[coreboot] Free BIOS for personal computers and laptops - you will explode!

Corey Osgood corey.osgood at gmail.com
Tue Feb 12 03:25:17 CET 2008

On Feb 11, 2008 4:07 PM, Ward Vandewege <ward at gnu.org> wrote:

> The FSF would like to prepare some PR around this response an FSF
> supporter
> got from Intel customer care representative asking them about support for
> free BIOS on Intel hardware. Any thoughts from the coreboot community on
> this?
> --------------------------
> Thanks for your email.
> Writing BIOS code is not like writing an OS device driver.

Yeah, nobody here knows what they're doing *eyeroll*

> Chipset
> specifications can vary not just between chipset models, but between
> steppings of the same chipset.  Problems in chipset hardware and
> problems in BIOS code are hard to distinguish without specific hardware
> instrumentation.  End user BIOS replacement with a third- party BIOS
> (whether free or not) on a commercial motherboard is not allowed by
> nearly all hardware vendors because of the potential for BIOS viruses
> and the risk of rendering the hardware useless through ill-advised
> modifications.

Some (most?) hardware vendors say they only support MS Windows, the same
logic could be applied. An open-source firmware provides a lot more
assurance that the BIOS is free of malicious code.

> For example, a laptop battery could explode if incorrect
> power management algorithms were applied.

And with the support of the vendor(s) and some better documentation, we can
know how to avoid such issues.

BIOS is a part of the reliability and performance promise of the
> hardware.  Chipset specifications at the level being discussed are
> commonly considered proprietary by all silicon vendors, not just Intel.

Right. Because describing the boot process is somehow beneficial to the
competition. I've seen a bunch of NDA'd docs from Via, and frankly, I'm
completely lost as to how that would help anyone except a BIOS or driver

The open source firmware work that Intel *is* sponsoring could lead to a
> solution where proprietary low-level chipset initialization code from
> silicon vendors is made compatible with open source higher-level
> platform initialization and pre-boot management.  If you are interested,
> we invite you to participate at www.tianocore.org.
> Thanks once again for your interest in Intel.
> Sincerely,
> Intel Customer Support
> --------------------------

I haven't the ambition to register with the site, is there any actual
hardware init code there? And what's the point of starting another project,
when coreboot can already load tiano (so I've heard)?

> Ward.
> --
> Ward Vandewege <ward at fsf.org>
> Free Software Foundation - Senior System Administrator

Thanks for trying!

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