What is Coreboot?

Coreboot (formerly known as LinuxBIOS) is an open source project. The Coreboot project targets the replacement of legacy BIOS firmware found on most PCs with a lightweight firmware system designed to perform only the minimum of tasks necessary to load and run modern 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems.

The Coreboot project was started in the winter of 1999 in the Advanced Computing Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Coreboot performs some basic hardware initialization and then executes a so-called payload. Examples of payloads include: a Linux kernel, FILO, GRUB2, OpenBIOS, Open Firmware, SmartFirmware, GNUFI (UEFI), Etherboot, ADLO (for booting Windows and OpenBSD), Plan 9, or memtest86.

Coreboot Benefits:

  • 100% Free Software (GPL), no royalties, no license fees!
  • Fast boot times (3 seconds from power-on to Linux console)
  • Avoids the need for a slow, buggy, proprietary BIOS.
  • Runs in 32-Bit protected mode almost from the start.
  • Written in C, contains virtually no assembly code.
  • Supports a wide variety of hardware and payloads.
  • Features: netboot, serial console, remote flashing, ...etc.

Coreboot Uses:

  • Standard desktop computers and servers
  • Clusters and high-performance computing
  • Embedded solutions, appliances and terminals
  • Small form factor computers and Home-theater PCs (HTPC)
  • No-moving-parts solutions (Flash as "hard drive")
  • Various non-standard scenarios (e.g. FPGA in Opteron socket)

Which Operating Systems Will Coreboot Boot?

Coreboot should support almost any modern operating system which does not make BIOS calls:

  • Linux
  • Plan 9
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows 7

Coreboot does not support:

  • BSD - We have tested some of the BSD OSes and have seen that FreeBSD for example makes BIOS calls, which is not supported by coreboot. Possibly with help of the ADLO tool, it may be possible to boot FreeBSD. However, it is probably best to remove FreeBSD's dependence on BIOS calls.
  • DOS - Any versions.
  • Windows versions older than Win2K are not supported since they make BIOS calls.
  • MenuetOS (makes BIOS calls).