linux

Flashing a BIOS the Linux Way (tm) using flashrom

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.

Install it:

  $ apt-get install flashrom

Detect whether flashrom knows about your chipset/mainboard/BIOS chip:

  $ flashrom

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...

LinuxBIOS talk video recording from FOSDEM 2007

LinuxBIOS logo

Highly recommended for anybody who might be even remotely interested in LinuxBIOS:

There's a video recording (OGG, 234 MB) of the LinuxBIOS talk at FOSDEM 2007 by LinuxBIOS-founder Ron Minnich.

The talk is about LinuxBIOS, its history, how it works, what the main challenges are, where it's used today and what the future will likely hold. Watch it, you won't regret it.

And if you want to know more, or maybe even consider contributing, head over to linuxbios.org or contact the mailing list.

FOSDEM interview with LinuxBIOS founder Ronald G. Minnich

LinuxBIOS logo

A few interesting interviews with speakers at the upcoming FOSDEM 2007 have been published.

I especially recommend reading the interview with Ronald G. Minnich, the founder of the LinuxBIOS project.

Here are the questions he was asked:

  • What's your goal for your talk at FOSDEM?
  • We saw the mention on the LinuxBIOS website about one million devices shipped with LinuxBIOS. Could you tell us more about these devices?
  • What kind of support have you received from chipset and motherboard manufacturers so far?
  • Could LinuxBIOS theoretically replace all BIOSes, of are there certain limitations to be taken into account?
  • Could you tell us a bit more about the BIOS side of the OLPC laptop?
  • What exactly is the difference between "easy" hardware to write a BIOS for, and the "tough" hardware?
  • What are your thoughts on the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)?

Answers here ;-)

Linux Genuine Advantage (tm)

Linux Genuine Advantage™ is an exciting and mandatory new way for you to place your computer under the remote control of an untrusted third party!

According to an independent study conducted by some scientists, many users of Linux are running non-Genuine versions of their operating system. This puts them at the disadvantage of having their computers work normally, without periodically phoning home unannounced to see if it's OK for their computer to continue functioning. These users are also missing out on the Advantage of paying ongoing licensing fees to ensure their computer keeps operating properly.

[...]

Once you've installed Linux Genuine Advantage™, you'll want to register and send in your licensing fees to receive these important benefits:

  • Your computer, which worked just fine before, will continue functioning normally!
  • Our software which you just installed will not disable logins on your computer (as long as our license server keeps working properly)!
  • It's totally awesome!
  • We might not raise the yearly licensing fees in the future!

[...]

Did you wake up this morning and say "I wish someone would figure out a way to let me do less with my computer"? You've come to the right place!

Hilarious! They even got source code: http://www.linuxgenuineadvantage.org/source/.

Linux Kernel in a Nutshell - Creative Commons licensed O'Reilly book by Greg Kroah-Hartman

Greg Kroah-Hartman's new book Linux Kernel in a Nutshell is now available in stores, as well as for download on his website.

To quote O'Reilly:

Written by a leading developer and maintainer of the Linux kernel, Linux Kernel in a Nutshell is a comprehensive overview of kernel configuration and building, a critical task for Linux users and administrators.

No distribution can provide a Linux kernel that meets all users' needs. Computers big and small have special requirements that require reconfiguring and rebuilding the kernel. Whether you are trying to get sound, wireless support, and power management working on a laptop or incorporating enterprise features such as logical volume management on a large server, you can benefit from the insights in this book.

Linux Kernel in a Nutshell covers the entire range of kernel tasks, starting with downloading the source and making sure that the kernel is in sync with the versions of the tools you need. In addition to configuration and installation steps, the book offers reference material and discussions of related topics such as control of kernel options at runtime.

A key benefit of the book is a chapter on determining exactly what drivers are needed for your hardware. Also included are recipes that list what you need to do to accomplish a wide range of popular tasks.

It's yet another great book licensed under a Creative Commons license. It's good to see that more and more books are now being freely licensed...

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