. Kicks ass, no boot speed problems.

Re:Speed (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382948)

> What's so wrong with your motherboard's BIOS?

I am guessing that what the parent real wants is what I would like: the ability to boot directly into the OS (esp. Linux), and not via a 2 stage boot via the BIOS.

Re:Speed (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384414)

So, I like the BIOS on my two ASUS motherboards, although they are lacking in one area - speed.

The problem is that all the various RAID controllers each add their own startup delay with their own keyboard shortcuts. My server has two of them, so it takes something like 10 seconds before GRUB launches, and that is with memory scan disabled. I'm not even using any of the RAID features in the BIOS - I'm just using the controllers to attach normal drives.

A second here and a second there and 5 vendor display strings with a pause add up.

Then I have my Cr-48, which can give me a working browser in about 10 seconds, counting the time for me to login. If they cut out the login screen and just went straight to an incognito browser it probably would go from cold boot to the google doodle in 7 seconds or so, assuming the wireless access point were snappy with authentication.

Re:Speed (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384422)

Oh, and that CR-48 boot time includes the use of TPM trusted-boot and drive encryption... Granted, the flash also helps quite a bit there, but I'm sure several people spent a month staring at bootchart to get it polished.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385750)

"What's so wrong with your motherboard's BIOS? What features is it missing?"

Well, take the oft-touted Asus and their P7P55DE-LX mobo, for instance:

http://support.asus.com/download/download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&product=1&model=P7P55D-E%20LX&type=map&f_type=3

Version 1602

2. Improve system stability

Version 1208

1. Improve system stability

Version 1003

2. Improve system stability

Multiple vague "improvements". No mention of what they've fixed, or what problem reports they had. Most of all, no reports of whether the system IS, or EVER will be stable. For all we know, the board is a mess and should have been recalled.

Re:Speed (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 3 years ago | (#35393618)

I have a computer with an Intel 945GNT. The chipset supports the Core 2 processors, but the BIOS only supports the Socket 775 Pentium 4, Pentium D, and the associated Celerons. Dropping in one of the last generation Core 2 Duos could be a cheap and huge boost to that machine, if the board would take it.

As for Asus, their stuff is junk. I had a board (that was actually part of one of their barebones kits) where you couldn't manually set the memory speed, and it detected the speed of the installed memory wrong (too fast). The system therefore ran unstable, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Re:Speed (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396256)

I don't know about anyone else but I'm pissed that Gateway turned off AMD-V in the Athlon 64 L110 in my netbook. The chipset (R690M) is supported by coreboot, so one way I may prowl for JTAG so I can start testing coreboot images. Gateway tells me I can open a paid support ticket to get BIOS with AMD-V, but god knows how many hours it would take. If I still worked for an enterprise that used them I would just claim it was owned by the business and maybe get help that way but it's been a while. Coreboot is my only hope.

Re:Speed (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382280)

Interesting. Most BIOS I've seen have had too many features, leading to the slow booting that you noted.

Re:Speed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382592)

In their implementation it is slow indeed,
However coreboot has shown that all hardware can be booted in under 1 seconds, that includes your ethernet and or wireless. That's pretty awesome for almost instant on systems like htpc's and such which would have a very tiny POST boot with trimmed linux. We're talking about 5 seconds till a machine is ready.

Re:Speed (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382650)

That's impressive for sure! But what about hitting the magic button on the keyboard to tell the BIOS that you want to change some settings? That doesn't leave much time at all.

Re:Speed (2)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382834)

You could do what some BIOSes already do, which is hold down a key. Just hold down the key as you turn the computer on and it would go into the settings menu.

Re:Speed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385366)

The other option I've seen is a switch or jumper on the board itself that enables the pause-n-prompt - without that set, it skips right past that.

That sure wasted me some time when I was trying to figure what the hell was going on - but after I saw it, I thought it was ingenious.

Wish I could remember what hardware I saw that on.

Re:Speed (1)

xOneca (1271886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385644)

Look at the mobile phones: switch on pressing another "magic" key and you are at the ROM programming menu.

Re:Speed (1)

LoganDzwon (1170459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382544)

Why are they still making PCs with BIOSes?

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382636)

because we want to boot, retard.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382696)

I believe the parent is referring to EFI and UEFI as replacement for the BIOS, and I agree with him. All motherboards manufactured today should run EFI(or something similar) or Coreboot(or something similar), except boards made for specific instances(like ISA slots that have gone away except for specific instances).

Re:Speed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35384958)

efi is just a more complicated and closed way to do bios.

Re:Speed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385382)

ISA ports may not be on your board, but the ISA bus is still in use!!

For instance, all of my server's hardware monitoring systems are talked through via ISA... and this server is very recent/modern.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382968)

I didn't think it was possible to be both ignorant and funny. Guess I was wrong :P.

Re:Speed (0)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382652)

What would you suggest as an alternative?

Re:Speed (2)

domatic (1128127) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382728)

Re:Speed (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382980)

EFI is a (get this) BIOS!
BIOS isn't just 4 capital letters - those letters MEAN something.

EFI is a BIOS.
It is not the same BIOS as the one IBM developed and Compaq stole, but it is still a BIOS.

People who talk about (U)EFI only do so because Steve Jobs name dropped in a press conference a couple years ago.
The actual useful technical merits of (U)EFI over BIOS are slim.

Preboot shit simply doesn't need 64 bit processing or access to the full memory space.
Preboot shit is shit you want to be as minimal as possible.

The changes to how hard disks are handled are good, but the only one that really matters is support for partitions over 2.1 TB. (This has already been hacked around by disk manufacturers though, so even this isn't a big deal.)

The only reason I give a shit about (U)EFI is so I won't have to use a fucking floppy diskette to update firmware on Seagate drives.
But this assumes Seagate will actually makes a (U)EFI firmware updater, a version of SeaTools that actually detects the model of drive I bought from them, a firmware worth upgrading to, and a hard drive that doesn't involve "revisions x, y, and z, prior to year 2, with QC sticker color u, are made in China and are just broke, play the RMA lottery until you get one made in taiwan" bullshit.

If they could do all that, they could release a firmware updating tool that worked while booted into Windows / OSX / Maybe even Linux.

Then again, you'd still be fucked if your drives were behind a RAID controller.

Re:Speed (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390416)

It's not called a BIOS. A BIOS is a system firmware standard, much as (U)EFI and Open Firmware is.

Re:Speed (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383102)

My computer does not need Electronic Fuel Injection. Last thing I need is my computer to use gas.

Damn oil companies screwing with computers now!

Re:Speed (1)

willy_me (212994) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382768)

EFI [wikipedia.org] can replace the BIOS, but the operating system must support it. The Intel based Macs are famous for being some of the first machines that shipped with EFI in place of a BIOS. If you want to dual boot, Boot Camp actually fakes* a BIOS on top of EFI to allow other operating systems (like Windows XP) to install.

* Note: I do not know exactly how this is done, others might want to offer some insight.

Re:Speed (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382946)

Apple was hardly the first. HP has had them since 2000 on their Itanium systems. I read somewhere that Gateway shipped a few x86 computers with EFI back around that time too, although they added BIOS compatibility so that Windows could boot.

But regardless of all that, what does it matter what type of firmware a computer runs? It's the manufacturers who dictate what the end-user is allowed to access (short of user hacking of course)

Re:Speed (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390430)

EFI has a legacy BIOS mode, Boot Camp just turns it on when appropriate.

Re:Speed (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382814)

PCs are incredibly complex, and this causes the otherwise simple boot code to be complex. Supporting outdated 16-bit modes and other backwards compatibility, being required to boot up and provide initial drivers and support for most systems, providing OS functions in case the real OS is lazy, keeping backwards compatibility with bugs, providing a simple user interface to do all the configuration, network booting support, and so on. There's a lot that can go wrong and undoubtedly tons of legacy firmware.

One problem with PCs is that they were never really designed in a traditional way. Instead it was designed by accretion as all the clone makers copied each other and added new tweaks, new varieties of buses were added and later discarded, and so on. So it ends up being an awful mess when you're done.

Compare to the trimmed down stuff you see on other platforms, like embedded systems, or even OpenFirmware.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35383024)

But that's exactly where an open source BIOS would shine: it would 'only' need to maintain support for Windows 7, Linux, BSD, and OS X. Anything else is something only businesses are interested in.

Re:Speed (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383996)

What about FreeDOS and Contiki?

Re:Speed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385412)

When was the last time you really needed to run DOS, outside of a BIOS update? If you're one of the rare ones that has a reason - do you really have a reason, or are you just too lazy/cheap to upgrade/migrate from your early 1990s systems?

Contiki... sounds like niche software that would be better suited to a non-PC embedded system. If you want to run that on a PC, you're probably doing something silly.

Re:Speed (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35399216)

Whoosh.
It was a joke.
But let me ask you a question. Why replace a dos app that works? Really if a tool works why replace it?
And second. Contiki on a PC. Well maybe for development?
I am sure that Contiki would get ported and there will always be something that will run Freedos but really just because something is outside of your realm of experience doesn't make it silly.

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385498)

The Windows installer can't even run from DOS these days. That was probably the biggest reason for running DOS with XP and below, to start the install process via floppy (using tftp or something to grab the image).

Re:Speed (1)

badran (973386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383836)

True, but this exact same design process made things so cheap that people like you and me can actually own something so powerful at home.

Re:Speed (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384024)

True. I wonder just how fast and effecent you could make something like the Atom if you dropped all the old odds and ends that it has to support. Things like 8087, MMX, 286 instructions, and just had it support 64bit mode.
Yes a lot of stuff would not run anymore but for say the mobile market and embedded it could be a real winner.

Why not then just revive the DEC Alpha (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35384160)

Or some other "architecturally pure" design?? :)

Though I kind of agree with you, keep 32bit mode.

Re:Why not then just revive the DEC Alpha (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384684)

The 32bit mode is short of GP registers. But keeping it as a compromise solution for a while might be good. Just drop the 8087, MMX, and all the 16bit and segment crap.
The reason for keeping the 86-64 ISA is simple. Code you compile for the 64bit only chip will work just fine and dandy on the current CPUs we have now.
But Yea I would love to see the Alpha back but that will not give you the easy compatibility.

Re:Speed (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384338)

True. I wonder just how fast and effecent you could make something like the Atom if you dropped all the old odds and ends that it has to support. Things like 8087, MMX, 286 instructions, and just had it support 64bit mode.
Yes a lot of stuff would not run anymore but for say the mobile market and embedded it could be a real winner.

Intel has such a platform, I think it was called Pine Trail or something. It was an Atom CPU that had no PCI bus and was designed for mobile applications. It can boot Linux and doesn't use BIOS because it doesn't need to - I think it runs a modified u-boot or something.

Problem is, if you're running Android on it, you still have a power-sucking x86 on there (though Intel cheats by having an offboard MIPS processor take some of the load during video and audio playback, so the x86 can be turned off)

Re:Speed (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35384560)

I meant, if you're running Android and having to do all sorts of tricks to save power, you might as well just save the complexity and use an ARM processor anyhow...

Re:Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382854)

The BIOS is often written by hardware engineers.

Engineers can't write software for shit.

Re:Speed (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383142)

Software programmers can design hardware worth shit. So I guess we are even.

Plus BIOS is written in a secret programming language called assembler. Something that it seems that most programmers can't do anymore.

Re:Speed (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385428)

Generated assembly, sure. I doubt most is done in raw assembler these days.

RMS is already dead. easily. (0)

MichaelKristopeit401 (1976824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382476)

ask 1000 people on the street who he is.

slashdot = stagnated

Very commendable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382634)

I'm not qualified to say how much exactly this amounts to, but I think even just the willingness to contribute something to an open BIOS implementation is very commendable.
Maybe more hardware will come with gPXE and memtest and correct(!) ACPI information some time in the future.

Also a smart move. (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383328)

I think even just the willingness to contribute something to an open BIOS implementation is very commendable.

Additionally, it could be a smart move for AMD. A FOSS BIOS could give them a competitive advantage in sales, as the only/first manufacturer of modern high-end chipsets enabling personal computer products where a full code audit or replacement with user-trusted secure code would be practical.

Compare this to Intel, which includes support for remote administration in the chips, BIOS, and network adapter firmware - as a "feature". This runs under the OS, invisible to it if desired and unstoppable, and provides a hardware man-in-the-middle that can completely control the system - even "phoning home" when traveling or at an IP address not previously known to the "remote administrator".

Fusion support (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383172)

Does this mean Parallels already supports Coreboot?

Re:Fusion support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385020)

"The release includes support for the Embedded G-Series Fusion processor (fam14 and sb800)....

The article is referring to Fusion the chip, not Fusion the product from VMware.

Thanks..could make a unified boot system too (1)

adewolf (524919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383240)

"system for diehards like RMS" and me

Thanks, AMD (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35383366)

That's very nice. Of course, there's more to motherboard support than the chipset and CPU, but they are two major hurdles.

enough with the flamebaits, ok? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385512)

>will hopefully make it easier to run an entirely Free Software system for diehards like RMS.

Whut? you do NOT have to be a "diehard like RMS" to want a system that boots nearly instantly, or a system that allows you to set default power management values before the OS comes up, or a system that makes bios updates via network easy (clusters comes to mind), or make BIOS changes without a monitor hooked up etc etc.

If you bothered to look at the technical reasons to run Coreboot rather than trying to sneak in covert FSF alienating messages, you would find that there are quite a few. In fact, the majority of the core developers of coreboot happen lean towards the "open-source-mythology-rather-than-free-software-philosophy"-end of the scale, and would rather not be associated with the FSF's campaigns against software patents.

Personally I do happen to be one of those "diehards like RMS", but I do understand and respect that what makes a lot of my fellow computer users tick are hard technical facts... and they tend to drool when they see Coreboot in action... for its technical merits and that alone.

Not just for "diehards like RMS"; for you! (2)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35385650)

It may come as a surprise, but right now, someone else owns your entire platform. The BIOS/EFI do not merely boot the system, they also provide run time services in the form of System Management Mode [wikipedia.org] .

That's right, your system is running black box code at runtime. The TPM already lives there, and if you are "lucky", the future malware will be limited to DRM which can't be circumvented, or systems that only run signed code. The implications for security are staggering, and considering that modern systems even have access to your network from this code, the opportunity for abuse is truly frightening. (How trivial would it be for your government--or the manufacturers in China--to install backdoors, remote key logging facilities, or root kits and such?)

Support Coreboot, so that we may retain control of our own systems. Many thanks to its authors for their persistence, and AMD for their generous contributions. For further information, there was also an interesting google talk [youtube.com] a while back.

Re:Not just for "diehards like RMS"; for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35385802)

With Intel AMT your system is running black box code the moment you provide the system with power.

Remote management (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35387290)

Screw the paranoia and extremist ideology... I WANT REMOTE MANAGEMENT, DAMMIT.

Maybe 15 years ago, x86 was the red-headed step child... the ONE hardware platform without out-of-band management built-in. Every other platform out there redirected the IO on boot-up to the first serial port, at least if it didn't detect a keyboard plugged-in. And you know what? You could configure every damn option the hardware had, at that first firmware command-prompt, over the serial port. Hell, I ran numerous servers that would never, ever get a video card plugged in...

After that, as x86 continued to grow in popularity, serial port management was added to higher-end, server-class hardware, and trickled down to most servers. But it was always implemented in the most horrible way possible, requiring the cooperation of the video chipset, and still missing many features. And worst of all, often missing the big ones, like having a BREAK signal sent over the serial port power-cycle the hardware, requiring managed PDUs, higher end servers, or more add-on hardware...

Today, it still hasn't damn well been sorted out. Want remote management? Buy a system-specific add-in card from the manufacturer! This is iLO with HP and DRAC with Dell systems. Then run a second set of ethernet switches to each and every system to handle those. And on top of that, better throw-in an IP KVM, too, because those add-in cards do occasionally stop responding all together.

The one sign of light in all of this has been open-source boot-loaders. Lilo, grub, boot0 (fbsd), biosboot (obsd), etc. All can be configured to hand-off full console access/control to the serial port immediately after they are loaded. Additionally, the long-overdue widespread adoption of PXE boot firmware on NICs has made it possible to boot to one of these loaders (usually grub) so the MBR doesn't even need to be there.

Yet, after all these years of this blindingly-obvious missing feature, I still find myself having to buy iLOs, DRACs, or high-end PDUs, just so I can be sure I'll be able to send the power-cycle signal the one time in a million I need it. Linux's magic-sysrq moves us yet a little closer to eliminating this nonsense, but yet we can't seem to ever get there. If nothing else, we still risk being at the mercy of those dammed CMOS checksum failures that dump un-desirable defaults on us.

I want openbios so that I can take any PC I run across (no matter how low-end) drop it in the data-center, plugged-in to power, network, and a terminal server, and know I'll never need to run back out to pull the power on the damn thing. It costs next to nothing to add these features. It was done, prolifically, with non-x86 hardware decades ago, and yet we can't seem to get it done, as everybody wants the extra money and lock-in of their proprietary add-on to do something so simple... and with that comes vast added complexity (setting-up serial-port loopback over ethernet to support my OOB management card? WTF?)

Seriously, it's long past due.

And before I ask for a pony, can we get some movement on developing a standard management interface for a post RS-232 world? I'm fine with the firmware stealing an ethernet port for the job, but do it in some very simple and standard way... no more eye-candy java applets required to manage hundreds of servers, okay? I know execs like the aesthetics of of it, but they also like it when a required feature for each and every server they buy will cost them $50 instead of $500.

I know, spend enough money on the server, and the price of the OOBM isn't significant... yet the overhead of managing them, in all their proprietary glory, is. And besides, I have a moral objection to expensive, complex solutions with features I don't need, and that don't entirely work, when a cheap and simple 100% solution was there before, and would be dammed-easy to put back.

Am I the only one bothered by the regression of OOBM?

Re:Remote management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388462)

Look up Intel AMT, a root in your box approachable OOB by lan (hell, maybe 3g now too) which doesn't really turn off even if you disable it in BIOS.

Hope you are fucking happy, would make one of us.

Re:Remote management (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389678)

Are you suggesting every x86 system built has AMT support? If not, you've completely missed my point.

Re:Remote management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35393558)

The new Sandy Bridge Xeons are getting AMT, so it's a safe bet that going forward all new Intel x86 server platforms will get it. As for desktops, vPro editions of processors cost negligibly more. You wanted a standard, you wanted it cheap, you wanted it over ethernet ... AMT does all that.

AMD has DASH, but the situation is a little murkier ... dunno if support there will be as widespread or as cheap.

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