[LinuxBIOS] Names names.. [was: Linux vs. Open?]

Jonathan Morton chromi at chromatix.demon.co.uk
Tue Mar 15 16:00:06 CET 2005

>>> pretty good, "mainboard firmware" - but then I'm back at the original
>>> problem; what to call the non-payload part. Core? Hardware init?
>> What about init phase?  The whole pre-payload is basically just a
>> per-subsystem init procedure.  Be it CPU, memory, pci cards, or
>> whatever.

If I understand right, the "bootstrap" section (presently called 
LinuxBIOS) is essentially a stripped-down Linux kernel with some rather 
more in-depth device initialisation capabilities.  Such a configuration 
does make sense, and would allow very flexible boot device support.

If this is true, then as a kernel it *does* have callbacks, and can 
justifiably be termed a BIOS in the strict sense of the word, even if 
it doesn't provide the legacy "IBM compatible" calls to run M$-DOS 
directly.  Thus the name "LinuxBIOS" should probably stick.

Since I'm not heavily involved with the project, I might have got these 
details very wrong.  Please don't shoot me too much.

The combination of LinuxBIOS with a trivial "chainloader" payload for 
booting a sophisticated OS directly, should probably stay as LinuxBIOS. 
  As for the combination of LinuxBIOS with an OpenFirmware-like payload, 
I think it could be called LinuxFirmware.

The latter could be an extremely powerful system configuration tool.  
Certainly overclockers would love it, with a (relatively) universal 
interface to and support for their favourite tweaks.  Sysadmins would 
like it too, if it contained sophisticated diagnostic routines 
(Memtest86 and 'badblocks' in firmware?) etc.

Eventually, even Intel will have to admit it's time to ditch the old, 
frequently buggy and restrictive AMI and Award BIOS structures.  
Goodness, BIOSes of both kinds have caused havoc when faced with a HD 
slightly larger than was expected at the time of manufacture, multiple 
times in recent history.  The onus has largely been on the HD 
manufacturers to work around the BIOS bugs.  That's just wrong.

from:     Jonathan "Chromatix" Morton
mail:     chromi at chromatix.demon.co.uk
website:  http://www.chromatix.uklinux.net/
tagline:  The key to knowledge is not to rely on people to teach you it.

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