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LinuxBIOS at Four
Date: Sunday, February 01, 2004
Topic: Development Tools
LinuxBIOS is more than a way to boot your Linux box in a few seconds.
LinuxBIOS is a GPLed program that replaces the BIOS found on many computers, including AMD64, x86, Alpha and PowerPC systems. LinuxBIOS is a vendor-independent, architecture-neutral BIOS, more than 95% of which is written in C. LinuxBIOS is four years old. Some of the largest Linux clusters in the world use LinuxBIOS, and some of the smallest embedded systems in the world do too. LinuxBIOS has been used in robots searching for survivors in the World Trade Center, as well as robots used in Afghanistan and Iraq. LinuxBIOS is supported by many vendors, including AMD and Tyan. It now is possible, for example, to order LinuxBIOS motherboards from Tyan.
In this article I describe the basic structure of LinuxBIOS, the origins of LinuxBIOS and how it evolved to its current state. I also cover the platforms it supports and the lessons we have learned about trying to marry a GPL project to some of the lowest-level, most heavily guarded secrets that vendors possess.