Here's a nice opportunity for everyone to learn more about coreboot, a Free Software / Open Source firmware/BIOS for x86 PCs.
Ron Minnich, founder of the LinuxBIOS (now called coreboot) project, Peter Stuge of Stuge Konsult, and Stefan Reinauer of coresystems GmbH have given a presentation for the Google Tech Talks series recently. The topic was (of course) coreboot, its history, goals, features and technical details, surrounding tools and libraries such as flashrom and libpayload, as well as an automated test system for running a hardware test-suite upon every checkin in the coreboot repository.
A video of the talk, aptly named coreboot (aka LinuxBIOS): The Free/Open-Source x86 Firmware (134 MB), is available from Youtube, get it for instance via:
$ apt-get install youtube-dl $ youtube-dl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X72LgcMpM9k
The talk includes various demos of coreboot and various payloads you can use with coreboot. One nice example is the TINT payload, a Tetris-like game for Linux (
apt-get install tint for the curious), which has been reworked to be usable as a coreboot payload.
So, yes, you can now put Tetris in your BIOS ROM chip and play it from there (no hard drive required).
Other demos included some cluster nodes with coreboot, and a "normal" x86 desktop board booting coreboot + Linux in a very few seconds (much room left for optimizing there though, if you really want to get into fast booting).
Check out the full talk for more infos, and if you're willing to give it a try (see the list of currently supported boards), contact us on the mailing list or join the #coreboot IRC channel on Freenode.
The old name has become quite a misnomer in recent years; the name LinuxBIOS created the impression that it's a drop-in BIOS-replacement and that it's using Linux or is Linux-specific in any way. Neither is the case.
If you're into such games, the Lincity clone has been around for some time now, too. And, as I found out yesterday, there's also Lincity-NG, which is a more recent clone with better (3D/isometric) graphics, sound, etc.
$ apt-get install lincity-ng
(run it as lincity-ng --sdl if you don't have 3D-accelerated drivers)
I got bored recently, so I rebuilt the whole Debian archive on one of my machines. To make this not a completely useless excercise, I used the Open64 compiler instead of gcc and created build logs for your perusal.
So what is Open64?
From the Wikipedia page:
Open64 is an open source, state-of-art, optimizing compiler for the Intel IA-64 (Itanium), AMD Opteron and Intel IA-32e architecture. It derives from the SGI compilers for the MIPS R10000 processor. It was released under the GPL in 2000, and now mostly serves as a research platform for compiler and computer architecture research groups. Open64 is licensed under the GPL. Open64 supports Fortran 77/95 and C/C++, as well as the shared memory programming model OpenMP. It can conduct high-quality interprocedural analysis, data flow analysis, data dependence analysis and array region analysis.
The installation is pretty easy fortunately:
$ wget http://ovh.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/open64/open64-4.0-src.tar.bz2 $ tar xfvj open64-4.0-src.tar.bz2 $ cd open64-4.0 $ export TOOLROOT=/opt/open64 $ make $ make install (as root)
I think you need gcc-3.4 (gcc 4.x is not yet supported), and for some odd reason you also need csh as one of the install scripts seems to use it.
It would be nice if someone could package Open64 for Debian, I definately don't have the time to maintain such a huge package (a whole maintainer team would probably be good here).
Rebuilding the Debian archive
First we need to install the required packages, setup a cowbuilder base chroot, and get the list of packages:
$ apt-get install cowdancer grep-dctrl wget devscripts sudo $ cowbuilder --create --distribution lenny --basepath /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow $ cp -r /usr/share/doc/pbuilder/examples/rebuild . $ cd rebuild $ ./getlist lenny
Now we add Open64 into the cowbuilder chroot and fix up the chroot by pointing the gcc/g++ symlinks to Open64:
$ cp -a /opt/open64 /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow/opt $ chroot /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow $ cd /usr/bin $ mv gcc gcc.orig $ ln -s /opt/open64/bin/opencc gcc $ mv g++ g++.orig $ ln -s /opt/open64/bin/openCC g++ $ exit
In addition, we set the
CXX environment variables to Open64, which will make 90% of all (autoconf-using) packages automatically use Open64. We need a small script for that:
$ cat c.cfg: export CC="/opt/open64/bin/opencc -m32" export CXX="/opt/open64/bin/openCC -m32"
Now edit the
buildall script. Change the Debian mirror used there (optional) and make it use our
c.cfg script by adding the
--configfile /path/to/rebuild/c.cfg option in the "pdebuild" line.
We can now finally start building the archive:
./buildall list.lenny.i386 lenny
You can also run multiple
buildall instances at once to speed up the archive rebuild on SMP/multicore machines, and you can even abort the command and simply restart it later. The script will continue where it left off.
The whole rebuild (with 2 instances of
buildall running at the same time) took ca. 9 days on an AMD64 Athlon64 X2 (dual core, 1.8 GHz each) machine with 1 GB of RAM.
I really should have used something like apt-proxy to speed up the rebuild and save some bandwidth, but I read about apt-proxy too late...
All log files from my rebuild are available for detailed analysis if anybody is interested (you can browse the logfiles online or download all of them as tarball). I didn't perform any detailed analysis, just some rough numbers here:
If anybody does some more elaborate analysis, please let me know.
There are a gazillion HOWTOs out there for flashing a BIOS image without having to resort to ugly "boot DOS from floppy" or "run Windows *.exe file from BIOS vendor" and other ugly stuff. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions are equally ugly (e.g. creating custom CD-ROMs which contain the "floppy" with DOS/Windows flash tools).
Folks, this is so much simpler than you think:
The flashrom tool (GPL'd, written for LinuxBIOS purposes, but works perfectly fine with proprietary BIOSes, too) will easily do what you want, on a running Linux system. No floppy crap, no CD-ROM crap, no DOS/Windows crap, no rebooting crap.
$ apt-get install flashrom
Detect whether flashrom knows about your chipset/mainboard/BIOS chip:
Read the BIOS image into a file:
$ flashrom -r backup.bin
Write a BIOS image (proprietary or LinuxBIOS) on the ROM chip:
$ flashrom -wv newbios.bin
WARNING: This will overwrite your current BIOS! Make sure you know what you're doing!
For the Debian-challenged, flashrom is available in source form too, of course:
$ svn co svn://linuxbios.org/repos/trunk/util/flashrom $ cd flashrom $ make
The list of supported chipsets, mainboards, and ROM chips is limited of course, but it's constantly expanding. Contact us on the LinuxBIOS mailing list if you want other hardware supported (or even better: if you have patches!). In many cases adding support for new hardware is pretty easy...