[LinuxBIOS] LinuxBIOS on Laptops.

Bari Ari bari at onelabs.com
Mon Sep 4 01:11:50 CEST 2006

Guido Fiala wrote:
> In the age of USB i wonder if we still need a keyboard/mouse controller for 
> other than that.
> How would a (linux) mainboard look like? Is there a parts list, e.g. one for 
> desktop, one for laptop that would be great?
Look for laptops that have the firmware Flash write enable lines 
controlled only by the chipset and not also by the keyboard/system 
management controller. This will allow a developer to rewrite the Flash 
with LinuxBIOS. Most efforts to port LinuxBIOS on laptops in the past 
could not get past this hurdle.

Designing and manufacturing for a laptop for mass market using LinuxBIOS 
is simple. The bill of material and hardware design are the same as a 
laptop using a closed source BIOS.  Laptop mainboards are typically 
manufactured in high volumes in single runs (much the same as 
desktop/platform mainboards). The LinuxBIOS would be developed for the 
mainboard during the design stage of the project and then programmed 
into the flash before manufacture or after the flash devices are 
installed on the boards. 

There hasn't been much demand for laptops to have LinuxBIOS yet. The 
first major project to demand LinuxBIOS on a laptop has probably been 
the OLPC project. I doubt if Quanta had much experience with or 
knowledge of LinuxBIOS before OLPC.

The keyboard scan/system management controllers also use closed source 
firmware.  Multikey is one example. It is used for port swap and hot 
plug of keyboard and mouse, power management, battery charging, 
Flash-BIOS control, SMbus, Gate A20, Security, hotkeys, etc.

Renesas is one vendor of micros that are used in laptops:

For more Multikey info:


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