Notes from CentraLUG: Joseph Smith and the Coreboot project

Nine people attended the August meeting of the Central New Hampshire Linux User Group, held at the Hopkinton Town Library on August 2nd. We announce our meetings in advance on the GNHLUG-announce mailing list, a very low traffic list we encourage everyone to subscribe to. Joseph Smith presented some information on the Coreboot project, had some hardware to show off, and had a lot of insights into the workings not only of the machines but of the vendors in the space.

We had a couple of announcements, mentioning upcoming meetings on the web site. We had a round of introductions. We then asked for questions, announcements, job searches or job postings, etc. One attendee had a problem with having Ubuntu insisting it was updating grub with newer kernels, but the kernels were never appearing in the menu. The group had several very good suggestions to follow up on, including the suggestion to join the -discuss mailing list for more help and support.

I mentioned that the CentraLUG is affiliated with several publishers who offer discounts on their books, and that InformIT/Pearson Education (Addison-Wesley, Cisco Press, IBM Press, Prentice-Hall, Que, Sams) sends out a newsletter and holds a monthly user group contest/raffle for good stuff on their web site.

Finally, Joseph Smith got to do his presentation. You can find his slides here. Joe is an AS400 Administrator for a local well-known retailer’s headquarters, but had always enjoyed tinkering with hardware. It was frustrating to find that set-top boxes and other devices were restricted in what they could do (or run) due to defective or proprietary locked-in BIOSes. He was delighted to find the coreboot project and has been contributing ever since. Joe attended NHTI to polish up his software skills and earn a certificate. He brought along several boxes to show us what he was working on. He talked about the sequence of events that occur within the BIOS and how coreboot can replace them. He demonstrated booting a machine with a serial console and minicom monitoring a fully-verbose debugging session. He talked about the issues with getting coreboot running on a new machine, how vendors cooperated and contributed to the project (or not!) and the problems with turning a BIOS chip into a brick and how to recover. It was a fun and interesting presentation.

Thanks to Joe for his presentation, to Bill Sconce for supplying the projector, and to the Hopkinton Town Library for use of the great facilities. Note that CentraLUG will not have a September meeting due to the Labor Day holiday (come on up and see the Hopkinton State Fair!) but plans to meet in October, November and December at the NHTI Library. Stay tuned for announcements.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.