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LinuxBIOS pronto

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Depois de 7 anos de trabalho, o projeto LinuxBIOS está à beira de criar uma opção padrão de BIOS livre para computadores. Obstáculos sérios ainda existem, incluindo falta de recursos e resistência de alguns fabricantes de chipsets e OEMs, mas as vantagens do LinuxBIOS indicam que sua disponibilidade para o comprador de computadores pode estar somente alguns meses longe.


Possible advantages

In addition to its philosophical and political goals, LinuxBIOS represents a chance to rethink computer BIOSes. Active members of the project describe proprietary BIOSes as hopelessly mired in the thinking of 30 years ago. Unlike its proprietary equivalents, LinuxBIOS is written in C, rather than assembly language, making debugging and updating quicker and easier -- a crucial consideration in a market where new chipsets are released every six months and vendors have no time to make major modifications in anything except the most high-end boards.

Smith also observes that at a time when the cost of licensing a BIOS from a chipset manufacturer "is becoming a larger portion of the price of the motherboard" and the size of proprietary BIOSes requires more Flash ROM, LinuxBIOS offers a free, smaller -- and therefore cheaper -- alternative. Given the decreasing profit margins on computer hardware, Smith expects that cost alone will make LinuxBIOS increasingly attractive to vendors.

Similarly, because LinuxBIOS is licensed under the GNU General Public License, it can be a more attractive than proprietary BIOSes to security-conscious customers such as federal governments. For vendors, Vandewege suggests, the availability of the source code can also be a means of removing their dependency on chipset manufacturers to make all major changes in BIOSes.

For ordinary users, Vandewege says, LinuxBIOS is also a guarantee against digital rights management technologies, such as the sandboxing feature of Intel's EFI, which controls software access to hardware. According to Vandewege, the introduction of such a feature raises issues of privacy and consumer rights, because "whoever controls the BIOS controls the computer. If you control the BIOS, you can lock out whatever loads after it."

Yet possibly the greatest advantage is that LinuxBIOS is becoming a repository of BIOS knowledge. Because other BIOSes are proprietary, Minnich says, knowledge of them is often lost as chipsets change and experts leave the companies that produce them. As a result, the code in proprietary BIOSes can be maintained, but often not corrected. In their efforts to reverse engineer, LinuxBIOS members can not only build a debugged and more efficient BIOS -- one capable of booting to a console in as little as three seconds -- but also offer manufacturers and vendors a wealth of rediscovered knowledge about their own products.


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Triton    12

Há dois estive a pesquisar sobre a LinuxBIOS mas pelo que me parece ainda não é suportada em quase nenhuma das motherboards actuais, penso que por agora é a única falha.

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