[rescue] x86 vs. SPARC BIOSes (was: Small servers (was Re: WTT: 1.5G of PC2700 for 1G of PC100))

Ethan O'Toole ethan at 757tech.net
Thu May 8 08:55:25 CDT 2008

> However, the reality is that x86 boxes are built to run Windows, and Windows
> assumes a keyboard, mouse, and hi-res bitmapped display.  So the x86 BIOS
> writers can assume the same I/O will be available.  This is a major reason
> why I favour SPARC machines -- they were never designed under this
> assumption.

How come no one has hacked together a "command line" BIOS?

In the modern days, once a machine is setup I can't think of needing to go 
into the BIOS from remote. The OS handles things once it starts booting, 
and all of the Unixes have serial bios support.

>   - BIOSes on motherboards, video boards, RAID cards (don't get me started
>   on RAID cards...) all assume that they can clear the screen, wiping out that
>   vital error that appeared for a brief, tantalising, moment.  Why can' they
>   just scroll?

I think they all use direct VGA writes too.

>   - How do you tell an x86 box the equivalent of "setenv auto-boot? false",
>   so that it comes up in the BIOS, where you can run "probe-scsi", "test-all",
>   and then "boot"?

Well, in defense of the PC probe-scsi would be facilitated by the SCSI add 
in card. I think EISA had some sort of system where each card provided an 
extension to the BIOS or something... but I've seen it on Suns where an 
add-in card couldn't be probed.

> OK, enough now.  Back to work.  Sorry, I get carried away...

What about a port of OBP to PC?

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