[LinuxBIOS] [RFC] Call for Action: LinuxBIOS foundations

Corey Osgood corey.osgood at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 09:43:56 CEST 2007

popkonserve wrote:
> What i really don't get is:
> Why trying to support bleeding edge hardware almost nobody has 
> datasheets for instead of writing reliable custom drivers that would 
> support older hardware. development itself would be far easier, at least 
> SOME hardware would be supported and people would be able to TEST 
> linuxbios on old hardware without fearing to ruin an expensive 
> mainboard. most of the drivers written only include a working version 
> which is far away from a full featured support that would make a 
> difference to the original bios versions. this is imho what drives users 
> away.
> i'm willing to write more generic full featured drivers 
> (northbridge/southbridge) for older chipsets (i posted a list and i'll 
> stick to that list).

I think there should be some limits to what hardware we try to support. 
I don't think we should be trying to support socket 7 hardware (which 
iirc were all the chipsets you named), because for the most part those 
PCs have either outlived their usefulness, or have done their job for so 
many years now nobody wants to mess with it. I know that all my 
pre-pentium 2 stuff hit the garbage bin a long time ago, simply because 
I had no use for it and couldn't even give it away. That's not to say 
your work is useless, it could be applied for sdram parts that lack spd. 
Personally, I think P3 and k7 on up would be the best targets as far as 
older hardware goes, they're still dirt cheap but do have some life left 
in them.

If anyone wants some hardware to toy with, I've got a few older boards 
that I keep saying I'll get to but probably never will. If someone has 
the time, they're welcome to them, here's a list (although I may have 
more if I go digging):

Intel D815EEA: i815/i81801ba (socket 370) - not sure if it still works, 
need to check it out first. southbridge supported, north not. Soldered 
on PLCC flash! Socket included, just needs to be put on the board.
FIC SD11:      amd651?/vt82c686a (slot a) - serial output working with 
current vt82c686_early_serial.c, nothing more
Asus P2-99:    i440zx/i82371eb   (slot 1) - sort of works with i440bx, 
will also send some code that was a start at spd support, but too much 
for romcc. Also includes the necessary 440zx change(s)

All these boards have CPUs and a stick of whatever ram I can find 
(probably 32 or 64mb) if you need it, all use regular sdram. If you're 
lucky, there might be a spare bios chip included as well. If you need 
anything else, power supply, hard drive, video card, etc, let me know 
and I'll see what I can dig up. Yes, this is a hardware donation, on the 
condition that you at least attempt to get LinuxBIOSv2 (or v3) working 
on the board, that's the only reason I've kept most of these myself. If 
you just give up and decide to throw it away, please send it back, but 
if you get it working and have a use for it, it's yours. I have the docs 
to both north and south bridge for all these boards, if they're not 
readily available I'll send them as well, and IIRC all the Super I/Os 
are supported. This is mainly aimed at US folks, anywhere else it'd 
probably be cheaper to get something off ebay than ship. Email me 
privately if you're interested.

>  my problem is not that i don't understand the 
> hardware itself but the linuxbios framework. i don't want to spend hours 
> of code surfing just to understand how and where certain code sniplets 
> are called or how certain config files need to be written. a 
> documentation to the code is close to non-existant. while this might not 
> be a problem to long-term developers it drives new ones away.

Agreed, I've been frustrated with this as well, even today. v3 should 
have better documentation, but we still need to bring up to par the 
documentation on some of the tools.

> what i would like to see is: generic support for usb/cdrom boot, 

FILO can already do usb/el torito cdrom boot, but it badly needs ehci 

> ide support in southbridges, 

Explain please? Where's IDE support lacking?


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