[coreboot] Sun Ultra 40 M2 Board - Obscured coreboot status

Bostjan Kravcar bostjan.ign.k at t-2.si
Fri Jul 20 14:57:35 CEST 2018

Hello David,


First of all I'd like to thank you for your reassurance, that I seem to be
on the right path towards the ultimate goal - having a coreboot flashed onto
a marvelous piece of technology (Sun U40 M2), that was retired (IMHO) way
prematurely by the profit driven minds (lacking any spirit) , instead of
being revived by, first - the updated firmware (to support Fam10h), and
second - being overhauled for the new decade (say - Sun Ultra 40 M3, with
either socket C32 or G32 Opterons, or Xeons CPUs).  I'm aslo grateful for
your guidelines, about how to go about with testing the board, with a newly
flashed BIOS image.


Today I finally set myself to go through all the available documentation
(old and new coreboot site); after a couple of hours of searching and
reading (no exaggeration here), I was horrified when I realized, that I
don't have the slightest clue, where to start and how to get it done. I felt
like chasing my tail till my head started to spin, or ... like standing at
the foot of the mountain wall I decided to climb, as I've been told it's no
big deal to do it, but nobody told me that the climb starts with a sheer
granite 10m vertical pitch, with hardly any miniscule features to step on or
hold on to. If nobody shows me where to put my feet and fingers on this
featureless granite slab, I might end up standing in front of it forever,
watching hopelessly the easier sections of the route higher above. 


What I'm saying is ... I can't seem to find the step-by-step tutorials, for
the "regular Joe" like myself, facing rather common scenario and set of
objectives. For example:


. I have a Sun Ultra 40 M2 machine, I don't like the BIOS on the board (say
- limited range of supported CPUs) ... coreboot to the rescue !


. Next - I will purchase some blank BIOS chips, to use them for flashing the
coreboot BIOS images, just to be on a safe side; 


. Once I have the proper coreboot BIOS image file for my board (.rom), I
will search for a suitable external programmer, preferably a USB variety and
brand of decent reputation, supporting the Sun Ultra 40 M2's BIOS chip
package and type. Being supported in Flashrom would be a big bonus, as I
don't have to rely on proprietary flashing tools, not to mention their
questionable support in Linux distros (I'm finally migrating from W* to
Ubuntu, within a week or so;


      Example of candidate: >NANO BIOS Programmer<


. Since there's no such thing as ready made coreboot BIOS image file for my
board, or any other board for that matter, it looks like I'll have to do it
myself. No problem, but . for heaven's sake ... HOW ?




All I could find (and vaguely comprehend) were some bits and fragements that
might or might not be the right ones for me, to teach me in a simple and
concise fashion, tailored for "my kind" of coreboot target group (as in -
not strictly end-users, but miles away from having skills of developers
...), how to do it and what is required, in order to flash the coreboot
image onto BIOS chip, as the final chore on the first day of apprenticeship,
on our beginner's coreboot jorney.  


The bits I found, which might (or should) be relevant to get me started:


1.) Coreboot website (Wiki - old): 


. >Development / QA< -> >Getting Started<:




. >Build HOWTO<:




2.) Coreboot website (new):


. Documents: >Welcome to the coreboot documentation< page;




                -> >Getting Started<:


                -> >Rookie Guide<:


3.) Flashrom:


. Documentation: 




. Supported programmers:




. flashrom (8) - Linux Man Pages:






I mentioned the "my kind" of coreboot target group, as I'm absolutely sure
I'm not the only one with this kind of headaches; I'm referring to users
like myself, with seemingly above average computer skills (about motherboard
HW components, BIOS settings, POST codes, BIOS flashing utilities, etc.),
yet this level of knowledge appears to be profoundly inadequate, to get
things done by following the existing coreboot documentation. I find it hard
to believe, that prospective users like myself were not taken into account,
when documentation/tutorials were written. Alongside the existing target
groups - "End Users" (a term a bit deceptive), "Developers" and "OEMs/ODMs",
I reckon there should (ideally) be the fourth group ... let's call it
"Advanced End Users, or "DIY End Users". We do study and learn how to do it,
if we have the precise instructions (step-by-step workflow);  we're not
afraid of doing risky things (think: flashing Sun or HP branded SAS HBAs
with LSI Firmware), and above all - we don't moan and whine at the first
obstacle we stumble upon (say, when things don't work exactly as per
instructions, due to crucial procedure step missing). When this happens, we
google the problem or read the manual for the fifteenth time, until we
(hopefully) find the solution or workaround. 


What I'm saying David - I would desparately need some directions here, a set
of simplified instructions, from A-to-Z, the real HOW-TO for the coreboot
dummies, to bridge the gap I'm facing right now, before I can advance onto
next stage (for example: learn about payloads and other terms on this level)
and be able to contribute some meaningful test results. I'm not expecting
everything on a silver platter, but what I have available right now, makes
the task at hand an overwhelming challenge.


Looking forward .


Kind regards,



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