[OpenBIOS] Why protected mode?

James Oakley jfunk at roadrunner.nf.net
Fri Jul 16 17:04:57 CEST 1999

Niklas Ekström wrote:

> I don't think BIOS designers are to blame for the incredibly stupid
> hardware constructions of the IBM-PC compatible computers. I don't even
> think you can blame the Intel engineer for that, since they did what they
> had to do to keep their customers. Mostly it's all IBM's fault! ;)

I blame everybody, including customers :-)* The architecture should have
been better designed in the beginning, but nobody knew better, the
customers were reliant on the old technology. the only way is to ease
people out of it. Linux would be *much* more popular if it ran
everybody's crappy win32 apps, even though many UNIX apps are way better
(GIMP, TeX, etc).

> So really there isn't much to discuss. If you want to make your BIOS
> IBM-PC compatible, you will end up with the same stuff as always before,
> but if you are ready to let the compability go you can do something much
> better.

Not quite. Look at the Linux kernel, which managed to ease people into
radically new formats, a.out->ELF. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. I
don't know anybody with a.out binaries.

I think OpenBIOS should be configurable in the same way, and I'm
obviously not the only one. You could have an 'old-BIOS' configuration,
while developing a fancy new OpenBIOS way that eliminates limitations
and is designed to be easily 'upgradeable.' If it's there, the Linux
kernel guys could do a similar thing, allowing 'old-BIOS' or OpenBIOS
loading. Those who run certain other OSes could stick with old-BIOS
while those of us with Linux-only machines could test and use the new
format. Maybe something could be put in to allow the kernel to find out
which kind of BIOS is loading it and adjust itself accordingly.

James Oakley
jfunk at roadrunner.nf.net
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