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The Extensible Firmware Interface vs early Linux

The Extensible Firmware Interface vs early Linux

Posted Aug 23, 2011 9:36 UTC (Tue) by etienne (guest, #25256)
In reply to: The Extensible Firmware Interface vs early Linux by giraffedata
Parent article: The Extensible Firmware Interface - an introduction

> I think you've misunderstood what the ROM bootloader does in this scheme.
> It is intentionally too dumb to choose a boot device.

I wish it worked that way in the real world.
In real PC you buy today, the BIOS is doing a lot more than that, that is why people have so much problems booting off USB.
After a lot of debugging Gujin, I can tell you that (for instance) the EEEPc 900 BIOS will not report it has an extended BIOS disk service interface if it detect the 0x29 signature at offset 38. Also, the "HP Compaq 8000 Elite" PC will crash if it is booted with a USB device which do not contains 0x1F 0xFC 0xBE signature at 0xB (the windows MBR opcodes).
There is a reason why Grub has now the Windows MBR opcodes at its MBR beginning...
Also, I do not know of a single BIOS which will not test the 0xAA55 signature at the end of the MBR, and I have found BIOSes which will only boot if there is only a single partition on the device, and it is the 4th one - else the ROM code decides (without meaningful message displayed) that the device is not bootable, and the next device has to be tried.
(I think that was the test for ATAPI 100 Mbytes floppies).
The BIOS should be dumb, but in practice it does look at the MBR content, and because "there is no more floppies" the only test case is: does Windows boot.


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The Extensible Firmware Interface vs early Linux

Posted Aug 23, 2011 18:05 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

The BIOS should be dumb, but in practice it [isn't].

And in case it wasn't clear, this is exactly the point I opened the thread with, if BIOS means "the code fixed to the motherboard that boots the OS."

I would like to see that intelligence moved into a physically changeable, easily creatable storage device and suggest that a Linux system on a USB disk is the best choice for that.


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