[coreboot] coreboot 2013 Google Summer of Code: Call for mentors and project ideas

Marc Jones marcj303 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 23:31:59 CET 2013

On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 7:07 PM, Peter Stuge <peter at stuge.se> wrote:
> Marc Jones wrote:
>> Mentoring isn't hard work, but it does take attention every week
> ..
>> The lack of interest is is a bit ironic
> Please don't confuse lack of time for lack of interest.
> I am sure that quite a lot of people in the coreboot community are
> interested in participating in GSoC, but I think it is clear to
> everyone that in order to do so we would have to bring significantly
> more to the table, and I guess that there simply isn't time for that.
>> we have had more contributions to coreboot than ever before.
> While that *is* true, the community landscape has also changed quite
> drastically over the last few years. There are only very few code
> contributors for the majority of the code. Economy of scale is
> clearly in play, meaning much less margin all around.
>> Honestly, I'm disappointed that we can't identify good projects and
>> guidance for new firmware developers.
> Most everyone is too busy even to rework their own code, and
> coreboot.git is merely a public repository with a bit of
> shared infrastructure.
> There is next to no interaction in the community, so I'm not at all
> surprised that we fail to identify projects and processes. When it
> doesn't even work for the community, how could it work for us
> bringing another community (students) into ours?

i would like to see increased interaction. In some ways gerrit has
helped in code reviews,
but it has hindered general development discussion.

>> Without good complete project ideas, applying for GSoC is pointless.
> Certainly agreed.
>> Please put forward coreboot, flashrom, and payload ideas.
> None of the modern platform development in coreboot happens in
> the open, so anything related to that is basically not doable.
> The only doable coreboot project I can think of is to implement AGESA
> for a new mainboard. It took Rudolf a few months to climb the AGESA
> learning curve, and at the moment I believe he is the only community
> member outside of AMD who has done that.
> Doing an AGESA port would be quite educational for a student, but
> obviously also immensely challenging, because unlike Rudolf the
> student probably does not have years of experience with PC firmware.

True, but given a good mentor and working on it everyday should be
very do-able. Especially with a well selected student and target.

> A good student would continue to intelligently drive discussion about
> how to integrate AGESA and coreboot better, while also keeping an eye
> toward keeping AGESA code as pristine as possible in order to
> facilitate inclusion of possible later code drops from AMD. (This is
> part of the "Move configuration to Kconfig" Infrastructure Project.)
> I don't expect qualified applicants. I would love to be proven wrong.

Firmware development is certainly some of the toughest to get started
with and it is even more difficult in x86. This has been a hurdle even
for veterans.

> Other than that, there are various uninspiring infrastructure projects:
> http://www.coreboot.org/Infrastructure_Projects
> Payloads - a way to provide UEFI with Secure Boot support is the only
> thing that mainstream industry has any interest in, since that's what
> Microsoft requires for certification. David and Patrick were already
> working on that, so there's not much for a student project to do..

I think that there is probably a lot to do for a UEFI payload, but I
don't know. Patrick or Stefan would know better.

> Other payload ideas include a solution for chaining payloads, so that
> coreboot starts one payload, but that payload can in turn start one
> other payload after it has finished. This would be a simple
> libpayload project. The code for this is already available in
> SeaBIOS. A good use case would be for the nvramtool-like utility that
> Patrick wrote, allowing a boot-time menu or in fact a more complex
> sequence of payloads to be configured into coreboot Kconfig and maybe
> built all at once while building coreboot - similar to how SeaBIOS
> gets built.

I think that these are some really good ideas. Would you like to put
them on the wiki page and start flushing them out? I think that it is
payload and infrastructure projects where most students would be
capable of finishing in a summer project. I don't know if we will get
student interest in that type of project.

it is hard to find people that are passionate about firmware, but I
would like to try to be positive and promote the advances that we have
made in the last few years.

Thanks for your thoughtful response.



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