[coreboot] How to test

Vikram Hegde vikhegde1 at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 17 22:06:56 CET 2008


Thanks, that helps a lot. BTW, I went to the IOSS website and it appears to claim that the BIOS Savior is still available.


From: Corey Osgood <corey.osgood at gmail.com>
To: Vikram Hegde <vikhegde1 at yahoo.com>
Cc: coreboot at coreboot.org
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 12:50:30 PM
Subject: Re: [coreboot] How to test

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 2:16 PM, Vikram Hegde <vikhegde1 at yahoo.com> wrote:


I am a newbie interested in contributing to coreboot. One question I have is testing.

How do most people test  new bits. Do they actually flash the BIOS on their motherboards. Doesn't that cause issues because as I understand these PROMs only support a limited number of flashes before they go bad ? Or do folks use some sort of  emulator and/or spare chips to keep testing.

You definitely want spare chips, if coreboot fails for any reason, you need to have your stock BIOS accessable, all the stock BIOS's failsafes are overwritten by coreboot. Todays flash chips can survive thousands of erase/write cycles, and most chips cost <$5USD. I have a now-discontinued product called the BIOS Savior RD-1 that I'm currently using, it has a second flash chip and a socket for the original chip built into it, so all you do is flip a switch to change from one chip to the other. If you can find one that works with your system, they're an awesome tool. My testing cycle is basically:

Boot stock bios (base Debian testing install, boots in ~30 seconds)
Throw switch or change chip
Flash spare chip w/coreboot, transferred via USB flash drive
Shut down
Fire up minicom on my other computer, to monitor coreboot progress
Press power button, see what happens
Shut down
Throw switch or change chip back, repeat.

I also hacked flashrom so that it can't detect my stock BIOS chip, only the spare chip I use for testing coreboot, so I can't accidentally overwrite the stock BIOS.
Also any inexpensive standalone bios chip programmers on the market ?

Yes, but most are also very slow. My willem (~$50USD) takes around 7min to program a 512k chip through a parallel port, and it only works under 32-bit windows, or some have reported success with linux and wine. I've only used it maybe 3 or 4 times, to reprogram stock BIOS's before I smartened up and hacked flashrom, and also programmed another spare chip with the stock BIOS and stuffed it in an envelope in a file cabinet. Also see the discussion on the list about the Paraflasher, a similar in-development LPC flasher that will work under linux when it's done, but again it will probably be fairly slow.

Hope this helps,
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