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Intel Hardware

Demystifying UEFI, the Overdue BIOS Replacement 379

Posted by timothy
from the first-how-do-you-pronounce-your-name dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After more than 30 years of unerring and yet surprising supremacy, BIOS is taking its final bows. Taking its place is UEFI, a specification that begun its life as the Intel Boot Initiative way back in 1998 when BIOS's antiquated limitations were hampering systems built with Intel's Itanium processors. UEFI, as the article explains, is a complete re-imagining of a computer boot environment, and as such it has almost no similarities to the PC BIOS that it replaces."
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Demystifying UEFI, the Overdue BIOS Replacement

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  • by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:17AM (#37479516)

    Article was a little too light on technical details for me. This article read like something you might find in an “intro to computers” textbook. Vague somewhat-technical description of what it does and a few somewhat unclearly described differences.

    Not necessarily a bad article, just wasn't what I was hoping for :(

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:17AM (#37479526) Homepage Journal
    It's not UEFI as bad as much as the possibility that Microsoft will require OEMs to use the secure boot feature of UEFI to lock out the owner of a PC from installing a competing operating system as a condition of shipping the PC with Windows 8.
  • May I ask... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdot&jawtheshark,com> on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:18AM (#37479534) Homepage Journal
    What the point was of this article? There is no meat at all in there. I expected a complete deep technical overview of UEFI, not something you can summarize as "It's a little operating system providing services to the actual operating system".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:19AM (#37479548)

    The return of boot-sector virii. This time in your BIOS. I can hear it, just over the horizon. They're coming.

  • I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:22AM (#37479578)

    What is wrong with the BIOS anyway? Why does the boot process need to be all flashy? It seems like adding complexity there will just end up causing problems...

    Maybe I'm just a relic...a lot of people don't even know how to get into their BIOS anymore, let alone what the POST and such is afterwards.

  • by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:22AM (#37479580)

    The plural is viruses. Also, the boot sector is on your disk. There have been attacks that hit the firmware/bios for a long time. Someone doesn't remember CIH/Chernobyl.

  • Re:I don't know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:27AM (#37479640)

    What is wrong with the BIOS anyway?

    It allows you to boot Linux.

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:33AM (#37479704)
    I am sure this will happen with several vendors. And then watch the resurgence of the whitebox. Also, a huge new swath of BIOS hacking forums. Not to mention eBay auctions for "Unlocked Dell Deminsion!"
  • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:33AM (#37479708)

    It allows you to boot Linux.

    The cynical, realistic part of me thinks this is the real answer.

  • "Re-imagining" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:37AM (#37479784)
    Fuck everybody who uses that word. It belongs in the marketing buzzword incinerator with "thought-shower", "synergy", "pro-active", and anything "in the cloud".
  • Re:Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Creepy (93888) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:47AM (#37479918) Journal

    Right - and Apple's MacOS X always has required EFI or UEFI and not BIOS on Intel processors (and even have their own proprietary partition map rather than MBR or GPT), so it's not like the tech itself is the problem, it's the vendor lockout possibility that Microsoft may use that is the problem. Even then it doesn't stop you from running Linux in a virtual machine, but the fact that you can't install Linux as the primary boot or set up a dual boot system on Windows preloaded PCs is what people are complaining about.

    While Linux supports UEFI, I have never known anyone to install with it, but I know of at least one person that could - me. From what I remember, Windows 64 bit (Vista or 7 I think - I don't think XP 64 bit supported it) needs to be installed with UEFI/GPT partitioning or BIOS/MBR partitioning and it defaults to the latter, but it can be changed. I thought that maybe setting it up with UEFI I could make it dual boot MacOS X on non-mac hardware but I never got that working (I did manage to get it working in a VM on my laptop, however - on my desktop I believe my hardware got invalidated for not supporting Vx instructions, whereas on my laptop I have hardware essentially identical to a machine Apple ships). As far as Apple's legal requirements go, I own a real mac too, and I think their EULA is on shaky ground because copyright law allows me to back up licensed software on any hardware I want.

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday September 22, 2011 @10:53AM (#37479978) Journal
    (Dos) BIOS aint done 'till (Lotus) Linux won't run.
  • What are the chances that the secure boot is a simple switch that we can change?

    Slim. Otherwise, trojan horse programs that claim to "make Windows faster" would ask the user to turn off secure boot and restart so that they can "do their job" (actually install malware).

  • Coreboot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2011 @11:28AM (#37480506)

    Needs a marketing department.

  • by optimism (2183618) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @11:46AM (#37480742)

    ...BIOS’s antiquated limitations were hampering systems...

    What exactly are these limitations, in real-world terms? My systems all seem to boot & run fast right now...

    If the BIOS has limitations, why not just flash an updated BIOS? All of my machines have had at least one BIOS update since manufacture. No problem.

    As for the mini-OS-before-boot concept...I already have a bunch of Linux "Live CDs" that I use to partition drives, image & restore partitions, scan for viruses, etc without having to boot Windows. Why would I want to put a "pre-boot" OS on my hard drive, where it can be hacked and infected?

    Someone please enlighten me if UEFI has any real-world benefits to outweigh its costs.

  • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToasterMonkey (467067) on Thursday September 22, 2011 @12:18PM (#37481212) Homepage

    What is wrong with the BIOS anyway? Why does the boot process need to be all flashy? It seems like adding complexity there will just end up causing problems...

    Maybe I'm just a relic...a lot of people don't even know how to get into their BIOS anymore, let alone what the POST and such is afterwards.

    So... minutes of boot time spent at "press Fwhatever to enter foo" prompts is apealing to you?
    Or on the desktop side, figuring out how BIOS and one or more operating systems enumerate possible boot devices is good enough?

    For a Linux user, all the weird crap you've ever had to do in grub or lilo's configuration will get reduced to something like OS X's bless command, or an intelligent boot menu like refit at least.

    If you guys have no experience with other things like OpenBoot or don't understand BIOS limitations, you are not going to contribute much to this discussion. The article DOES describe what UEFI does and there are systems out there with better-than-BIOS firmware like Sparcs and EFI Macs already, and they have been available for yeeeeeeears. So don't poo on the article or the tech before educating yourselves.

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