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Bypass Windows With Fast-Boot Technology

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-the-hell-does-this-even-mean dept.

Operating Systems 348

thatnerdguy writes "Phoenix Technologies, a developer of BIOS software, is working on a new technology called Hyperspace that will allow you to instantly load certain applications like email, web browser and media player, without loading windows. It could even lead to tailoring of computers to even more specific demographics, like a student laptop preloaded with word processor, email and an IM all available at the press of a button." Why is this story setting off alarms in my brain?

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Sounds possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242157)

Either they have Linux in the ROM or they wrote the complete set from scratch. Have fun.

Re:Sounds possible (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242421)

um, linux, windows and osx aren't the only operating systems out there. i thought you dumbasses should know.

bare metal spyware (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242185)

this will be done with BIOS, right? so no virus or adware scanners or anything else. How long does it usually take to hack closed systems like XBox, media players, the iphone, etc.?

Re:bare metal spyware (2, Insightful)

Storlek (860226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242211)

About ten minutes... but then again, most people with an interest in hacking those systems are doing it to put Linux or something on them.

Re:bare metal spyware (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242623)

How long does it take for a purely software crack to them? It doesn't really ever happen for a lot of things.

Or do you mean how long for an undetectable mod chip? That can take some time.

But you are right, spyware ninjas (or pirates maybe) can indeed mod your computer when you are asleep.

Even better. (1, Redundant)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242187)

I'd like to bypass Windows completely...thanks Canonical.

Whoah (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242209)

It's like travelling back in time 40 years!

Re:Whoah (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242405)

Asus already offers this.
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=885&num=1 [phoronix.com]
It does use Linux BTW and the Motherboard is very Linux Friendly.

Re:Whoah (4, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242553)

That's excellent, thanks for the link even if you were just trying to hijack me thread ;)

I was thinking that building apps directly into the BIOS is just like having single purpose Word Processors back in the day, but the technology in the article does sound excellent, and for example talks about running an antivirus scanner in the BIOS to save on overhead even while you're using another OS for your applications, so it could actually be very handy. I think it makes use of virtualisation to help get around the whole driver thing, not very sure at this point though, as I dont know much about virtualisation, especially on the hardware side.

your sig (5, Informative)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242769)

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.


Wild turkeys can fly. Domestic turkeys are too fat.

http://www.kidzone.ws/animals/turkey.htm [kidzone.ws]
(search for "unable to fly")

As someone who's had flocks of wild turkeys fly over his head, I can attest to their ability to fly first hand. I've also seen them fly away after being shot. That's why you always aim for the head; their feathers are too tough for shotgun pellets.

Rootkit applications? (2)

tomkost (944194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242217)

Would this be like some kind of non-malicious root kit?

Re:Rootkit applications? (1, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242259)

It's sad that when some new tech comes out, there's immediately a comment asking about whether this could be used for terrorism/rootkits/etc.

Re:Rootkit applications? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242295)

It's even sadder that you interpreted the parent's comment to mean that. I hope you die a terrible death in a fire.

Re:Rootkit applications? (4, Interesting)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242337)

It may be sad, but it's a legitimate concern that has to be addressed before it becomes mainstream technology. The article does not address this concern at all and I would be very interested to hear what Phoenix is doing to ensure the security of this system.

Re:Rootkit applications? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242573)


Well you see, every time we point out something else that can be used for territory, that's another bill that has to go through congress to mandate registration of it. We're hoping that we can get the US government to simply busy itself to death.

Re:Rootkit applications? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242327)

No more than a Live CD is a non-malicious rootkit, which is really not at all.

Why? (2)

AutoTheme (851553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242223)

Why do you have alarms in your brain? Why are they going off?

"Technology" (4, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242225)

That's not "fast-boot technology". It's "just another software program". One with a great purpose, but not worth distinguishing as "technology".

Could be firmware, too (1)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242591)

A combination of persistent RAM with a firmware-based OS/app suite could get us there. By the time the OS gets big enough to be very useful, though, we will begin to see the cracks with this approach too.

Re:Could be firmware, too (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242745)

It's been something I have dreamed of. the OS stores itself on a compact flash card, leaving the Hard drive for applications and data only. In fact updating said card should be a royal pain by default as the OS should load it only read only.

advantages you get are speed in loading, and increased security. software hacking it becomes difficult as a reboot would wipe the memory.

OS X, linux, and other *nixes can do this today with little to no modification.

Re:"Technology" (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242771)

That's not "fast-boot technology". It's "just another software program". One with a great purpose, but not worth distinguishing as "technology".


Not to mention it's not even new technology.

PCs (especially laptops) have long had special "media boot options" for years now. All it does is tell the BIOS to boot into a different partition to run the media player. My palmtop (Toshiba Libretto) has a button on its DVD dock. If it's off, it'll turn on and boot into a special locked partition on the disk that runs the DVD player. It's basically just Linux with LinDVD on it. Goal is to make it come up quick (it does, a minute or two normally) and come up into the app.

The goal being that why go through all the trouble of starting up/shutting down Windows when you really just want to watch a DVD or play a CD or something.

Re:"Brillant use of Technology" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242915)

Call it what you will. It is brillinat!!!

If they can really:
    1. deliver instant ON capability,
    2. lock up the software in a read only static device,
    3. provide plugin USB memory

then they will soon be much richer than the silly pedants
who can't see beyond their concerns over nomenclature.

Hot on the heels of recent bootloader stories (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242227)

Wait! Wait! We're still relevant. x86 BIOS is still useful for some things!

Where BIOS == OpenBoot PROM (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242649)


Wait! Wait! We're still relevant. x86 BIOS is still useful for some things!

The Sun 4[c,m,u] workstations had a very useful OpenBoot PROM. I've not seen the same sort of functionality in an X86 BIOS, even in machines from the last year or two. I haven't tried any of the X86 Apple hardware, though.

hmm (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242229)

Media center PCs already can preload apps without booting Windows (usually some form of Linux mini-OS, as far as I knowm, though it probably depends on the manufacturer)
How is that different?

Re:hmm (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242375)

Indeed, my Dell laptop has a button specifically for booting into a mini-OS to directly access files in this manner. Unfortunately, there isn't enough difference between this limited boot and a regular boot to justify its use.

Perhaps their proposal can do a better job, but it doesn't appear to be new ground.

"With the exception of Apple" (5, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242233)

"Phoenix is currently in talks with most major PC manufacturers, with the notable exception of Apple."

Because (at the risk of being accused of Trolling), Apple will eventually bring out iRightNow which will pretty much do the same thing but in White only and at three times the price?

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242349)

already did, it's called the iPhone :)

Troll! (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242361)

That is utterly ridiculous!!11!! We can get them in black now too.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242419)

Apple uses EFI, you twat.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242451)

Because Apple uses EFI.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (4, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242589)

Apple just makes systems that properly wake up from hibernation/sleep quickly. My Macbook is the first machine that simply just works.. close the lid when you're done, stash the machine.. open the lid and unpause the still open itunes in under 15 seconds! I'd say Apple has already done one better.. implementing a bios CORRECTLY in the first place!

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (2, Informative)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242791)

"My Macbook is the first machine that simply just works.. close the lid when you're done, stash the machine."

Just make sure you don't do this with your iPhone if you're outside the US [slashdot.org] .

MacIntels use OpenBIOS? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242855)

I'd say Apple has already done one better.. implementing a bios CORRECTLY in the first place!


MacIntels don't use OpenBIOS, do they?

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (1)

JunoonX (1171445) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242917)

My Vista laptop is no different, press the power button and system sleeps fast (under 5 seconds in most cases), close the lid and when you pop open the lid its back up and running with WMP/Outlook etc within the 10-15 time. Unfortunately, this doesn't work equally across all devices, nor will it. It all boils down to Apple having a limited set of hardware to make this work on, thus, its much easier for them to tweak or modify it across their entire hardware lineup. This same issue plagues Ubuntu as well; on my dell, it works flawlessly, hibernate, stow away, open lid and you're back at using the system within seconds, unfortunately, on an older HP it doesn't. In the end, it all boils down to compatibility of all the devices across your system - Apple just has a better edge on this due to their limited hardware arsenal.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242619)

There are a few reasons why Apple wouldn't be interested in this technology:
  • They use EFI with only a BIOS-compat mode for people who want windows.
  • Mac users don't want a second, inconsistent UI experience.
  • Mac laptops have had 'instant on' for years. Mac laptop users don't shut their machines down, they just close the lid and let it sleep then open the lid and have it resume in a couple of seconds. The problem this solves doesn't exist in the Mac world.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242689)

Oh 'tis a beauty. On my old Windows laptop, un-hibernating takes an ungodly amount of time - it's about equivalent to a normal boot, except the added bonus of not losing my work. On a Mac the sleep mode rules - a slight amount of battery usage, but my machine is on (and totally interactive, as opposed to un-hibernation, where between "Desktop displayed" and "machine usable" is a good full minute), within 2-3 seconds of flipping open the lid.

Re:"With the exception of Apple" (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242793)

Well, how is it new? My asus laptop with xp can do this too. I just close lid and it goes to sleep. I open lid, press any key and 3 seconds later I'm using windows again. I can hibernate too, if I don't want this slight amount of battery usage to happen.

nice (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242235)

Sweet. Now I'll be able to brag that my computer has a 256MB BIOS!

Re:nice (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242731)

It can probably be squeezed into less than 10mb... Especially if you don't include things like the ability to write/execute macros or scripts into it. Interpreters like that add a lot of overhead to something that's pretty basic.

Think Pine with a GUI and AbiWord, rather than Outlook/Thunderbird and MS Word/OpenOffice. AbiWord can be installed in 5mb if you don't choose any options, and it's bloated compared to some of the options out there. Pine comes in *well* under 1mb. Add in a couple of MB for the actual *bios* functions and libraries for things like mouse support, and you're off to the races.

old technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242237)

My tandy 1000 used to load BASIC if you didn't insert an OS floppy. How is this any different?

Re:old technology (4, Insightful)

Storlek (860226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242293)

Seriously though, it really is old technology.
http://www.linuxbios.org/ [linuxbios.org]

Re:old technology (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242611)

1. IBM computers booted ROM BASIC, Tandys didn't. I did, however, have a Tandy 1000HX that would boot MS-DOS 2.11 with no disk in the drive.

2. Phoenix made the BIOS for Tandy computers. Go fig.

-uso.

Re:old technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242671)

My tandy 1000 used to load BASIC if you didn't insert an OS floppy. How is this any different?
BASIC was the OS, you student.

Why indeed, cmdr taco? (0, Troll)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242241)

Why are alarm bells going off in your brain? Is it something about this story? Or maybe you just forgot an important appointment? Perhaps a telepathic reader can find out, since you're not telling.

Um.. (5, Funny)

user24 (854467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242245)

Load applications quickly without loading windows?

Isn't this called Linux?

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242629)

Why was this tagged "Funny"? Seems informative and realistic to me.

Re:Um.. (1)

Volatar (1099775) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242753)

Because it is funny, not informative.

I Know Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242247)

Why is this story setting off alarms in my brain?

Because you've got an alarm implanted in your brain that responds to tech news articles?

The end of dual-booting? (1)

routerl (976394) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242251)

My current Windows XP install is little more than a console (actually, a little less compared to modern consoles; I don't even have a browser installed). If instead of that, I could solely run Linux, and boot directly into Windows games, this technology would be extremely useful.

Re:The end of dual-booting? (2, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242365)

When you said console I took it to mean command line interface rather than a 'games console'. Mold your language for the slashdot demographic if you're going to post on slashdot man!

maybe... (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242253)

Why is this story setting off alarms in my brain?
Paranoia? Big Brother? Vendor lock-in of BIOS? Vista Forever Everywhere Ultimate Platinum Edition?

Re:maybe... (1)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242795)

You forgot to yell GO! at the end, no super powers trigger without the GO!

Vista Forever Everywhere Ultimate Platinum Edition, GO!

And we already have vendor lock in of the BIOS, although that situation is starting to change, I can't just pop an open source BIOS in my PC and expect it to work yet.

Bypass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242281)

My Macbook by-passes Windows at every boot...right into OS X.

Similar to Virtualization technologies (4, Insightful)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242303)

This sounds very similar to virtualization technologies being developed that allow an application, say a database, to run in a virtual environment on a server without having an underlying OS. Why not virtualize a desktop as well? Why not run a simple OS with networking capabilities?

My concern would be data security, as if you wanted to run a word processor or any app that needs access to your hard drive or thumb drive, you would have to have appropriate security built into the miniOS to handle reading and writing. An option would be to provide some onboard flash storage for Hyperspace to use. How much can you enable the end user to customize the user experience without opening up the system to security risks?

Sounds familiar... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242311)

Why is this story setting off alarms in my brain?

Didn't they sell a device like this years ago? It had a stylish design, and a below-cost price with monthly subscriptions, it got hacked almost instantly to run Linux, it prompted a few hundred "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!" comments and then disappeared...?

Re:Sounds familiar... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242637)

A Zune?

No brainer. (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242319)

Why boot up a bloated OS just to check your mail or run instant messenger? Sandbox every application that boots this way, and you increase your security, raise your battery life, whiten your teeth, etc.

People always say, "Well all this person does is check email! Why do they need a fancy computer/operating system/office suite." The real question should be, why do they need an OS at all?

I love my desktop, and I'll probably keep one until they get something that I can wear that does all the same stuff, but I'm fricking sick to death of dealing with people's computer issues, when they only really need a web browser. Handing out knoppix disks works well enough, as a stopgap, but reducing things to a more simple state is highly desirable.

Re:No brainer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242481)

People always say, "Well all this person does is check email! Why do they need a fancy computer/operating system/office suite."

Because that is false... they check their email but want to see the pictures sent to them in it, and follow the links to the websites sent to them, and watch the stupid little youtube movies referenced in the emails, and play the flash games referenced in the same emails.

Keep in mind, that often times a person will make that claim without doing any more investigation then a surface glance.

Re:No brainer. (5, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242505)

In all the years I've been helping people with their home computers, I've only encountered one person that actually "just checked email". The rest _say_ they only check email. Then watch their computer boot. Some random instant messaging client pops up and I get, "oh yeah, I use that to message my friends/book club/church group/whatever". They have a solitaire shortcut on their desktop that they use when they're bored. They have some program they use to edit photos of their grandchildren they receive in the email.

By the time all is said and done, they do a heck of a lot more than just email and more than what probably makes sense for some trimmed down applications.

Re:No brainer. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242707)

Even more so if the computer is shared by more than one person. One person just uses email, and Acrobat reader to read pdfs in the email, then one of the kiddies uses it to play bejewelled 2. Another uses it to play some word scramble thingy. Next thing you know yet another person actually needs to do some word processing, printing and also needs the spreadsheet/powerpoint stuff around to view other things they get emailed from their broker/boss or whoever.

But I suppose if the O/S is not capable enough to support such apps conveniently for some reason, the hardware manufacturers would be happy to sell people more to work around the "problem".

Re:No brainer. (1)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242821)

I guess you could set up a version of Firefox that runs with no OS. Then you can do email, web browsing, maybe even IMs with it. Basically your operating system would BE Firefox, and everything you do would be on Google (email, documents, photos, etc). However, I don't see much advantage to this unless you provide a machine that only runs Firefox...once you try to make Firefox work with a billion different hardware configurations, or set up some kind of virtualization environment, you're right back to the complexity and overhead of a normal OS.

Re:No brainer. (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242903)

why do they need an OS at all?
Things like hardware abstraction, memory management, process scheduling, disk handling and so on. You know, the stuff that goes on between the hardware and the application. I can't imagine they wouldn't re-use low-level software components for each of their applications. I also can't imagine they wouldn't bundle these components into some kind of (pay attention now) system for operating the hardware.

Bypassing Windows and... (2, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242323)

Windows is an OS (I'm being kind), that means there's all sorts of things that run on top of it behind the scenes most users neither know nor care about. Things like a firewall and anti-virus. Quite necessary if Phoenix are suggesting you might run an email client on this thing.

Similarly I don't think there's ever a time when I want to run just a word processor. I want an MP3 player for some tunes. I want a web browser for fact checking. I want Freecell because I'm lazy and rarely do any actual word processing.

Basically what I'm saying is that I want a proper OS, not something that runs one app at a time. I doubt I'm alone in that. Now, give me a decent OS that runs lots of things loaded into an area of Flash memory so it starts up quickly and I'm yours.

Re:Bypassing Windows and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242483)

Uh, why would you need a firewall and antivirus if the only thing that can be compromised is your email program, and even that is reset if you just reboot?

Oh noes, they will get your email! It's not like email is private anyway. If you're reading encrypted stuff, stop, reboot, start reading it (to make sure you didn't pick anything up). It'll take like five seconds at most.

Re:Bypassing Windows and... (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242579)

Things like a firewall and anti-virus. Quite necessary if Phoenix are suggesting you might run an email client on this thing.
Really? Why? The article doesn't give many specifics. It's possible that this "new technology" won't even have access to the hard drive. If it's limited to ROM and RAM, is there really anything a hacker or a virus could do, even if they somehow managed to get in? Reboot and you're back to normal.

Similarly I don't think there's ever a time when I want to run just a word processor. I want an MP3 player for some tunes. I want a web browser for fact checking. I want Freecell because I'm lazy and rarely do any actual word processing.

Basically what I'm saying is that I want a proper OS, not something that runs one app at a time. I doubt I'm alone in that. Now, give me a decent OS that runs lots of things loaded into an area of Flash memory so it starts up quickly and I'm yours.
Then clearly this stuff is not for you. I'd gladly take it, until we get a full-blown OS that loads quickly or instantly. Remember, this is being designed with portable laptops in mind. The kind of thing they expect you'll do with it is turn on your laptop and browse the web for a bit while waiting on your flight at the airport, or other similar scenarios. For those situations where you have a few minutes of wait time, but you're not sure how much... and you don't want to sit around doing nothing.

Re:Bypassing Windows and... (2, Informative)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242677)

Basically what I'm saying is that I want a proper OS, not something that runs one app at a time. I doubt I'm alone in that. Now, give me a decent OS that runs lots of things loaded into an area of Flash memory so it starts up quickly and I'm yours.

It's things listed in your post that popular OS vendors have forgotten about... We need to be pandered to. There's a reason that Vista sales are in the toilet, Linux hasn't been able to break into the market in a decade and why Apple is a cool, but small niche vendor. They need to create an OS based on what their customers want, not based on a list of features Jobs or Gates thinks is cool. Aero was written to be as slick as a Mac, and Macs have taken repeated steps to become more like PCs (close case to open case, adopting Intel architecture, etc.) Linux isn't exempt from the imitate success bandwagon. By trying to replace windows instead of doing what it does best, run apps, no distribution has been able to be both slim and fully functional. It's going to take someone thinking outside the box (pun intended) to get an OS that meets the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy and tech-reliant society to abandon windows. If that means revolutionizing the hardware and dumping the entrenched OS companies at the same time, I say bring it on.

Linux (1)

Hayden Panettiere (1174137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242333)

Does anyone know if this HyperSpace technology uses Linux or other GPL'ed software? The Wired article is not very specific. I hope if Phoenix is using Free Software for its HyperSpace technology, that they respect their obligations under the GPL.

Re:Linux (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242631)

Might make more sense to use BSD software then, don't you think? Or perhaps roll their own? They have a rather long history of doing stuff like that.

This is so cool (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242341)

But the problem is that application would need to talk to the hardware and they don't know how to do that, so we should bundle it with a piece of software that provides an abstraction... and actually that piece of software could be used to launch other applications without the need for rebooting, it could even manage to juggle multiple application at the same time, while protecting memory and and and we'd call it an OS !!!111

Bypass Windows boot-up... (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242391)

...and get to the BSOD a lot quicker!

Great Idea (1)

bperkins (12056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242399)

I'm so sick of all this OS stuff.

Really, all we users want are day to day applications.

It's high time we got rid of all of this unnecessary bloat, like VM systems and network protocols. What did they ever do for us anyway?

Sleep works for me (2, Interesting)

End Us3r (1003142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242411)

"There's absolutely no reason you should be waiting the three-plus minutes it takes your computer to boot up Windows, says Woody Hobbs, CEO of Phoenix Technologies."

Sleep mode takes care of this while preserving the full functionality of your setup. Why have a hobbled OS?

Re:Sleep works for me (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242635)

Sleep is not a viable option for laptop users who depend on a battery.

Re:Sleep works for me (1)

End Us3r (1003142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242925)

Sure it is. My MBP is rarely powered off. If I'm not using it or if I am on the road (locally) it is asleep. I carry up to two spare batteries with me and I can, thanks to Apple, swap batteries without having to power off the unit. For longer trips I do turn it off. Fortunately it only takes 95 seconds to boot back up to the desktop.

My cheap Dell box boots in under 40 seconds (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242435)

That is from a complete shutdown. From hibernate it boots in under 25 (under 20 sometimes, depends on how much crap I was doing before I went away ;) ), and restores from standby almost instantly.

3+ minutes to boot a computer? What sort of mandatory crap-ware does that guy's company require? Granted I have seen companies get overzealous with security (or rather "over-stupid" in some instances...) and install 10+ background apps, but it isn't any given OSs fault if a company's IT department stinks!

Tag this: (1)

LuckyStarr (12445) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242441)

"!generalpurpose"

In BIOS? What the...?

This is a way to undermine the most useful feature of todays PCs that is, they can be used for almost anything.

Toy (4, Interesting)

zlogic (892404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242477)

I think this will be no more than toy - BIOS manufacturers often introduce neat features that are dropped and forgotten.
For example:
- Ancient versions of AMIBIOS had a Windows 3.11-like mouse-operated GUI (I had one on a 486 PC purchased in 1995). It was a lot easier to use than "modern" text-based BIOSes in 2007. And if the computer had no mouse, you could use the keyboard for navigation.
- I bought an ASUS motherboard about six years ago and it had a feature that spoke about any failures, e.g. no video card or bad memory, instead cryptic beeps that are common today.

Besides, phones and PDAs are "boot" faster not because the initialization procedure is faster (my PDA boots in about 30 seconds) but because they sleep instead of powering off.

Re:Toy (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242595)

Besides, phones and PDAs are "boot" faster not because the initialization procedure is faster (my PDA boots in about 30 seconds) but because they sleep instead of powering off.


My laptop boots from cold in about 25 seconds. It's running Vista Home Premium edition on it. (yah, yah, I know. call me when the ALSA driver supports my sound card. I have tried repeatedly, with multiple distros and multiple kernel versions. Every time it identifies/loads the driver, then the driver crashes claiming there's no codec and there's no sound.)

Instant on would be nice. But I'm not holding my breath on it. 30s from pushing the button to desktop is pretty respectable.

Re:Toy (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242709)

I've used that particular AMIBIOS. In my opinion, it is *NOT* easier to use than today's text only BIOS standards.

The verbal POST sounds both amusing and useful, though :)

What is this 'booting'? (4, Insightful)

victim (30647) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242493)

Oh right, the thing you do when you buy the computer and then after each OS upgrade. I never shut off a laptop from the day I buy it until I dispose of it so boot time is irrelevant. I think if boot time is a problem for some machines then the hardware vendors should address sleep time power consumption instead of creating a new user environment.

Nasty issues to be handled in embedded BIOS applications:
  1. Enter all my wifi access data again.
  2. Configure all my email accounts again.
  3. Can it get to my authentication keychain?
  4. Can it sync my browser bookmarks?
  5. Can it get to my address book?
  6. If my wifi world uses MAC filtering or the BIOS remembers wap/wep keys, does it take authentication to get these apps up or can Bob the cleaning guy activate them?
  7. Can I securely disable it?
  8. The user interface is identical to my existing apps so I don't have to learn one more damn environment, right?


I guess you can cram this in 4M of flash if you are top notch programmer, 128M if you are not. Either way the hardware won't add more than $20 to the cost of the laptop, so I suppose it is a good thing, as long as you can disable it.

It does open an interesting option: If a user only needs email and web access, they don't need to install an OS at all.

Virtualization and Applications (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242507)

Already being done on some level with servers, this is similar to putting a minimal OS and VM in BIOS and booting an application image. With a little effort this can be simulated with a USB key. Put a minimal bootable OS (Linux) with virtualization built (Xen or KVM) on a USB key. Create VM's with single applications that start automatically. The base OS boots to a menu of VMed applications. Phoenix sees the writing on the wall in the server market. We are not that far away from having OS/VM combinations embedded in firmware that will boot write once/run anywhere applications. We wouldn't have to rely on games for windows anymore....

No OS? (3, Interesting)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242531)


I'm sorry, I can't use that word processor. It doesn't support my video card?

Balmer is throwing chairs right now... (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242533)

Havng "worked" wth the fine folks at M$ I can say that they are not pleased with this .... any technology that takes the spot light off their precious OS - or usurps any control of the "user experience" does not sit well with these guys. ....... a non OS controlled application writing to FAT32 or NTFS disk space ??? Well thats just not done in a modern PC .... thats like taking a huge step backwards .....

evolution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242539)

All programs evolve until they can send email.
INCLUDING your BIOS!

it's called a dedicated-function system (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242555)

like the game box that, if you hink around with a bootable CD long enough, you can boot into Linux

Yeah, and setop boxes will replace PCs (1)

MeditationSensation (1121241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242561)

We've been hearing this junk for years and years. Face it: a general purpose computer is far to flexible and useful to go away.

Re:Yeah, and setop boxes will replace PCs (2, Insightful)

basiles (626992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242933)

The good point of this is that it could show to some (non-technophile) people that 1. Windows exist, and 2. their PC can be used without Windows.

Later on, some (small) fraction of these users might consider switching to some other operating system (which could be good for Linux & opensource).

At last, I think it opens a very interesting can of worms: finally the BIOS is evolving (yes I do know about EFI for Apple, OpenFirmware for some old Suns, OpenBIOS or LinuxBIOS for some happy few motherboards).

What surprises me is that the BIOS are not evolving these days (with the exception of useless gadgets). In particular (even if Microsoft don't care yet) a better BIOS with a better loading procedure (imagine a BIOS containing the GRUB loader!) could be welcome.

AFAIK, current BIOSes are not something of importance when choosing hardware (e.g. a motherboard), except perhaps for overclocking.

run Linux (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242667)

Properly configured, a Linux system can boot in a few seconds on reasonable hardware. The reason it takes so much longer right now is just because of all the configuration crap that gets read and servers that get started.

off topic alternative (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242701)

i did a clean install of Slackware-12 without debus, without HAL and without udev, and built a custom kernel (2.6.23) trimming the fat (removing unneeded features & removing unneeded hardware support) and built most of it as modules except for filesystem support (ext3) which was built in to the kernel itself making an initrd unnecessary, and my system boots up in about 10 to 12 seconds, i did not time it with a fancy chronograph but i did watch it boot while keeping a close eye on a large wallclock...

the only thing i have to do without debus, hal & udev is mount removable drives manually (the old fashioned way)

Seems more retro than advanced (3, Interesting)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242715)

It could even lead to tailoring of computers to even more specific demographics, like a student laptop preloaded with word processor, email and an IM all available at the press of a button.

It was commonplace for early home computers to come with applications in firmware. BASIC programming was provided in ROM on all Commodore coputers except their IBM compatibles, Apple II series did as well as did many Radio Shack models and the Atari XL and XE 8-bit computers. Even the original IBM PC had BASIC in the firmware. Early 16-bits like the Atari ST had a highly modified variant of CP/M ported to the 68000 architecture upon which the GEM graphical interface resided--and on all but the earliest models it was all resident in ROM (can you imagine trying to get Vista on firmware cost-effectively?).

The example you give is even more ironic because the Coleco ADAM our family bought in 1984 had--you guessed it--a word processor preloaded in ROM (it bank-switched between the BIOS it had called "EOS" and the "SmartWriter" word processor depending on whether a bootable cassette or floppy was found in any of the drives). The idea is not new at all--it is a very OLD idea being resurrected because for end users it WAS a good idea to put the software you used the most to get you going faster, especially given that hard drives were rare on home computers and slower floppies and even slowere cassettes were the only practical alternative.

The biggest disadvantage was that firmware was not easily updatable. When software was simpler people just lived with the bugs until an updated hardware revision was out but with todays complex software (in some cases poorly written and poorly architectd at that) requires frequent updates as bugs are more numerous and more dangerous to your data (since we now have to deal with the internet). Now with flash memory technology having matured the updating problem is gone...the only thing left to contend with is cost (much more than a hard drive, plus software is so bloated).

There is another factor too--hardware has become more intelligent, as have operating systems and over time the traditional BIOS in the PC platform has become almost irrelevant beyond reverse compatibility. New hardware and current OSes use next to nothing in the BIOS anymore. So, creating applications in the "BIOS" is the way these companies try to stay relevant. It's important to note, however, that BIOSes are mostly proprietary to the point that it could be difficult to write Free software on the platform, and in juristictions with DMCA-like copyright regulations even illegal (as the DMCA is often used to restrict the ability to reverse-engineer). That's why Free software BIOS projects are important, and why Free hardware is something that must get more attention, because the parts of the BIOS that remain relevant happen to be the parts that make the wide variety of motherboards out there software-compatible with each other.

Fast (1)

dlhm (739554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242725)

First, I want a Microwave that can cook my food instantly.. I mean who has time to wait 10 seconds for a hot pocket? :)

It must have been tough... (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242737)

...to write a entire article about a technology while carefully sidestepping what it fudging actually is.

How much of the OS goes in BIOS? (1)

dbuttric (9027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242755)

The BIOS is meant to handle the bare metal parts of the IO of the machine.
There are now efforts to put applications in the BIOS - MCE machines, faststart, etc.

But to launch an application, the faststart (or whatever) needs to know what filesystem is in use, and what libraries the application relies upon... Oh yeah, theres not even the video subsystem - lets assume that we can load that part, then you've got GUI presentation layer to deal with... The App does not draw its own screens, I hope...

I just see this as being fraught with problems.

At the same time, what if you did incrementally put services in the BIOS, like what if you put 3 different schedulers in the BIOS, and gave the user the choice which one to use. Then the OS would have to detect whether or not the BIOS implemented this, and use it if there, and if not, fallback to whatever is configured in the OS.

The more I think about doing this, the more frought with problems it seems to be. I'm not so sure that a bare metal scheduler is what you want in the OS, you might want to register software services to use it, and perhaps a BIOS scheduler would not be as flexible as the one in the OS...

I applaud the IDEA of taking more functions from the OS. But the how is not so clear to me yet.

Linux (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242773)

Yeah, but but does it not run Linux?

Technology like that is already used (1)

Boron55 (1060136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242811)

Technology like that is already used now. I see some Dell laptops have WiFi hotspot finder integrated into BIOS, and it displays results without booting your OS.

Also I believe I've seen some email apps integrated into BIOS that flash a light on your computer when your email arrives without booting Windows. I do not remember exactly, so I may be mistaken about email, but WiFi hotspot finders in BIOS - this feature is on Dell laptops for sure.

Latency (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242841)

Viable OS in BIOS, minimum OS on top, only open the apps you want.
  I have seen the promised land.

I already have one of these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242877)

in the trunk of my car, heading for the dumpster. It's a Brother "laptop" with a word processor, calculator, spreadsheet and terminal application. It goes from power on to application instantly!

I love all this new stuff!

Great! (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242895)

Now the OEM's can load crapware directly into the BIOS!
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