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UEFI Formed to Replace BIOS 422

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-i'll-believe-it-when-i-see-code dept.
anonymous cow-herd writes "Businesswire reports that several leading technology companies including Intel, AMD, Microsoft, IBM, Dell and HP and others have formed the Unified EFI Forum. The non-profit corporation will assume responsibility for the development and promotion of the EFI specification, a pre-boot interface originally developed by Intel that is intended to replace the aging PC BIOS."
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UEFI Formed to Replace BIOS

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  • I've said before, and I'll say it again: Why not OpenFirmware/OpenBoot?

    Let's go through the list and see what EFI has compared to OpenFirmware, shall we?

    1. EFI has a built-in bootloader. (Check)
    2. EFI has built-in device drivers. (Check)
    3. EFI has a shell environment. (Check, except that OpenFirmware isn't so laughable.)
    4. EFI is cross platform. (Check)
    5. EFI maintain *some* of the old PC BIOS calls. (No Support in OpenFirmware. Boo hoo.)
    6. EFI adds trusted computing. (No Support in OpenFirmware. OF believes in computers being controlled by their owners.)

    So why EFI and not OpenFirmware? Could it be a Not Invented Here Syndrome, or something more sinister? Is this the beginning of Trusted Computing for all? How do they expect to get customers to purchase an EFI system when a PC BIOS one is still well supported? Will they try to make an exclusive contract with Dell and invite the wrath of the justice department?

    Only time will tell.
    • Have to admit that #2 is the prime reason I want new bootware. Dammit, the whole software IDE raid thing has me pissed. Why do I need drivers (except for software management) for RAID that pretends to be ATAPI? Either implement it as a real ATAPI translation layer, so I don't need drivers, or don't call it "IDE" raid. jeebus.

      If USB could figure out driverless storage, I'm sure the rest of the industry can. How many different ways of defining storage can there be?

      Networking too. I'm sick of device drivers. Sick I tell you! And not just because I run Linux. I've got an IBM T41 laptop, and trying to figure out which of 18 Windows ethernet/wifi configurations the thing came configured with is pissing me off.
      • Drivers are fine as long as there is exactly one driver per device category (one for mass storage, one for network cards, one for sound cards,...) and all hardware handles the translation from this standard interface to internal formats/commands on the hardware level.
    • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:16AM (#13164295)
      ... or why not have the fine folks who support OpenFirmware join the EFI group and work with them to make a standard that meets everyone's needs? I sure hope they don't have a "Not Invented Here" mentality that will stop them from working to create a real industry standard with a real industry group.

      Leaders of OF should send EFI a letter. The worst they can say is "you're not welcome." But then everything will be right out in the open, won't it?

      TW
      • by oxygene2k2 (615758) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:27AM (#13164381)
        well, OF exists for 1994 - so intel should have joined the OF effort (IEEE standard, even)

        they didn't.. and defined a standard 10 times larger than OF, doing approximately the same

        if we (the OF people) join them, the best that could happen is a combined standard 11 times larger than OF - not wise.
        • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:56AM (#13164572)
          So instead you will keep from joining their group the only folks who would be opposed to trusted computing?

          They didn't join your group. Get over it. Staying pure in your group might make you feel good, but it's the group made of major manufacturers who will decide what's actually produced and out there for consumers to use. Not trying to join up with them and make the voice of reason present within that grou might be much much more unwise.

      • by Mac Degger (576336) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:18AM (#13164741) Journal
        "Not Invented Here"-mentality?

        Jesus...are you guys all this naive? Look at the first-poster's post and see the last item. The reason the mayor manufacturors want EFI over anything else is of course Trusted Computing. Anyone who thinks otherwise (especially considering OF has 11 years of getting the bugs out) is hopelessly naive.

        And it's sad, not just because with DRM/TC that 'great firewall of China' can be implemented anywhere quite trivially and in a targetted way, or just because the little group with it's (admittedly better) OF doesn't have jack shit influence-wise, or just because if it did join EFI (even if EFI let it) it would be drowned out, but most of all because the first couple of posts at /. come out with some bogus 'well, maybe it's because of a NIH-mentality!'. Yeah; right.

        I'm sorry this post is so vitriolic, but the fact is that here it is: DRM made for mass consumption. Only the geeks will know not to buy it, but it won't matter, because soon you won't be able to buy anything without a TC-EFI 'bios'. Or at least something up-to-date. For proof, just try and get a decent PCI(non-e) graphics card, and just look at what's happening to AGP.
        And for the people who say 'it'll be hacked'....yeah, it will, but it won't do us much good; look at all the guys with chipped xbox's who don't do it for the pirated games, but for the otherwise never playable Japanese imports. Yeah, they can crack it, but they can't play 'Live'.

        So I'm a bit bitter about this: if we can't get enough people to talk with their wallets, we will soon truly have two internets: one for the masses, all EFI'd and bright-shiny-new, and one for the geeks who run ten year old hardware, because that's the last pieces which rolled off without EFI.

        And for those who hope for capitalism and market forces to right this: forget it. PC-electronics is only feasable due to high mass-market penentration: geeks alone are too small a market for manufacturors to cost-effectively make EFI-less products when that's the standard. And even if they do manage (at largely inflated prices, too high for the average geek), you won't be able to use it on the EFI'd internet2.0.
        • I think there's still some hope left for market forces. Sure, geeks aren't large enough a market. But people who want to play their "pirated" movies and music are a fairly large market - just look at the mp3 player boom - and chances are some manufacturers will cater to them. Most DVD players you can buy these days, especially those sold at Wal-Mart et al, are capable of playing back DivX. And as far as I know it's not difficult at all to find a DVD player that is either region-less out of the box or trivia
        • Re:??? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vertinox (846076)
          So I'm a bit bitter about this: if we can't get enough people to talk with their wallets, we will soon truly have two internets: one for the masses, all EFI'd and bright-shiny-new, and one for the geeks who run ten year old hardware, because that's the last pieces which rolled off without EFI.

          Wait a minute... Isn't it us geeks who buy the "bright-shiny-new" hardware before everyone else does? Or maybe are people being duped into buying 256mb $500 video cards to do word processing (hell from my understandi
        • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:54AM (#13165855)
          First off, the reason I used the term "Not Invented Here" was because that was the term the original post used. I'm not bashing Open Firmware.

          Second off, 'Trusted Computing' can, and likely, will coexist with I-have-control-of-my-own-box computing. The question is, how will that coexistance work?

          1. Is it gonna work by the Linux community needing to buy seperate motherboards with seperate firmware and seperate CPUs.

          2. Is it gonna work by the Linux community hacking the firmware in ways that aren't technically legal (think Xbox) so the business community won't have anything to do with it.

          3. Or is it gonna work by having firmware where 'Trusted Computing' can be turned off and on (or forced off and on) depending on the OS you choose to run?

          If the F/OSS doesn't work with major industry groups, you're going to get #1 or #2 and F/OSS operating systems will be marginalized or worse. If they work with the industry groups you'll at least get a shot at #3.

          There is a good second reason though. If F/OSS wants to be part of the computing community then they're going to have to come out of their F/OSS burrows occasionally and join industry groups to create industry standards. Yes, it's hard. Yes, lots of these groups don't work. Yes, some of these companies are evil, or mean, or monopolistic. So what?

          There's a term for people who don't join in the decision making process and then complain about it afterwords when the decisions go against them. Actually there are several terms, but the one I want to use today is "childish". It's time for F/OSS to grow up and actually play with the big boys.

          TW
        • Like Linus, I don't really see the problem with DRM per se. It's just a tool. Tools can be used for good or for evil. You'll still be able to watch movies on TV and at the cinema, and soon I expect someone will develop a cheap alternative to Windows based on a specific DRM-enabled binary Linux distro - to enable people to watch DRM stuff without having to shell out for Windows Vista.

          What I'm slightly worried about is DRMed Word documents being output by default by MS Office 2010 or something - but I'm not

    • Well I didn't read the spec of EFI, but I took a look at openfirmware's website, and the first thing that I read was openfirmware is IEEE1275 standard, but is WITHDRAWN by IEEE. Could that be the reason of EFI, or the result? Another possible explanation is that microsoft wants more control of this, and they know they can get it because no standards like this can fly without them.
      • IEEE1275-1994 is withdrawn because no-one cared to pay money for someone at IEEE to rubber stamp a changed year number (so it could become IEEE1275-1999 and then -2004).

        it's still in active use on every PPC device and every SPARC device, necessary extensions (new busses etc) are handled via supplementals.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:17AM (#13164311) Homepage
      Is this the beginning of Trusted Computing for all? How do they expect to get customers to purchase an EFI system when a PC BIOS one is still well supported?

      1) New Microsoft products will not boot on machines not installed with a DRM'd loader.

      2) The "regular" Internet will not work with those people that aren't using trusted computing (i.e. online banking, music stores, etc).

      3) People are buying new computers instead of cleaning off spyware because it's more cost effective.

      4) Microsoft is now creating "anti-spyware" software (*cough* the recent Claria reports *cough*) so that people may end up going down the road listed in #3.
      • It's irrelevant if the OS has DRM or needs it - it's a very simple choice you have as a user to refuse to ever have DRM content on your machine

        I keep text docs in RTF, Music in Mp3, video in AVI or MPG, emails on a web-based server.. I'll never install DRM-aware applications such as Office 2003.. I have Windows Media Player disabled, and I'll never allow DRM content onto my machine under any circumstances.

        Hence, I'm not really bothered if the OS has DRM capability or not. I'm going fully Mac when the
        • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:29AM (#13164825) Homepage
          As with everytime I post a comment about DRM, someone has to come along and say, "but see, there's a way around it!" Wrong.

          DRM'd OSs will not work if the hardware they run on isn't DRM'd as well. This initiative (along with others that may flurish if this doesn't work -- i.e. Phoenix BIOS) is to make certain that the hardware is protected as well so that people won't be able to easily circumvent the restrictions.

          Why would they bother to go through all of this if it didn't matter?

          I'm going fully Mac when the x86 powermacs come out anyway so Windows is just going to be something I use for emulation purposes.

          An obvious troll but I'll respond anyway: Windows will not run in emulation because of DRM. Sure, they might get an emulation layer up and running but it certainly won't be able to do anything that you would be able to do w/the "appropriate" hardware/software... Software will be trusted. Trusted software will not run on emulation layers.

          Sorry, welcome to the future.
          • If you actually read my comment you'd see that I'm saying I don't mind DRM hardware and DRM software because I will not use any application that uses DRM. That also applies for when I go Mac - maybe my Mac will have DRM built in to protect iTMS purchases. So what. I don't buy music online. Or any other media thats subject to DRM.

            Nor will I use any app that DRM's its files..
    • Perhaps the reason is that the EFI webite says that the spec is available to anyone who cares to pay them $2500 and sign an NDA, whereas OpenFirmware is widely documented, so doesn't offer the same opportunity for profit.
    • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:23AM (#13164356) Homepage
      Your average customer hasn't ever even HEARD of a BIOS, so they don't know WTF it is. They just hear "three point too giga flops prints faster, faster internet, faster faster" from the sales droids. They don't care if it's Intel, AMD, Dell, Gateway, or a steaming pile of poo in a box, as long as they hear big numbers at the shop where they buy it. They don't know, don't care. Then when 90% of all "computer-users" have bought these trusted-computing Longhorn-lockdowns, there won't be any choices, even if everybody does realize "hey, I can't watch these pirated movies anymore" they'll be complacent sheep, because that's what they always do: look at viruses, spyware, etc. People don't know enough to be able to care.

      -Jesse
      • > They just hear "three point too giga flops prints faster, faster
        > internet, faster faster" from the sales droids.

        I hate to break it to you, but it's not 1990 anymore, and the word "faster" no longer sells hardware except in server space (which is clearly not the market you're talking about), to a relative handful of gamers and powerusers, and to the extreme low-end of the knowledge curve (where the difference between terms such as "computer" and "internet" is still unclear and problems with NetZero
      • by Sique (173459) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:11AM (#13164707) Homepage
        On the other hand, when everything actually running on the Trusted Plattform is going to cost money, and there is no free (as in beer) contend available (because of the licensing costs and requirements to get a Trusted Platform certificate), how interesting will it be to everyone? How often will they upgrade?
        How many people have an Xbox or PS2 or GameCube or , and don't want an additional all purpose computer because the system they own completely satisfieds their needs?
        It all boils down to the question: If we cut down on the number of providers (and DRM just cuts down the number of entities which offer something for you, being it legal or not), how long does it take until the system is no longer able to cope with demand (not necessarily in numbers, but in features, possibilities, additions)?
        The IBM compatible PC was successful not necessarily because of the offerings of IBM and Microsoft, but because of the ease to create derivates and additional tools. PkZip and SideStep, Norton Utilities and all the hundreds of thousands little share- and freeware helper made it the versatile platform it is today. Introducing the trusted platform just cuts the roots to this flowering. How long will it grow if the soil gets thinner?
        I give the Trusted Platform about 10 years, then something will grow up in parallel and replace the Trusted Platform step by step. It will be a sheer necessity, because the platform is moving too slow for the demand, laws and industry standards be damned.
    • Without a doubt it is a Not Invented Here Syndrome, in addition to a "we don't own the patent" disorder.

      OpenFirmware is clearly a better alternative but it reeks of IBM and that scares most of the companies mentioned..
  • What about Apple? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:07AM (#13164246)
    I don't see Apple in there at all. They're going x86, I'd think it'd be in their best interests to be involved in the low level stuff so they can bolt on their Apple-specific goop a bit easier.
  • by robyannetta (820243) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:07AM (#13164248) Homepage
    The Linux community politely asks the Unified EFI Forum to not add DRM into EFI as this may be construed as anti-competive.
    • by tmilam (825889) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:13AM (#13164280)
      Do you really think they'll take linux into consideration? Of the companies listed, some are dead set against linux, and others, such as IBM and HP - have a vested interest in it. Really, ultimately DRM is unavoidable as it benefits big business. This scares me....Any chance we can get Novell or Red Hat into the UEFI?
      • by Punboy (737239) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:27AM (#13164816) Homepage
        Funny, cause Intel, AMD, HP, and DELL are all four linux supporters. Seems to me that Microsoft is the only one that is anti-linux.
        • "Linux Supporters" (Score:5, Insightful)

          by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:26PM (#13167968)
          Funny, cause Intel, AMD, HP, and DELL are all four linux supporters. Seems to me that Microsoft is the only one that is anti-linux.

          All five would be more than happy to have "Linux" be redefined as a cryptographically-signed binary supported by a "responsible" company such as Novell or Red Hat.

          The first four, because it suits their corporate customers. Debian, Gentoo, etc. just divert efforts away from supporting the two major distributions that Really Matter.

          Microsoft, of course, because they know how to "deal with" corporate entities.

          From Microsoft's point of view, F/OSS really is like terrorism. Honest. Like national armies, they know how to wage war against similar entites with known addresses, but have a hard time getting traction against amorphous movements which won't stay put for the ICBM treatment.

    • by eclectro (227083) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:24AM (#13164360)
      The Linux community politely asks the Unified EFI Forum to not add DRM into EFI....

      Dear Linux community;

      DRM is the reason why Unified EFI was formed, otherwise we could stick with a known technology that works reasonably well and not spend heaps of cash to lockdown computers.
      I know that you Linux guys never need to reboot, but many others spend significant amount time doing so. We will use this fact to force this technology adoption by the unwashed masses. We need to start collecting rental fees on everything sent to your computer, you know.

      Love,

      Your corporate pimp-daddy

      P.S. Embrace us and don't fight us. It will be easier that way.
  • Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Henriok (6762) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:10AM (#13164264)
    So.. Is there really any doubt whether Apple will use EFI in their machines? Seriously.. they can't use BIOS now!
  • Sceptical... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:11AM (#13164270)

    What's wrong with the PC BIOS anyway? Give or take a few gremlins when new technologies are first introduced, the basic tech seems to have adapted remarkably well for a very long time. Since flashable BIOS technology is now routine, even the early adopter problems don't seem like that great an issue. What's the replacement supposed to offer as an advantage over tried-and-tested, apart from a few buzzwords?

    On a more sinister note, there's no mention in TFA of DRM and the idea of "trusted" computing, but I can't help wondering whether this isn't one of the main aims behind the scenes, given who's supporting this new organisation.

    • Re:Sceptical... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:20AM (#13164333) Homepage
      It doesnt adapt well to serial consoles..
      It has limitations on which parts of the disk it can boot from..
      It's not scriptable..
      It can't be configured in any ways other than what the "setup" program makes available to you..

      OpenFirmware as used by SUN is much nicer, you can run diagnostics, write scripts, and get some low level information about the hardware attached... You can control the whole system from a serial console easily, and even install the OS from there..
      You can also explicitely boot from any partition on your disk, instead of requiring a bootloader in the MBR to do the selection for you.
      • Being able to control the system through a serial cable will be nice since we now require an add-on "System Management" card to do it. I don't, however, understand why scripting is such a big deal. Can somebody with a little more knowledge on the subject please give me a little insight?
    • Most PC BIOSes work fine. But that said, improvements are still possible. The SGI Indy boot PROMs of nearly a decade ago contained a shell that could be used to manipulate various system parameters. That was quite a useful tool missing from even the most modern of PC BIOSes. They also had numerous built-in diagnostic tests that far exceed the basic tests offered by many PC BIOSes.

      While I haven't used very recent SGI workstations (ie. Tezro, Fuel), I can only assume that they have added to the functionality
    • Re:Sceptical... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Enigma_Man (756516) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:36AM (#13164433) Homepage
      What is wrong with PC BIOS, a short list by me:
      • Written in Assembly
      • Not modularized
      • Extremely craptistic source code
      • Stuck with ancient ways of doing things
      • At the mercy of the board manufacturer if you need features outside of what is provided
      • etc, etc.
      Believe me, I love assembly, and use it at any chance I get, but for something that is as complicated as a BIOS has become, it just isn't the right way to do it.

      -Jesse
      • What language would you put it in? The bios seems like the perfect application for assembly code. The problem is that the bios needs to be kept simple.
        • Re:Sceptical... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CyricZ (887944)
          What language would you put it in? The bios seems like the perfect application for assembly code. The problem is that the bios needs to be kept simple.

          Forth, with the Forth virtual machine/interpreter written in assembly. This is the sort of application that Forth excels at.

          • cupieDoll man give (Score:3, Informative)

            by crovira (10242)
            I totally agree. You can write an absolutely tiny Forth interpreter and define the rest in Forth words.

            I don't think we need to get too fancy and, it could even support multiple machine architectures, since once the interpreter is loaded, you're running in Forth.
          • Re:Sceptical... (Score:3, Informative)

            by oxygene2k2 (615758)
            we wrote the virtual machine in C - still small, and it's less maintenance that way

            www.openbios.org
        • Re:Sceptical... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Enigma_Man (756516) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:58AM (#13164590) Homepage
          I'd write it in C, with some assembly hooks for the immediate boot process. The BIOS for modern PCs has to do a lot more than it used to: It has to initialize the hardware (which was the original intent, and is fine in assembly), but even that is getting much more complicated now, with networking, wireless, and video. Imagine having to edit BIOS options on a cluster of 300 PCs, it'd take you weeks using Award/AMI BIOS that don't have anything like serial or network console controllability. The big big use I see for something that isn't assembly is the booting process. That's the Achilles' Heel of the BIOS. Ever tried to boot off of a PCI-based SCSI adapter/drive? You probably can do that, but if you have two SCSI cards, you're screwed. The BIOS doesn't know or care how to tell the difference. USB boot is sketchy at best, and even CD-boot varies from manufacturer-to-manufacturer. The Award-BIOS source code is full of patches upon patches to support different quirky hardware that would be much better implemented in C. Things like large hard drive support would almost be trivial in C, but in assembly, you've go to change large swaths of code for larger bit-amounts for drive size. The newest size is 48-bit, which is a large number of TB, but drives keep getting bigger. The code itself is a gigantic mess of thousands of files with a loose grip on reality. There are circular dependencies from hell and code that just shouldn't exist.

          -Jesse
    • by Pollux (102520) <speterNO@SPAMtedata.net.eg> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:43AM (#13164488) Journal
      What's wrong with the PC BIOS anyway? ... On a more sinister note, there's no mention in TFA of DRM and the idea of "trusted" computing.

      According to the Overview [uefi.org] page, Microsoft's listed as the only OS maker. First, why isn't Apple among the lineup? Novell? Red Hat Linux? Perhaps it's because they're not part of the real circle of friends...

      Enter Microsoft's Trusted Computer Platform. According to the TCPA FAQ [cam.ac.uk], the companies belonging to the alliance are: "Microsoft, Intel, IBM, HP and AMD". And let's take a look here [uefi.org]...yep, they're all there. But what are they really planning?

      According to the specifications [uefi.org] page, nothing's listed as far as features that are to be included (" The UEFI specification is in development"). But currently, since there is no mention as to the true intent of this new technology, and right now the BIOS isn't broken, why reinvent the wheel? Load times are now less than three seconds, which is a tremendous step from BIOS beginnings. New equipment continues to be supported through new BIOS updates. So what do these companies need that the current BIOS can't give them?

      Enter DRM. According to Microsoft's Patent on their DRM-supported OS [cryptome.org], Microsoft has a few issues with the current BIOS...This AEGIS model requires a tamper-resistant BIOS that has hard-wired into it the signature of the following stage. This scheme has the very considerable advantage that it works well with current microprocessors and the current PC architecture, but has three drawbacks.

      1) First, the set of trusted operating systems or trusted publishers must be wired into the BIOS.

      2) Second, if the content is valuable enough (for instance, e-cash or Hollywood videos), users will find a way of replacing the BIOS with one that permits an insecure boot.

      3) Third, when obtaining data from a network server, the client has no way of proving to the remote server that it is indeed running a trusted system.


      So, Microsoft admits that there are flaws that prevent them from using the BIOS in their Trusted Computing platform. But create a new way of booting a computer, protect the technical details from public view, and put the power of the DMCA behind it, and you have a nice foundation into the DRM frontier.

    • Use a Mac (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nospAM.stango.org> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:50AM (#13164531) Homepage Journal
      ...to find out why BIOS is antiquated crap. Apple didn't invent Open Firmware, but they make very good use of it.

      Four examples:
      -Hold down a key at startup to boot from CD/DVD.
      -Hold down a different key at startup to boot from a network volume (if available).
      -Hold down another different key at startup to give you a menu of all bootable volumes, and boot from the one you want-- external, internal, it doesn't matter.
      -Hold down yet another different key at startup to have the machine act as an external hard drive.

      The features above make troubleshooting a wayward, non-booting Mac a breeze, and they come in very handy at other times as well. If you encounter a non-booting Windows PC, you almost always need another computer nearby to effectively troubleshoot and fix it.

      Ever since Apple announced the move to Intel, I've been a little worried about losing those features-- but I'm hopeful that they will find a way to keep them alive on Intel-based Macs.

      ~Philly
      • Re:Use a Mac (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jridley (9305)
        New machines also do all that from BIOS, with the added feature that they give you a menu. I was trying to install an OS on an old G3 box I got out of the closet at work, and it took a bit of googling to figure out that I needed to hold down a key to boot from CD. On a PC, at boot time it says "press Fxx for boot menu" - you press that, it shows what things are there to boot from, you pick one. Nothing to remember, one key to press.

        I'm seriously thinking about switching to Mac, but since the Mac came ou
    • because without it one can have < 5 second boots from power to login prompt
  • The UEFI Forum board of directors include representatives from the following nine leading companies: .... Insyde


    I've heard of the other companies... what does this one do?
  • More info (Score:5, Informative)

    by asliarun (636603) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:11AM (#13164275)
    Read more about EFI here [intel.com].
  • I just can't help but think back to the 40 or 50 times before I've read "_________ to replace PC BIOS."

    Somehow, after a while it just starts to feel like it's not really going to happen. Like Duke Nukem Forever press releases, sort of...
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:35AM (#13164429) Journal
      Did you hear the plans of Duke Nukem Forever to replace PC BIOS? The advantages are:
      • Intuitive shoot to boot interface.
      • PC health parameters immediatly visible through scene (e.g. if your processor is running hot, you'll get a desert).
      • If your OS doesn't boot any more, you still can have fun with your computer.
      • ...although I'll always prefer OpenDoomware.
        So you can't see the interface without a flashlight. So you can't use the flashlight and change the settings at the same time. Who cares? It's got the Big Fucking Bootloader!
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:16AM (#13164294)
    I've always wanted something similar to the old SGI Indy boot PROM monitor, but on PCs. While similar technology is widespread on Sun and Apple machines, amonst others, it is far superior to the simple option-toggling capabilities of most PC BIOSes. The shell was quite handy, and the built-in diagnostic tests were even better.

    • I once had a very expensive SGI under my desk; I believe it was a dual processor Onyx, like $30k. One day I came in and I couldn't telnet to it. Hook up the serial console, reboot. The machine basically pointed at the scsi controller and said "You might want to have a look at that." Call up SGI tech support. They have me read them the diagnostic code; within five minutes of getting on the phone they're overnighting a new "logic carrier."

      Being green as I was, I asked, "Does that have the SCSI controll

      • I meant Origin, not Onyx. Origin 1000, maybe? This was ca. 1999.
      • The moral of the story is that, boot diagnostics are cool because you spend less time on the phone. I've never had such an experience with a PC, where if you're lucky you get a couple LEDs. I guess that's what you get for $30k.

        Mmm. That would be nice, but you see the problem is that SGIs didn't generally have to cope with a lot of third party hardware. Everything that the firmware would ever communicate with was pretty much known before the box left the factory.

        PCs have a huge amount of (often obscure) t
  • by Rahga (13479) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:17AM (#13164303) Homepage Journal
    Intel,
    Maker of overpriced, underperforming processors...

    AMD,
    Leading manufacturer of budget CPUs.....

    Microsoft,
    Singlehandedly proved that breaking antitrust law can be worth the hassle....

    IBM,
    Services provider de jour....

    Dell
    Master of manufacturing, jack of no other trades.

    HP
    Titanic 2000.

    Wow, what a dream team.
  • Let me take a guess, they'll build DMCA enforcement into it sooner or later.
    • Anything which they build into it requires code at the OS level. Any code at the OS level is stored in memory somewhere. Any code stored in memory can be analyzed and reverse engineered.

      They're not going to cut the F/OSS community out of the picture entirely. The proprietary houses are doing what they can to stay 6-8 months ahead. Eventually, though, they have to release the specs to someone. Hard to write a media player that makes use of the built-in DRM if the people writing the media player don't k
  • ... make it about as hard as possible, if not impossible, to impliment a completely free open source operating system. I reckon that is all but guaranteed.

    My bet wpuld be on some weird and wonderful, not very good, patented DRM technology that will be forced on it by one of the partners and cross licensed to the others for peanuts. Of course those won't be the licensing terms given to other people

    Thinking of licensing terms I have another grumble but I think I'll spare you that one for now [walks off to

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:31AM (#13164410)
    there already is too much of a demand for Linux, either UEFI will accept Linux or some motherboard MFGer's will continue to produce mainboards with the old PC BIOS, i don't like the sound of UEFI and will probably go out of my way just to not purchase boards with it...
  • by Manip (656104) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:36AM (#13164438)
    I'm sorry but do you people take the time to read up before you complain? This is a wonderful opportunity for the open source movement. EFI makes booting multiple operating systems like a thousand times easier. Instead of having a single boot record on the hard disk boot information is stored in a data table and given as an option to the user who selections the OS they want.

    This means that Linux can be installed without breaking the existing installations or screwing with the boot loader at all. The DRM is a problem but there is not too much information about if there is going to be a lot of DRM in this new bios replacement.
    • Who are you kidding? While you dismiss the DRM portion by consoling yourself with the notion that there might not be much of it because its not talked about in detail is ludicrious. Of course they aren't going to flail their arms about and go "LOOK HERE! WE ARE GOING TO TAKE YOUR ABILITY TO DO STUFF WITH YOUR PC AWAY!!!" Come on, get real. It will be mentioned as little as possible.
    • This means that Linux can be installed without breaking the existing installations or screwing with the boot loader at all. The DRM is a problem but there is not too much information about if there is going to be a lot of DRM in this new bios replacement.

      Lets not forget that Intel's Project LaGrande [intel.com] (review here [extremetech.com]) is all about DRM, and its one of the reasons Apple is moving that direction. They want to work with the media companies as they begin to control the entire media space (except media created by

  • Want scripting? Want drivers?

    Why not just add those to the BIOS?

    I mean the interrupts are a standard but the interface you see when you hit F2 or DEL or whatever is not.

    Nothing is stopping AMI from putting a tiny busybox linux image in the BIOS other than available space [perhaps?] and the will to do it.

    If you goto the uefi website you'll cleverly see "members only" on all the specification pages... interesting...

    Tom
    • Why not just add those to the BIOS?

      Why add more cruft to this horribly outdaged kludge that's been with us for far too long?

      I'd rather see OpenFirmware embraced than this Intel designed strategy though..
      • My experience with openfirmware hasn't been that good. Or at least if the MacOS does use OF it sucks. I couldn't get into the OF prompt no matter what magic key combo I hit.

        To me the BIOS "just works".

        And the thing is you don't usually use most of the interrupts in the bios anyways. I seriously doubt Linux switches to real mode to call int 13h to write to disk. I'm certain it just issues IDE commands directly.

        So yeah you have some code you're not using but no sense on sinking the ship if it's just pa
  • Todays BIOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigDuke6_swe (899458) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:37AM (#13164445) Homepage
    Please correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the BIOS of today backwards compatible with a lot of obsolete hardware that require the BIOS to still behave in a certain way? I belive there were hardware components that for example required that BIOS waited for a certain amount of time before processing some commands due to their startup time. And as years has passed by new features have been added while the old ones are kept and at some point it's a unnecesarily messy code.
    • Yeah, exactly how much of this obsolete hardware is going to work in machines that have only PCI Express slots? It's a non-concern.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:39AM (#13164457)
    The source code for Intel's implementation of EFI can be found at http://www.tianocore.org/ [tianocore.org]

    Also, this standard should finally allow seemless integration of new hardware onto the linux desktop. The main hurdle for desktop linux has always been lack of seemless driver integration.
  • I don't want no drm'd bios. Or if they do it, let's start thinking about ways of replacing with custom bios chips/flashes with openfirmware. If they see that people don't like the idea of drm on the application level, well, they take it down to the bios, where most people won't be able to do anything about. No matter if one doesn't do anything illegal on their machines, drm'ing it is still not any a likeable concept on any level. Looks like the hackers of tomorrow will turn out to be really some digital fre
    • www.openbios.org - together with linuxbios we could make this work..
      except that programming the lowlevel setup is non-trivial, because it's usually undocumented, and if you can get to documentation, under NDA or not, it tends to be bug-ridden in that area
  • No Linux Support? (Score:5, Informative)

    by oostevo (736441) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:41AM (#13164470) Homepage
    Sorry if this spoils your conspiracy theories, but there's already a project on SourceForge [sourceforge.net] (called ELILO) to support the EFI standard.

    And there's a link on the main page of the Intel EFI [intel.com] page.

  • Time to stock up... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slashname3 (739398) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:48AM (#13164515)
    Time to stock up on BIOS based systems. Once they get this change pushed through all new systems will be forced to ship with EFI. And the bets are running toward them incorporating some kind of DRM which will prevent alternative OSes from running on these new systems.

    20 years from now there will be a huge market for "free" computers that don't have EFI/DRM built into the system. Of course by then it will be illegal to connect a non EFI/DRM system to the Internet. But a persitant group of hackers will devise numerous methods to mask "free" computers from the corporate Internet police (CIP) which routinely scan all systems connected to the Internet looking for non-compliant systems. And in further efforts to eliminate the hacker menace the new EFI standards will be designed to scan a computers hard drives looking for signs of any activity deemed illegal by the CIP. This of course leads to several people having their doors knocked down and flash bangs thrown through the windows as the CIP confiscates their systems when they find more than a few dozen mp3 files on the users computer systems which don't have proper DRM tags.

    Many more people will have their systems confiscated and accounts frozen when their computers report back that they used certain terms in IM sessions and email such as "she was the bomb last night!"

    Of course the system will omit everything but the term "bomb".
  • If it ain't broke....

    tear apart until it is.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @08:59AM (#13164599)
    One thing I want to see in a BIOS replacement is for the new firmware to go into protected mode directly as one of the first things it does after setting up whatever it has to set up in real mode.
    Then OS's that run on the new firmware standard would come in with a pre-defined protected mode setup ready to go and not have to mess around with switching into protected mode (OS's like windows and linux will need to be ported anyway)

    I am not a systems programmer (I have programmed assembly but only as a userland programmer) so I dont know if doing this is actually possible or not.

    Something else I want to see is a complete end to all limitations on what storage devices you can boot from and where on those devices you can boot from. (for example, any limitations on not being able to boot from partitions starting later than on the disk which I seem to remember used to be a problem)

    You could even add a complete bootloader into the BIOS that would be able to read the boot sector from any hard disk partition, floppy disk (although in the ideal world, the floppy would disappear from the PC just like it has from the mac), optical media, USB storage device or whatever and boot that directly without the need for programs like GRUB and LILO and others to let you pick what to boot with.

    By removing all the other legacy crap no-one really uses anymore (e.g. serial and paralel ports) you could create a new PC system without any legacy stuff. Done right, the only things that should care about the changes are operating systems like linux and windows plus device drivers for certain kinds of hardware.
  • by asifyoucare (302582) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:14AM (#13164722)
    From their FAQ

    Q: Is there a charge to use the specification?

    A: Not for the specification itself. The Promoters of UEFI have agreed that any IP needed to implement the specification will be made available on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.


    No free-as-in-beer implementation is likely, since free implementations cannot afford any fees, no matter how reasonable and non-discriminitory.

    It is unclear from the (weasel) words whether fees would apply only to actual BIOS ROMs or whether fees would apply to software that used the API specification.

    Watch out.

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