Schedule: LinuxBIOS

Ronald G Minnich
Day Saturday
Room Janson
Start time 15:00
End time 15:45
Duration 00:45
Event type Podium
Track Kernel
Language English
Video (Ogg/Theora)

LinuxBIOS - building a BIOS for fun and not-profit.

The Linux BIOS replaces the normal BIOS found on PCs and other machines. The BIOS boot and setup is eliminated and replaced by a very simple initialization phase, followed by a gunzip of a Linux kernel. The Linux kernel is then started and from there on the boot proceeds as normal. Amongst many other things, it provides a very fast boot time: 3 seconds from power-on to Linux console

Ronald started the LinuxBIOS project in 1999, with the simple goal of building a specialized BIOS for supercomputers. Since that time, the LinuxBIOS project has seen the usage grow by a factor of 10 each year, to a projected usage of well over 10 million in 2007, and 100 million in 2008.

With the advent of the OLPC project, there is enough critical mass to design hardware as it should be designed, and in turn, build a BIOS as it ought to be built. For example, the OLPC will not use badly designed standards such as ACPI -- there is no need to.

In this talk, Ronald will discuss:

  • some of the early history of LinuxBIOS, as a motivation for why it is designed the way it is;
  • what he learned in building a free BIOS,
  • including knowledge that was lost but was rediscovered;
  • issues he faces in dealing with vendors
  • interesting things you can do when you own the BIOS
  • the work Google is supporting
  • what the future holds