[coreboot] BadBIOS Thoughts

Patrick Georgi patrick at georgi-clan.de
Mon Nov 18 15:36:43 CET 2013

Am 18.11.2013 14:37, schrieb Oliver Schinagl:
>> If you manage to sell significant volumes (which shouldn't be all that
>> large), that might turn some heads.
> But then we get back to the start of this thread, to little people
> actually care (or know off) coreboot.
I'd suppose sales in the 3 or 4 digits is possible with a current model, 
complete coreboot support and some advertising through the usual 
channels (linux/FOSS related news websites).

That this might be enough to get some corporate attention.

But then, this possibility depends on a hard technical problem (complete 
coreboot support for a current model).

>> There are some issues with this approach: You're limited in your choice
>> of base hardware (likely AMD/Via chipsets only, the EC must be
>> manageable with reasonable effort) and it must be available for some
>> time (no fun doing a port for 2 months, then selling the notebook for
>> another 4, after which it's taken off the market, and you have to start
>> from scratch).
>> And, of course, when doing this, you carry the usual entrepreneurial
>> risk.
> while hardware stays around a lot longer then it used to (most are fast
> enough), finding one that can be easily supported is hard.
It's not about the hardware remaining relevant (there are still people 
using the T60 on a day-to-day basis), it's about hardware shelf life. 
Unless you (the prospective coreboot-notebook vendor) intend to buy and 
store a couple of hundreds units yourself, you will want to work with 
hardware you can buy for a while in smaller chunks (and then reflash and 
put up for sale).

The notebook I'm typing this on was supported by its vendor for 1.5 
years or so, but went out of sales after a bit more than 6 months.

I think that's relatively common for consumer level computers these 
days, given that their customers generally don't care if they get 
exactly the same model. For them it's about x" displays, y GB of storage 
and z GHz of CPU with a given hardware vendor's logo on them.

Few people have to care as much about hardware similarity as coreboot 
developers. Good for them, but it complicates a project like this.

For someone trying to pull this off, a good first step might be to 
inquire with vendors if they have long term supported AMD models, what 
"long term" means for them, and how to identify these models.
Then, when the next generation AMD hardware comes out (eg. sometimes 
early 2014), pick one of those, do the port, put up a sales page.

I'm massively oversimplifying things here, but this seems to be more 
realistic than trying to get ODMs on board (unless you have money to 
burn - enough for a run of devices).

> AMD should "develop" (e.g. get some ODM to supply it) some reference
> laptops and donate some to coreboot devs. Pitch in a bit to help where
> needed and I smell a winner. Since AMD belives in coreboot and support
> coreboot, making it actually happen would be in their own interest no?
Unless I'm mistaken AMD's coreboot support comes almost exclusively from 
their embedded business unit.
The code should work pretty much the same on their other chips, but I 
suspect it's a stretch to assume their consumer ("desktop/mobile") 
hardware department even knows about coreboot.


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