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Writing an End to the Bio of BIOS?

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the ami-phoenix-award-oh-my dept.

Hardware 511

An anonymous reader writes "Intel and Microsoft are gearing up to move toward the first major overhaul of the innermost workings of the personal computer. The companies will begin promoting a technology specification called EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) as a new system for starting up a PC's hardware before its operating system begins loading."

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Well if Microsoft's involved.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834797)

...it HAS to be bad, and an attempt to kill Linux.

That pretty much sums up the rest of the posts on this. Thanks, let's move on to the next story.

Re:Well if Microsoft's involved.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834847)

Isn't Linux already dead? Wait... Without Microsoft there wouldn't be any Linux. It is time to face the facts.

Re:Well if Microsoft's involved.... (2, Insightful)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834863)

...it HAS to be bad, and an attempt to kill Linux.

There is no mention that this will be tailored to Windows in the article, but MS's hearty endorsement is a suspicious indicator of such. If so, would this simply become a matter of the BIOS not allowing anything but "acceptable" OSes to boot? That's where my nickel gets bet.

Re:Well if Microsoft's involved.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834929)

Well, like with every other Linux conspiracy theory, you'd lose that nickel.

RTFA.

Intel believes promoting the specification as a standard will ultimately help PC manufacturers and please PC users by making computers start up more quickly; by improving the ability to manage PCs and servers remotely; and by helping hardware makers cut manufacturing and support costs--EFI PCs will be able to run diagnostic utilities, for example, before loading their operating system. ...

Still, some companies might see EFI as a way for Intel and Microsoft to push their own ideas for the future of PC design, McCarron said. There are "some concerns that it's being used to enable features that customers don't want," he said.

Intel says such suspicions are unfounded--companies that decide to go with EFI will be able to use it any way they like, by picking and choosing different features. EFI users don't necessarily have to work directly with Intel, either. They can gain access to the technology by working with companies like Insyde, or eventually use technology developed by the forum, once it gets started.

Re:Well if Microsoft's involved.... (4, Funny)

IWorkForMorons (679120) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834976)

...would this simply become a matter of the BIOS not allowing anything but "acceptable" OSes to boot?

Actually, they're called "trusted" OSes. And if you can't trust Microsoft, then who can you trust?

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834799)

fp

Re:fp (-1, Flamebait)

the_hax0rest (734909) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834822)

you fail it cock sucker

Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal.

OF? (5, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834802)

Why not just use Open Firmware?

yeah seriously (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834831)

it's here, it exists, it works, it's open, it has nifty features, oh yeah, it works.

Re:OF? (-1, Flamebait)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834840)

Because then there still a chance someone would boot into Linux and they can't have that!!

Re:OF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834878)

Why would Intel want to prevent people from booting into Linux?

What's stopping them from doing that now?

God forbid PCs should boot up more quickly, it MUST be a conspiracy theory to snuff out Linux. Now readjust your tin foil had and get back to whining about every new development at MS.

Re:OF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834880)

because we're not all using mac's. hello. welcome to the real world. When you pay me to use a PPC, THEN I will use open firmware

Re:OF? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834935)

because we're not all using mac's. hello. welcome to the real world.

Exactly. Because most of us are using UltraSparcs and other Unix machines that use OpenFirmware. Hello! McFly?!

Re:OF? (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834949)

What does running a mac have to do with using Open Firmware?

Re:OF? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835027)

Duh, the Mac's pre-boot system is Open Firmware!

Microsoft Logic (3, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834896)

Because then Microsoft could not get it's Digital Rights management technology implemented into the hardware, and thereby lock out Open Source systems to one degree or another.

There's been lots of worry about this sort of thing, given MS busines practices in the past.

Freedom is a hard concept for some folks to deal with

I hope that this turns into a financial disaster for them.

Re:OF? (2)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834945)

Oh sure. Like all the high paid engineers at Intel and Microsoft are going to tell their bosses, "No let's not reinvent the wheel, people on the internet have already got a solution." They're going to discount it as much as possible...and their bosses will agree. The whole crux of the Microsoft fight against Linux and Open Source is that it invalidates one of the essential marketing idioms the software giant relies on: that market share alone is enough reason to trust the expertise of a software company.

Besides, if they went with an Open Firmware solution, ANYBODY could write one. Which means vendors would go with the cheapest solution. Which, if Phoenix Bios is any indication, would be complete crap.

Me, I'm all for an alternative...especially one that will tie in to the OS and allow for quicker boots, integration WITH the OS for boot management, allow for runtime management of boot devices (to power your sound card on and off without rebooting for when Midi "hangs," etc)...so long as they keep out the DRM and the rest of the crap.

Re:OF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834960)

Openfirmware has me worries. As one of the founding groups, SCO has its finger in THAT pie too. What's to stop SCO from butting their ass in and requiring a change in the spec that only allows approved operating systems to run in OF?

I think if OF were implemented in current PCs, you wouldn't see any motherboards being sold now that could boot Linux from OF

Re:OF? (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835033)

What's to stop SCO from butting their ass in and requiring a change in the spec that only allows approved operating systems to run in OF?

What's to stop all the actual OF members from either voting SCO down or ignoring their spec changes? Like it or not, SCO/Caldera *used* to be a reasonable company in the computing world. It should then come as no surprise that their on many technology standard boards. But when you consider the fact that they are probably the only OpenFirmware member that doesn't have an implementation (Their market is Intel after all), their ideas probably won't carry much weight.

Coming: The Year of the Infected Bios (4, Insightful)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834974)

Seriously, the more complex you make the code in the bios, the more chance for security flaws built into the hardware itself.

Imagine the horror of having to patch a system by swapping out chips. I think I recall some old time viruses that basically screwed up the bios royally, and which were not easily cleanable, to one degree or another.

Remember, this design is supposed to be a feature, not a flaw.

Intel would never adopt OF (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835006)

Take ACPI, for example. If you take out the P of ACPI, and stick to the configuration features, you end up with something very similar to (some parts of) OF. A device name tree? OF has it. An intermediate language for device initialization? OF has it.

OF has only one difference to ACPI: OF works. Devices are made with valid machine-language drivers, so that the OS doesn't have to patch it upon boot, etc, etc, etc. Don't take me wrong, I really believed that ACPI would be great, but when people started implementing it, we saw what mess it became. It was one of the reasons I moved away of the x86 platform. It is just a bunch of hacks.

So why Intel created ACPI? Because while ACPI is also "open", Intel can control it. And Intel knows that while it keeps the power of defining standards, it will be the leading chip manufacturer: it helps to keep it top of mind in terms of consumer ICs.

For those who don't know what OF is, take a look at this [firmworks.com] .

Re:OF? (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835018)

My guess is that OpenFirmware is seen as cryptic. The deal with current BIOSes is that you hold down DEL and up comes a nice, friendly, menu where you can configure anything in the BIOS you want.

Whereas most people used to OpenFirmware know the default interface involves writing things like:

1 1 + dup dup + dup + + base !

...and that's just to get it to give you numbers in decimal.

Not that there aren't ways around this, obviously. For starters, there's no reason why DEL can't just bring up a GUI (or arrow-keys/ESC/Enter text interface), it doesn't have to bring up a command line. The point though is that OpenFirmware is seen as hard, it has a serious image problem.

So? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834804)

So what happens when Intel and Microsoft decide they don't want anymore competition?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834849)

1. They can make that decision, but they can't do anything about it

2. They both have an overwhelming share of their markets because none of their competition has decided to "not suck."

I think their competition should worry more about #2. Then they might get somewhere.

Re:So? - What do you mean? (4, Funny)

Markvs (17298) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834951)

What do you mean when? I thought that decision was made back in 1994!

id rather write a pen pal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834805)

letter to the goatse guy. he has good penmanshippe

Oops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834810)

Evil Fucking Idea, anyone? Well, actually it's probably a great idea, and one that's been long overdo, but seriously. Face it. The actual implementation is more than likely going to stink. Don't throw those old legacy parts out anymore. O_o

EFI sucks (5, Insightful)

SuperQ (431) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834813)

I have several IA-64 systems at work. IA-64 requires EFI (part of the intel spec). It's a major pain in the ass.. you have to have a dos fat formated filesystem to store bootloaders, and other utilities as a primary partition.. besides the fact that they changed the normal dos partition format for EFI. I wish they would have just ported OpenBoot.

Re:EFI sucks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834842)

Licensing issues straight up then FAT = paid license nowdays :D

Re:EFI sucks (1)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834967)

Just from reading the specs, it sounds like MCA (MicroChannel Architecture) on the old IBM PS/2's. They had to have driver discs for hardware to work, IIRC they drivers were stored on a special partition as well. Good precursor to Plug&Play, but a PITA.

Re:EFI sucks (5, Interesting)

zdzichu (100333) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834984)

EFI sucks. Even Linus says so [kerneltraffic.org] .

had to do it once (-1, Offtopic)

slim hades (703936) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834814)

w00 h00 first post... I have to wonder if this is an attempt at making things better for them or us... Now I can get a blue screen before my O/S starts? sweeet.. eliminates any diagnostics

Re:had to do it once (0, Offtopic)

slim hades (703936) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834845)

daamnnn yooouu!.. oh well.. hope the comment was amusing enough for the masses. Seems generic, no?

"Before loading your operating system" (5, Interesting)

Hej (626547) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834817)

I wonder if this new BIOS replacement will be designed based on the assumption that everybody is running the most current version of Windows.

Re:"Before loading your operating system" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834851)

From a post that claims the bios is part of "of the innermost workings of the personal computer.", completely ignoring those who've used some other kind of firmware for nearly 10 years. yes, yes I think it's very likely.

What about AMD and Linux (5, Insightful)

cybermancer (99420) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834824)

When I see Microsoft and Intel working together I think of the platform lock-in of WinTel. This makes me wonder if they plan to have secret hooks offering advantages to their products. It will of course only be a matter of time for the likes of AMD and Linux to get up to speed, but sometimes a little time is all it takes to improve a market advantage through unfair practices.

Re:What about AMD and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834870)

If thats the case, Intel = dead in server racks I would imagine.

Intel will not go Windows only, its suicide.

Re:What about AMD and Sun? (2, Informative)

nutznboltz (473437) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834990)

Seems it's what's happening now. http://www.x86-64.org/ [x86-64.org]

Re:What about AMD and Sun? (1)

3lb4rt0 (736495) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835012)

And if you thought AMDs ran hot now.... :D

Re:What about AMD and Linux (2, Interesting)

Negative Response (650136) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835035)

Hmm, I am not too sure. Intel is not the problem, Microsoft is. If they give AMD an choice between complete compliance or no Windows support for their hardwares, what would AMD choose?

What about Windows and Linux (3, Funny)

nycsubway (79012) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835039)

I think Windows and Linux should form a joint platform. Windows OS with Linux firmware, called Windex!

Re:What about AMD and Linux (3, Insightful)

Cr3d3nd0 (517274) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835040)

Not to step outside the Slashdot standard but remember, we do live in an open market. If Microsoft and intel try to pull this kind of stunt, even the most basic computer user is going to notice. ("Why can't I download my mp3's of the net etc.") Then along comes a company that sells a board that's compatible with the newer processors but lacks the DRM and guess what all the computer manufacturers will chose. Before you put on your tin hats remember that we still control what we purchase, and we only put up with what we allow big business to get away with.

damn both of em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834826)

to hell with both M$FT & Phoenix for this, if i can not buy a motherboard without this technology in the BIOS - then i wont be buying anymore computers, and will just use my existing hardware till the wheels fall off...

Re:damn both of em (0)

actionvance (635238) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834879)

Change!? "We dont like change" said the anonymouse coward. "Damn them. it was good ENOUGH" -- cmon guy.

Re:damn both of em (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834950)

Change!? "We dont like change"

Change I can handle. Heck, the entire computer industry is BASED on change.

However lock-in I do not like, be it MS, Intel, or Linux.

Change? We don't need no stinkin' change. (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834970)

Change I can handle. Heck, the entire computer industry is BASED on change.

Or in some companies cases, turning you upside down and shaking you till the change comes out of your pockets.

Re:damn both of em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834979)

This actually competes with Phoenix's next BIOS technology and is more or less the exact opposite idea. Phoenix's BIOS is designed to be like a mini OS in flash ram. The Microsoft-Intel technology is designed for the BIOS like exokernels are for the kernels. Basically this BIOS tries to do as little as possible and lets the operating system do all the work. This is good for both Intel and Microsoft. Microsoft because they aren't dependent on the hardware developers and Intel because they don't have to listen to Microsoft's shit.

Of course... (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834834)

Of course that woukld include obligatory, non-overridable DRM chip driver?
Big Brother Has You!

can interact with EFI on a serial console? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834836)

One thing I've always hated about the standard PC BIOS is that you need a keyboard, video and mouse (kvm) to configure the thing.

It'd be great if EFI initialised a serial console if detected that there was no KVM attached to the system. It'd be great for custom-made PC routers and servers on generic hardware running Linux or xBSD.

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834869)

I do not recall ever needing a mouse to configure a PC BIOS. Keyboard and video, yes; mouse, no. Perhaps you are using some new-fangled BIOS that I'm not yet aware of?

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834932)

I have an IBM thinkpad 600c laptop that requires the laptop mouse to configure the bios. Of course, separating the mouse from the computer would be almost impossible without a dremel tool, but if the mouse is broken, i guess you're SOL.

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835003)

have an IBM thinkpad 600c laptop that requires the laptop mouse to configure the bios.

Sounds like poor design for a specific BIOS, and not a general BIOS issue. All of my BIOSes, laptop or not, are easily navigated using the tab and enter keys.

Still, a serial console setup wouldn't hurt.

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835022)

Have you never used a Pheonix Server Bios? I have a Tyan Tiger MB with a server BIOS; It will run over a serial cable, modem, or Keyboard and Monitor. Very flexable. If they added Network config it would be complete.

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (1)

milgr (726027) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835025)

Not all Bios require KVM. At work I use some computers [egenera.com] that have no video, keyboard, or mouse connections. The Control Blade have network, SAN, serial, and power connections. The processor Blades have network based connections only.

The Control blades run Linux. The Processor blades run Linux or Windows.

Re:can interact with EFI on a serial console? (4, Informative)

ultrapenguin (2643) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835032)

Most server machines support BIOS over serial port. And not your most expensive ones, either.
I have some low-end NEC servers, and the BIOS (by default) comes configured to check for a console on serial port, and appear there, instead of the primary monitor.

And this has been around for quite a while.

Not that they need to... (1)

HappyOscar (65200) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834843)

After all, OpenFirmware works quite nicely on other machines, notably PowerPC ones. There's lots of booting mechanisms that they could use without designing a new one that will, presumably, be somewhat biased towards Windows.

Of interest to console makers? (4, Insightful)

Channard (693317) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834846)

Particularly Microsoft themselves - if X-Box reaches a third iteration - I doubt this'll make X-Box 2. It may well allow them to put a stop to the old trick of soldering in a new bios chip that takes precedence over the onboard bios, thereby allowing the user to run all sorts of software, legal oses and programs and illegal pirate copies.

DRM, here we come! (2, Insightful)

cozziewozzie (344246) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834850)

Not really surprising. Microsoft will need some support from the BIOS to implement their DRM 'features'. I wonder how much this will impact Linux and other free systems. After all, MS now have enough XBox experience to ensure that only their operating system can be run.

I have a bad feeling that one day we might have 'consumer-oriented' windows computers which will be cheaper and will only run Windows...

Re:DRM, here we come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834907)

After all, MS now have enough XBox experience to ensure that only their operating system can be run.

so when will they have enough experience to ensure that the next patch won't brake their other patchs?

Re:DRM, here we come! (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834918)

cheaper? i bet the price will creep up over a few years (when older machines start dying).

If MicroSoft has total control over the hardware also, seems like happy days for Apple and OSX.

Re:DRM, here we come! (1)

IWorkForMorons (679120) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835037)

After all, MS now have enough XBox experience to ensure that only their operating system can be run.

Oh yes...they have a GREAT [sourceforge.net] track record for that...

oh great (1, Funny)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834856)

so now we will get a blue screen of death before the computer can even load the operating system. Looks like it is time to stock up on motherboards.

Re:oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835021)

boooorrrinnngggg

OF (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834862)

It's been on the cards for some years. Anything has to be better than a chunk of 16bit Real Mode code providing a whole bunch of functions that no one uses any more.

What I'd like to see is a more intelligent system. We still have to load the boot manager as a 512 byte chunk from sector 0 of the "first" hard drive for crying out loud! If Intel get this right, we should have intelligence right at the start. Something like GRUB or XOSL running right from ROM would be great. The ability to control hardware properly at boot..

OpenFirmware would be better but it looks like Intel won't be going down that route. We can only hope for the best..

EFI == Electronic Fuel Injection (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834865)

We already have a perfectly good standard, it's called Open Firmware [openfirmware.org] .

OpenFirmware (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834866)

OpenFirmware [openfirmware.com] is older than the hills, well tested, loved by all, and used on just about every machine EXCEPT Intel. Is anyone getting a sense of NIH syndrome?

Re:OpenFirmware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834934)

Why arn't motherboard manufactuers asking Award & AMI to produce OpenFirmware for x86? It's not like this is 1983 and we all rely on IBM, Intel and Microsoft to produce PC's!

Re:OpenFirmware (1)

nih (411096) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834982)

stop picking on me!

Why would I want to start my hardware... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834871)

...before the OS loads? I can fix my file systems from a boot floppy/CD. With modern operating systems, we should need less BIOS, not more.

back in my day... (2, Funny)

PoPRawkZ (694140) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834874)

I remember when we had to flash our BIOS off a 5 1/4 inch magnetic storage media and if there was a brown out like there so often were back before we had nuclear fission, you'd have to replace your EPROM! You kids have it so good these days.

Re:back in my day... (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834922)

you'd have to replace your EPROM


Only if you were too un-leet to burn your own EPROMS :)

Re:back in my day... (1)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834999)

In the old days, we had to hand code our own S10 records to burn our EPROMS. If you don't know what an S10 record is, you're too young :)

Re:back in my day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834980)

Linux is just the punch Card of the Day.
They will feel the same when the get old.

Why? (4, Interesting)

mekkab (133181) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834875)

The excuse "WEll, current BIOS systems is just patch written upon patch written upon patch. ITs a mess."

But it works. Is an EFI system going to be markedly faster? When you tell me you are loading device drivers at the BIOS level, that tells me "No"- you are creeping the OS lower.

So whats the deal?
from Intel's EFI web site [intel.com] : Together, these provide a standard environment for booting an operating system and running pre-boot applications.

AHhhh! Running PRE-BOOT operations! This sounds like a lame way to shoe-horn in DRM or something similar onto my machine before it loads up.

Maybe I'm acting paranoid, but the slowest thing on my windows computer is WINDOWS, not the bios- that runs pretty fast.

Re:Why? (next time preview) (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834928)

I'm sorry, that should be "More" device drivers at the BIOS level. Of COURSE you are loading device drivers at the BIOS level- (boot devices, keyboard, video, ram) Its the frickin' BIOS!

Just another plus (0, Offtopic)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834884)

to using PPC hardware, that is.

And of course (0, Offtopic)

3lb4rt0 (736495) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834887)

no one will ever need more than 640kb of memory.

Needed? Yes. In this form? No (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834893)

WinTel at work. How long until it decides to creatively partition your harddrive to eliminate "potentialy unstable and/or insecure operating systems"? If not that extreme, how about only updating through Microsoft approved programs?

AMD and should work with a dev group to create a different solution, even if it isn't open source. Chances are, it won't end up closing in on all of us and forcing us into situations we don't want.

Does this mean it'll crash before loading Windows? (1, Funny)

VEGx (576738) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834895)

Since M$ is on it...

EFI drivers loaded at boot (1)

onion_breath (453270) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834909)

This makes me think about having each device contain its own driver in firmware. Updating drivers would be a matter of getting the driver from online or disc and flashing some chip onboard that device. Such a system would lock you into one OS since the device would bring it's own driver with it, which could be another reason for microsoft's interest... Just a brain fart.

Re:EFI drivers loaded at boot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835041)

What a great idea! You could call it AutoConfig, and make it so that the OS could use patches as updates to the built-in drivers.

Of course, you coudn't call the resulting computer a PC anymore. What do you think of "Amiga" as a name for a computer?

Bios is dying! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834910)

Fact: *BIOS is dying

It is common knowledge that *BIOS is dying. Everyone knows that ever hapless *BIOS is mired in an irrecoverable and mortifying tangle of fatal trouble. It is perhaps anybody's guess as to which *BIOS is the worst off of an admittedly suffering *BIOS community. The numbers continue to decline for *BIOS but AwardBIOS may be hurting the most. Look at the numbers. The erosion of user base for AwardBSD continues in a head spinning downward spiral.

All major marketing surveys show that *BIOS has steadily declined in market share. *BIOS is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BIOS is to survive at all it will be among hobbyist dilettante dabblers. In truth, for all practical purposes *BIOS is already dead. It is a dead man walking.

Fact: *BIOS is dead.

The way things are going... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7834913)

...my BIOS is going to need its own BIOS to boot the BIOS.

Figures. (5, Insightful)

alecto (42429) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834914)

No mention at all in the article of what has to be one of the biggest reasons for the push to change the boot process: Digital Restrictions Management/Trusted Computing/Palladium/Next Generation Secure Computing Base. (Notice how the name gets changed every time it becomes obvious what it really is.)

And so it ends... (1)

Cyclops (1852) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834919)

... the BIOS theoretical loophole to Treacherous Computing.

One better start stockpiling computers that still work...

Re:And so it ends... (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834985)

Nah, just start buying computers that use open firmware [apple.com]

Palladium and trusted computing (5, Interesting)

cybermancer (99420) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834923)

I noticed that the first PC to use EFI was a Gateway "Media Center" desktop. For those who do not know, Media Center is Microsoft's first attempt at highly integration of DRM (Digital Rights Management) into the core functionality of the OS. Knowing the agenda for Palladiam and so called "Trusted Computing" (Who do you trust today?) I would really think twice before letting the likes of Microsoft and Intel (remember the P4 CPU ID?) rewrite my PC at the BIOS level.

The "competition" between Pheonix BIOS and EFI could be the beginning of the split between closed platform "Trusted" PC's and open platform PC's. I would not be surprised if EFI has provisions (at some future point) to require the OS is signed. That rules out Linux, BSD, etc.

Naturally they are doing all this for our best interests.

Re:Palladium and trusted computing (2, Interesting)

3lb4rt0 (736495) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834988)

Quoting the Phoenix article linked to in the body of the main article

"Future versions will take aim at servers, blades, desktops and embedded systems such as consumer electronics, with plans to introduce digital rights management (DRM) and more closely integrate the BIOS with Windows."

Gonna end up between a rock and a hard place as far as DRM is concerned.

Those media co.s have to try and squeeze every penny.

Re:Palladium and trusted computing (1)

cxvx (525894) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835014)

I would really think twice before letting the likes of Microsoft and Intel (remember the P4 CPU ID?) rewrite my PC at the BIOS level.

You misspelled P3 as P4 :)
This [buraks.com] page however seems to suggest the cpuid is still present in early incarnations of the P4

Aye (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834939)

Aye, one more thing for worms and virii to manipulate. Guess I better get my next motherboard before this happens.

You'd think these companies would better spend their time doing something constructive.

A change is really needed (4, Interesting)

dido (9125) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834942)

The original PC BIOS has incredibly remained basically unchanged since the days of the IBM PC, more than twenty years ago. We have all that legacy stuff in our PC's firmware that harks back to the days of MS-DOS and its limitations are being stretched to the breaking point by hacks and kluges (e.g. the disk size limits imposed by the real-mode BIOS calls). It would be nice to see it all go away for good.

On the other hand, it's Microsoft and Intel working together on this. This could very well be the next step towards the groundwork for Palladium, and more ugly DRM embedded into the lowest levels of PC hardware, that may well prevent anyone from running any operating system on commodity PC hardware besides that of Microsoft, among other baneful things. I'm not willing to bet that this new specification doesn't lay this type of groundwork in any way.

Mac attack (1)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834947)

I remember way back when, when the older macs had system extensions specific for that type of computer. The OS eventually moved towards a universal approach to different types of computers. Would that work or am I way off the deep end (it was a long night of drinking).

Registration-free spec (4, Informative)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834964)

The download page [intel.com] requires a fake name and email, but you can skip that and get the latest version (1.10-001) here [intel.com] . (Total karma whore link: EFI homepage [intel.com] )

The license isn't actually too bad - it just says that if you provide them feedback, then you also grant them the right to implement your idea.

Real computer hardware (1)

panurge (573432) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834966)

  1. Load the initial boot loader into the core memory using the front panel switches
  2. Load the proper boot loader from tape using the initial boot loader
  3. Change a couple of memory locations (too lazy to splice tape on bootstrap loader)
  4. Reset and boot
What was so difficult about that we needed to change it?

Will kill off legacy OS's (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834983)

At least on the new hardware a lot of legacy OS's wont function.

Force upgrades.. fun fun...

Alternatives (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835001)

Though I already know the answer, what was wrong with "OpenFirmware/OpenBoot"?

It was already platform agnostic, extensible, and well known in the industry

Then again, anything created by Sun CAN'T be good (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

What wasn's said (0, Flamebait)

ben_white (639603) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835016)

I know its not required, but I have just read the article ;-) I found this statement interesting:
The EFI specification is essentially a preboot environment that allows a PC to conduct activities such as scanning for viruses or running diagnostics.
They seemed to have left out the part about checking the digital signature of kernel to be loaded to make sure that it is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security, the MPAA, RIAA, and George W's pet dog. If you try to load commie software like linux Mr. Ashcroft will be at your door and you will find yourself in Guantanamo ! Just a random thought.

corepirate nazis: end to independent intelligence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835028)

just a wink of an eyecon, & a click, & you're...where?

Gah! DRM in BIOS? Check please! (2, Insightful)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835029)

The day that takes hold is the day I find a new platform, it's not like x86 is the only game in town.

Heck, older SGI Octanes are going for peanuts (comapared to thier original price) on ebay, and they are mostly upgradeable to current spec. And Apple is over there just drooling for my cash.

There really shouldn't be that much going on in BIOS, that's what the whole B part means, ya know.

I'm a BIOS programmer and I don't see the end... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7835031)

Rename it and change its functionality all you want, but the day that the CPU itself figures out how to configure all the components in your PC is the day I might be out of work.

There's still going to be a BIOS, there probably always will be until we go completely System On a Chip. In the meantime, SOMETHING has to initialize all your hardware and get it ready to load an O/S.
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