[OpenBIOS] What OpenBIOS should contain

Edward Brotsman Dreger eddy at intc.net
Mon Jul 26 18:33:50 CEST 1999

>> Store the NIC driver on a specially-formatted floppy.  The floppy would
>> call a BIOS routine to register NIC driver of size XXXX at address
>> XXXX, and the BIOS would take over.

> Unfortunately, this would defeat the purpose of a diskless workstation.


> This is why a Linux style BIOS configuration is advantageous. You pick
> your NIC and recompile.

Also true.  I was trying to think of an even more modular approach, and
the floppy probably was a bit bass ackwards.

With a modular BIOS design, there would be space for X number of option
ROMs in the flash memory...

Perhaps a slicker, more useful approach would be to have a tool that
allows loading Linux-like modules into flash.  The system could then be
configured in the BIOS setup which driver to use.

Example (imagine a few dozen computers):

- load Intel Pro/100, DEC 21x4x, 3c590/3c90x drivers into all BIOSes
- config each individual machine to use whatever NIC
- phase out 3Com cards, using only EE/100 and Tulips
- reconfig as needed
- remove 3Com drivers from flash

As long as BIOSes are modular, why not have load/unload module options?  I
think that would be *really* cool.  No need to even recompile; just flash
a new module into the BIOS.  Custom BIOSes in no time!

I don't mind recompiling -- in fact I don't run modules in my kernels, and
recompiles are the only way -- but I think it would be nice to change
computers without having to recompile each BIOS.

As long as I'm rambling... pre-boot management. :-)  I'd love the ability
to flash BIOS modules from one location over a network.

I know that Award/Phoenix has some sort of pre-boot BIOS diagnostic type
tool that, if memory serves me, is around 8KB.  It's certainly not as
advanced as what one could dream up, but the "remote management" and I/O
redirection code clearly isn't that large.

Of course, Linux 2.2 kernel supports redirecting the console to a serial
port.  Smells useful...


  Edward Brotsman Dreger                 "Your Success is Our Success    
  Network & Systems Manager            Our Expertise is Your Advantage"  
  Brian's Consulting Services /~\__/~\   www.brics.com * 316-794-8922    
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