[LinuxBIOS] Fallback checking normal

Peter Stuge stuge-linuxbios at cdy.org
Tue Mar 27 19:16:01 CEST 2007


On Tue, Mar 27, 2007 at 04:41:37PM +0200, WarrenHead wrote:
> May I be of help here by acting as a complete nono?
> I have been reading the emails fly by here for the last two weeks and 
> been trying to read through the entire website, but I still lack a few 
> reasons for even wanting to begin with linuxbios. As a user mind you, 
> because otherwise this project is ofcourse wildly interesting.
> So, as an ordinary person who just owns a pc, what would I get out of 
> using linuxbios instead of the proprietary one that came with my
> machine already?

The warm and fuzzy open source feeling, but not much else right now.

> I did watch the FOSDEM presentation video of Ron Minnich, so I'm not 
> entirely in the blue. I understand the proper support for clusters and 
> the point about your bios not contacting its manufacturers without you 
> knowing.
> But, I find the point (expressed as a big plus) of having a prompt 
> waiting for input, just a few seconds after booting, a bit vague.
> What exactly am I supposed to be able to do right away at that point?

Excellent question.

The metric of boot-to-shell is used to describe what kind of boot
times can be expected for a full system, whatever that may be.

System integrators will build their own stuff on top of the "boot
shell state" while home users may just want a distribution to start
on their system as usual.

The metric is the least common denominator, but only integrators will
be familiar with it. :(

While LinuxBIOS doesn't really care what you run on your system it's
still a problem for us because the boundary is not immediately clear
to users.

> Is my own special kernel running yet, are my filesystems mounted, am
> I able to start my own favorite movie/music player?

Yes, your own kernel is running at that time. Anything else depends
on the startup scripts that have been run at boot.

In my car PC I made some custom start scripts to fire up xmms2 and
start playing at boot.

I used the same board for a theatre lighting project, where I used a
kernel with the viafb driver, and could run mplayer right after boot.

> As a normal user, sofar, I see linuxbios simply shaving off a few
> seconds of booting time, and thats it.

I would say it's more than a few, perhaps more like 30 on an EPIA.

> In other words, I see its merit as being an open system that can
> grow into something extremely cool, but I don't see its necessity,
> especially right now.

With EFI and data retention not currently here I agree there is
little pressing necessity yet, but there will be soon enough.

> (I do however hope that Luc Verhaegen keeps at it and brings
> support for the via mini-itx boards into play, since these are
> mediacenters and should be instant-on.

Three mini-ITX boards (EPIA, -M, -MII) have been supported in
LinuxBIOS v2 for quite some time, and work pretty well. :)

(While not perfect still usable for some purposes. I've had problems
with the PCI slot.)

> And I do hope that the intel 440BX chipsets becomes supported,
> since that might be very cool for the freesco project that uses
> such ancient hardware and could do with a flashable ROM.)

There is indeed a lot of 430/440 hardware around. Once the code works
I think we can expect even more attention.

In summary I'd say that v1 and v2, while good enough for controlled
deployment, have proven to be great learning experiences for
understanding the problems of a fully general BIOS and that v3 will
be able to focus more on end users. One example is using Kconfig for
configuring the BIOS. (This is the same configuration system as used
by the Linux kernel, so you'd say make menuconfig or make xconfig to
configure your LinuxBIOS too.)


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