[coreboot] GSOC: thoughts on projects

Joseph Smith joe at settoplinux.org
Tue Apr 6 22:51:23 CEST 2010

On 04/06/2010 02:56 PM, austinro at msu.edu wrote:
> Hi.  My name's Rob Austin, I'm a computer engineering major at Michigan
> State University. I got on IRC for a bit a week or so ago and chatted
> with a few people about some of the proposed ideas. I've had some time
> to think and read more about what I could do for coreboot, and I'd like
> to get a little more feedback.
> - First, the "tianocore" idea. What do you see as the end result of
> getting tianocore working well as a payload? I've been reading about it
> and it sounds interesting, but I need to say something more on the
> application as to "why" this is a worthwhile project. What can we boot
> with EFI that we can't boot with a traditional bios, besides maybe OSX?
> - Second, just how difficult would the port to the Marvell chipset be?
> I'm familiar with the ARM architecture and assembly, more so than x86,
> and realistically in my future I'll probably be working more with
> embedded devices than PCs, so this might be the more valuable experience
> to put on a resume.
> Also, I was planning on applying both to coreboot and beagleboard (my
> fallback), doing largely the same thing. For beagleboard's GSOC project
> page, they have "Improve bootloader support"
> http://elinux.org/BeagleBoard/GSoC/Ideas#Improve_bootloader_support
> listed as an idea. If someone could port coreboot to one ARM device, it
> would probably be considerably easier to then port it to other ARM devices.
> I want to be up front about my ignorance here: I don't know much about
> BIOSes. There seems to be a hole in my computer engineering curriculum.
> With all the required classes, I've started understanding computers from
> the bottom (transistor physics and digital logic), and built up from
> that (combinational logic, VLSI design, computer architecture) --the
> hardware--, and at the same time I've been learning about them from the
> top down --high level languages, then assembler and operating systems,
> the software side. Ideally they would meet in the middle and teach about
> the bios, but they don't. I've asked. I don't feel that my education
> would be complete without this knowledge. I don't like the idea that
> there's hardware, software, and some magical binary blob in the middle
> that connects them. I want to understand it, and I want it to be open.
> You can't trust a blob.
> So that's why I want to work at the
> bios/hardware-initialization/bootloader level. There are only two
> projects for GSOC that focus on the hardware-software interface, and I'd
> be happy to work on either one. There are other reasons: I want to
> become a good programmer, and reading and writing code every day for a
> whole summer will do that; I want to do something meaningful that people
> will actually use, to give back to the open-source community after
> benefitting from it for so many years.
> So having said all that, I would appreciate any feedback as far as what
> the devs think is more doable/would be more useful. I'm interested in
> both projects, but if following one path will lead to a summer of
> banging my head against the wall and failure, I'd rather choose the
> other. Writing "I spent 3 months participating in GSOC and accomplished
> nothing" doesn't look so hot.
Hello and Welcome Rob!
I think the tianocore payload is the most realistic. And I believe it 
was partially started already, so it may easier to get familiar with. 
This would be great to see running along side coreboot.

Don't get me wrong I think the ARM project would be cool too, but it 
will take alot of work to port coreboot to ARM, then again it would open 
coreboot to a whole new audiance.

Either way you will have full support of the coreboot team.
Great to have you aboard :-)

Joseph Smith

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