[OpenBIOS] (was) Intel holding back information

Niklas Ekström t97nek at student.tdb.uu.se
Tue Aug 10 00:49:06 CEST 1999

On Mon, 9 Aug 1999, Ron Tsur wrote:
> I feel bad about apparently, opening the issue of patents and proprietary
> information in my response to Niklas on this mailing list.  I don't see that
> Niklas and this group of interested individuals should be discouraged from
> pursuing the goal of producing free and open-source software.

You shouldn't feel bad about that Ron, I think it's great that the issue
was brought up. Atleast I haven't been discouraged at all, rather gained
some important knowledge. Such as that a) I should _never_ sign any NDA
and that b) it might be alright to disassemble other BIOSs to gain 
knowledge on how to perform a certain task, as long as you never take any
code from the disassembled BIOS.

(However I don't have the intention to disassemble any BIOS; it just seems
safer to never have touched any commercial BIOS at all.)

> So far, I am not aware of any successful legal claim that was taken
> against an open-source developer, who originated their code on their
> own, without copying other people's code.

Neither have I, and I surely wouldn't want to the first one either! =)

> Many times you may NOT want to reinvent the wheel.  Sometimes you HAVE TO. 
> Maybe we should look at developing BIOS specifications of our own, avoiding
> legacy design problems that plague most existing software and reaching beyond
> just compatibility with current commercial BIOS.

I can assure you that GNUBIOS will be anything _but_ a IBM-PC compatible,
legacy BIOS. GNUBIOS will be built in three stages. In the first stage, 
it will be a 32-bit protectedmode BIOS able to boot Linux and other OSs
through the Multiboot standard (no real fancy features though). In the
second stage a BIOS Runtime Interface will be added and the possible to
boot from more devices etc. In the last stage, a full Open Firmware
implementation will be made (Open Boot standard, IEEE 1275). Most of the
BIOS will be rewritten to Forth in this stage (everything but the chipset
setup so that the FCode interpreter can run).

For those that doesn't immidiately see all the cool benefits of Open
Firmware; wait and see! It will rock immensely.

/ Niklas

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