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LinuxBIOS Gets GUI

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the well-isn't-that-pretty dept.

Hardware Hacking 171

LWATCDR writes "Has a great write up on combining LinuxBios a Linux kernel, busybox, X, a window manager, and rxvt into a two meg flash chip. So what does get you? A six second boot time for one. All sorts of uses come to mind. Terminals to use with the Linux Terminal server. A very fast booting embedded system like a Car computer. With every one pushing for multi-core cpus, mega gigabyte drives and many gigabytes of ram it is interesting to see how small you can go."

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Two megs? (-1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288340)

Uh, shouldn't that be a two gig flash chip, not two meg? X is a bit bigger than two megs, last time I checked.

Re:Two megs? (5, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288370)

tfa is like 10 sentences - including this one The setup: LinuxBIOS + a Linux kernel + BusyBox + a tiny X11 server (Kdrive) + the Matchbox window manager + rxvt.(emphasis mine)

Re:Two megs? (1)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288460)

Small text, but plenty of hyperlinks, including a video [youtube.com] of the system working.

Re:Two megs? (2, Informative)

joe_plastic (704135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291046)

ogg theora video [sourceforge.net] of the same.

Re:Two megs? (1)

tonigonenstein (912347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289004)

I like how they are proud of having X and rxvt. What they may not realize is that you don't need X if you are just going to run a terminal emulator. Replacing rxvt by a useful graphical application (still staying under 2MiB) would make for a more convincing demo.

Re:Two megs? (1)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289420)

Replacing rxvt by a useful graphical application (still staying under 2MiB) would make for a more convincing demo.

Why? They just wanted to show that they are able to run X. The application you run under X makes no difference.

Re:Two megs? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288380)

I'm gonna take a wild stab in the dark and suggest they are using custom builds of the packages with optimizations turned off [or at least not towards unrolled code etc] and various elements removed [like all the drivers, support for the various bit depths, etc].

Just hazardin a guess...

Tom

Re:Two megs? (5, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288402)

Your misconception illustrates precisely why projects like this are awesome. No, the summary was not incorrect. They really did this in TWO MEBIBYTES. Two gigs would be completely non-impressive, you can fit any desktop linux distro in that. Doing it all without X in 1.44MB, with dozens of diagnostic tools, is common on rescue floppy distros. Adding an X server (*NOT* XFree or XOrg, mind you) in under 2MiB is impressive but not impossible.

Re:Two megs? (3, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288502)

In IT, size matters - small is good.

Explains a lot really :)

Re:Two megs? (4, Funny)

udippel (562132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288982)

In IT, size matters - small is good.
Explains a lot really :)


Micro-soft ?

Re:Two megs? (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288516)

This is just such a great project. It's absolutely awesome. Small, fast, cool: choose any three and rejoice!

Re:Two megs? (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288646)

MEBIBYTES
Please, stop this. The efforts by Academie Englaise to redefine the value of pi^H^Hmegabyte has failed miserably, and there is no reason to have this idea in a place other than MS Bob, UnifiedRoot or DOPA -- in the bit bucket where all asinine failed proposals go.

Re:Two megs? (4, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288782)

Indeed, it's well known and accepted that Mebioctets is the only correct word for this.

See for example http://zapatopi.net/labs/kibioctets.html [zapatopi.net]

Re:Two megs? (1)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289494)

Didn't know this annoying issue has finally been formalized the correct way. I really like it, although I doubt it will ever be of general use.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289126)

Efforts to redefine? I think you are mistaken. Megabyte has meant "one million bytes" for far longer than the word byte has even existed. I am still pondering why YOU are trying to redefine it to mean anything else.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289408)

He is not "trying" to. He is simply accepting that this already happened decades ago, and that there is no reason to do anything about this.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289520)

Someone should probably tell the mass storage manufacturers, they don't seem to have caught onto this memory addressing convenience thing at all.

Re:Two megs? (3, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289600)

I think the hard drive industry might disagree with you. Everyone says it's just a recent marketting gimmick to cheat people out of space, but every HD I have ever bought, since 20MB was "huge", was rated in decimal multiples.

Oh yeah, DVDs are measured in decimal multiples too. 4.7GB == 4700000000B.

You're just on the losing side of a very long argument. It probably won't be over until English is history, but it will end in our favor eventually.

Re:Two megs? (2, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289880)

Hope springs eternal, apparently. All your "team" needs to realize is that when a word is clumsy in pronunciation (such as mebibyte) people won't use it.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289956)

It's not a recent gimmick at all, as your experience seems to demonstrate. :-)

Re:Two megs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290740)

Ahh, but the word "byte" was meaningless until someone determined (a few decades ago) that it would be 8 binary digits. Notice the use of the word "binary", as in "base-2". Thus the closest power in a base-2 system that approximates 1 million (base 10) is 1,048,576, therefore a megabyte (but not a megajoule, megaton, megalomaniac, or mega-maid) is 1,048,576 bytes, due to the implied number base in the use of that word.

Perhaps redefining the use of the word megabyte would've worked if they had instead simply supplemented it by making mebibyte be 1,000,000 bytes. (As in "mebi" you wanted this as a base 10 power instead of the default base 2 power for some reason.)

Re:Two megs? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289752)

Why is it asinine to ask people to use words in a way that makes sense? Simply because some people are too stupid and/or obstinate to use words as they are meant? I mean, that's a good argument, but I still think that accuracy is more important than your comfort level.

Re:Two megs? (4, Funny)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290038)

It's asinine because of the douchebag factor.

So you're talking to your uncle who's asking you, the family "computer genius", some questions about which memory module he should consider buying to upgrade his computer. You say something like, "well, I think that you should get at least two gibibytes total." Your uncle replies, "What's a gibibyte?" You proudly declare, "A gibibyte is 1,024 mebibytes, or two to the power of 30 bytes. Computers are binary machines, and memory is manufactured in sizes accordingly, not using base-10, which would yield 'megabytes' and 'gigabytes', which are 1 million and 1 billion bytes, respectively. Thus, when we talk about computer memory, we use mebibytes and gibibytes, even though manufacturers incorrectly use megabytes and gigabytes on their packaging."

Your uncle thanks you and after you depart he turns to your father and says, "what a douchebag."

Another reason to not use mebibyte and gibibyte or any of the baby-talk bytes, unless it's absolutely necessary, is that they're not recognized by Firefox's spell checker.

Re:Two megs? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290148)

It's asinine because of the douchebag factor.

Yes, it's true. The corporations who misused the SI prefixes all these years are staffed by douchebags.

Oh, that's not what you meant?

Re:Two megs? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289850)

The SI prefixes kilo, mega, etc were in use long before they were used by the computing industry. Even within the industry, the SI prefixes are used when talking about mass storage and transmission speeds - the M in 100Mbps is 10^3, not 2^20, and similarly for hard drives.

Now personally I think that mebi, kibi, and the others sound stupid and would never use them myself, but I at least acknowledge the reality that megabyte means both 10^3bytes and 2^20bytes depending on the context, and as such is ambiguous.

Re:Two megs? (3, Insightful)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290704)

This has less to do with SI and more to do with a way to approximate the values in semi-easy-to-understand binary/hexadecimal representations. Since 1,024 was close to 1,000, the idea of 1024 bytes being a binary equivalent to a "kilo" was not a large leap and it's easier to remember 0x400 bytes equals a kilobyte than 0x3E8 bytes, or that 0x100000 bytes instead of 0xF4240 equals a meg. As programmers(or at least us low level language programmers) we live and breath in the binary world and rarely have to think in decimal terms comparatively.

What kills me is that I'm betting that a large majority of people who argue for the 1,000 byte kilobyte will gladly accept "ginormous", "omgwtfbbq" "aiiiggghttt"and "teh" and all the other language abuses and will see absolutely nothing wrong with their use. I'm sure that whoever dreamed up the "mebi" thing thinks they are making things easier but until us older programmers and hardware engineers die, that's not gonna take hold very well. Of course it speaks volumes that the term "mebi" is almost 10 years old now and still hasn't taken hold.

One might also note that memory is the reason we use these terms in the first place since hard drives and the like didn't come about for a long while so trying to make the language even more confusing, and garbled, because hard drive manufacturers want to skimp on drive size seems asinine, and they DO want to skimp on drive since formatting 160Gb, whether it's 160,000,000,000 bytes or 160x1024x1024x1024 bytes, only yields about 140,000,000,000 bytes.

Re:Two megs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290816)

In this case it's probably not even correct since flash chips are usually specified in megabits, not megabytes. So the chip in question is 2Mb.

Re:Two megs? (1, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290008)

TWO MEBIBYTES

Did you just come back from the dentist or something?

Try it again after the novocaine wears off.

Re:Two megs? (4, Informative)

bflong (107195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290066)

Just an FYI, KDrive *is* xorg. it's built from the official sources and is part of the source code tree and build system of xorg.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kdrive [wikipedia.org]

Re:Two megs? (1)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288432)

X.org is large, but there are other smaller implementations of X servers.

TinyX and Xvesa are two examples.

Re:Two megs? (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288712)

Kdrive (referenced in this project) and TinyX are roughly the same thing. The name just changed once Keith Packard got it integrated into Xorg

Re:Two megs? (4, Interesting)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288466)

You do realize there's more than one X server out there, don't you?

For example, Xvnc only takes about 800KB compressed. Yes, it doesn't display, but bolting a framebuffer driver onto it would only take a few KB - in fact you could fit both Xvnc and a full featured vnc client into less than 1MB. There are at least a few small "proper" X servers (that drives a display instead of keeping it's own frame buffer) out there that would fit in 2MB too - I only mentions Xvnc since that's the only one I happen to have installed.

Absolutely (2, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290058)

They're using KDrive, one of the build options of XFree/XOrg done by Keith Packard specifically for embedded or small targets. At my last job we were compiling that for a MIPS target, and the X executable came in at around 650k IIRC.

It's the support libraries and fonts that make an X install huge. Drop those and you can easily squeak in a busybox implementation in 2 Megs.

That being said - this is a fantastic hack. Everyone in the thread is thinking embedded computers for cars, but not me. I'm thinking Geode chips, PC/104 boards and industrial control.

And since I'm thinking about it, thank you Keith if you happen to read this. The other guy I was working with on this project actually got in touch with you over IRC and you helped us out with some problems we were having. Very nice of you to give us a hand - we really appreciated it.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290796)

interesting, there was a thing called svnc which used an svga frame buffer or something. I haven't used it for years and do not know if it is still available/maintained. it was pretty small as well.

Re:Two megs? (4, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288508)

Uh, shouldn't that be a two gig flash chip, not two meg? X is a bit bigger than two megs, last time I checked.

Two gigs? What do you need? Pre-downloaded pr0n?

Re:Two megs? (4, Funny)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289538)

Whoa, a Linux BIOS with pre-downloaded pr0n! It would have an instant market! "From cold iron to pr0n in 6 seconds!"

Re:Two megs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290054)

Next stop: making LinuxBIOS run on a sybian, with total scriptable control.

Re:Two megs? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290630)

Aww, six seconds? But I want porn now!

Re:Two megs? (1)

itlurksbeneath (952654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289062)

You didn't read TFA, did you.... It clearly says that it's running inside a 2MB BIOS chip.

Re:Two megs? (1)

permawired (906877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289160)

It's the BIOS they're talking about... so yes, it's 2 meg

Re:Two megs? (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289588)

Sure. Try here http://www.angelfire.com/linux/floorzat/2diskXwin. htm [angelfire.com] 2-Disk Linux.for a linux with x that will fit on two floppies, one for the base install and the second for x-windows.

They used to have a 1-Disk Linux distro that would fit on one floppy (1.72Mb?) with a tiny x-server, busybox, ed (an editor) and a web browser (dillo? elinks? I don't remember....) but I don't see it on the page anymore.

It is actually usable (I tried it) but I had some probs saving files to hard disk, IIRC. This was a long time ago, but the project looks still active.

 

Re:Two megs? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289748)

Nope it is two megs. X.org is pretty big but there are smaller x servers available.
Anyone can get Linux running in 2 gigabytes of space.

Frist Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288360)

We call this an Amiga

pothole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288438)

Offtopic???

DUR!!!!

First? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288372)

Fast boot times excite me.

Re:First? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288430)

Fast boot times excite me.

But it's the time-till-crash that excites your mom.

Re:Fast boot times? (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288638)

But fast boot times have been available for years.
My car stereo (www.empeg.com) has been able to fast boot linux from flash for over 7 years.

Re:Fast boot times? (3, Funny)

Ostrich25 (544788) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290924)

My car stereo (www.empeg.com) has been able to fast boot linux from flash for over 7 years.
I don't have that much time to wait for my car stereo to boot! Even my iPod can boot in less than 7 years.

Slashdotted (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288400)

I hope they weren't running their webserver with it.

Embedded linux (1)

Jack Malmostoso (899729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288408)

This gives a whole new meaning to the word "embedded"!

Uh... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288440)

No, this is pretty much exactly what "embedded" meant all along.

Re:Embedded linux (2, Interesting)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288488)

No, that would only happen if you got it to install on your bed.

So far, I've only gotten NetBSD to do that... Right after I installed it on my toaster, and before I installed it on my electric can opener.

Re:Embedded linux (2, Insightful)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288702)

Or if you installed it in one of those... ah... programmable marital aids... that might get used in a bed. Bedded, if you will.

question remains (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288426)

Yes, but does it run... oh, never mind!

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291114)

...Comrade Linux runs YOU!

Impressive, but unnecessary (2, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288444)

While the X server was quite cool, I don't see what functionality it can bring at this stage of the game. I want to see a Linux BIOS that works for my hardware that allows me all the features of my existing BIOS. If you can do that with X, great! But right now, I want function over form. A text base menu like what I have now would be fine.

Re:Impressive, but unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288792)

What you miss is vendor support.
Eyecandy is honey for the vendor bear.

Re:Impressive, but unnecessary (4, Insightful)

Dielectric (266217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288820)

I think you missed the point. It's running a fully graphical Linux in 2MB of solid-state memory. It just happens to be residing in the BIOS chip, which means no other hardware is necessary to get a functioning system. I think it's awfully cool.

Mod up, please (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289644)

I was just coming in here to say the same thing.

Re:Impressive, but unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290804)

He doesn't want a cool BIOS. He wants a working BIOS.

I have a custom firmware in my WLAN router. I can ssh into my access point and scan the airwaves from there. It's mighty cool, but I wouldn't hesitate one second and replace it with a standard firmware if the custom one wasn't stable.

Re:Impressive, but .... usefull! (3, Informative)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289518)

Given that is for a BIOS project, the primary goal is to load another OS off larger storage medium. So why an GUI? Easy, what do you do when your main OS fails? You reach for a bootable recovery CD or USB drive. Oh, but you aren't at home and didn't bring it with you! Gah! Oh wait, you can boot the BIOS in GUI mode and get on the internet and use a web browser and all sorts of stuff!

Even better, what happens when your grandmothers primary OS fails? Think she can use CLI tools and fsck the disk and other such things? What about a GUI where she can point and click through a diagnostic wizard? Maybe even click something to let you ssh in and fix it remotely?

Realistically, I don't think the setup will stay at 2Meg, but I don't think it will need to be more than 32Meg since you can have a fully useful PDA in 32Meg. And if more storage is needed, it can always be extended by using the "recovery partition" concept.

I'll admit that it's arguable that all this is necessary, but I'd argue that enabling the public to know if the issue is RAM or HDD or some other easily swapable part is necessary in taking the frustration out of owning a computer, as well as in reducing waste. There are too many people that don't know that memory can go bad and be replaced easily and that the computer itself is still quite useful. A diag wizard in the bios can fix this problem.

Re:Impressive, but unnecessary (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289602)

It's for geeks, not for real life use! Ya know, lab experiments ... and such ... Get a geek researcher spirit, dude :)

Re:Impressive, but unnecessary (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291176)

> "We don't have enough troops in Iraq," Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, 2005.

Nice of you to point out how much more insightful Kerry was than Bush (took bush a lot longer and a lot of interviews to recognize the same thing, didn't it!)

Pity that 20,000 more still isn't going to be enough. Even when he finally gets the problem, Bush blows the solution.

Great sig.

How small you _can_ you go? (3, Funny)

bubbl07 (777082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288472)

[...] it is interesting to see how small you can go."
Apparently, it's normal and happens to lots of computers. It's not the size of the hard drive, it's how fast you can boot up.

Re:How small you _can_ you go? (1)

happymellon (927696) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289778)

Insightful? This is hilarious

Re:How small? Gavin's 3721 byte OS! (2, Interesting)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290936)

In 2004, Gavin Barraclough wrote an OS (from scratch) in only 3721 bytes:

"This is a 32-bit multitasking operating system for x86 computers, with GUI and filesystem, support for loading and executing user applications in elf binary format, with ps2 mouse and keyboard drivers, and vesa graphics. And a command shell. And an application - a simple text-file viewer."

Granted, it may not be the must useful (or maintainable!) OS ...

http://www.de.ioccc.org/years.html#2004_gavin [ioccc.org]

Linux on RFID chips? (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288510)

Eh? Just how much space is on your typical RFID, anyway?

Re:Linux on RFID chips? (1)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289446)

I suppose you're thinking of passive devices, so the answer would be in the range of a couple hundred bits. They're not really equipped for running anything either - if you're looking for a cool way to carry your tiny distribution, just stick with USB flash devices (pun not intended).

Mobile BlitzBoot (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288524)

If only I could just plug one of these into my PlayStation and boot Linux in 6 seconds, instead of the hours, reboots, and disc swaps [ubuntuforums.org] to install Ubuntu on it.

In fact, what would be great would be a 2GB (maybe 4GB) Flash drive with minimal linux and gcc running on many different architectures, which loads the Linux source and recompiles for the host into which it's plugged. Maybe caching the last few, including the most popular PPC/x86/MIPS versions, which could of course be precompiled. There's probably a role for the Internet in updates, but running off the local drive will make the process much faster.

Ultimately I'd like to see all this run off the Flash in my mobile phone, booting the hosts off Bluetooth. That would take new BIOS'es for the hosts which could pair with Bluetooth and boot from it before booting the installed OS. Preferably all config'ed and run from an app in my phone.

Re:Mobile BlitzBoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289498)

"If only I could just plug one of these into my PlayStation and boot Linux in 6 seconds, instead of the hours, reboots, and disc swaps to install Ubuntu on it."

Funny... I installed Gentoo on a PS3 in less than 'hours' (and only had to reboot twice, once to get into the installer, once to boot off the HD).

"In fact, what would be great would be a 2GB (maybe 4GB) Flash drive with minimal linux and gcc running on many different architectures, which loads the Linux source and recompiles for the host into which it's plugged. Maybe caching the last few, including the most popular PPC/x86/MIPS versions, which could of course be precompiled. There's probably a role for the Internet in updates, but running off the local drive will make the process much faster."

It would be much faster to download everything from the internet than recompile the entire system every time you plug it into a computer (try running 'emerge --update --deep --emptytree world' sometime on a gentoo box, it'll take far longer than just downloading everything from the internet).

Better video (4, Informative)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288552)

There's a better quality video (i.e. a non-YouTube one) available at http://downloads.sourceforge.net/fornix/linuxbios. ogg [sourceforge.net]

Re:Better video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290332)

The base line in that soundtrack is extremely similar to the one in Let There Be More Light. When the video came up I thought "where is that bass riff from, they ripped someone off" then I realized it's from a Pink Floyd album I've listened to literally hundreds of times over the course of about 20 years. :)

FBUI (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288562)

Ahh...but then there's also FBUI, which is a full blown GUI system that runs as an in kernel module (~50k). Has some light weight libraries for interfacing with it. Would save tons more room than kdrive with all this other stuff. No networkable hooks though

Re:FBUI (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289324)

Holy smokes! Thanks for that tip. FYI: http://home.comcast.net/~fbui/ [comcast.net]

Now, I've got to figure out how to get freevo to run on it. The Intel framebuffer is not playing nice on my freevo/mythtv box and this is one answer.

This came as no surprise to me "August 2006: Inclusion of FBUI windowing system into the Linux kernel has been blocked by Linux framebuffer developers. This illustrates one major defect of how the Linux project is managed: those who control it are no more responsive or responsible to the public's needs or wants than are Microsoft's managers." People....

Good to see (2, Insightful)

Cruise_WD (410599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288624)

Between this, and the Linux support for SIM cards, how long until we can make our own linux phone? A completely DIY phone might even tempt me to get one...

Re:Good to see (4, Interesting)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288796)

The initial OpenMokos have just shipped to developers. They'll hopefully be more generally available toward the end of this year. I'm excited to get one as soon as I can, and no I'm not affiliated with them - I just think they are doing some awesome work.
-N

http://www.openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com]

Re:Good to see (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289686)

Get back to me when they get EDGE GPRS. And, you know, announce a price. The lack of EDGE GPRS is an absolute dealbreaker.

Lots of consumer potential (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288670)

The article does mention other applications like carr PC's, etc. but this could have lots of household PC uses. I would LOVE to have something like this, but for "consumer use", it would need to automatically boot, connect to the network using either presets or DHCP, and then present a menu (text or graphical--doesn't matter) displaying a list of available VNC and rdp servers to connect to (I use Windows primarily, so that's MY need, but Linux (aka X) connections could be useful too.) Then launch the graphical session.

Better still, let me just define a dedicated server, and have it auto-boot and connect.

My desire is to use older PC's as quick-booting "terminals" accessing Windows servers. Then, from the users' perspective, it's a seamless Windows environment.

Re:Lots of consumer potential (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289384)

What you want is a dumb terminal, and these already exist and are widely available.
Most support X11/XDMCP or RDP.

Yeah, but... (3, Funny)

guy-in-corner (614138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288750)

...does it run Windows?

Sorry.

Re:Yeah, but... (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289264)

You're being humorous, and it's pretty fuinny. There's a point here just waiting to be made, though.

Since it's LinuxBIOS we're talking about, it could be a thin client which also has the option to boot off any drive the system is capable of using for boot. So while you can't fit the Windows installation into the BIOS flash, you could have a well-featured small Linux in the BIOS which then boots into Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD, NetBSD, other BSDs, Darwin, Solaris, a full Linux installation, or anything else that runs on the PCs LinuxBIOS can be the BIOS for.

PCs used to come with DOS in ROM, and QNX has had kernel+GUI+other stuff in this kind of space for years although I've never seen QNX on the BIOS flash. It's cool to see someone doing it with LinuxBIOS. EPOC/Symbian, WinCE/PocketPC, Palm, etc all have GUIs, too. Maybe something like this could lead Linux to be truly competitive in that kind of market eventually. I had Debian Small running on my Psion 5mx, which was really cool. Still, even having a Sempron, Celeron, Geode, or C7 board with no disk and no Compactflash that gives me a small, power-efficient smart terminal to stick in the living room or kitchen would be great.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289682)

Hey. Yeah. No.

Imagine.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18288812)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these....

imagine... (-1, Redundant)

comradeeroid (1048432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288840)

running a bunch of these in a Beowulf cluster.

CarPC use? yes and no. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288846)

First if you are shutting down your car PC then you are doing it wrong. You use hibernate or sleep modes, shutting the thing down completely is the WRONG way to do it. What that I hear you say? your motherboard does not support linux hibernate? Your fault for using the wrong hardware.

You CAN get hardware thatdoes what you want, you CAN get hibernate to work EVEN on unsupported hardware, Software hibernate exists out there and is a patch for the linux kernel, works quite well and is fast.

6 second boot from bios is great, you are NOT getting the OS to boot to useability in 6 seconds with how most people have their Car PC install. I dont care what kind of voo-doo is going on in the bios. You have to roll your own embedded OS to get the incredibly boot times or use a stripped down slackware to get it done.

Honestly the Linux BIOS needs to focus on working on far more platforms and motherboards first and the flashy GUI last. I love it, we used it in an embedded design 4 years ago but for general use it's limited to a small subset of motherboards.

But the summary's example for CarPC use is not realistic, Designing for a automotive platform first and showhorning a standard PC in your car LAST is the solution to getting lightning fast boot times in a CarPC.

Re:CarPC use? yes and no. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289556)

6 second boot from bios is great, you are NOT getting the OS to boot to useability in 6 seconds with how most people have their Car PC install. I dont care what kind of voo-doo is going on in the bios. You have to roll your own embedded OS to get the incredibly boot times or use a stripped down slackware to get it done.

If you don't need a bunch of services, you can just set init to a script that runs your GUI.

It's actually not very hard to set up your own self-booting system.

Best quote from tfa... (1)

Lodewijk (3307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288916)

"who needs hard drives when you can fit everything in the BIOS just fine"

Who are the idiots working on this project? (1)

pyite69 (463042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289462)

Motherboard support is the most important thing to be working on. I have wanted to use LinuxBIOS for > 5 years now, but the supported hardware list is laughably small.

Re:Who are the idiots working on this project? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289606)

You could be the idiot working on this project. You want additional hardware support? Join up and help produce it. People aren't idiots simply because they're not providing what you want. Alternatively you could also hire a developer for the period of time it takes to support your chosen hardware...

How much time/money are we talking for most x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289840)

Anyone have any idea? I'd really like to see some work in this area, because a lot of manufacturers fail to fix BIOS bugs (especially after a certain amount of time).

Re:Who are the idiots working on this project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290196)

Alternatively, I could use the myriad alternatives that already work, for much less investment, and no associated undesirable political tripe. Now that's a winning solution.

As a bonus, I don't accidentally help you out!

Re:Who are the idiots working on this project? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290366)

Alternatively, I could use the myriad alternatives that already work, for much less investment, and no associated undesirable political tripe. Now that's a winning solution.

Could you please share with us the myriad alternatives to System BIOS?

If you have an AMI BIOS, you may be able to purchase an updated, bugfixed BIOS that's newer and better than what the manufacturer provides. But that only happens when a major customer (or a sufficient number of customers) need[s] support for some hardware no longer supported, and there's money for it.

Please share with me the myriad alternatives to my System's BIOS. I'm eager and ready to listen.

Whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289524)

My Apple ][+ boots to the OS in 1 second!

Re:Whatever (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290596)

Pfft. My Atari 400 goes from SELECT to BOSS in 0.8.

Six second boot time... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289576)

...doesn't seem like it would be doing much system checking.

Of course, bad RAM is pretty much a thing of the past.

-rick

Running from BIOS must be fast, indeed.... (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289782)

It reminds me of my old DOS days when I tried to map DOS into 1024 MBs of very fast level-2 cache on a Tyan Pentium-1 Motherboard. I never succeeded, but it booted quick and crashed faster!

I still run DOS (triple-booting with Mepis and Fedora) from time-to-time for WordPerfect and custom macros and it's right spritely on a Sempron-2800. DRDos 7.03 takes about 3 Mb.

Re:Running from BIOS must be fast, indeed.... (1)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290902)

why don't you use qemu or bochs for dos ? that way you wouldn't need to reboot to use it. qemu with the kqemu kernel module is pretty fast ... i use it to play old dos/win 3.11 games on my linux boxen.

Incorrect Slashdot article title:not LinuxBIOS GUI (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290118)

The title of the Slashdot article is completely incorrect and misleading.

The GUI shown is just a normal Linux GUI which runs after Linux has booted. The fact that its code is stored in the same flash device as the LinuxBIOS is just simple aggregation, and totally irrelevant.

It has nothing to do with the LinuxBIOS code at all, and it is certainly not a GUI for LinuxBIOS.

Great work in making it fit into 2 meg, but really bad Slashdot title.

Typewriter! (1)

sevenfactorial (996184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290488)

I've been wanting a cheap laptop to essentially be a dedicated word processor for years. I hate waiting for a machine to load, and I abhor the distractions that a full service operating system offers while I'm trying to compose something. A command line interface and a 6 second boot time sound ideal to me. I can't be the only person who has an interest in a machine like this--witness the Alphasmart product line and its popularity with writers. If I had the ability to mass produce such machines, I would certainly try to market and sell them.

Hard Drive (1)

quakehead3 (988738) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290732)

Not necessary anymore. Remove it!
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