BIOS

'''What is a BIOS?'''

BIOS is an acronym for Basic Input/Output System.

"The fundamental purposes of the BIOS are to initialize and test the system hardware components, and to load a bootloader or an operating system from a mass memory device."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS

BIOSes are software in certain circumstances. The FSF says:

"Today the BIOS sits square on the edge of the line. It comes prewritten in our computers, and normally we never install another. So far, that is just barely enough to excuse treating it as hardware. But once in a while the manufacturer suggests installing another BIOS, which is available only as an executable. This, clearly, is installing a non-free program [...]"

https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/free-bios.html

'''White-lists'''

Whoever controls a proprietary BIOS can implement a hardware white-list. A white list is a pre-approved list of hardware components.

A vendor might implement a white-list to ensure that customers must go to him for parts (eg. a replacement wifi card). The approved parts may all require proprietary software -- or maybe not. The vendor controls which hardware parts you may use with his BIOS.

'''What's the problem?'''

Free BIOSes like Libreboot exist, but ...

They are currently only a few computers that Libreboot can run on
you can check if you can install Libreboot on your machine here:
http://libreboot.org/docs/hcl/index.html#supported_list

also if your machine doesn’t support Libreboot or you don’t want the task of installing it yourself
you can buy pre-configured libreboot systems from here:
http://shop.gluglug.org.uk/

Revisions

05/03/2014 - 21:58
muhammed
07/19/2015 - 12:20
tomlukeywood