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A Web Browser in Your BIOS?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the smart-dumb-smart-dumb-terminal dept.

Linux 199

Anonymous Coward points to this article on xbitlabs.com, which begins "At the recently held Computex show in Taipei Phoenix Technology Company introduced its new FirstBIOS based on Linux. Among the major advantages of this product, they mentioned such things as PC wake from different standby modes and integrated means of rapid PC recovery in case of failure." That's not all, though -- the article goes on to say that "the most remarkable thing is that you will be able to get access to Internet directly from this interface either via the traditional modem or local network. In this case the data will be stored in NTFS, FAT32 and ext2 file systems. According to Phoenix, all these features fit into 16Mbit Flash memory."

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199 comments

LYNX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707506)

So, it's probably going to be LYNX. Yay. Like I couldn't boot off of a floppy and do this.

off a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707549)

...you still have a floppy drive in your house?

How arcane.

Re:off a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707606)

A floppy drive can be VERY handy if you screw up your BIOS. Then you need either a flash programmer and another computer or a floppy drive, from which most BIOSes can reflash themselves if the "boot block" is still ok (which it usually is, because there's no point in overwriting it).

Re:off a what? (1)

electronerd (219446) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707621)

Of course I have a floppy drive. For groups of files less than 1.44Mb, unless you have a network, a floppy disk is faster than other methods of file transport, such as CD-Rs. Imgine burning 1 Mb of data onto a CD-R. How silly!

Re:off a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707636)

Try a USB thumbdrive sometime.

Re:off a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707644)

CD-R? How arcane...DVD-RW

Sneaker-net...? How plebian.

Ethernet....heard of it?

[[giggle>>floppy drive...[[/giggle>>...right up there with monophonic sound and handwritten checks.

Re:off a what? (1)

zootread (569199) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707939)

I've burned small amounts of data on CD-RW many times. Then there is the zip disk for my random access needs. I don't have any floppy drives on any of my PCs (the drives all went bad years ago), though I do have one on my network if I really need it (but I rarely do). There are times when a floppy would be convenient, for example boot disks, but they are never necessary.

Re:off a what? (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707719)

What's so arcane about a floppy drive?
Or archaic, for that matter. If your system is completely TU (tits up), and you successfully recover from a humble floppy, you might not criticize it with such malapropisms...

Re:LYNX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707638)

This post brought to you by LYNX, CLIT and oh yeah

Luv,
handybundler

Bloat (2, Insightful)

Richard Bannister (464181) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707507)

Is it just me, or are BIOS images getting more and more bloated?

I use a Macintosh. While earlier Macs had all sorts of nonsense in ROM (car crash noises, colour photographs, and god knows what else besides) recent machines have almost nothing.

Technologies change - indeed the web is moving at a fair rate too. Imagine if this web browser in the BIOS only supported HTML 1.0.

Re:Bloat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707552)

The BIOS will be flash updateable.

BIOS bloat (1)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707560)

What do you care how big the bloat in the BIOS is? It doesn't affect performance as much as software bloat.

While outdated technology is something that sucks, imagine having TCP/IP protocols burned into the ROM. That would be useful for everyone.

For a general purpose machine, there is certainly a limit to how much crap you want to hardwire into the machine itself, but wouldn't an array of common protocols and functionality that are necessary across the breadth of modern operating systems be nice to have?

Re:BIOS bloat (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707717)

Yeah , useful for everyone until a hole is found in the TCP stack in ROM and you either have to
flash a new image or even worse have to physically
change the chip.

Re:Bloat (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707587)

It's not just you -- I just upgraded my dad to a 1.6 GHz P4 using the Asus P4B266 [asus.com] mobo, and it has pre-recorded voice messages for various POST errors, as well as the ability to substitute your own logo on the boot screen.

Stupidity *and* Bloat (1)

abelikoff (412709) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707904)

Here we go again: the Yopi PDA of BIOSes.

The OS vendors will ignore all the embedded functionality, because they have it all implemented in the code, very flexible and optimized. If someone has forgotten, the very first thing every modern PC O/S does is ignoring most of the BIOS.

So ok, what a great idea - to have a web browser and a TCP stack in the BIOS. One question though - why?!?!?! I don't care, I've got O/S for this. I can hardly imgaine myself botting the PC into the OS-less mode to browse the net. So far their only use case for this model is the OS-less BIOS upgrade. But who cares? Does it sound like toomuch work, to go to the BIOS manufacturer (or even better, to the computer vendor's) website and to download the damn thing? It's hardly more than one floppy in size!

Yet another pathetic case of a totally useless product with all kinds of "kewl" buzzwords attached...

Re:Stupidity *and* Bloat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707933)

Well, if your machine is not booting successfully for whatever reason, you could use the BIOS browser to get online and look for help. I know there are times when I could have used this. At any rate, if they want to put it in there what the hell do you care? It's not like it takes up any of your RAM or disk space. Get a grip.

Re:Bloat (3, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707910)

It appears that they are targetting information appliances and other "embedded" uses for computers. I see this as being the first mainstream use of making the "dumb box" alot smarter.

I'm already running a network-aware Linux box off of a floppy (no HD), have Linux on my PDA, and Linux on 3 IOpeners, among other places. With something like aptget (or whatever that network installation feature of Debian is called) one could have a bootable machine and have it dynamically get "features" on demain.

The BIOS is already flashable today so it looks like tomorrow we'll have a much smarter box BEFORE that proprietary OS from Redmond gets booted.

Something like this could open the publics eyes as to how small and powerful Linux can be. Where do YOU want to go TOMORROW? ;)

LoB

Re:Bloat (2)

MaxVlast (103795) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707993)

Interestingly, one of the older Performas (500-something, iirc) had a copy of a very old version of the MacOS in ROM, so if things were totally hosed, the user could be told to hold down a series of keys and the system would boot off the ROM disk. That's the sort of thing I can see being extremely useful, and would support wholeheartedly. When all else is wrong, being able to boot into a limited place where you can run your diagnostic programs without having any drives mounted seems like an ideal situation.

Need? (2, Insightful)

cstrommen (254974) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707511)

Can anybody tell me what the point of this would be? Accessing the Internet from your BIOS sounds cool, but I really can't see the point of doing so.. Isn't this why we have OS'?

Re:Need? (1)

cyborch (524661) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707535)

well, it sounds like a move towards having a huge chunk of the OS on chip would speed many everyday things up a lot... this would of cause require an OS that could utilize the "open a connection to this or that host" BIOS command. The idea is basically the same as that of CISC processors.

Aside from this noble idea this is most likely just a publicity stunt and have no real value to anybody.

Re:Need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707572)

You're thinking "hardware equals fast" but in the case of flash memory the access speed is actually so slow that many BIOSes have an option to copy the BIOS to RAM to speed up execution in operating systems which still make heavy use of the BIOS's routines.

Re:Need? (maybe) (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707596)

It does seem more like a gimic than anything that would be useful in day to day operation. I can see one use though. More than once I've be installing an OS (Microsoft - what do you want to reinstall today) and suddenly found that I needed information on a hard drive, or an updated driver, or some other information that I wanted to get from the web. In my case I fire up the old P166 and reslove things with it, but the ability to get to the web while resolving problems could be handy for many.

At last! (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707512)

What a great idea! At last you can get those pesky modem drivers without actually having the drivers themselves needed to make the modem work.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707576)

It also means that your BIOS has to know how to handle your modem (have a "driver" for it) or that you have to tell it. Not that it's complicated to do that but there's a reason why there even is such a thing as a "modem driver" and it has to do with people finding AT-commands "cryptic".

Re:At last! (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707605)

I like AT commands, myself. Not so cryptic if you have a handy printout close by ;).

Not quite (-1)

quakeroatz (242632) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707861)

Modem drivers are much more than a AT command set for a modem. Every PCI modem I've used required a driver before you could even pass AT commands on to the modem.

hacked (1)

MJArrison (154721) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707516)

Oh great... now the script kiddies will be able to remotely hack all the way down to my bios!

Brings new meaning to the term owned.

poor MS (3, Funny)

sysrequest (325177) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707525)

We are complaining about computers being bundled with MS Windows. If this turns into a standard bios, because of it's cool features etc., I wonder how Microsoft feels not being able to get rid of Linux without destroying the BIOS.

Furthermore, if the BIOS has web browsing capabilities, and maybe even e-mailing capabilities, it may be the perfect [BI]OS for some people. There may not be a need for yet another OS to run on top of it.

But yea, a bit bloated for being "just" a BIOS, isn't it? As long as it's rock solid it shouldn't matter though.

BIOS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707597)

The standard PC architecture needs a kick up the behind anyway. The BIOS concept is out of date.

Re:BIOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707600)

The BIOS concept is absolutely not out of date. In fact it is becoming more important as devices become more separated and need to connect on the fly without driver installations. A BIOS (or firmware) is simply code which knows how to initialize and operate a piece of hardware so that the OS or other interacting software doesn't need to know.

Re:poor MS (1)

$rtbl_this (584653) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707693)

I wonder how Microsoft feels not being able to get rid of Linux without destroying the BIOS.

Luckily for Microsoft their home-user operating systems come with support for the CIH virus - automated, self-replicating Linux removal on the hoof.

Re:poor MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707911)

Furthermore, if the BIOS has web browsing capabilities, and maybe even e-mailing capabilities, it may be the perfect [BI]OS for some people. There may not be a need for yet another OS to run on top of it.
I'm sure you know but I feel the urge to point it out anyway.

BIOS stands for "Basic Input/Output System" whereas OS stands for "Operating System".

Re:poor MS (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707961)

This is really just one step closer to what the Linux-IOpener projects were doing. Only on mainstream systems.

The IOpener had a 16MB Flash/Sandisk on it and by loading Linux (http://jailbait.sourceforge.net) on it you had Linux booting without a harddisk(kinda).

Think about it, the BIOS gets left behind rather quickly with todays OS's. IBM, Compaq, etc needed to put special keyboard buttons to get around Microsofts license requirments. With THIS BIOS, they could have alot easier time of adding features. It's Linux after all.

How many times have you booted you home PC just to get email or surf for a little while? By brother got sick of the waste and bought a DalasSemi Tini computer(fits on a SIM card) and now he put's his Palm IIIxe on the cradle and get's email.

As it was mentioned, soon most home uses won't have to even boot their harddisk based OS.

There's another ~1G of diskspace free..... :)

LoB

Bloat? or not (3, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707527)

The article is pretty basic, it doesn't say web browser, it just says internet access.

I think it is probaly a bit of bloat, but it would be nice to flash your bios, or maybe download drivers without using the OS at all.

Start the computer into BIOS mode, it dials in, grabs the new image or whatever you need, and can install it. Could also be nice to get recovery tools for your broken OS install.

Re:Bloat? or not (1)

sopuli (459663) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707551)

Yes, sound smore like it has built in FTP (e.g. to install Linux directly from the network). 16MBit is only 2 MB, so if it has a browser it'll be pretty basic.

Re:Bloat? or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707581)

For an idea about what fits into 2MByte, click here [qnx.com]. 1.44 MB actually, so there would be room for a "conventional" BIOS. Which brings up the question where I can buy a mainboard with a big enough flash chip and a BIOS which allows me to flash a floppy image and use it to boot the machine.

Re:Bloat? or not (3, Informative)

hbackert (45117) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707559)

The webpage of FirstView Connect 2.0 [phoenix.com] clearly states that it includes a browser, with Flash and Java and JavaScript.

And about the modem and recovery thingy: I hope it includes a LAN connection with PPPoE/DHCP/fixed IP addresses. Otherwise I would have problems to connect to anywhere.

Of course, if it's more an information appliance, then typically a ISP will hand yout those, and it will be adopted to the ISPs networking standards.

Holy shit! (1)

twiztidlojik (522383) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707720)

Flash!? Damn, that's gotta be fast to have a BIOS flash parser....
No more dropped frames in my flash games!

Re:Bloat? or not (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707574)

Start the computer into BIOS mode, it dials in, grabs the new image or whatever you need, and can install it
"it dials in"... How 1990s !

Re:Bloat? or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707734)


1990?

You youngster....we had modems in the eitghies (and I'm sure way before that, but I wasn't around). Have you ever heard of BBS?
Kids of today will never know the joys of a 300baud modem ;-)

Re:Bloat? or not (1)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707825)

Start the computer into BIOS mode, it dials in, grabs the new image or whatever you need, and can install it.

I remember dialing in. I remember all types of connectivity problems.

Sounds like fun during a bios flash. I hope they include things like MD5 checksums.

This aint no BIOS (1)

hbackert (45117) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707537)

To name this BIOS of a PC is a bit far fetched. The term embedded OS with browser capabilities seems to fit much better. From the web page of them it seems to be more a "Net appliance" thing. Maybe it can boot another OS, but that seems to be optional. After all, if you can browse the web with Flash/Java/JavaScript, what else do many people need?

So this small "BIOS" might have a market in small devices, so you can skip the HDD completely and still have something useable. Nothing any other embeddedable OS cannot do (Linux, WindowsCE, QNX, you name it).

Not a bad idea... (3, Insightful)

sodergren (15567) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707538)

I kind of like this idea.
If a useful browser/email client were included
in flash, the computer would be instantly useful without installation of any O/S. Maybe this is what some people need- just pick up a cheap PC to use as a browser, no need for a HD, etc.

This could also be useful for initial net-based O/S installation or download. Having basic tools
available in ROM could ease a lot of tasks- include a browser, an FTP client, a telnet client, and disk partitioning/formatting software, for example.

In a way, this brings back ideas from old personal computers. Old machines often had BASIC in ROM- you could use the machine with no storage and no preload of software.

Re:Not a bad idea... (2)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707601)

This could also be useful for initial net-based O/S installation or download. Having basic tools
available in ROM could ease a lot of tasks- include a browser, an FTP client, a telnet client, and disk partitioning/formatting software, for example.


Most big-name server vendors have a way to set up a utility partition on the HD and the server BIOS can boot from it withouth the OS having anything to do with it. It'd be great to have the equivilent of a rescue system in BIOs that could be used to salvage a damaged disk-based system.

Re:Not a bad idea... (2, Interesting)

slntnsnty (90352) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707775)

Except that most big-name server vendors utiliy partitions are a proprietary nightmare that often cause more problems than they are worth.

If you don't believe me buy a new computer fdisk the hard drive remove all partitions completely reformat drive with no Vendor junk on it and then see how much faster your computer runs.

Of course that is not entirely caused by the utility partition, but it still causes other problems... Especially if you need to copy drive, etc.

Re:Not a bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707940)

If a useful browser/email client were included in flash, the computer would be instantly useful without installation of any OS. Maybe this is what some people need - just pick up a cheap PC to use as a browser, no need for a HD, etc.
No HDD means no disk cache for the browser. I guess people can live with that since RAM is so cheap these days. No HDD also means no way to save your emails. I don't think people will buy that concept. Although one could use CD-RW perhaps...

Re:Not a bad idea... (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3708042)

IMAP and Web-Email don't require local storage and if this has a suspend mode then a RAM disk could hold bookmarks,etc. Heck, most ISP's give you web space so this could use that for network storage with scp.

We may see the return of the Net Appliance. I can tell you that my 75 year old mom, loves her IOpener.

Re:Not a bad idea... (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 11 years ago | (#3708020)

Take a look at what was done for putting Linux on the IOpener. It had a 16MB Sandisk (looked like ide0) so you booted from FLASH. Very useful with web-email or IMAP. Since the power button just suspended the machine, you only lost your RAM(browser bookmarks,etc) when you unplugged the device.

JAILBAIT for the Netpliance IOpener [sourceforge.net]

LoB

Good vs Bad (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707540)

A mini-OS on a chip, where have I seen that before? (Amiga Kickstart?)

While the modularity and flexibility of certain OSes make for lovely exhibits of creativity, this makes me wonder.

The article mentioned Java and Flash abilities, also. Can you imagine a remote root exploit in your Internet-connected BIOS?

How about a nice Flash/Java app that embeds SMTP commands to turn your BIOS into a high-speed spam machine?

My crystal ball shows an ever-brightening future for Internet security consultants.

Re:Good vs Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707588)

The Amiga Kickstart is as much of an OS as any other BIOS. The new thing about this one is that you can actually do something useful with your computer without booting into a real OS.

QNX/Nuetrino RTP would've been better (2)

DABANSHEE (154661) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707667)

Check out their QNX-Nuetrino Demo Floppy [qnx.com] it has a POSIX complient realtime OS, with their Photon GUI (elegant in the extreme compared to X), a full file system, Networking, their Voyager web Browser, & dial up networking (with wider CHAP/PAP logon script support than BeOS &) or Network card/cable modem support, all on a bootable floppy drive. This OS system on a floppy also by default dynamically supports at least Intel, SIS, ALI & VIA chipsets & S3, Intel, 3df/x, ATI, Nvidia, SIS 'n Trident graphics out of the box too.

Think about it people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707541)

This way your bios can be updated over the net (like remote firmware update/flash)....know what that means to the chip companies? Slow down in upgrades, for one thing.

ntfs support (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707545)

They mention that data can be stored in NTFS...has the linux ntfs driver write support progressed beyond "extremely dangerous"?

nice feature but i didnt think the drivers were there yet ..

Don't think embedded browser ; Security? (5, Insightful)

peterdaly (123554) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707562)

While the whole idea sounds interesting, I have security concerns. Remember the ping of death, and other exploits like that? Image the "fun" script kiddies could have once an exploit is found. I hope this device includes support for scheduled automated bios upgrades to patch any bugs that are found.

People seem to be saying "this isn't a web browser, it is internet access." Well, add some RAM, mount a NFS partition off some server somewhere, and up can pop Mozilla, Nutscrape, Opera, etc. This is the core making of a set top box, or true network appliance. Don't just think web browser. Think small efficient MP3 player, email client. I am sure you smart Slashdotters can think of many more possibilities. Slap on a chip that doesn't need a fan, and a small fanless ac/dc converter, and you have a zero-moving part, zero-noise system.

This could change the way we think about network appliances, and Network Computers.

-Pete

Re:Don't think embedded browser ; Security? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707652)

If you are going to do all that, you can just do it with current technology and boot roms. I have several totally diskless stations that boot from PXELinux (from the syslinux people), and have NFS root volumes.

phoenix.net again? (2)

vegetablespork (575101) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707563)

This reminds me of the phoenix.net [google.com] crap that came on EPoX and other motherboards about two years ago that force-installed some "helpful" utilities that an objective eye would consider spyware upon detecting a Windows installation. Thankfully, at least EPoX removed it, but this looks like an attempt to reincarnate the idea. I wouldn't trust them.

A great Y2K Joke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707564)

Q: How did the Y2K bug keep time?

A: It had a FALSE ALARM CLOCK!

It makes me laugh so hard I SPOOGE! Jon Barrett [goatse.cx] is laughing all the way in Spain at this joke!

BIOS? (3, Insightful)

DennyK (308810) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707575)

Although this might technically be called a BIOS, it certainly doesn't sound like something intended for a traditional PC. Looks more like Phoenix is after the embedded devices market...

Phoenix FirstView Connect software delivers an easy-to-implement, low cost/high value architecture that supports Internet TV, interactive screen phones, game consoles, customizable set-top devices, handheld appliances, and more.

This has really useful applications for small, specialized devices...it could turn just about anything into a Web-capable appliance. It would be kind of pointless on a full-fledged PC, however.

If it was implemented on a PC, it would probably end up a very annoying big brother of PhoenixNet. *shudder* Just imagine having to sit through ten minutes of downloading and playing Flash-based advertisements every time you booted your new DellPaq... ;-)

DennyK

So? (1)

DuBBs2ooo (137256) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707579)

I'd like something new to play with and this fits the bill and sounds neat, but what is the market for this, seriously, I'd like to know who would use this, I can see in a "thin-client" accessing Application Servers over a LAN/WAN, but outside of that sort of realm, what is the market?

Network Install (1)

lesterhv (125530) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707607)

It would be cool if it had just enough to start a network install of a few Linux distro's -- the same stuff that's usually on the floppy of the distro.

There have been many times where I've wished I could just plug in a new computer to cable or adsl, and just start a network install.

Re:Network Install (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707665)

There have been many times where I've wished I could just plug in a new computer to cable or adsl, and just start a network install.

Look into PXE. You can do this today with any PXE boot rom capable network cards.

Why Don't They Do It Right? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707609)

Man, this sucks! It doesn't even have OpenOffice.org installed! And where is GNOME? It doesn't mention plaing MP3s and watching DivX movies, either.

Another Marketing Ploy? (1)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707614)

The last time I thought about Phoenix BIOS and networking was when I had to deal with the bios installing network marketing icons to the desktop of Win machines I was configuring for work.

After the incident with PhoenixNet [cexx.org], I decided never to buy a phoenix bios again.

I can see this one reporting marketing data back to the mothership bigtime. No thanks.

Lynx is very nice (3, Informative)

jhines (82154) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707616)

Putting Lynx, in the bios would be nice, it could manage all the features in the BIOS, and support FTP and HTTP installs over the net.

The ability of the BSD's to be installed via a pair of floppies, and a net connect is a very handy feature.

Re:Lynx is very nice (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707658)

installed via a pair of floppies, and a net connect is a very handy feature.

You can do the same thing with Red Hat.

Finaly we can have .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707619)

if this bios is running linux we can
  • finaly have bootp/dhcp from bios
  • bios updates installed from our bios, so we don't need a bootdisk anymore
  • boot that os instalation media
  • have a bootmanager in bios, so we can have a truly multiboot enviroment

i think it has a future, but we have to play it save, because more features means more potentional bugs. and i'm realy scared for a virus that runs from my bios

PS sorry for the bad english

Bye Bye MS preinstalls... (0)

DaffyDuck101 (247015) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707625)

I actually think it's a great idea. Imagine to build your own box and being able to just install from BIOS. No more fuzz about finding another box, downloading boot floppies, finding out the floppies you have are useless for anything but teacup saucers, ... Just download bootloader and write to your virgin HD, and off you go!

Dunno how long before someone figures out how to flash the thing remotely and give us popup pr0n on the boot splash, tho.

This is great. (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707626)

My sparc 1 thats now 13 years old has a bios that has network access and forth. It lets me boot remotely or write programs to reprogram the cmos after the battery dies.

The benefits ofModularity (and how this sucks) (1)

DigitalDreg (206095) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707627)

The lowest (and supporting) levels of anything should be simple and robust. This gives the higher levels something to build on. This principle applies to computers as well as buildings,

To me, the function of a BIOS is to hide the gory details of the hardware from the OS, and to help the OS bootstrap. Above all else, BIOS must function. Performance and complex functions are secondary. The BIOS needs to live long enough to check for hardware, and tell the OS what's available.

These guys aren't building BIOS anymore. They are building an embedded OS. I'm not sure if we want an embedded OS just for starting the real OS. What ever happened to "Keep It Simple S-tpid!"

If my machine needs an update that badly, let me do it with a floppy (another simple device) and a standard (not USB!) keyboard. This is more secure, more robust, and performs the function needed.

This concept sucks. I want firmware for my hardware, not an embedded OS as well.

MenuetOS is assembler based... with more features. (0)

tcmardoc (556771) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707634)

such as.. web editor, CD Player, VESA compatible GUI 800x600, Internet via LAN. on one floppy loaded to memory buffers. and the tweakers won't be afraid to flash the bios http://www.menuetos.org

Astounding breakthrough! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707642)

Why, within year we might be able to boot from a network server! Or copy software from a network server! They could call it "TFTP"!

Lemme Go Wild With This (3, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707651)

There are plenty of advantages and drawbacks to something like this.

I like the quick power on and no need for long bootup wait and the potential for diskless operation. Ideal for consumer electronic applications like PVRs.

As others have mentioned, the complexity of the BIOS now means it's harder to secure against network exploits. How about reducing the network functionality down to a minimum? BUt, at the same time, it would be nice to have standard network functionality to replace all these different internal communication busses.

Imagine if the HD were communicating via IP to other internal components. It would be interesting if my PC were nothing but a mini LAn of components that could be just more networked devices. And if I could make a NAS down the hall look really local and not through SMB or NFS.

The networking built into the X windowing system would be small potatotes compared to having everything be a networked device: video card, mouse, keyboard, harddisk, CD, etc. This new BIOS seems like an important step if something like that is ever to happen.

Re:Lemme Go Wild With This (3, Interesting)

Jezral (449476) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707758)

Actually, everything inside a computer is a mini-network, just with different protocols.

There is a reason they made all those protocols as well: Effeciency.

TCP/IP, IPX, and so on, are very high level and bloated compared to the simpler and to-the-point protocols used in inter-device communication.

Everything is optimized for the hardware.

The LAN/WAN protocols are optimized for long distance less-reliable transfers.

-- Tino Didriksen

Re:Lemme Go Wild With This (2)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707953)

Firewire is very close to accomplishing what you mention above. It doesn't have quite the following yet, but is quite capable.

Linux In A Box (1)

El Prebso (135671) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707657)

It seems to be alot like Linux In A Box, http://www.liab.dk . Except LIAB is actually a small computer, not just the bios.

I guess you could use them for really small firewalls :-)

GUI in RAM! (0)

POds (241854) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707677)

I was reading a forum today where someone was explaining how to put Workbench (GUI Shell) into the RAM on a classic Amiga.

Now, its not bios, but it just as fast or faster and to have that ability is pretty cool. I think the cmd shell was also stored in the Amiga's ROM. Not sure on that!

Welcome to the 1990s (2)

tm2b (42473) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707709)

This doesn't sound all that different from what OpenFirmware (used by Suns and Macs) has done for years.

Nice to see Intel boxes finally catching up with the 1990s.

Can you call it a BIOS? (2)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707712)

So I took the definition from everything2 [everything2.com]
"An acronym for 'Basic Input/Output System.' In standard Intel personal computers, a ROM program
responsible for controlling low-level access to system devices. In most modern operating systems,
the BIOS is used mostly to perform the POST and then boot the operating system."


And this doesn't seem to meet the definition of BASIC. I'd like to nominate XIOS, for eXtreme (or maybe eXtended) Input/Output System, because we don't have nearly enough acronyms that start with X.

Feature Request (1)

JojoLinkyBob (110971) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707723)

What I'd really LOVE to see is an option in the BIOS to export screenshots (or just plaintext) of all of your settings. It's a bugger to go back and forth between this and the OS, trying to remember your settings...especially when you're building a system for a non-technical relative living in another state...otherwise it's a endless game of "What do you see on the screen now?" questions...

I did find a silly work-around to this problem, though. I used a digital camera to capture [kypsoft.com] these settings, only problem is it's way too time consuming! :)

Wait! (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707727)

Isn't this inherently insecure?

Re:Wait! (2)

Loundry (4143) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707746)

Isn't this inherently insecure?

Any network OS connected to a network is inherently insecure! The only sure-fire way to secure it is to unplug it from the network. Better yet, unplug it from its power source.

At least it can have a purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707730)

If there's room in the BIOS, fill it up with goodies I say!
It's not as if they're doing something idiotic and harmful as tying an OS [8bit.co.uk] to certain hardware and vendors with the BIOS, making lame excuses about "anti-piracy measures".

Oh, I see now! (1)

gorehog (534288) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707733)

This isnt a PC BIOS folks. It's intended as an BIOS/OS for web enabled devices.

From the website:
Phoenix FirstView Connect software delivers an easy-to-implement, low cost/ high value architecture that supports Internet TV, interactive screen phones, game consoles, customizable set-top devices, handheld appliances, and more

Of course, the neat part about it is that it is based on linux and all fits on a 16MB flash memory...maybe someone can create a family of web enabled devices where you carry your flash memory card to the device, slide it in and run the device with your personal prefs taken from the card.

95% of computing needs. (2)

perlyking (198166) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707769)

Internet access from the bios would cover 95% of my computer use (at home anyway). I wouldnt need to load an OS!

BIOS stuff (2, Interesting)

spunkykuma (574480) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707787)

Is it just me or is this just really pointless? I don't see any real reason why a BIOS would do any good with this feature. There are some neat BIOS utilities like MSI's LiveBIOS and FuzzyLogic that maintains and upgrades the BIOS over the net from the OS- though it sounds like a useful tool, I wouldn't touch with a 150 mile pole just yet and I still prefer the old fashioned boot from floppy and flash the bios image off the HDD. I think the LinuxBIOS is a cool project, hopefully it can become of some use, I have a busted Slot1 mobo with a bad BIOS that needs an EEPROM burn, I'd like to see if I can get LinuxBIOS on it one day.

Well.. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707927)

It's not pointless at all. THe ability to turn on a machine, blind, and have it quit functional (debug memory, rudamentary programming, scannign for new devices, etc) is highly useful.

Look at Sun.. they've been doing it, well, forever.

The BIOS stuff we have now is basically useless.

Linuxbios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707799)

http://www.acl.lanl.gov/linuxbios/

There was an article in Linux Journal about Linuxbios recently too. Basically a rom monitor, or open firmware equivalent for PCs.

So, they'll be providing source with every bios chip, right? Very cool for the Linuxbios project.

Too much overhead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707875)

OK...its official linux is now buzzword compliant. When folks start using Linux as the base for BIOS things ain't right. Can imagine why you would want all the overhead of linux for something as basic as bios.

Shees who was the marketing person who listened to the overzealous linux freak ?

Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3707879)

Does it run Windows?

If not then forget it.

The best part is not using Linux... it's removing Windows!

:oP

Maybe one day all OS will run in flash BIOS ... (1)

kasnol (210803) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707901)

Judging this new feature, do you think one day a whole OS will put placed in a FlashBIOS - so there will be no HardDisk etc~

Hehe, I am waiting for that day~~

Mixing terms. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707937)

That's what computers used to do. How do you think your Commodore 64 or your Apple 2 booted? You got it.. straight out of ROM.

And they didn't have a BIOS.

BIOS is like a simple API.. a standard set of interrupts & calls that somewhat abstract the hardware beneath. It's pretty trivial. It's also not required if the OS can support the hardware directly.

Physical security (2, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#3707917)

I would be happier about this idea if we could have a physical motherboard switch (brought out to the panel) that had to be held on manually to enable flashing the BIOS. The ability to change the BIOS by programming is a security vulnerability that can only get bigger as BIOS functionality increases. Yet it could be prevented by a simple single pole momentary switch.

Recovery (1)

base2op (226729) | more than 11 years ago | (#3708013)

I think this could be a great idea for system recovery. If your OS is crippled and you need to download something off of the 'net to rectify it you could boot to your BIOS to download the said things or repiar whatever it is on the partition containing your OS. It be like kind of having a built in recovery disk with net access.
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