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BIOS Will Be Dead In Three Years 532

Posted by kdawson
from the legacy-notwithstanding dept.
Stoobalou writes with news that MSI is planning a big shift towards UEFI (universal extensible firmware interface) at the end of 2010, possibly spelling the beginning of the end of the BIOS as we know it. "It's the one major part of the computer that's still reminiscent of the PC's primordial, text-based beginnings, but the familiarly clunky BIOS could soon be on its deathbed, according to MSI. The motherboard maker says it's now making a big shift towards point-and-click UEFI systems, and it's all going to kick off at the end of this year. Speaking to Thinq, a spokesperson for the company in Taiwan who wished to remain anonymous said, 'MSI will start to phase in UEFI starting from the end of this year, and we expect it will be widely adopted after three years.'"
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BIOS Will Be Dead In Three Years

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  • Absolutely brilliant! Why didn't I think of it?
    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:08PM (#32499422) Homepage

      It's more than that. This will cause a DOS compatibility issue. This means that the floppy boot process and other handy-dandy things we've been doing that uses DOS of some kind (Microsoft, IBM, FreeDOS, whatever) to boot up and get devices working through the config.sys and all that used BIOS hooks to get much of the I/O accomplished.

      I don't know whether or not UEFI's services provide compatible techniques or if whole new things need to be created, but it would seem to me that many low-level recovery and imaging tools may be lost to us. Perhaps Symantec needs to update its Ghost to run on Linux, for example, as Ghost currently runs on DOS which uses BIOS hooks for I/O.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:15PM (#32499558)

        You should switch to FOG, it is free and uses PXE. It is better than Ghost in every way.

        None of what you speak of should be done with dos floppies in 2010, linux boot usb sticks are the way to do this stuff.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by larkost (79011)

          FOG is nice, but it does not have all of the features of Ghost Solution Suite (the enterprise product under the Symantec brand, not the consumer one under the Norton name). I really wanted to use it, but it was missing two major features that I could not live without:

          1) It will only run under PXE boot, so it requires that you have control over DHCP wherever you are. With GSS I can use a "virtual partition" to boot from, so it will download the boot system from the server, then boot without ever requiring me

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by RulerOf (975607)

            It will only run under PXE boot, so it requires that you have control over DHCP wherever you are.

            You might like to try gPXE. [etherboot.org] You can, either by chainloading SYSLINUX or PXELINUX or using COM32 modules, implement exactly what you describe using almost any medium you desire, whether that's floppy, PXE/DHCP/ProxyDHCP, local disk, USB, etc, configured as you desire, so that as long as it's on any network that can route to your boot server, it'll behave the same every time. You could even burn gPXE directly into the NIC of your target machines, and remove the need for a "virtual partition" altogether. Of

      • by jtdennis (77869) <oyr249m02.sneakemail@com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:17PM (#32499586) Homepage

        Ghost also runs in the WinPE boot environment without any problems. WinPE should boot off EFI based systems without a problem as it's used in the Vista and 7 boot DVDs. Just run Ghost32.exe from within WinPE and use Ghost like you always have.

      • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:27PM (#32499716)

        EFI can have BIOS compatibility modules installed. So it *MIGHT* cause compatibility issues, or it might not.. depends on the motherboard manufacturer, and if they include BIOS compatibility. You may also be able to add BIOS modules later.

      • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:55PM (#32500236)

        "Perhaps Symantec needs to update its Ghost to run on Linux, for example"

        Linux runs fine, who needs Ghost?

      • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:13PM (#32500506)

        Perhaps Symantec needs to update its Ghost to run on Linux, for example, as Ghost currently runs on DOS which uses BIOS hooks for I/O.

        Did you write this in 2004? Ghost has been running fine on Linux for a while now. In fact, Symantec's Linux boot disks have better driver support and more functionality than both the DOS and WinPE boot disks.
        I'm stepping on your lawn.

  • OhNo! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rwiggers (1206310)

    Am I the first to say that dumbing down low level config is a bad idea?

    --
    big idiot operating the system

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Heh. Nice sig.
    • Am I the first to say that dumbing down low level config is a bad idea?

      IMHO dumbing down the boot is a GOOD idea. There should be as little as possible between the raw hardware and the OS to tamper with the user's control of his system.

      (Example of such tampering: Intel AMT - a built-in man-in-the-middle attack on the machine, sold to corporate IT departments as a FEATURE.)

      But this stuff is not dumbing down (i.e. stripping down) the BIOS. It's adding MORE JUNK. Breaking the OLDER junk is incidental to do

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:44PM (#32498908) Journal

    Bios sounds cooler and is easier to say. (Yoo-fee? Yoo-Figh? ooweef... damnit)

    And whenever that clunky UI comes up, computer illiterate people go into a daze and stop asking so many questions.

    I guess I'll start spending as much time with it as I can before it goes away... Start - Shutdown - Restart. F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12 F12

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:44PM (#32498912) Homepage Journal

    Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

    • BIOS vs. EFI (Score:5, Informative)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:51PM (#32499076) Homepage Journal

      Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

      EFI, which is already used in Mac computers with Intel CPUs, doesn't implement the syscalls inherited from IBM PC BIOS. Things like Boot Camp add PC BIOS on top of EFI.

      • Re:BIOS vs. EFI (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:27PM (#32499726)

        Yo Dawg. I heard you liked using a basic input output system to boot your computer.
        So we put a basic IO system to boot your basic IO system for your system.

        BIOS is dead. Long Live BIOS?

        I've moved all my machines to GPT. I understand the need to keep around some legacy stuff, but BIOS and the MS-DOS partition table really need to step aside for some new technology. They lasted us ~30 years, but the hoops you have to jump through to boot some newer stuff is getting annoying.

    • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:52PM (#32499100) Homepage Journal

      What am I missing here?

      So far as I can tell, it just means that now the BIOS is going to consist of a complicated, semi-unintelligible set of menus (and/or icons) and point and click options rather than a simple tree of text-based menus with descriptive names. Don't worry though, by fixing something that isn't broken, things will get better.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I'm just glad it's UFEI and not UFIA.

    • by xianthax (963773) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:54PM (#32499168)

      traditional BIOS are an archaic nightmare really.

      Most new technologies in them are work around hacks required to maintain some support for very old communication protocols (6GB SATA drives still have to support IDE mode why?) etc.

      Give this a read:

      http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/how-computers-boot-up [duartes.org]

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:00PM (#32499266) Homepage

      I think they're just wrong to put the stress on EFI being "a point and click interface". I was under the impression (correct me if I'm wrong) that the deal with EFI is that it was a design of firmware for the system that ditches a lot of old legacy stuff. Incidentally, by upgrading the design, it will allow manufacturers to create a GUI to configure this stuff. But the GUI isn't really the point.

    • by dlenmn (145080) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:02PM (#32499308) Homepage

      It may be _a_ basic input output system, but it is not the BIOS, which -- if I understand correctly -- was originally how all [wikipedia.org] input/output was done through PCs. Nowadays, your computer only uses the BIOS for input/output during startup, and then switches to something more advanced for your actual interface. In short, it's a holdover from the early days of PCs, is now only used for this niche role, and has required backwards compatibility all the way back to the original PC. I don't think that's wasted a huge amount of resources or anything, but I've always thought of it as old cruft ready to be replaced.

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:14PM (#32500522) Journal

        It may be _a_ basic input output system, but it is not the BIOS, which -- if I understand correctly -- was originally how all input/output was done through PCs.

        BIOS was originally the small part of CP/M that had to be tweaked with the details of how to get to the devices on your particular hardware. It consisted mainly of things like character drivers for the keyboard, console text display (if present), and serial ports, and sector read/write drivers for the floppy disks.

        As of the early xx86 IBM PCs the equivalent functionality (and more) had been added to the boot ROM, rather than having the boot ROM be JUST a basic boot-and-launch driver. Then with bigger/cheaper ROM in successive generations there was a race between bloat, "feature protection" (such as anti-overclocking) and "trojan horse features" (DRM, AMT, ...) in the BIOS vs. OSes recovering control of the hardware interfaces to improve flexibility for functionality upgrades (at the cost of having to understand more about the particular machine's hardware).

        These days even Wikipedia doesn't seem to cover the origins.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:05PM (#32499380) Journal
      TFA is largely worthless; but EFI is actually a pretty big deal. In essence, it keeps the really hair and complex bits of the BIOS(y hello thar, ACPI, I am talking to you) and adds a giant heap of further complexity. Haven't you always wanted a BIOS that needs its own FAT32(or HFS+ in Apple's freaky nonconformant implementation) partition in order to store its own device drivers?
    • by zlogic (892404) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:35PM (#32499868)

      AMI Winbios was GUI-based. And it existed in 1995!

    • by Warbothong (905464) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:35PM (#32499870) Homepage

      Very uninformative. It sounds like UEFI is a BIOS (basic input-output system), only it's mouse/graphics based rather than text based. What am I missing here?

      If by "BIOS" you mean "the system which loads the OS" then indeed UEFI is just a BIOS. There are also loads of other such systems, like the OpenFirmware (OFW) which, from playing around on my OLPC XO-1, can do traditionally high-level things such as scanning for Wifi networks, displaying a live Webcam image, interacting with the mouse, etc. There is also CoreBoot (formerly LinuxBIOS) which was designed for boot speed (on supercomputers), and there are probably loads more. In fact, my Amiga 1200 from 1992 had a boot menu which used the same GUI as the OS (like this http://www.gregdonner.org/workbench/images/wb_30_1.gif [gregdonner.org] ), since part of the OS was stored inside onboard chips.

      "BIOS" also has another, more formal meaning though, which is the programming calls it implements. Using these calls within a piece of code will work on any system with a BIOS, but not necessarily on any of the alternatives. However, they can be emulated on top of these other systems without anything noticing (like BootCamp does).

  • Other than the fact that there won't be any BIOS left, how does this affect most of us?

    Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD? Or is it just all going to be status quo but with an old piece of technology no longer present? Will the *AA's insist that the replacement allow them to lock down machines so we can only do what they approve of?

    I really have no idea of the ramifications of the loss of BIOS.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD?

      Nothing big other than another variable to throw in the mix... Macs have never had a BIOS and seem to run Windows, Linux, and BSD pretty well. IIRC, they just emulate a BIOS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vbraga (228124)

      Any modern operating system will not be affected.

      Older operating systems, like DOS, used BIOS services to accomplish certain tasks - like accessing the floppy disk, if I recall correctly. This kind of legacy operating system will stop working when the BIOS is gone.

      BIOS do have other rules [wikipedia.org]. But nothing major.

    • Re:So .... (Score:4, Informative)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:55PM (#32499170)

      Linux has supported EFI for quite some time. And EFI has BIOS compatibility modes (or it can.. that's one of those "extensible" things). Mac's, for instance, use EFI and have since they went Intel (possibly earlier, but I think the Intel macs were the first).

      Linus is not a big fan of EFI though.. says it's a bigger, clunkier bios.

      • Re:So .... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mister_dave (1613441) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:09PM (#32500442)

        I quite like Linus on EFI: [kerneltrap.org]

        ...EFI has this cool shell, a loadable driver framework, and other nice features. Where "nice" obviously means "much more complex than the simple things they designed in the late seventies back when people were stupid and just wanted things to work".

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:56PM (#32499198) Homepage Journal

      Is it likely to cause problems for Linux and BSD?

      Intel Macs already use EFI [wikipedia.org]; therefore at least one BSD (Darwin) already supports it. Linux supports EFI too.

  • MSI, huh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daemonenwind (178848) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:46PM (#32498956)

    As soon as I have a good-to-great experience with an MSI motherboard, this will be relevant to me.

    They've been nothing but finicky to me.

    Now, if ASUS, Intel or Gigabyte pick this up, or at least a few other mainstream manufacturers, let me know.

  • about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388)

    Macs went to EFI [wikipedia.org] over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

    BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it. Good bye, and good riddance.

    • Re:about time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:50PM (#32499026)

      They'll do the same with EFI.

    • by JamesP (688957)

      Exactly

      Of course MS didn't bother with it (maybe Windows 7 is compatible, I'm not sure about Vista), and manufacturers neither.

      I'm not sure it's going to be better (that is, they're going to do it properly)

      What, floppy drive for installing Win XP in Sata?? EFI would take care of that

      • Re:about time (Score:5, Informative)

        by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:05PM (#32499360)

        No, Microsoft implemented EFI in Vista, although they only put it in the 64 bit versions IIRC. I can't wait for 32 bit Windows to die a horrible death... then more people (like Adobe) will start fully supporting 64 bit windows (and no, 64 bit Photoshop is not enough, let's get a 64 bit flash).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zmollusc (763634)

      My thinkpad 600x has a gui bios for the date/time, this is about 1993 vintage. Back then apple were trying to sell tablet devices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As with most Mac "firsts", it is and it isn't. The Gateway 610 Media Center came out with an EFI-based motheboard firmware in 2003, 3 years before Apple started shipping units with EFI. It offered no particularly compelling advantages over legacy BIOS, so there was no great rush among other manufacturers to do the same.

      Apple's "first" was not doing it; but doing it exclusively across all their models.
    • Re:about time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:11PM (#32499484)

      Macs went to EFI over four years ago. Hard to believe it took the windows machines this long to take the leap?

      The average user doesn't know and wouldn't give a shit if they did. Ergo, this kind of change in the PC market is driven by the interests of the vendors, as the consumer essentially has none. That said, it's worth noting that some consumer PCs have used EFI since 2003 and Itanium workstations were using EFI back in 2000, and x64 versions of Windows added support for EFI in 2008.

      BIOS is the bane of the PC service tech. That's where manufacturers lock up the hardware and prevent you from being able to fix it or work on it.

      It's worth noting that one advantage of EFI to vendors is precisely that it better enables them to lock down a system than BIOS does. While it doesn't have to be used that way, you can safely bet that many vendors will use it that way to the detriment of the consumer. It's also not without (in my opinion, valid) criticism for adding additional complexity to the system without actually resolving the problems of BIOS.

      The main advantage appears lie in offering a GUI for end users to manipulate system settings that they lack the knowledge or inclination to tinker with. To be fair, it does add some convenience features and better support for large drives, but I haven't seen anything about EFI to get terribly excited about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Good bye, and good riddance.

      I agree 100%. I have a Lenovo Ideapad Y710 and I would like to punch in the face whoever wrote its BIOS. I'd also like to kick in the junk whoever his/her boss was who approved it.
      This laptop is capable of VT-x and was ADVERTISED with it as a feature, but it's disabled in the BIOS and can't be turned on.
      This laptop is incapable of hibernating and sleeping in any OS except the crappy Vista it came with. A few versions of Ubuntu ago I was able to patch my DSDT table using the Intel compiler and then I wa

  • That screenshot lowers sperm count.

    If they can't make it look nicer then I'll keep the old clunky, please.

  • by phrackwulf (589741) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:47PM (#32498974) Homepage

    You kids today with your GUI firmware. Spoiled rotten! That's what you are! WHEEZE.. Excuse me while I go get more of these tattoo's removed. Ouch, arthritis.

  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:48PM (#32499004)

    That is the worst reporting on EFI I've ever read. They spend half the article trying to make the false claim that the switch from BIOS to EFI has anything to do with its visual interface (I was using a pixel-and-mouse-based GUI BIOS 15 years ago and I was using a text-only EFI interface just a couple days ago). Then they end with a quote about how the biggest difference between BIOS and EFI is that EFI is written in C? How would that have any relevance? Maybe they were trying to say that EFI requires the execution of architecture-independent code (the EFI Bytecode)?

    Sadly there was no mention of Open Firmware, either. Is there any reason Intel made their own Open Firmware knock-off beyond NIH syndrome?

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:12PM (#32499500)

      EFI has been around for about 15 years, but was an Itanium thing... UEFI was created about 5 years ago and adapted it for use with x86 and x64 computers. Apple has been using it since 2006 in all their Mac based PC's.

      Unfortunately, OpenFirmware was withdrawn from the IEEE in 1998, so OpenFirmware isn't really a standard. And there wasn't really an Open Source implementation until 2006 (a year after UEFI was introduced).

      So to say (paraphrasing) "Why didn't intel use OpenFirmware instead of creating their own?" is to ignore the face that OpenFirmware was a non-player at the time.

  • by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:53PM (#32499104) Homepage Journal

    The PC BIOS started out as a simple nifty way to abstract away the underlying hardware from the operating system so that we didn't have to have drivers for every little thing.

    Nowadays, we have drivers for every freaking little thing.

    Why? The BIOS failed to evolve into the 32bit era.

    It would be great if there could be a piece of flash memory on the motherboard which contains all the Basic I/O driver for each of it's peripherals... And for all expansion cards to have a bit of flash memory for their drivers.

    Then the operating system (Windows/Linux/whatever...) can just use all the devices through their firmware driver.

    (Fed up of drivers)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Yeah, I've had a little bit of a longstanding beef with drivers. I don't frequently have problems any more (Mac user) but it's always kind of stupid when you install a new OS and then realize you don't have a driver for your networking interface. Nice little catch-22.

      Of course I've always imagined that there was something better that could be done. Your idea of including some sort of flash memory onboard had occurred to me and is actually feasible these days. Years ago, I was thinking about ROM chips w

  • Oh, I hope not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:54PM (#32499146)

    I looked into EFI a bit (the technical details of GPT partition tables), and it just screams overengineering to me. GPT, specifically, bothers me because it allows partition records to have variable size and even to cross sector boundaries, which makes bootloaders way harder to implement (that was the context in which I did this resarch). Despite all this, there is an upper bound to the number of partitions you can have (512 I think), which is not the case in DOS tables.

    Now, I don't know all that much about the rest of EFI, but I have gotten the impression that things are the same here. It contains a complete driver infrastructure, with drivers that are guaranteed to be broken and incomplete, and reimplements basically everything. And what is the point of all of this? Prettier boot screens.

    It's not even the right way to go about it! That would be to load Linux in the simplest way possible (for which BIOS is enough) and show a pretty menu using all of the available software and libraries, and switch OS using kexec (or equivalent in other OSs). If I were to write such a program, I could boot CDs, netboot, do power management (pretty off button) and have pretty 3D graphics, and perhaps even use a library like GTK. Then, what would be the point of all the stuff going on in the EFI? DRY is right. Let that thing die.

    • Re:Oh, I hope not (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:04PM (#32499354) Homepage Journal

      It's not even the right way to go about it! That would be to load Linux in the simplest way possible (for which BIOS is enough)

      Even BIOS is overkill to load Linux if your chipset supports coreboot.

    • by LordVader717 (888547) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:40PM (#32499974)

      512 partitions should be enough for anyone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110)

      Despite all this, there is an upper bound to the number of partitions you can have (512 I think), which is not the case in DOS tables.

      WTF are you smoking? For someone whose supposedly writing a boot-loader, you sure don't sound like you have a clue...

      DOS partition tables have an upper limit of FOUR (4) partitions!!! Got that? Not unlimited. Not 512. FOUR (4)!

      The hack to get around that limit is an EXTENDED partition, which then contains "logical" partitions. I doubt 512 partitions is going to start lo

  • by SlothDead (1251206) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:54PM (#32499166)

    Will I be able to change BIOS/UEFI settings using my bluetooth keyboard/mouse, or will I still have to plug in my old keyboard whenever I want to configure something?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @01:55PM (#32499182) Homepage

    ...with an insanely complex load of crap (but it's "graphical" so it must be better).

  • Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Denis Lemire (27713) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:00PM (#32499264) Homepage

    It's about time we drop the kludge that is BIOS. EFI is also required for Windows to be able to boot from GUID partition table drives which in turn are going to be needed to handle upcoming huge drives that exceed BIOS LBA limitations.

    I for one will not miss the BIOS. It's about time commodity PCs catch up to standards that Apple has implemented way back in 2006 (all Intel Macs use EFI and GPT).

    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Informative)

      by visualight (468005) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:00PM (#32500324) Homepage
      No sir, EFI is the kludge here. Slow to boot, needlessly abstract and complicated, doesn't bring anything to the table we don't already have...Anyone who thinks EFI is a good idea is either uninformed, misinformed, or employed by Intel.
      Read: http://kerneltrap.org/node/6884 [kerneltrap.org]

      Linus continued in a followup email, "don't get me wrong - the problem with EFI is that it actually superficially looks much better than the BIOS, but in practice it ends up being one of those things where it has few real advantages, and often just a lot of extra complexity because of the 'new and improved' interfaces that were largely defined by a committee." He went on, "so EFI has this cool shell, a loadable driver framework, and other nice features. Where 'nice' obviously means 'much more complex than the simple things they designed in the late seventies back when people were stupid and just wanted things to work'. Of course, it's somewhat questionable whether people have actually gotten smarter or stupider in the last 30 years. It's not enough time for evolution to have increased our brain capacity, but it certainly _is_ enough time for most people to no longer understand how hardware works any more." As for BIOS, Linus noted, "not that I'd ever claim that the BIOS is wonderful either, but at least everybody knows that the BIOS is just a bootloader, and doesn't try to make it anything else."

      Useless abstraction layers are useless.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Denis Lemire (27713) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @03:25PM (#32500692) Homepage

        Interesting counterpoint - I mean that, not being sarcastic.

        Maybe EFI isn't a golden solution, I'm not familiar enough with EFI on a low level to comment. Perhaps I just blindly support it because I just want 'SOMETHING' to replace BIOS. Specifically I like that the Mac platform can be entirely managed from the OS, ie) setting boot device priority, power management etc along side the rest of your OS settings. The whole PC model of having certain settings configured only in BIOS and others via the OS seems rather odd by modern standards. It gets quirkier when there are overlaps in features between BIOS settings and OS settings (power management being the best example).

        I'd also like better features on power-up. Specifically, as I still setup a few headless PCs for BSD and Linux servers, it annoys me that serial console is not available until, at a minimum, you reach the bootloader of the OS. All 'settings' in BIOS are completely inaccessible in a headless serial environment as things currently stand.

        I also rather enjoy the 'target disk mode' on Macs that will instantly turn your system into an external firewire attached drive on startup. This is extremely handy for recovering files from an unbootable or otherwise corrupt OS without having to physically remove the drive.

        Adopting EFI wouldn't necessarily mean we gain such features, but it seems to me EFI would make such features more feasible. I guess in summary, I'm not necessarily pro EFI, but I want to see something far more modern and capable replace the obsolete BIOS we are currently stuck with.

        Perhaps eliminating BIOS and adopting EFI isn't even necessary to unify things and address the limitations, I may just be equating the two even if they are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

        Regardless, the PC world needs something better than BIOS, I'm not aware of any alternatives to EFI that may better accomodate this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KonoWatakushi (910213)

          I feel just as strongly about replacing the BIOS, and indeed just about anything would be better. UEFI is not though; it effectively transfers ownership of your hardware to some untrusted third party. It is effectively DRM on the bare metal, which can't be removed.

          If you want to advocate for something, try coreboot [coreboot.org].

          Just say no to "trusted computing" and "trusted platforms"; this is almost universally an indication that someone else can trust your hardware to enforce their restrictions.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Denis Lemire (27713)

            I would be all for having a Linux based firmware like coreboot replace our current mess that is the BIOS! Wonder if that could actually gain ground or if it's just a pipe dream though?

            Must EFI by necessity bring "trusted computing" with it though? Maybe I need to take a closer look at the specs. Though Apple systems are EFI based, they haven't really used it to lock down the computer in any sort of way. Are you suggesting they simply haven't decided to do that but the capability is ready and waiting, not su

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KonoWatakushi (910213)

              Actually, it is ironic that Apple hasn't moved to UEFI. They are using one of the older versions of EFI before they stuffed it with the various "trusted" crap.

              Unfortunately, coreboot continues to have very limited board support, as most vendors are not at all forthcoming with chipset documentation. It is surprising that the various board manufacturers haven't embraced it though; it would be one less thing to license. It may be that NDA issues prevent them from doing so.

              I'm not sure if anyone can say with

  • Primordial? (Score:3, Informative)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:05PM (#32499364) Homepage
    The PC was never "primordial". It was an assemblage of mostly off-the-shelf components that was inferior to its competition but had the IBM label slapped on it. Immediately, it became the reference standard against which competitors benchmarked themselves in order to be able to advertise "100% PC Compatible", with the ability to run Microsoft Flight Simulator being the strongest test of compatibility. A reference standard is not "primordial". To the contrary, it took years to add the slightest bit of flexibility to this rigid standard -- e.g. defining the bus timings independent of the CPU clock in order to accommodate faster CPUs.
  • BIOS is not dead (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:05PM (#32499382)

    From the faq at uefi.org:

    Q: Does UEFI completely replace a PC BIOS?
    A: No. While UEFI uses a different interface for "boot services" and "runtime services", some platform firmware must perform the functions BIOS uses for system configuration (a.k.a. "Power On Self Test" or "POST") and Setup. UEFI does not specify how POST & Setup are implemented.

  • DRM with UEFI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @02:45PM (#32500072)

    As far as I know, the major "feature" of UEFI over the original EFI is signed modules, ultimately allowing for control over what may be booted. The original EFI, while still bloated and overly complex (though considerably less so), would have been a clear improvement over the BIOS. However, the current incarnation of UEFI may be downright dangerous to our freedoms.

    As bad as the BIOS is, at least we can run the OS of our choice. With UEFI, we still may--for now. Unfortunately, that "feature" may be removed in the future, just as Sony did with Linux on the PS3.

    Or at least that is how I understand it. There was a lot of concern over this in the past, but strangely, I haven't seen much recently. I would love to be rid of the BIOS, but something like coreboot [coreboot.org] would be much better, as it would allow for a completely open platform, and is focused on actually booting the machine.

  • Completely wrong! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Noitatsidem (1701520) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @04:45PM (#32501804)
    I can't believe this is on /. This is completely wrong! BIOS Will not die, the UEFI Website itself says it. "Q: Does UEFI completely replace a PC BIOS? A: No. While UEFI uses a different interface for "boot services" and "runtime services", some platform firmware must perform the functions BIOS uses for system configuration (a.k.a. "Power On Self Test" or "POST") and Setup. UEFI does not specify how POST & Setup are implemented." -- From their website, if you don't believe me, http://www.uefi.org/about/ [uefi.org] Please try to get your facts straight before posting.

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