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On becoming coreboot

The coreBoot logo
The coreBoot logo
AB: Why have you decided to rename LinuxBIOS as coreboot?

RM: I loved the name LinuxBIOS. It was a very recognizable name to people around the world, which I learned time and again as I went to conferences and talked to people who knew all about it. At the same time, vendors, the FSF, and others, requested many times that we drop Linux from the name. The vendors in particular felt that the "Linux" in the name made it a harder marketing proposition *internally* to the vendor: "LinuxBIOS can only boot Linux" was a common statement. Also, one vendor, whose proprietary product competes with coreboot, was stating that "LinuxBIOS is obsolete, since we don't need BIOSes any more". They made this statement notwithstanding the fact that their "BIOS replacement" is far more primitive than LinuxBIOS!

Stefan Reinauer -- CEO of coreSystems GmbH
Zoom Stefan Reinauer -- CEO of coreSystems GmbH
SR: "It's not Linux, and it's not a BIOS", so the name had to go. Also, not everyone liked the name LinuxBIOS for one reason or the other, and at some point we decided to make (almost) everyone happy.

RM: Marketing factors, in the end, drove the name change.

AB: There are a lot of students and people from academical institutions who are involved in LinuxBIOS / coreboot. What are their goals and what benefits do they receive?

SR: I have been told by many, many people that it is very hard to work with the commercial BIOS vendors. One university started attaching a super fast FPGA directly to the AMD64's hyper transport bus. The legacy BIOS would not boot with this configuration. But for LinuxBIOS it was a patch of just a few lines to get this working. So their benefit was to be able to do something new and innovative that was just not possible without LinuxBIOS / coreboot.

Other than that, coreboot is a unique experience and a very cool open source project. Working on yet another CMS or ERM system or GUI applications is kind of boring, isn't it?

RM: Working at the BIOS level gives students the opportunity to learn at a level that was effectively closed to them for years. It really is true that few people understood how PC hardware worked at a low level until we made LinuxBIOS available. Making this knowledge available was one of the most rewarding aspects of this project.

AB: Are you happy with GSoC's sessions? Which projects have caught your eye?

SR: I am very happy that both the students and Google put their efforts into supporting coreBoot through GSoC. For two years now, we put students on projects that are hard to do, and extremely useful, and not on the plate of any of the core contributors. So, whatever results from GSoC is a new experience for us and gets us a step forward. Last year, for example, we had our flash ROM utility ported to Windows. The libpayload project grew out of a last year's GSoC project, too. In both years we had students working on improving Legacy BIOS compatibility. This year, a new focus was also virtualisation.

Next: coreboot in the future

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