[coreboot] flashrom-related GSoC 2014 project

Stefan Tauner stefan.tauner at student.tuwien.ac.at
Wed Mar 19 02:27:51 CET 2014

Hi everyone,

I will attempt to participate as a student again - and of course my
project should be something very closely related to flashrom to exploit
my knowledge in that area.

I have already submitted a first alpha-stage proposal that basically
includes the standard repertoire of things I do while working on
flashrom in general, and also which I ended up doing in the past GSoC
projects. Namely a mixture of maintenance, improvement and integration
of existing patches, development of new features for flashrom. For me
that worked out well and I believe it was very good for flashrom and
worthwhile for the coreboot community as a whole too. I have not
received too much feedback so I am not sure if everybody agrees with
that and thinks that another such summer would be a good thing as well
(if there are other candidates and/or proposals to choose from).

If you think the GSoC slots of coreboot deserve something better, or
more project-like then I could also try to work on something more
confined/focused. There are a number of project ideas that might fit my
profile quite well.

The "End user flash tool" proposal would allow me to eventually finish
libflashrom and the layout patches, maybe clean up the bios_extract
repository and help those users that are fighting with vgabios
extractions etc. :) 

Then there is the panic room idea which AFAIK is not finished and has
some room for improvements, but I am not sure about its current state
and if Kyösti wants to work on that this year...?

Somehow related to both points above is an idea for a project I had for
some time. A coreboot payload (probably)... for user flash updates that
verifies a cryptographically signed image before flashing it. While
currently this is relatively useless it might become interesting for
distributing libreboot binary images for example. (even though I have
to admit it is a bit ironic to ship binary images of a firmware that is
blobfree :) IIRC the Chromebooks have a write-protected primary loader
that verifies the remaining firmware etc... basically what secure boot
demands. That solves a similar problem, but recovery for an end user is
way more unpleasant than getting warned early before any modifications
are done. Another advantage would be to have an OS-independent update
mechanism... OTOH flashrom runs on every OS I deem worthy to run
coreboot. :)

The last project idea to be mentioned here that suits me well is what
David proposed last year, see his post for details:

So... I would be glad to get your feedback. What do you think would
help us most? Do you have other ideas/wishes related to flashrom?

I don't care too much on which project I work... they are all
worthwhile IMHO. My preference would be to work freely on flashrom
itself because it really needs it (there is no one else doing it) and I
have the most knowledge in that field. But OTOH I can learn much more
in every other project mentioned above and that's also very motivating.
Naturally, I don't want to write multiple proposals if we can agree on
one topic already... and time is rather short too :)

PS: I have an asrock imb-180-h, an SPI programmer and lots of flash
chips available to tinker with. There is also some ancient intel
BX-based PC somewhere that I could port... I'd need to build a parallel
flasher for that first though (cortex m3 board and stuff already
collecting dust...) but that would probably be based on serprog and
peter would veto for sure ;)
Kind regards/Mit freundlichen Grüßen, Stefan Tauner

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