[OpenBIOS] New power-up graphics BIOS.

Ronald G Minnich rminnich at lanl.gov
Sun Aug 19 17:31:50 CEST 2001

You are pretty much outlining the steps linuxbios does now. Again, I think
you all need to look at the problem a little more -- you're skipping some

The big problem is turning on sdram. You can run openbios from dos to test
it. You can't run openbios on a machine from power-up. Openbios is not yet
a real bios because it can not run on any machine with sdram, since it
does not know how to turn on sdram. That single step is absolutely a
killer. You have to know how the chipsets works, how SDRAM works, how
SMBUS works -- and then you have to work through all the chipset bugs.

Linuxbios can do these things, but they are very very hard. We have found
in some cases that chipset vendors don't have working code to turn on
SDRAM on their chipset -- only BIOS vendors have that.

Also, don't expect lots of help from most companies. Some of them are very
forward thinking -- SiS, Acer, VIA, AMD -- but others are not yet
convinced that open source bios'es will help them at all. And others are
so scared of microsoft that they don't want to help us at all.

Graphics is next. It is not just a matter of doing some io ops to the VGA
IO addresses. If you do that nothing will happen. Ever notice how on a new
machine the video BIOS is the first output you see?  that's because the
video card is completely non-functional until you run the proprietary code
that is in the card BIOS. Do you want to know what that code does? The
vendor won't tell you -- you will have to reverse engineer it.

These two single steps are the hard parts of doing a BIOS.

I hope we can all help each other out. This is a really big, hard problem
and we can't all go it alone. We could use help with some of the chipsets
we're not doing, and in turn we could help you with your problems.


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