Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

IBM Open Source Firmware Download for PowerPC

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the will-we-see-bargains-on-ppc-gear dept.

IBM 36

Nora writes "IBM developerWorks has posted an open source Slimline Open Firmware (SLOF) download intended to aid the development of operating systems and virtualization layers for PowerPC-based machines. One thing that's kind of neat about it is that it is under a pretty liberal "BSD-like" license -- something I have not often seen IBM do. If I am not much mistaken (and please correct me if I am), this license makes it compatible with both GPL'd and BSD'd projects, among others. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'd like to add that I *am* affiliated with the developerWorks site."

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Open-source firmware?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12761760)

That's an oxymoron!

(I, for one, would welcome our new open-source firmware overlords. But I don't think anyone else would do this.)

Re:Open-source firmware?! (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762088)

Why is that an oxymoron? Or were you just trying for a funny first post and the brain wasn't fully in gear yet?

Apple? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12761768)

I wonder if this has anything to do with Apple's recent *ahem* announcement.

Re:Apple? (0)

Moderator (189749) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762273)

Probably. From what I understand, OpenFirmware will be one of the main obstacles preventing people from installing OS X on any Intel-based computer. Now, just days after Apple tells IBM to go fuck themselves, IBM has open-sourced the firmware. The timing is too close for this to be a coincidence...

Re:Apple? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762613)

Well, we G5 owners sure said go fsck yourself to Apple in a less polite way.

I cancelled Apple brand from my mind (for future), it fires its liar CEO again, I am back to buying.

Re:Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12763331)

I cancelled Apple brand from my mind (for future), it fires its liar CEO again, I am back to buying.

I'll bet you burned your Milli Vanilli albums too, when you found out it was someone else singing.

Re:Apple? (2, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 9 years ago | (#12774193)

So you long of the days when Apple was going into the toilet with Scully at the helm then?

Re:Apple? (0)

andrewski (113600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12777565)

Unless you are developing super-critical apps that use the G5's vector abilities in some way NOT supported by Apple's vector code, than I think you're just being a big baby. Steve Jobs stressed that software will be built as fat binaries just as in the Next/Openstep days, so your precious G5 will still be able to run the vast majority of applications in 5 years.

Heck, I am even thinking of getting whatever is the hottest dual G5 with the 30" display and special GPU as a good farewell to Apple's PPC platform. A dual 2.7 with the 1.35 mHz bus will still be a hot enough computer for all normal purposes 5 years down the line!

Re:Apple? (2, Informative)

guet (525509) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762933)

OS X on x86 will not use Open Firmware according to Apple's docs. Presumably they'll use other methods to try to stop it working on any old x86 without some hacking around (some small compatibility problems are probably enough to stop the majority of people running OS X on cheaper PCs).

However I'm sure IBM have released this to try to bolster the credibility of PowerPC as a platform now that the major desktop vendor is leaving.

The question is, is there any future in PowerPC on the desktop if Apple is no longer promoting it and IBM are not willing to put a lot of work into developing the chips for desktops/laptops? Their strategy does seem a little schizophrenic, as they promote linux on Power but have antagonized the largest vendor of PPC solutions.

Re:Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12765400)

Their strategy does seem a little schizophrenic, as they promote linux on Power but have antagonized the largest vendor of PPC solutions

Apple was trivial to IBM.

PPC will be dominated by embedded and game systems. Apple's name may be big, but its relevance to the PPC market is insubstantial.

Dancing with PC Vendors (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12765541)

This whole dance has been strange. There is still this thread dangling from Steve Jobs telling Fortune Magazine that PC vendors want Mac OS X [] , which led to speculation that PC makers might ship PowerPC systems [] .

What was the point of dropping that hint, at that time, in that way, if Apple really doesn't plan to license Mac OS X to other PC vendors?

Re:Dancing with PC Vendors (1)

guet (525509) | more than 9 years ago | (#12766410)

They can't yet, it's a matter of timing.

Why warn your major competitor before you can announce any deals or get any momentum? First they have to manage the switch to Intel, then they can start doing deals with other vendors.

Re:Apple? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12766537)

I suspect that OS X86 will run just fine on generic PC systems, but there will be a clause in the license agreement saying this is not allowed. There will also be no copy protection, which will lead to wide-spread piracy. This will help to (unofficially) increase the install base. Once there is a definite demand shown for OS X in other manufacturers hardware, Apple will `reluctantly' agree to license it for use on other systems.

On Apple's currently selling systems, the profit margin is significantly less that that of a copy of OS X + iLife, and the potential increase in revenue from volume is significant.

I don't expect Apple to become a pure software company - they will continue to make OS X systems that either fill certain niches, or serve to showcase the abilities of OS X - serious users will continue to want Apple systems, but the more pragmatic will buy other systems (or build their own) and just get OS X from Apple (maybe even an OEM version).

Re:Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12773246)

Well, the question here is that the money you get from a copy of Mac OS X + iLife bundled with a new PC is not the same that what you get selling them for itself. By a huge amount, I suspect. When Dell sells you a computer with Windows preinstalled, that copy maybe costs them 10$. The volume could make the revenue increase, but probably not linearly.

I'm not sure that Apple has anything to win licensing OS X to third party vendors. Specially considering that possibly they will have to spend more resources testing machines from other vendors. And, of course, there's the legend of Jobs being a "control freak" :-)

Re:Apple? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762596)

As a G5 1600 owner, I don't know what the heck it means but its cool to hear something "positive" about PowerPC recently.

You know, they are expensive, hot , slow etc, Steve says so

Apple jumped ship, ... (1)

Stoopid-Guy0 (814282) | more than 9 years ago | (#12761769)

It would be interesting to know if this was in the works before IBM knew Apple was going to go to Intel... If so, then IBM is my new hero!

Very relevant.... (2, Interesting)

kawika (87069) | more than 9 years ago | (#12761787)

...until this Monday's announcement by Apple. Are a lot of developers going to want to pour their souls into code that will decrease in relevance and market size over the next five years?

Re:Very relevant.... (1)

mrch0mp3rs (864814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762112)

I respectfully disagree. I think it is relevant, and that developers will put effort into making use of it.

Think of all the XBoxes running Linux distros currently. The new XBoxes are going to have 3 970 chips in them -- that's a hella-powerful box for $399.

If I'm not mistaken, the code released by IBM will help developers port OSs for the processor. How long until someone uses it to port Windows or (gasp) OS X to the XBox, among other game consoles and devices using the 970 processor?

Re:Very relevant.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762978)

I don't think that the two things (the Apple announcement and the Open Firmware download) are in any way related. To paraphrase an earlier post, I think the timing is too close for it to be anything *more* than coincidence.I could be totally wrong though =)

But don't forget that one of the largest markets for PowerPC (if not "the" largest) is in embedded -- often deeply embedded. That's an environment where writing your own firmware and/or OS is more relevant -- and one of the reasons it seems particularly smart (to me) to have made the license so liberal.

Re:Very relevant.... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764454)

You can't port an OS that you don't have the source code for to a hardware platform that you don't have the specs for.

And for the nth time, the Xbox 360 does not use 970s.

Re:Very relevant.... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12765459)

If I'm not mistaken, the code released by IBM will help developers port OSs for the processor. How long until someone uses it to port Windows

Most of the people with access to the full windows source code probably have access to the the full xbox specs as well. Unless you think open firmware is the only thing that's preventing legions of hackers from porting the leaked windows source code to PPC.

Re:Very relevant.... (2, Informative)

Devil's Avocado (73913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12765465)

None of the game consoles are using 970s. The processors in the game consoles will have significantly less integer power than the 970, which makes them far less attractive for multitasking, multi-user desktop computing.

The lead engineer of the Cell project spoke at my university a while back. He pointed out that the flight simulator demo on the cell ran 50 times faster than it did on the 970 where they developed it, but the Cell was somewhat slower than the 970 on integer benchmarks.

Re:Very relevant.... (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12763418)

PPC Open firmware... Flash PS3 with new firmware... Cheap Cell based Linux box...

Naw, never mind, you are probably right. Most likely, nobody will want to do anything with the 20 million PPC boxes coming out over the next few years. Nobody ever uses hardware in unintended ways.

Not that I am suggesting that this will be something that can be put directly on a PS3, but it may prove interesting, and educational to people wanting to make low level software...

Re:Very relevant.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12763781)

This is my theory... Somebody will continue the PPC line. It won't be Apple, it might be IBM, or it might be a new startup.

They will make computers using PPC chips that try to look cool like the old Apple stuff in order to fill the void left by Apple for people who refuse to use x86. I see these systems running Linux most likely.

Re:Very relevant.... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12765551)

yeah. Like Be, umm, no like Amiga, umm no like pegasos, oops, well i guess it will have to be a new startup..

PPC isn't dead, IBM still uses it for their AIX/Linux servers, XBox 360 uses it, the embedded market uses it.

But really, how many people care if their processor is x86 or not? If it matters, you're probably going to be buying a Sparc or RS and not a macintosh.

The Return of BeOS? (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764222)

Don't count all the chickens yet. Be may be up for a come-back. There need not be only one CPU, and people are wising up to the speed-chase crack games that go on, with all the blinky pixels..

Put Be in a dual-PPC, portable, system, such as (but only similar to) the PSP/DS scenario, and we may not be so bothered with 'desktop winners and losers' any more, war-wise ...

Same with Linux of course, and all its buildkits-de-jour among the CPU-du-jour folks..

Oh, and one more thing: Apple taking over x86 is because Microsoft are abandoning it.

Re:The Return of BeOS? (1)

LochNess (239443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12765370)

BeOS? There hasn't been a PowerPC version of BeOS in at least 4 years. You'll have about as much luck resurrecting OS/2 for the PowerPC.

Re:Very relevant.... (2, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764479)

The SLOF firmware was never relevant to Macs, thus it cannot become less relevant.

Meanwhile Apple's announcement has no effect on the embedded market that SLOF is intended for.

IBM & Public Licensing (1)

roach2002 (77772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12761815)

One thing that's kind of neat about it is that it is under a pretty liberal "BSD-like" license -- something I have not often seen IBM do.

IBM's pretty serious about releasing things to the public community:

Am I missing some? Unless you're talking about it being more liberal than GPL, then I might agree with you.

Re:IBM & Public Licensing (2, Insightful)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762541)

Am I missing some?


Re:IBM & Public Licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762854)

Yes -- that's what I meant, sorry if I wasn't clear. It seems like a more liberal license than IBM usually uses. I had also meant to mention that the download requires registration -- I'm sorry that I forgot to mention that when submitting the post.

You don't get to the license terms til halfway through the registration; so for anyone who doesn't want to do that just to see it =), the license reads:

Slimline Open Firmware

Copyright (c) 2004, 2005 IBM Corporation
All rights reserved.

License Terms for SLOF:

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution. Neither the name of IBM nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.


Commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12761852)

'IBM, we make high-end server and stuff for game-consoles'

love that slogan!

PearPC? (1)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762174)

Would this help PearPC (and countless commercian vendors) any? Or is it for making virtualizations, say of x86, on PPC? It sounds more like the latter, but for some reason, that also seems like it might be a good thing...

Why is this on and not main ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12763388)

See subject. This has nothing to do with Crapple.

PowerPC != Apple (2, Interesting)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12774374)

And this is in the Apple section because...?

Anyway, I guess soon generic PowerPC articles won't be dumped into the Apple section anymore. Heh.

xbox (1)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 9 years ago | (#12784412)

Sounds like this might come in handy for putting linux on the xbox 360.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>