Coreboot is awesome

Two weeks ago I was updating Award BIOS on Alix.1c board and failed — computer bricked :(

But there was a way to get it to working state again — PC Engines (vendor or Alix boards) has LPC1a adapter with extra BIOS chip. I contacted them and few days later it arrived here (I will send it back as it is loaned).

Use is simple: plug into LPC connector, boot machine, reprogram on-board flash chip, power off, unplug lpc1a, power on. But I decided to make a use of it and decided to migrate from Award BIOS to coreboot with some extra payload.

As I use only Linux on Alix I tried FILO first. It booted to prompt but refused to see files on CompactFlash card. GRUB v2 supports coreboot but did not run so I tried SeaBIOS instead. And that was it — clean, fast boot to GRUB from CF card.

There is one problem which I did not solved yet: VGA BIOS rom does not work for me. But I will rather do not spend time on it as framebuffer under Linux works without it and I do not plan to run FreeDOS or other systems which would do VGA BIOS calls. Other option is to use SGABIOS which redirects input/output from video card to serial port — works fine.

But the nicest moment was still before me. When I disabled all debug output in coreboot and SeaBIOS I got HUGE improvement in boot time. Linux was loading in a time which previously was needed for Award BIOS to make a beep sound…

alix coreboot firmware