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Thread: Is linuxbios hard to do?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate tdb30_'s Avatar
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    Is linuxbios hard to do?

    I hear to use linuxbios or fastboot you need to flash an eeprom or somethiing. Does this require that you buy one or can you flash the one on your motherboard like your doing a bios update?

    I'd like to find someone that has done this or a place where I can buy a board preconfigured if possible. I want to boot of a USB 2.0 flash drive.

    I'm real new hear so forgive my ignorance.

    Anyone know of someone I could pay to put this together for me?

    I haven't settled on a motherboard yet. I'm still researching.

    And in case it maters I plan on using linux but havent determined the distro yet.

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    I have not used either LinuxBIOS or fastboot, but I just looked thru the LinuxBIOS docs and it is my understanding that you can flash it yourself with a regular flash utility. I would be careful, though. If you flash this new BIOS and it's screws up your system, it's not clear to me how you would boot to reflash the old BIOS.

    It looks like cwLinux offers preinstalled EPIA boards.

    I supposed VIA's fastboot is safer, since it's from them, not sure how they would support it if you had a problem.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate tdb30_'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the response. I contacted cwLinux asking them when they expected support.

    Obviously I'm doing this to reduce boot times. How is your boot time with the standard BIOS? Or rather how long does it get through POST and start loading the os?

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    When you asked, I had no idea. So, I just timed it.

    First, a little bit about my system. It's not installed in a car. I'm just setting things up. I've done no optimization at all, it's a pretty default install. I installed Debian testing with X and Gnome. I do DHCP on the network card, etc. It's basically in "desktop" mode. So, my times are likely to be about as bad as it gets.
    M10000, 512MB RAM, 2.5" 5400rpm HDD w/8MB cache, IDE CDROM
    All times are totals from a complete power-off state:

    - Grub menu - 10 seconds. This is your "start booting the OS point". I haven't tweaked any bios settings, but I bet things like the CD-ROM detection take a while.

    - GDM starts: 76 seconds. The OS is loaded at this point, and X is now starting. I'm sure there's a LOT to cut here, The hotplug detection took forever, the DHCP client took several seconds, etc. There's lots of things here that I want turned on, but maybe I could run sort of a post boot init.d for things that could start up after X and front end were running?

    - GDM Login prompt: 95 seconds. This is a complete boot, but I'm not logged into X yet.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate tdb30_'s Avatar
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    It sounds like a bios upgrade is definately going to be needed to even come close to a fast boot time. 10 seconds is just too long. I wonder how much turning off features will help. I have to start devouring more messages on this site to get up to speed, I'm sure people have posted tips.

    Hotplug could probably be started later as well as dhcp. Depends on if you need either immediately. What is your goal for boot time?

    I'm definately keeping an eye on your progress. It will probably save me lots of trial and error. Thanks for posting your project updates. I appreciate it.

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate kbyrd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdb30_
    I'm definately keeping an eye on your progress. It will probably save me lots of trial and error. Thanks for posting your project updates. I appreciate it.
    Thanks, I'm a n00b at this, I can't believe someone is monitoring MY progress!

    In any case if you've read my rantings...err...worklog, you know I'm a stickler for small usability details. I've decided I can really only evaluate what is going to bug me by using it. So, I don't have a goal for boot time yet. I like the system as it is now for installing/testing (need to decide on a front end), so I plan to turn things off right before I install. I was just going to go thru the installed packages list and see what I could gut. Then, I'll was going to see what things I wanted sometimes, but not at boot (the network, since I don't have a wireless NIC yet). I'm a long ways off from that, I'll let you know.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

  7. #7
    Newbie Laetitia's Avatar
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    I installed linuxbios on an Epia 5000 board a few months ago and it was far from easy as the memory detection routines did not work properly with my 256MB stick, after patching the source code, recompiling, re-flashing the bios many, many times it finaly worked.
    The result was worth it as the kernel started loading about 3 seconds after power-up. There is a lot of time to be saved by trimming the kernel as much as possible ( removing unneeded device drivers for example ). A lot of time after kernel loading by having a lean an mean linux install ( LFS + busybox for example ). A power up to sound is possible in about 10 seconds ( without X11, I used a text interface ).

    I think that if you tinker with linuxbios a device like "Bios Savior" [link]http://www.ioss.com.tw/web/English/RD1BIOSSavior.html is really helpful, otherwise any mistake makes the board unbootable (so you can't re-flash it).

    Good luck

  8. #8
    FLAC TheLlama's Avatar
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    Hum, does anyone know if it is possible to do port I/O inside of LinuxBIOS? My screen is attached to the parallel port. I thought it would be nifty if I could add code to LinuxBIOS that would init and display a splashscreen while the system booted. The screen is active, so all I have to do is send the image, then the screen will refresh on its own.

    I imagine Port I/O is possible since the BIOS has to communicate with the computer's hardware anyways.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLlama
    Hum, does anyone know if it is possible to do port I/O inside of LinuxBIOS?
    It's definately doable.. I hacked the kernel initialisation routine some years ago, to initialise a T6963C based display, and display a splash screen as one of the first things..

    But you'll have to do it by writing directly to the hardware, no drivers etc.

    I might be able to find some (very old) sourcecode, from the hacks that I did..

    / foden

  10. #10
    FLAC TheLlama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foden
    I might be able to find some (very old) sourcecode, from the hacks that I did..
    / foden
    I don't need drivers, I have a bundle of routines I wrote to communicate with the display. I also wrote a kernel module using these routines. My program uses the kernel driver to display to the screen.

    However, I can use these routines directly for displaying the splash screen. If you could show me where you placed your initialization code, then that would be awesome. Did you put it in the actual kernel, or inside of init?

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