LinuxBIOS is an open source replacement for a standard computer BIOS developed at the Advanced Computing Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The project was started in 1999 by Ron Minnich, James Hendricks and Dale Webster of the labs. Since then the project team has expanded in partnerships and consultation arrangements with several chip makers, Linux NetworX and Linux Labs.

The purpose with the project is to provide a BIOS that could be used to boot diskless nodes in a Linux super cluster. The BIOS is now to be implemented in a 1024 processor super computer at LANL named 'The Science Appliance'.

Even though the BIOS does very little useful work as far as most modern Operating Systems (including Linux and Windows) are concerned, the LANL laboratory decided to replace the standard BIOS on the motherboards that they intended using as a way for the operating system to control each cluster node from the time that it is powered on.

LinuxBIOS is basically nothing more than a compressed Linux kernel which performs basic initialisation tasks such as the preperation of the RAM, hard disks and PCI and other buses. Once the LinuxBIOS has done its thing it hands over to a standalone application such as a boot loader which then loads the Operating System.

It is claimed that LinuxBIOS can boot a machine up to 20 times faster than standard BIOS's and this combined with its remote boot capabilities makes it a very attractive technology for use in diskless or clustered systems.

LinuxBIOS can be bought as a flash DiskOnChip (as part of a motherboard or not) from Linux Labs. LinuxBIOS is also claimed to be easy to upgrade since the kernel can reloaded to the flash on which it resides using a utility application.

At the time of this write-up the following motherboards are supported:

  • Advantech pcm-5823
  • Advantech pcm-9574
  • Asus cua
  • BCM e100
  • Cocom voyager2
  • Compaq ds10
  • Digitallogic smartcore-p3
  • Digitallogic smartcore-p5
  • Elitegroup k7sem
  • Gigabit ga-6bxc
  • Gigabit ga-6oxe
  • iRobot proto1
  • Lanner em-370
  • Leadtek winfast6300
  • Lippert roadrunner2
  • Matsonic ms7308e
  • Pcchips m754lmr
  • Pcchips m758lmr+
  • Pcchips m810lmr
  • Pcchips m830lr
  • RCN dc1100s
  • RLX 800i
  • Supermicro p4dc6
  • Supermicro p4dc6p
  • Supermicro p4dpr
  • Supertek st3wt
  • Technoland sbc710
  • Tyan guiness
  • Tyan s1834
  • Tyan s1846
  • Via vt5292
  • Via vt5426
  • STPC Atlas
  • STPC Consumer-S
  • STPC Client