Use of BIOS calls in modern code (Was: Re: [OpenBIOS] Why protected mode?)
Timothy J. Massey
tmassey at iname.com
Fri Jul 16 11:59:57 CEST 1999
On Fri, 16 Jul 1999 14:54:01 +0200 (CEST), Matthias Wchter wrote:
>Currently we have the same BIOS interface as the 8086 (except
>for the INT16 Bios extensions which are not used by some OSes, sadly,
>Linux too in opposition to NT and Win98).
Linux can't really take advantage of *any* BIOS routines (OK, outside of the
loader and such), even when Win98 can. The reason is simple: Linux is
cross-platform. Alphas don't have the same BIOS as PC's, which don't have
the same BIOS as Macs which don't have the same BIOS as a Sun. So how could
Linux use a BIOS routine that isn't commonly available.
Now, there is a way that Linux could make use of BIOS calls (if they really
wanted to) without losing cross-platform objectives: let the C compiler
libraries use BIOS calls. But there, you run into the same problem. The C
compiler used for Linux (GCC) is cross-platform, too. So, they don't want
to use the BIOS, either!
In any kind of portable OS, any feature that isn't available on all systems
is a liability. It's something that will either increase the difficulty of
porting the code to a system that doesn't support some feature, or requires
additional effort to add that functionality to a particular port.
Basically, the BIOS in a modern computer is a hardware configurator and boot
loader. Personally, I think that that's fine. I'm not looking for a BIOS
to do anything more.
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