[OpenBIOS] Intel holding back information

Ed Brinker ebrinker at gne.net
Wed Aug 11 15:26:33 CEST 1999

I guess I am partly responsible for creating the vast amount of exchanges
concerning the "clean room" approach to building a GNUBIOS or OpenBIOS and
I have read with great interest the comments over the last several days.

First, I disagree that there are no coders available for the project.  It
is quite possible that I would qualify.  I am a EE by training who started
out as a main frame programmer.  I have done tens of thousands of lines of
main frame assembly language operating system coding but not one line of
80x86 coding.  The only PC assembly language code I have ever seen was CPM
for the 8080.  I am now a government employee working as a EE developing PC
hardware for space applications.  I have signed no NDA's with any company.
The reason I became interested in this group was for a personal hardware
project I wanted to do about a year ago for which I needed a custom BIOS.
The effort required for me to build a custom BIOS was greater than I wanted
and I thought by contributing some effort to the group, I could get a open
source which I could customize.  I also realized the need to the PC
community for an open source BIOS.

Second, I do agree with the statements by several of the need for strict
controls over the groups and the keeping of notebooks.  I don't know if
Award, Phoenix, etc. would want to challenge any product of this group
legally.  I don't think we are likely to affect their bottom line by more
than a few pennies since only a few nut cases (like me) are likely to
modify OpenBIOS for their own use.  And with a GNU type public license, no
one else would be able to use a derivative work to compete commercially
with Award, etc.

Which brings up the question, how does GNU enforce their public license?
So far, they seem to be very effective.  Could we not come under their
umbrella?  Someone must be providing the open source community with legal

As to the comment that the identities of the clean room team should be
known to only a few individuals.  Let me say that the identities of the
clean room team should be known to only ONE person other than the team.
That one person's function would be to convey the results to the "dirty
room" team with no additional comments.  His/her job would be strictly
limited to forwarding the results.

Finally, I have been on this list for about a year.  I have seen
discussions flare up from time to time after a month or so of dormancy.  I
have tried to support what I thought were suggestions from members who have
ideas which would lead to an OpenBIOS.  I will continue to support anyone
who wants make progress toward that goal.  But I do know that there is a
standard way of buiding a software system:  requirements => preliminary
design => detailed design => unit coding => unit testing => system testing.
 The first step is always the requirements and if we can't, as a group,
determine a set of requirements then this group will slowly twist in the
wind until long after the 512 bit PC's have passed into oblivion.

For my part, I will contribute in whatever area I am able.  But please, can
we build a set of requirements. And please, can we find out if the is any
legal assistance available to us so see that this effort will be fruitful.
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