[OpenBIOS] Intel holding back information

Ed Brinker ebrinker at gne.net
Sun Aug 8 23:38:23 CEST 1999

But there is a way and that is the way Compaq did it (I believe this is
called the clean room approach).  The OpenBios group would have to be split
into two distinct groups. The first group would reverse engineer the Award,
Phoenix, AMI etc. BIOS' to prepare a list of all of the functions performed
by the BIOS.  The second group would then prepare requirements, design and
code the BIOS from the "set of BIOS functions." If the two groups did not
communicate any information other than the BIOS functions (no details of
algorithms, code details, or implementation) then the new BIOS would be
considered "pristine" and could not sucessfully be legally challenged.

How might we implement such an approach.  It would probably require two
separate mail lists.  One for the group to reverse engineer the other BIOS
and a second for the group creating the new BIOS.  The could be no
communication between the two groups about the BIOS's other than the
"identified functions."

The first group could make no comments about the work in progress of the
second group as that could be intrepreted as providing "guidance."  The
second group    
could not ask if the function was really necessary as that would be
intrepreted as asking for "guidance."

If we are to take this route, then perhaps it is best we split soon to
avoid the process of legal "contamination."

There would be legal restrictions on the membership of each group.  We
would probably need some legal advice.  But I suspect that the
implementation group could have no knowledge of BIOS's other than what is
in the open literature.  That would be restricted to knowing about details
such the hard drive table which is described numerous magazines and books.

After the "genie was out of the bottle," and the BIOS had a "GNU" license
and hundreds of variations might become available.

So I pose the question to our leaders.  Should we do it before we become
legally "contaminated?" 

At 10:13 PM 8/8/99 -0230, you wrote:
>>      Niklaus would be taking a bigger risk if he signed Intel's
>> NDA.  Right now, he has no legal obligation to protect anyone's
>> secrets.
>>      If a disgruntled chemist at Coca-Cola gave you their secret
>> formula, he would be in deep trouble.  But no one could stop you
>> from selling cola drink (you couldn't *call* it "Coca-Cola", of
>> course), or posting the formula on the web.
>The company will probably try to sue anyway if OpenBIOS cuts into
>Award's profits. I don't think any of us has the financial resources to
>counter something like that. If they don't, ok we're lucky, but I'd like
>to avoid that kind of stuff. There's been a lot of bad patent stuff
>going around lately so I checked something out:
>That does *not* look good.
>James Oakley
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