Google sponsors the LinuxBIOS project [Update]


As announced yesterday, Google has sponsored some work on the LinuxBIOS project, a Free Software (GPL) BIOS/firmware implementation for various architectures (x86, PowerPC, Alpha, and others).

LinuxBIOS currently supports more than 100 different mainboards from various vendors. A list of supported chipsets, CPUs, and Super I/O chips is also available, so you can easily estimate how hard it will be to add support for a new mainboard.

Most of the mainboards currently supported are high-end server-type mainboards (e.g. from Tyan) and embedded boards. There are not too many cheap, mainstream motherboards supported, yet, but that is about to change soonish.

I've been contributing for a while now to the LinuxBIOS project in various areas (e.g. adding support for a bunch of Super I/O chips, which are required if you want to get LinuxBIOS debug output over the serial port). But one of my personal main goals for the project is to support a reasonably high number of cheap, standard desktop mainboards, and I'll concentrate my efforts in this area in the future.

Any help from further developers with experience in the hardware, embedded, or low-level firmware area is very appreciated! If you're interested, checkout the website and say hi on the mailling list.

But I digress. The Google funding was used to create an automated, distributed test infrastructure, which will help... significantly improve the project's Quality Assurance process by creating a completely automated and distributed testing environment. Every single commit results in BIOS images being built for all mainboards, and tested on real hardware located all over the world. So whenever you want to download a LinuxBIOS image, you can now know that it works on a reference machine before flashing it to your system.

A per-revision overview is available, as are test results for specific revisions, and you can even get detailed reports that include extensive logs for each motherboard. Developers can also use the build and test system without checking their code into the LinuxBIOS repository. The automatic build client has an option to submit BIOS images to the test system manually; you can see an overview of manually triggered builds. Anyone with a spare board supported by LinuxBIOS is welcome to put it into the automated test system, thus helping the LinuxBIOS project increase their quality on your hardware.

LinuxBIOS QA 1
LinuxBIOS QA 2

This is a great thing, and something which not many projects out there can claim to have. Automated test-suites in the software development "scene" are used seldomly enough (which is bad), but in the low-level hardware/embedded area you're usually stuck...

(See also Golem and Heise if you speak German)

Update 2006-11-15: Ok, the site is slashdotted right now. Maybe you can try or the Google cache...