[OpenBIOS] Platform for the OPENBIOS question

Arp Kruithof arpy at wish.net
Sun Aug 19 02:58:52 CEST 2001

Lloyd wrote:

> I do realize that there are standards out there, and the IEEE web page
> address's these. I also realize that as a bona fide lurker, and a preferred
> hardware puke, I don't know everything there is to know about software
> system design or high performance systems. However, after over ten years of
> hardware / firmware development on small computer systems, I have learned
> that the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach saves an infinite amount of
> time.

And I totally agree

Well, I'm also basically a lurker ... all I ever really wanted to get 
involved in would be an Open Source Modular BIOS for PC-
compatibles so everyone could assemble the modules needed for 
the chips used on the mobo and 'update' the BIOS for all the old 
boxes mobo's out there that don't get any support from the factory 
any more (update as in BIOS Y2K bugs, support booting from CD 
etc etc also for oldish 486 and P5 style boxes serving as, well 
server of some sort).

Looking around the web I ran into this OpenBIOS thingy, was 
delighted at first and then started reading about all the 
OpemFirmware requirements FCode etc etc and got a glorious 
headache -- Certainly _NOT_ KISS ... I just want to do some 
chipset/mobo hacking to get something everyone can use for free 
running on as many systems as possible - we have free OSes for 
each and every machine but for the BIOS everything we can and 
can't do with our machines is still decided by a handfull of small 
companies charging money and not offering what we want.

The 'desire' to boot into a GUI at BIOS level seems cool but _does_ 
make things a whole lot more complicated (also not KISS) - I'd see 
it as an add-on on top of working beep-IO/serial-IO/text-IO init 
routines. When you start all that fancy talk about not wanting 
_any_ textual 'spam' from graphics card, SCSI adapter, 
MFM/RLL/IDE/EIDE HDD-adapter or whatever (aparently for some 
out there without a basic grasp of the well documented expansion 
ROM init sequences) you are really loosing me. What's so bad 
about the machine telling me one or two things about itself while 
booting (great help for troubleshooting a friend's PC that you don't 
know nothing about). The effort to try and get rid of these 
messages just isn't worth it .... and you very, very probably really 
don't want to mess with doing your own init of all Graphics / SCSI 
whatever other adapter card as 80% of the time you just won't get it 
done with simple chipset-used-on-the-adapter-datasheets.

Having said that ... if all you want (for starters) is that the spam 
don't apear ... that's easy for _anything_ that comes after the VGA-
init ... just take over / monitor all INT 10 funtionallity and don't 
output anything requested from subsequent expansion ROM init's 
(so don't mess with the actual init just 'handle' the display IO for 
them either by sending it to NULL or by doing it through you BIOS-
level GUI) - it's very unlikely the expansion ROM init routines of 
anything other than a display adapter itself would bypass INT10.

Even for the VGA-init there must be some dirty no-spam-hack 
possible without doing the graphics adapter init yourself -
maybe hooking the timer interrupt and checking for changes in the 
INT10 vectors or other display related BIOS-data to monitor 
progress of the VGA-Init and then blank the screen ASAP (you 
may get a short spam-flash) or maybe even set the debug flag,  
single step through the VGA-init and then monitor any direct 
memory IO in the display adapter memory range as well as INT10 
(as some adapters first neatly set up INT 10 and then use it 
themselfes to display their spam.... just some thougths ... but as I 
said _I_ don't think it's worth the effort - just let the spam roll by 
and then do your GUI thing (or not rather??)

Okay, now flame me for not playing along ;-)
arpy at wish.net
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