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Intel To Release Next-Gen BIOS Code Under CPL

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the old-texas-town-of-el-paso dept.

Intel 224

An anonymous reader writes "Intel said today that it plans to release the 'Foundation code' of its next-generation firmware technology -- a successor to the PC BIOS -- under the Common Public License (CPL), an open source license, later this year. More than 20 years old, the BIOS (Basic Input-Output System) is the oldest software technology in PC platforms. Intel says its firmware Foundation code, a result of a project codenamed Tiano, 'provides that the successor to the BIOS will be based on up-to-date software technology.' The Foundation code is designed to be extended with new features and services, such as improved platform manageability, serviceability, and administrative interfaces which are too complex to implement in the old BIOS environment, according to Intel."

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224 comments

But... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311067)

It still can't beat my honda hybrid...

An ode to DRM FUD (5, Interesting)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311068)

Will this end the fear of DRM'd BIOS? With the source available then any additions added to the bios can be reversed. I wonder if Intel is countering something in regards to statements made by Microsoft and Sun saying that hardware will be free?

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (5, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311096)

Chances are, flashing your PC with this BIOS instead of the MS approved DRM one will prevent your PC from sharing data with DRMed Windows PCs. So, DRMed if you do, DRMed if you don't...

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311153)

Data sharing is important, and I understand your point completely. How then do we counter this? If nothing else, we're somehow assured (presumably) that we can at least run non-drm software. From there, it'll still be a matter of reverse-engineering any DRM scheme...kind of like a more extensive MS Word compatibility layer.

I do have confidence in the Open Source hacker army, though, and that if there's a way, they'll figure it out.

Get our minds right first and last. (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311344)

Data sharing is literally essential - computers are only marginally useful if their only info exchange is via keyboard/mouse/monitor. DRM is a tech implementation of the human activity of trust. Proprietary DRM schemes, like M$ Passport, or any other vertical integration, are bad trust models. They fetishize others of the same breeding, trusting identical platforms more than different ones. That kind of model is like feeding cattle the remains of their unsold brethren, a monoculture that amplifies platform weaknesses like mad cow, which incubate in a species and even threaten others. The diversity of open trust standards, like PGP webs of trust, or public SSL CAs, combined with open, mutual audits, keep the ecosystem healthy. Before we build a rickety infrastructure based on flawed models and self-defeating principles, we must get to the right way to manage these systems - then automate them. An open source BIOS, which interoperates with the rest of the Internet ecosystem, at least preserves the options to do that, without passing the point of no return on the wrong path.

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (0, Flamebait)

Nugget (7382) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311447)

DRM does not prevent data sharing. It prevents you from sharing data which you don't have the authority to share.

Nothing about DRM will prevent musicians from creating music and giving it to the world. Nothing about DRM will prevent programmers from writing code and giving it to the world.

All DRM blocks is the illicit spread of data against the owner's wishes, which is hardly an essential function of any society or system.

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311557)

The DRM we're discussing (as I see it), in this context of open-source BIOS, is "Trusted Computing", a Microsoft initiative which has in recent months been underpinned by new DRM in a new PC BIOS (by Phoenix, I believe). This is a specific DRM that includes lowlevel BIOS functions to enforce compliance with "trust" certification by Microsoft.

Not all DRM is bad, or broken, or required. We have rights, after all, and management of their digital representations is necessary in our increasingly digital environment. But an inaccurate model of our rights, and our transactions within them, will deny those rights. And that will further undermine the model. Leaving us with a world even less inhabitable than now, when these technologies are pursued with exactly the opposite values. So we must be careful how we begin, or it will be a lost cause from the start.

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (4, Insightful)

MunchMunch (670504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311586)

"All DRM blocks is the illicit spread of data against the owner's wishes, which is hardly an essential function of any society or system.

I think you have far too much faith in these systems and a fundamental misunderstanding of what copyright is meant to protect. First, already in combination with laws like the DMCA, DRM is used to deny fair use rights--to state the most obvious example, but by far not the most important. Second, you fail to realize that the purpose of copyright is to encourage progress, not protect 'creations.'

This is because American copyright, as envisioned by the Framers, rejects any moral or property protections and relies instead on a way of viewing creative progress as what I would call a 'collaboration' between generations. Each subsequent generation must have free access to the previous generations' works in order to build upon them. It is thus an essential function of any rational society or system to not impede progress by essentially granting a single generation full control to lock out future generations.

But of course, copyright doesn't allow this anyways, as I spent the last paragraph stating, because it misunderstands that copyright is a protection of some sort of inherent 'right' in the act of creation rather than a protection of progress through balanced public and private rights. In actuality, the more dangerous effect of DRM is that copyright itself becomes obsolete in a DRM-capable world. Companies need only decide what allowances they want to give to consumers through technology, and the balancing effect of the law dissappears.

so much for preview (2, Insightful)

MunchMunch (670504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311602)

"But of course, copyright doesn't allow this anyways, as I spent the last paragraph stating, because it misunderstands that copyright is a protection of some sort of inherent 'right' in the act of creation rather than a protection of progress through balanced public and private rights."

Should be:

"But of course, copyright doesn't allow this anyways, as I spent the last paragraph stating, because that would misunderstand copyright to be a protection of some sort of inherent 'right' in the act of creation rather than a protection of progress through balanced public and private rights."

Sorry!

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (1)

LordK3nn3th (715352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311590)

Nice try, but our concerns are about fair use (loading music from a CD onto computer for backup or MP3 player purposes) and compatibility (Microsoft DRM'd BIOS working with Linux???)

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (2, Interesting)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311595)

> DRM does not prevent data sharing.
> It prevents you from sharing data which you don't have the authority to share. ..or using something you have legally purchased without paying lots of extra money to the local monopolist. ..or forwarding DRMed spam to the senders ISPs. ..or watching that cool DVD your mum bought you while on holiday in the UK... ..or sending a copy of a fraudulent copy of your *own* media to the police...

Ok, hardly essential functions of society,

But still very annoying.

- MugginsM

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (5, Insightful)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311610)

DRM is an attempt to remove my control of my private property and place it into the hands of someone who doesn't own it. Period.

I oppose DRM because I believe in the right to private property (namely my computer). Nothing to do with copyright violation.

Re:Get our minds right first and last. (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311659)

You're right, but prior experiences in this field have been fraught with peril, partly because Microsoft(among others) felt that any data that didn't have a clear owner automatically belonged to it, and partly because the trust management implicit in proper DRM functions requires more work from already over-worked, understaffed IT departments who already have trouble with getting users to change passwords every six months. These same IT departments are going to be able to keep the tangle of DRM ownership and the proper trust relationships inherent in such clear and unobfuscated ?

You obviously have great faith in the human race's potential to avoid problems, instead of just running into them smack on, and grinding them down by force of numbers...

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (4, Insightful)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311248)

Chances are, flashing your PC with this BIOS instead of the MS approved DRM one will prevent your PC from sharing data with DRMed Windows PCs. So, DRMed if you do, DRMed if you don't..

If it works that way it'll also prevent a DRMd PC from sharing data with those linux servers becoming all so common nowadays. Works both ways.

In the end all depends on who ends up worse off.

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (0, Troll)

Orgazmus (761208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311351)

So.. We will have a bunch of people running DRM'd Windows Longhorn, and a bunch of people running Linux/Non-DRM' Windows.
And they cant talk to eachother?
The suckers cant talk to the people with skills?
WHY is this a bad thing?

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (3, Interesting)

cybersk4nk (727689) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311566)

I'm really not that sure about that. If you want to make sure your iTunes, or other DRMed music downloads still work, granted, it might be a problem. But open formats are open and always will be. Swapping the OS or BIOS to a non drmed one will still let you transfer files in an open and free way. JPGs for instance, should still transfer between DRMed and non-DRMed PCs through FTP for example. I just don't see how a DRM bios could affect this functionality. TCP/IP itself is designed to be platform independant connections and transfers. I believed the MS/DRMed BIOS strategy is to encrypt the files at the filesystem layer. So if you can log on and get the unencrypted version of the file, you can transfer it to someone without a DRM machine and the DRM info will be stripped. If new file formats are created in the future with built in DRM, this might be an issue. But as readers know, even iTunes was crackable. Ever since commercial software came out, publishers have tried to prevent copying. It's never worked in 30 years and I predict it never will. Every commercial game ever realeased has been cracked. I'm willing to bet on it. Copying will continue forever, and if big co's implement the scary DRM schemes that everyone is talking about, I'm going to hand design my own PCs without DRM and become a billionare. I'm sure many ./ers and other would pay good money to have a properly designed system with modern components that is DRM free. Heck, I would rather use my current computers for 10 years than to succumb to newer, faster machines that are completely locked down. I really hope Intel gets it right this time when they update the BIOS. I hope they implement what sun machines and other workstations have had for years, like serial consoles, better universal, standard booting support from any device etc. Also, I really hope they dump the old crappy VGA text mode once and for all and make the computer boot in SVGA framebuffer by default.

Not really (4, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311110)

While the source may be available, that won't mean it can't contain DRM. After all, any good secure system should be secure wether or not the source is visible or not.

Think about it, the fact that you can see the source code to Linux doesn't mean that a regular user has any greater ability to gain root. That's exactly how these new DRM systems work, by taking a way a user's right to be root on their own machine.

Flash your own Tiano BIOS, and on DRM certified mobo's it simply won't run unless its signed by Microsoft or someone.

So this wont help with DRM, but it's still a good thing :P

Re:Not really (5, Insightful)

finkployd (12902) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311236)

While the source may be available, that won't mean it can't contain DRM. After all, any good secure system should be secure wether or not the source is visible or not.

But no implementation of DRM can be considered a "good secure system". The whole concept is to take PKI and try to keep the private key away from the owner so he/she cannot use it for anything except what the content owner wants you to use it for. This is why MS is trying to stick private keys in hardware. This is why the iTMS DRM removal tool needs to be able to get your key out of either the iTunes software or your iPod.

Trying to do DRM in something completely open source will NEVER work. DRM is security by obscurity, plain and simple.

Finkployd

Re:Not really (1)

BizidyDizidy (689383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311599)

All security is security by obscurity. That's the dumbest phrase going. Too bad it rhymes.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311257)

which mobo do you think the slashdot crowd will pick off the shelf at frys, the DRAM one or the non-DRAM option? hell the average user wont buy the dram shit if an alternative exsists. even the clueless user would understand unrestricted vs. M$ controlled computer.

Re:Not really (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311333)

i'm sure the m$ marketing will be hard at work even so.

Re:Not really (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311267)

But it CAN be. Because you have the source, you can build a version in which you've stripped out the DRM stuff that you don't want. And THAT would remove the DRM worries.

Of course, as you mentioned, all they have to do is require that the BIOS is signed to prevent the end user from doing that, which would be unfortunate. This also assumes that the open source part is functionally complete (i.e. not a layer ontop of the layer that drives the hardware, which could be closed source so nothing you made could be booted because you lacked that part).

I worry it won't happen, but I would LOVE to be able to tweek my own BIOS code. Imagine if you could do that with the computers you own now. Be able to go back to that old PII and add the ability to boot off of USB, or add LBA to an old PC, or just rearrage that horrid BIOS user interface on that no-name PC in the corner. Or you could disable more stuff you're not using to speed up the boot processor. And there are always patches to the Linux kernel and such to work around buggy BIOSes, think if you could fix that yourself. And corporations wouldn't have to worry about the support nightmare, thanks to that classic phrase in the computer industry "We don't support what we didn't ship". You touch it, YOU'RE responsible, good or bad. And if you change something and they like it, it's open source so they can check it out and implement it and make everyone's life better.

I hope the industry sees the light and allows what I suggested above (something that Linux BIOS is working towards too, in many ways). But even if things end up like they are now, I'll be happy as long as I can flash my own BIOS and it doesn't have to be MS DRMed. Because I'm not buying a computer that is programed to not let me use it.

After all, would you buy a car that you're not allowed to drive? (As a car for everyday use, I'm not talking buying the Bonne & Clyde car or something like that).

Re:Not really (4, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311369)

Would you buy a car you're not allowed to fix yourself and still retain the warranty? You can drive it all you want, just don't screw with it.

And that's what most people do with their PC. Drive it. Not muck around under the hood and tweak the fuel injectors, or adjust the slope of the ABS initiation.

Re:Not really (5, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311633)

And that's what most people do with their PC. Drive it. Not muck around under the hood and tweak the fuel injectors, or adjust the slope of the ABS initiation.

Ironically, Congress is forcing auto makers to reveal their "precious precious IP" because your average mechanic can't read the chips in your car. Basically auto makers were trying to get you to take your car into the dealer to get an oil change. Congress stepped up and said "that's unfair trade practice".

Re:Not really (2, Insightful)

John Hurliman (152784) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311268)

But you can modify the Linux kernel to allow any user to gain root privileges. That's the point of the source code, anyone can rewrite/recompile/reinstall and remove any offending "features" while adding their own modifications.

Re:Not really (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311476)

Think about it, the fact that you can see the source code to Linux doesnt mean that a regular user has any greater ability to gain root. That's exactly how these new DRM systems work, by taking a way a user's right to be root on their own machine.

But the thing is that the way linux prevents a user from being root is by having someone else manually change the password to something that is not in the source code. There is important data being witheld from the user, that will unlock the system. As DRM systems must be self-contained, the "key" to unlocking content must be local. An OS DRM would therefore need to contain the key.

Likewise, while not having root on a box will prevent you from doing lots of things on it, you are still free to edit the source and create your own version of linux without the concept of root (or with full root). Likewise, with a truly OS BIOS, you will have the ability to create your own DRM-free system.

Re:An ode to DRM FUD (2, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311362)

Will this end the fear of DRM'd BIOS? With the source available then any additions added to the bios can be reversed. I wonder if Intel is countering something in regards to statements made by Microsoft and Sun saying that hardware will be free?

Err, that just meant that the end user wouldn't be paying directly for the hardware, just indirectly. Someone will still be writing a check to Intel for all of their components. I can't see how Intel would look on that other than favorably. That would actually mean that more hardware would get sold because boxes wouldn't be multi-purposed.

Mirror , just in case (0, Redundant)

mirror_dude (775745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311519)

Just in case the server crashes and burns (like they usually do),I have put up a mirror.
The mirror of http://www.deviceforge.com/news/NS8342680180.html is at http://mirrorit.demonmoo.com/r_617/www.deviceforge .com/news/NS8342680180.html [demonmoo.com]
The mirror of http://www.deviceforge.com/articles/AT4903582708.h tml is at http://mirrorit.demonmoo.com/r_617/www.deviceforge .com/articles/AT4903582708.html [demonmoo.com]
The mirror of http://www.opensource.org/licenses/cpl.php is at http://mirrorit.demonmoo.com/r_617/www.opensource. org/licenses/cpl.php [demonmoo.com]
The mirror of http://www.starroms.com/ is at http://mirrorit.demonmoo.com/r_617/www.starroms.co m/ [demonmoo.com]

CPL (4, Insightful)

devinoni (13244) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311080)

Seems the CPL is popular these days. Even Microsoft uses it for their opensource projects (WiX and WTL). Not to mention IBM who is the CPL author.

Re:CPL (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311517)

I suspect its popular because it has most of the good elements of other open source licences like GPL but at the same time it doesnt have all the "politics" associated with FSF.

Re:CPL (2, Interesting)

Whyzzi (319263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311543)

Ok. So then, what is the big difference between the CPL and the BSD license?

DRM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311082)

The Foundation code is designed to be extended with new features and services, such as improved platform manageability, serviceability, and administrative interfaces which are too complex to implement in the old BIOS environment

This technology is more commonly known as Digital Rights Management.

Re:DRM (1)

}}mons{{ (97347) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311102)

Well, it doesnt matter. It is just simply a matter of bypassing some logics on the DRM routine and voila! the machine would just authenticate itself as secure.

No problem there my boy...

So lets throw away our DRM fears for now. As long as we could see the code and reflash our BIOSes we can still use our machine any way we want.

Re:DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311298)

Dude- the whole point of the Microsof DRM routine as that the DRM "logics" are in the chipset, and therefore cannot be bypassed. You, on the other hand, are getting bypassed straight to my foes list. Retard.

The Microsoft implementation treats the BIOS as untrusted code anyway, and the DRM nexus runs independantly of the OS and other system code. Man, the more I read your post the more pissed I get. You are a freaking idiot.

I RTA..... (1, Redundant)

zogger (617870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311122)

... and it's exactly what I thought too, at least a variation of it, and they opened it so anyone could implement as much of it as they wanted to. So I'll call it a cousin of DRM.

Re:DRM (0)

MC_Cancer_Pants (728724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311629)

new features and services, such as improved platform manageability, serviceability, and administrative interfaces which are too complex to implement in the old BIOS environment

God forbid they leave me with one thing in my computer that I know won't crash. A bios is a bios because it's a basic I/O system, it does a simple task, it's done a damned good job for the last 20 years, why go around changing it? Good code has a simple and solid foundation, building from there--not a bunch of integrated and "optimized" complex subroutines without a fall-back.

Credibility for Intel (5, Interesting)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311084)

Intel has been slowly losing credibility in my (and possibly others) eyes for some time now. Processor ID's sucked. However, they 'did the right thing' and got rid of them. Their implimentation of 64-bit computing sucked (or was ahead of its time) but they 'did the right thing' and swiped AMD's :). I used to be a Intel fanatic (yes, I owned several bunny people) and dismissed AMD's processors because of thier floating point performance. AMD wised up and finally gave chase to Intel on all performance matters to the point where I'm now running a AMD processor. I've always been concerened that Microsoft and Intel are a little too friendly, especially in regards to 64-bit windows versions and Microsoft/Intel's chip/release timing.

Anyway, the BIG concern for me on the horizon is the upcoming DRM-from-the-bios-to-the-speaker-cone mentality that some unnamed people [microsoft.com] are trying to push. If Intel wants to score major bonus points in my book, opening up the bios (or whatever they feel like calling it) could definately do it.

If I know that I can always depend on my computer to do what I tell it to and not what Intel/Microsoft/Belken tell it to do, I will go that route.

Also, to Intel... I'm buying a new server next month. I had decided on AMD. I'm now considering Intel as an option. Now everyone in the marketing department go tell the engineering department to go impliment this!

Not again... (3, Interesting)

vwjeff (709903) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311113)

Processor ID's sucked

I never had a problem with Intel's processor ID. Every networked computer already has a unique MAC address. What is the difference?

Re:Not again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311141)

You can change the MAC address :)

Re:Not again... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311147)

Every networked computer already has a unique MAC address. What is the difference?

Your mother. That's the difference.

Re:Not again... (5, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311149)

Processor ID's sucked

I never had a problem with Intel's processor ID. Every networked computer already has a unique MAC address. What is the difference?

MAC addresses can be changed by swapping out a $15 part and in some cases can be changed in firmware, so they're not an effective tracking/identification tool. Processor IDs are hardcoded and unique. Thankfully, they can also be turned off.

Re:Not again... (1)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311572)

You can also change your MAC address at will... something like:

ifconfig eth0 hw ether 00:DE:AD:BE:EF:00

might not be totatally right... man ifconfig!

Re:Not again... (4, Informative)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311150)

I never had a problem with Intel's processor ID. Every networked computer already has a unique MAC address. What is the difference?
The big problem that many people had with the processor ID's initially was that you couldn't turn them off. Any program running localy could query your PID and send it off to god knows where. It wasn't until later that they released bios updates that allowed you to turn the feature off.

So, it wasn't the fact that the computer had a uniquely identifiable number (ip address/mac address/whatever), its the fact that you didn't have control over the use of that number.

I can deny you access to my ip address (I just don't connect to your server/use a proxy). I can also deny you access to my mac address (spoofing/proxies/whatnot). The rebellion people had was they couldn't deny programs access to your PID. Now, there wasn't any particular reason to deny programs access to a PID yet but it isn't too hard to think of a few.

Anyway, enough rambling. It was the removal of choice that set people off. We didn't have a choice to not use the feature - Assuming we stuck with Intel processors.

Re:Not again... (5, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311285)

Actually they could NEVER be turned off all the way. The BIOS patches just disabled them during startup, and Windows didn't turn it back on. But if you knew the correct sequence and a little assembly you could reactivate the PID 'feature' and query the number. I don't think there was ever a real program that did this but there were a few demo pieces that were enough proof of concept to show that it was possible.

Running Linux disabled it (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311542)

I'm pretty sure that almost immediately after Intel released that "feature", the next Linux kernel was patched to disable it on boot.

On the one occasion I've left it on in my BIOS ( a number of years ago now), in the Linux kernel boot log was a statement that the PID was being disabled.

Re:Not again... (1)

BasharTeg (71923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311162)

Uhhh, I don't know, the fact that you can override your MAC address a little easier than you could override your processor ID number?

I don't agree with processor IDs, but that was a stupid question to be modded so high.

Re:Not again... (3, Insightful)

222 (551054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311224)

It should also be noted that MAC addresses actually provide required functionality, modern day networking is built around them... For the life of me, i cannot think of any productive use for cpu id's.

Re:Not again... (1)

jdbo (35629) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311239)

MAC addresses can trivially (in both $ & time) be changed by changing your network card. Compare that to changing your processor/mobo.

Also, MAC addresses can (at least theoretically, I may be wrong here) be masked/transformed at the router level (thereby perserving anonymity to the rest of the world/internet).

Re:Not again... (1)

silentmusic (146378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311669)

Given that people _did_ have a problem with it, I never understood why people never bitched at Sun about their hostid. Did I just miss it?

Re:Credibility for Intel (3, Informative)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311120)

Sorry, but right now Intel isn't a viable option for servers, at least multi-processor ones. The front side bus speed and it being shared kills the performance of the otherwise great Xeon. Opterons are at a decent price range now for 2-4 x42-x46, and they are great performers as well as being 64bit compatiable. Also, the Xeon platform is most likely going to be replaced by whatever Intel's answer to AMD64 is, so upgrading is not too good. On the other hand, the Opteron is here to stay.

Open bios code wont do you any good. (4, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311125)

Having an open-source bios wont prevent DRM any more then having an open-source OS will prevent file permission restrictions. The source to Linux wont do you any good without the root password, and the source to the BIOS won't do you any good without a signing certificate on a DRM-enabled motherboard.

Re:Open bios code wont do you any good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311438)

You could have all of your computers, and your friends computers (aka /.) share a common private key this should manage DRM nicely.

The article on news.com stated that (recently) bios was rewritten into C. What was the original language of bios? I had assumed it was in assembly, which is typically the smallest and fastest, albeit the biggest pain in the arse to code.

Thanks.

Re:Credibility for Intel (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311229)

I have a box full of Bunnypeople that, one summer, will end up strapped to my car's wheels. For how long, who knows...

I took a couple of them, did that, and after enough miles at high enough speeds, the beans started transferring to the extremities, then pieces invariably went bouncing down the road. As I recall, it took around 100mph.

BTW, I have relatively thick 5-spoke alloys, and 4 of them got either a leg or an arm, and since the weight was mostly centered on on the wheel the vibration was minimal.

Oh, I got the bunnies for free as a kind of spiff from a friend who'd make a vendor's sales rep include them for free with each order. 1% over cost plus bunnies... no wonder that rep left!

Re:Credibility for Intel (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311245)

I wouldn't bank on Intel and Microsoft being in so friendly. Their friendliness may be leaning towards AMD, especially if Microsoft wants to get into the hardware market. AMD has been in a weak enough market position that they would be more willing to alter hardware on MS' account than Intel would, and AMD having a reasonable share of the CPU market with MS' influence would be a method for MS to exert control (indirectly) over Intel. Check out

http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/muglia_wins er ver.asp

in response to the headline, w/o RTFA.... (-1)

stealth.c (724419) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311095)

my response is: "sh*t yeah!"

On to reading...

Microsoft Support? (5, Insightful)

3) profit!!! (773340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311118)

"Microsoft is continuing its commitment to open industry standards by adding EFI boot support to all versions of the Longhorn generation of Windows products," said Tony Pierce, Technical Evangelist of Microsoft's Windows Hardware Innovation Group. "Participation in the collaborative community effort around the Foundation code that Intel is announcing today will help systems manufacturers and firmware companies deliver new and exciting platform innovations to their customers."

I wonder if this is going to be like Microsoft's "support" for Java...

Re:Microsoft Support? (0, Flamebait)

deniea (257313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311175)

Oh yes, sure it will offer complete support in adding EFI boot support.

Only to open up a web page where you can fill in you credit-card number !

Re:Microsoft Support? (1)

Nailer (69468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311416)

Not really. EFI is used on Itanium machines, so Intel 64 bit Windows already uses it pretty well.

There is no I in EEE (was Re:Microsoft Support?) (1)

Whyzzi (319263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311559)

Embrace, Extend, Elimate.

Re:There is no I in EEE (was Re:Microsoft Support? (1)

glenkim (412499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311608)

eliminiminate!

Wonder how it will affect (5, Interesting)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311133)

the LinuxBios [linuxbios.org] project? I would think little, if at all, since the core goals of the LinuxBios project are so specific (providing instant control of a cluster node), but maybe I am wrong? Perhaps some innovations can flow both ways.

Either way, kudos to Intel.

First law of trolling (-1, Offtopic)

BasharTeg (71923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311134)

I am hereby claiming this quote to be the first law of trolling. Many more will follow!

"If they are willing to be trolled, let them be trolled."

OpenBoot? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311143)

What, dare I ask, is wrong with OpenBoot? It's an open standard; it's been around for a long time; and it's used in at least two [sun.com] manufacturers' [apple.com] systems that I can think of. I've also heard reports that some (obscure, probably now defunct) Intel-based PC manufacturers used it in their systems.

Seems to me like a bad case of "Not Invented Here" syndrome.

Re:OpenBoot? (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311311)

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking when I read about this project several years ago. OpenBoot is Free/free and proven. Not only that but it's hard to imagine a more flexible system since it includes a Turing Complete programming language at its heart =) After you've used OpenBoot the PC BIOS seems so limiting and mundane.

Re:OpenBoot? (4, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311336)

What's wrong with it? No DRM support (thus, no Microsoft support) and it wasn't invented by Intel. (Thus, no Intel support) It is, however, a far superior system, and yet another reason to get a Mac. (YARTGAM)

Re:OpenBoot? (2, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311473)

One of the big features of this new bios is that it is completely backwards compatible (as far as the OS is concerned) with the current BIOS. I don't think that switching OpenFirmware would be quite as seamless of a transistion.

Re:OpenBoot? (4, Informative)

ronaldgminnich (567142) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311631)

Why not open boot? Because the "open" means only "open spec".

Open Boot is not Open Source Have you ever wondered why nobody ports it to lots of things? Or why http://www.openbios.org exists? Simple. Open Boot is a marketing name.

Again, Open Boot is NOT Open Source. It's just a cute name that seems to fool lots of people.

But go ahead, prove me wrong: point to the Open Source site for Open Boot.

Great! (4, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311145)

wow, this is actually pretty cool. Imagine being able to download a bios patch off the 'net that would let you boot the machine directly into Linux, or hell... put a webserver right into the bios chip.

In the future I can see the ultimate "geek" motherboard having a memory-stick or CF card slot for the bios, rather then using chips that aren't often used by consumers. You'd be able to walk down to best buy or Wal-Mart and buy a new bios chip to play around with.

Re:Great! (2, Funny)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311198)

Anyone know of a webserver written in Forth, I've go an Ultra2 that needs a bios webvserver installed.

Re:Great! (2, Insightful)

burns210 (572621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311247)

great, now we need to run ad-aware on our bios chips, for fear of spyware and popups generated and the motherboard chip level!

Re:Great! (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311434)

Ouch. If possible this both +3 funny and +9 firghtning.
If not possible just +4funny

Mycroft

Sounds good.... but... (4, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311152)

... sounds exactly like hype that is bound to be turned into something you do not want, in actuality.

Like the original intent of cookies and the actuality of spyware use...

One of the best ways, (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311161)

it almost seems, to ensure you can write open source software and still make money is to make absolutely certain that your open source software is written in such a way it isn't of any use to anyone unless they buy your expensive hardware to operate with it...

Crazy things are going on (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311166)

You know, with the latest wave of unexpected open-sourcing of random software, I'm beginning to not get so surprised whenever a new thing like that gets announced.

Probably good news.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311227)

...but given the glowing examples of how you will be able to boot directly to things like a web browser, it will quickly become a security nightmare and another petty obsession for power user types. Doesn't mean it's bad though.

More Info / Linux Power Management (5, Informative)

Landaras (159892) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311283)

More information is in a similar article [com.com] over at News.com.

They mention that proprietary BIOS's is one of the key obstacles to implementing proper power management (ie hibernation) under Linux.

- Neil Wehneman

From the LinuxBIOS mail list earlier today: (5, Interesting)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311286)



Ron on the LinuxBIOS list put this best earlier today:

You are not going to get the hardware startup code in Tiano. You're going to get the code that runs on top of the hardware startup code, and gives you a DOS-like startup system.

Don't expect to suddenly see northbridge code on the intel web site. Part of the goal of Tiano/EFI is to make the release of such information unneeded. There is a silver lining. Supposedly, the interfaces from the hidden hardware code to Tiano will be public. This means you can conceivably chuck Tiano and put your own thing in its place, which could be ... a Linux kernel! You might need a small shim from the hidden hardware code to Linux, which could in turn be ... LinuxBIOS!

This is how Linux NetWorx built the Alpha LinuxBIOS:

- hidden hardware
code (Alpha SROM) [ not changed, left in place]

- LinuxBIOS [with Alpha support, minus memory setup code]

- Linux
Worked fine, should work for Tiano platforms. In other words, the binary support code for Tiano could solve some problems for us:

- if we don't get the specs for the Intel chips (likely), then we can just leave the "hidden hardware code" in place, and flash over Tiano,
replacing Tiano with LinuxBIOS. I believe Linux Labs did something like this for their ClearWater port 2 years or so ago.

- Makes porting to other Intel mobos easier.

Why the CPL, not the GPL?
So that 3rd party vendors can add incompatibilities -- err, value --
and charge you for it.

Put another way, Tiano could be a linuxbios payload. I don't have much
use for a Tiano/EFI payload, however. Tiano/EFI is very complex and if
I'm going to put a complex thing like that into flash I'd much rather
it be linux. I don't want something that's most of the work of an OS
but not much of the capability, which pretty much describes Tiano/EFI.

I'm intrigued that they are open sourcing it. I had for years only
heard that it would be available under a type of NDA. I think LinuxBIOS
is part of the push for open sourcing this type of software. But I
doubt you're going to see Phoenix et. al. open source their
'value-added' Tiano, which means a source fork is built into the model.
That's trouble for us as customers -- we already suffer daily with all
these BIOS extensions and undocumented, hidden gotchas. We already say
this once: there was supposed to be a standard "hand off" on IA64 for
startup. I found out that this "standard" handoff was modified by
several vendors: it was no longer standard.

Let's hope the "hidden
hardware code" to Tiano interface remains standard. Also, if this code
is anything like the EFI code, it won't build under Linux, only builds
under Windows. It won't "just work" for us.

All that said, I think Intel is doing a good thing by open sourcing the Tiano system, and I congratulate them on doing so.

Re:From the LinuxBIOS mail list earlier today: (1)

PXE Geek (754288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311574)

But I doubt you're going to see Phoenix et. al. open source their 'value-added' Tiano,
In fact Phoenix is noteably absent from the press release - it quotes AMI and Insyde... Phoenix seem to be concentrating on their own strategies.

Also, don't forget EFI itself is a derivative of FreeBSD...

PXEGeek

Hey, they can't do that! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311305)

Intel better not release BIOS under a CPL because it is obvious that SCO owns this. Look out Intel, you are now in the viewfinder of SCO.

Assembly Anyone? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311309)

"administrative interfaces which are too complex to implement in the old BIOS environment, according to Intel."

Riiiiiiiiiiight!

Are there any REAL Assembler programmers left who are willing to work for Intel??? That's the REAL question!

OpenFirmware (4, Informative)

leandrod (17766) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311329)

One more advantage of RISC systems: OpenFirmware is a real standard, while Intel just wants us to believe it has an 'open architecture standard' and an 'SIG' instead of conforming to an already existing, real open standard.

One more instance of the proprietary lock-in game.

Re:OpenFirmware (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311402)

OpenFirmware is a real standard, while Intel just wants us to believe it has an 'open architecture standard' and an 'SIG' instead of conforming to an already existing, real open standard.

Not to mention that it's much cooler. You've got to love how easy it is to tell a Solaris machine to boot from ANYTHING without even an OS on the system! Boot from network? Never have to touch the machine. Boot from USB? A two line command? CDROM? Same! Boot from next years wizzigig? Done.

It's also great for saving a system. Mislink the superblock? Write a Fortran program to fix it! Need a quick calcuation done while writing your program? Write a bit of Fortran to calculate it for you! Face it, OpenFirmware is simply cooler than anything on the Intel platform, present or future.

(BTW, keep an eye out for CmdrTaco. He always shows up with his OpenBoot troll [slashdot.org] ten hours after the story has been posted. Come on Taco! You've got to get moving! ;-))

Re:OpenFirmware (1)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311452)

Uhm, Fortran? My God, Man, you are going to scare EVERYBODY away from OpenFirmware! OF uses Forth, not Fortran.

Re:OpenFirmware (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311642)

Doh! I misspoke, thanks for the correction. They both start with "Fort" and it's late at night. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

OpenFirmware rules (4, Interesting)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311440)

OpenFirmware is the most amazingly awsome BIOS ever. Mostly because it's written in Forth which is one of the most amazingly awsome languages ever. I learned Forth specifically so I could hack on my PowerMac 7500's OpenFirmware. It's too bad Apple's old OF implementations were a bit buggy, but the newer PowerMacs' OF is super.

For those who aren't familiar with Forth: Forth is a very powerful and easy to learn language. It's hardware requirements are very light and it is completely portable. Except for the most fundamental procedures, Forth is written in Forth and is completely modifiable and extensable. Forth programs are written as extensions of Forth itself. Forth is an interpreted language, and can be used from a Forth shell, much like BASIC. However, it is almost as fast as C, and equally powerful. Forth is an ideal language for embedded computer systems.

For those of you that aren't familiar with OpenFirmware: OF is written in Forth and is very powerful because it can be manipulated from the Forth shell. This makes it very straightforward for an intelligent user to modify his BIOS as he sees fit, write BIOS scripts, modify settings, etc. The OF Forth shell gives you all the power of a normal PC BIOS and GRUB and then some. It even has a rudimentary edlin like text editor. Anyway if you own a Mac, look up some info on OF and play around with it a bit, it's pretty freakin cool.

Re:OpenFirmware rules (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311661)

I learned Forth specifically so I could hack on my PowerMac 7500's OpenFirmware. It's too bad Apple's old OF implementations were a bit buggy, but the newer PowerMacs' OF is super.

If you think that's good, you should try Sun's OpenBoot on a SPARC machine some time. Not only does it have the powers you've come to expect from OpenFirmware, but it's got purdy scalable fonts, graphics, and iis far less buggy than Mac's OF. Besides, my Mac makes me squint, and I like pure white instead of off-white. ;-)

Re:OpenFirmware (4, Informative)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311445)


That's exactly what I was going to post :) So.... I'll post some useful links instead! For those that don't know, Open Firmware is a FORTH-based boottime environment that handles all Sun and Mac machines recently produced, and also was used in the PReP/CHRP boards. IBM may still use it in some areas, I'm not sure...

The Firmworks stuff with Linux and OF looks particularly neat...



And here's a cool example of things you can do with OF. Two-machine mode boot debugging [apple.com]

Re:OpenFirmware (1)

leandrod (17766) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311499)

>
Open Firmware is a FORTH-based boottime environment that handles all Sun and Mac machines recently produced, and also was used in the PReP/CHRP boards. IBM may still use it in some areas, I'm not sure...

Unless I am severily mistaken, all POP systems (based on an IBM PowerPC reference design) being distributed by EyeTech and Genesi are also OpenFirmware.

I have some idea that SGIs, including the Intel ones, were also OF, but I am probably wrong on this one as SGI was a member of the ARC.

we NEED this (1)

spazoid12 (525450) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311400)

'provides that the successor to the BIOS will be based on up-to-date software technology.'

If it ain't broke... well then at least say it's not modern.

I predict... (0, Offtopic)

novakane007 (154885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311422)

... this will be a long remembered day in the history of the personal computers.

Once upon a time, IBM released the BIOS source... (5, Interesting)

monkeymanatwork (653088) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311430)

I remember in the late 80's seeing a bound, printed version of the IBM XT BIOS source code (ASM of course). It belonged to a friend and probably dated from the early 80's. IIRC, he sent IBM a check for $50 and they sent it to him.

Not Open Source, but invaluable when we were developing device drivers, TSRs, and other low-level software.

Re:Once upon a time, IBM released the BIOS source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311472)

They also did it for the AT - and I've got both :-)

Not much use these days - but from a historical perspective of some curio value.

Still doesn't exmplain why new PC's BIOS POST takes so damn long :-)

Re:Once upon a time, IBM released the BIOS source. (1, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311552)

If memory serves correct, the ASM source for the BIOS was published as part of the original PC/XT Technical Reference Manual.

Free Programmers? (4, Insightful)

timgoh0 (781057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311468)

Maybe its just me, but don't you think that this is just a way of intel trying to get free and fast bugfixes and improvement for their bios?

Re:Free Programmers? (1)

Bored Huge Krill (687363) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311507)

yes, that would be it. And what's the problem? Why is open sourcing something they developed and allowing others to make changes a bad thing just because Intel does it?

Re:Free Programmers? (1)

timgoh0 (781057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311529)

Because they would be making a profit out of it? AFAIK, mobo manufacturers still pay a license for the bios.

Re:Free Programmers? (1)

Bored Huge Krill (687363) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311582)

And free software is about price now? Quick! Call the police and send them to Red Hat...

More Secure? (5, Insightful)

niktesla (761443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311524)

It is stored in firmware, so it is more secure from viruses and other types of attack than past BIOSes
[sarcasm] Yeah, there were real virus problems w/ BIOS back when it was non-flashable. Those pesky viruses would pop my BIOS chip out and install a new one before I knew it.[/sarcasm]

Extra or additional drivers and code functions can be stored on the hard drive and accessed there.
Seems like this would increase the vulnerability of the BIOS.

Other than this problem and maybe not being able to control some of the OEM preboot (an odd word when you think of it) "features" (DRM, etc.), this doesn't sound too bad of a plan. Sounds like we're on the way to having the OS run off a FLASH disk or some type of firmware. It'd be ironic if, because of advanced DRM technology, we have to go back to the oldest mod trick - yank out the old chip and solder in the new, as was once done to upgrade BIOS.

The threat of DRM, diminished in a single stroke? (0, Troll)

yosemite (6592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311541)

*wow*

what I want is... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9311612)

a means to play the latest 3d games for linux without needing closed-source drivers.

Although somehow, I suspect that Osama Bin Laden would become president of the USA before Open Source drivers good enough to play 3d games on linux become available.

When will hardware companies see the light and realize that its possible to Open Source drivers and hardware specs WITHOUT hurting your business.
As for technical support, just say "you change the drivers, you get no support/warranty/etc"
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