[LinuxBIOS] Laptops + LinuxBIOS, revisited.

Carl-Daniel Hailfinger c-d.hailfinger.devel.2006 at gmx.net
Sat Dec 22 12:57:45 CET 2007

On 22.12.2007 07:35, Robinson Tryon wrote:
> There have been a few threads in the past about trying to get Dell or
> some other major laptop vendor to partner with LinuxBIOS.
> Unfortunately, only a large vendor has the clout to request specs that
> someone small such as the LB project could never get on its own.

And Dell has stated somewhere on their "ideastorm" website that there
have been discussions about a free BIOS, but no plans for the future...
Quoting from
>> I know that we're not currently planning to get involved with the
>> Linux BIOS effort, but I'm not sure what other efforts our BIOS team
>> might be involved in around BIOS standards or open projects for the
>> industry. I'll do some investigations, but I'm not sure how much
>> we'll be able to share on the topic right now.

So the message is rather clear.

> I'm currently in the market for a couple more linux laptops (this time
> for my mother and grandmother), and while I don't have any delusions
> of getting support in time for this purchase, I'd love to be able to
> spend my money in a way that support LB (and the hope of laptops with
> LB support at some point in the future).
> When buying hardware right now, how can I make those purchases support
> vendors who support LinuxBIOS?

Depends what you want to buy exactly. Except for embedded uses (Via
Epia, AMD Geode) there is no embedded graphics chipset which has
LinuxBIOS support.

I expect progress on two fronts:
- SIS will probably continue to refine their LinuxBIOS code, and
although there is still no decent support for accelerated SIS graphics
in X.org.
- AMD might release RS690 chipset support for LinuxBIOS some time in the
future (it will at least save them waiting for Nvidia legal to release
the code), but that still leaves accelerated graphics support to be done.

> In a past thread concerning laptops, Peter Stuge said that the
> graphics hardware isn't there yet:
> "For now, the graphics hardware simply isn't there ... Until there is
> powerful open graphics hardware from someone the laptop wont happen.
> But keep pushing for it!"
> According to later threads, it sounds like there is development afoot
> to make it possible to use a Free Software BIOS on certain Radeon
> cards -- cards that I believe could be used in both desktop and laptop
> machines.

Yes, but a free graphics card BIOS will not help you much when trying to
port to a laptop.

> Is there a possibility that work on these Radeon cards could make
> laptop support more feasible?
> ---
> I found the wiki page about laptops here: http://linuxbios.org/Laptop,
> but it appears that it hasn't been updated in a couple of months.
> Would it be helpful to have more entries for the "Laptop Survey" table
> on that wiki page?

If you have an affordable laptop with a chipset we support (unlikely)
and whose developers have time (unlikely) and access to the data sheets
(unlikely), you can try to find data sheets for the embedded controller
on the laptop mainboard. For such a mainboard, we might have a chance,
given enough developer time. And having it in the list will certainly help.

> Is someone spearheading the effort to get LinuxBIOS support on laptops?

We all would like laptop support, but I don't expect usable laptop
support (except OLPC) before the end of 2008, and that still is somewhat


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