osboot build system (OSBoot-MaKe). osboot performs hardware initialization on your computer, using coreboot, to replace the proprietary BIOS/UEFI firmware on supported x86 computers. https://osboot.org/

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osboot project

Documentation can be found on https://osboot.org/

osboot is free / open source boot firmware that initializes the hardware in your computer and loads an operating system. It replaces the proprietary BIOS/UEFI firmware commonly loaded onto a computer. osboot is compatible with specific computer models that use the x86 architecture. User support is available at #osboot on Freenode IRC.

osboot can boot all of the most popular operating systems such GNU+Linux, BSD and even Windows. We recommend free operating systems (e.g. GNU+Linux) that comply with GNU Free System Distribution: https://gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guidelines.html

Boot firmware is low-level software that executes when a computer is turned on. It brings the components (CPU, memory controller, peripherals etc) to a useful state enabling easy software development and/or usage. Boot firmware usually loads an operating system which provides a unified interface for application software.

osboot uses coreboot for hardware initialization.

coreboot is notoriously difficult to compile and install for most non-technical users. There are many complicated configuration steps required, and coreboot by itself is useless; coreboot only handles hardware initialization, and then jumps to a separate payload program. The payload program can be anything, for example a Linux kernel, bootloader (such as GNU GRUB), UEFI implementation (such as Tianocore) or BIOS implementation (such as SeaBIOS). While not quite as complicated as building a GNU+Linux distribution from scratch, it may aswell be as far as most non-technical users are concerned. In short, most people will not want to use coreboot for this reason. The coreboot project is geared towards developers and therefore it assumes that the user is highly technical, with deep knowledge of the hardware and how computers work in general.

In other words, you can't simply download and install coreboot, just as you can't simply download and install the Linux kernel, becasue it simply won't work the way the user wants. osboot solves this problem in a novel way: osboot is a coreboot distribution much like Debian is a GNU+Linux distribution.

osboot integrates coreboot and several payloads such as GNU GRUB, SeaBIOS and Tianocore. It provides an automated build system that downloads, patches (where necessary) and compiles coreboot, GNU GRUB, SeaBIOS, Tianocore and all the other software components needed to build a complete, working ROM image that you can install, replacing your current BIOS/UEFI firmware, much like a GNU+Linux distribution (e.g. Debian) provides an ISO image that you can use to replace your current operating system (e.g. Windows).

osboot provides these payload choices:

  • GNU GRUB (bootloader). This is the default on x86 (Intel/AMD) computers, capable of booting the majority of GNU+Linux and BSD operating systems. It has many advantages such as ability to load from encrypted partitions, verify GPG signatures of your Linux kernel and more. GRUB can additionally load and execute any other coreboot payload.
  • SeaBIOS. This implements traditional x86 BIOS interrupts and services, allowing most legacy operating systems (e.g. older Windows versions or DOS) to be used.
  • Tianocore. This implements UEFI services, allowing most modern operating systems to be used (e.g. Windows 10). Tianocore is less useful for free software users, because GNU GRUB boots GNU+Linux and BSD on its own, but it provides a familiar interface that a lot of people are already used to.

For each machine supported in osboot, separate ROM images are provided: with GRUB payload (and Tianocore+SeaBIOS both selectable in the boot menu), SeaBIOS on its own and other ROMs with Tianocore on its own. For most users, we recommend using GNU GRUB.

Additionally, osboot provides utilities to install osboot (such as flashrom), to configure it (e.g. cbfstool, ifdtool, me_cleaner) and user friendly documentation aimed purely at non-technical users. If you simply want to use the firmware, without getting too in-depth, osboot is for you!

osboot tries to provide updated releases on a regular basis, with tested ROM images per machine supported.

Why use osboot?

Because you have rights. The right to privacy, freedom of thought, freedom of speech and the right to read. In the context of computing, that means anyone can use free software.

Simply speaking, free software is software that is under the direct sovereignty of the user and, more importantly, the collective that is the community. osboot is dedicated to the Free Software community, with the aim of making free software at a low level more accessible to non-technical people.

Many people use proprietary boot firmware, even if they use GNU+Linux. Non-free boot firmware often contains backdoors , can be slow and have severe bugs. Development and support can be abandoned at any time. By contrast, osboot is a free software project, where anyone can contribute or inspect its code.

osboot is faster, more secure and more reliable than most non-free firmware. osboot provides many advanced features, like encrypted /boot/, GPG signature checking before booting a Linux kernel and more! osboot gives you control over your computing.

How is osboot different versus Libreboot?

osboot development started on December 11th, 2020, forked from the Libreboot 20160907 build system. osboot is similar philosophically to Libreboot, but with one difference: Libreboot only allows support for boards where the firmware can be 100% Free Software as per what is installed to the boot flash. Libreboot complies fully with FSF/GNU criteria defining what free software is.

osboot merely prefers this, but allows binary blobs. osboot will accept any board that coreboot supports. The coreboot software supports literally hundreds of computers, but on most of them it is not entirely free software, but instead relies on added binary blobs typically provided by the hardware manufacturers. E.g. mrc.bin for raminit (initialization of memory controller) and other initialization tasks.

It was started in response to a growing trend in the community: lots of people are interested in Libreboot, but wish to use newer/faster hardware. Porting Libreboot to newer Intel/AMD hardware is very difficult. Meanwhile, there existed no user-friendly solution like Libreboot. osboot provides an easy, automated build system and installation process, with user-friendly documentation and professional user support backed up by years of experience dealing with coreboot systems.

The entire motivation behind this permissive policy (in osboot) is that it will lead to many more coreboot users, on all coreboot systems, especially when more people join the osboot project as maintainers for various boards. By increasing the ease of use and accessibility for a given coreboot system, for non-technical users, it increases the amount of technical users because more people learn about coreboot. This increases the number of people that can provide testing for coreboot, and will very likely:

  • Increase the number of coreboot developers, because some of those new users will become truly inspired
  • More ability for coreboot developers to find individual testers for a given board (osboot makes it easy to maintain boards, on any given coreboot revision, with any collection of custom patches on top of that coreboot revision, for that board).

License can be found in COPYING and through parts of the source tree.

This readme is forked from the osboot home page on 11 March 2021