> Etienne wrote:
> > - Loads Linux kernel images (zImage and bZimage) without the help
> > of LILO, and short-circuit all real-mode code in the kernel to
> > start at the first protected mode instruction of the kernel.
> This is a very bad idea. The kernel entry point is in real mode for a
> reason: it means that the kernel doesn't have to rely on the boot
> loader to provide the services it needs from real mode before
> entering protected mode once and for all. The interface to the real
> mode entry point is narrow and stable, the protected mode entrypoint
> is a kernel internal and doesn't have an interface that is guaranteed
> to be stable -- again, for good reason.
Thanks for the constructive criticism, now it is time to explain
why I did it this way - it is far to be the simplest solution.
First, I need to say that the Linux current interface is really
stable: if you define "BOOT_KERNEL_BEFORE_2_0" in vmlinuz.[ch],
Gujin will be able to boot pre- 1.0 Linux versions. Also, Gujin
has always booted kernels this way.
Considering the kernel interface to the bootloader, I find it is
IMHO a bit complex: you not only have to give parameters in
memory (at 0x9000:0000 or at %esi on 2.4.1+) but also provide
callbacks (BIOS calls) for quite a lot of things.
Alan Cox described it (incompletely) in his message in june,
subject "draft BIOS use document for the kernel" at:
You also have to put in memory one or two compressed files
(kernel and initrd) without any way to check if those hundred
of Kbytes have been correctly read and are not corrupted.
There will be no way - if an error is detected by the legacy
loader at the decompression stage - to return to the bootloader
saying: Fatal error, please select another kernel.
These two files in memory have also to be at fixed linear
addresses in real mode - and if you have a memory manager
(himem.sys) loaded, these address may not be free. Usually
you will find at the bottom of the himem memory the smartdrv
(disk cache) data. It is then impossible to load a file at a random
memory address and stay in real mode to do futher processing.
In this case, Gujin is just malloc'ing the memory (using himem.sys),
loading and decompressing this file (checking its CRC32), and
only then disable interrupts, switch to protected mode, copy
the file at its intended linear address and jump to the kernel
Then, with the "old" method to load the kernel, you have the video
selection menu. Well, it is a bit complex a thing to do in
a bootloader, and its interface is complex (not speaking of the
user interface), considering that you have already written everywhere
in memory without knowing if (for instance) a video driver was loaded.
All the video selection stuff has be to handled before selecting
a kernel to load, IMO.
I could probably find other problem, but I do not want to do
What do I propose? Lets put is simply:
- The kernel file is a simple binary image to load at 0x100000,
so you get it from the linux ELF file by just doing:
objcopy -O binary -R .note -R .comment -S /usr/src/linux/vmlinux kernel
gzip -9 kernel
There is absolutely no limit on its size.
- The initrd (if present) is a gzip of a filesystem image.
- All information needed by the kernel is set in memory. It is
clearly described on a C structure (vmlinuz.h::struct linux_param).
This structure contains also (for reference) old fields which
are no more used, or fields which were used only by previous
bootloader. The is _no_ BIOS callback.
- The hardware is setup correctly, for instance for the current
video mode - if you are in graphic 8 BPP - the 256 color palette
is set up with reasonnable values independant of the video card.
Basically, hardware is immediately useable by the kernel.
- There is a compatibility mode to load vmlinuz/zImage/bzImage.
Note that all this is coded and working (I hope so). I know that
with this solution, the bootloader and the kernel are more
linked together, but I know also that the bootloader has to
be a lot more intelligent (considering the number of related
messages in the Linux lists). It should not try to load a Pentium
compiled kernel on a 486. It should setup the video card (so
be ready to get "invalid instruction exceptions" while executing
BIOS calls). It should not try to run a corrupted kernel. It should
not crash if a kernel/initrd file has been moved or two hard disks
have been exchanged. It should display clear messages on what is
It is up to the bootloader to crash if one BIOS call modify one
register which is documented as constant (if it did not take care)
- and in DEBUG mode send some informations to a serial/parallel port.
When a new buggy BIOS appear, it is up to the bootloader to be upgraded,
not to the Linux kernel.
In short it is a real and complete software which handle all/most
of the (buggy) BIOSes in their natural environment: the i386 real mode.
If there is few fields to add to "struct linux_param" (really
unusual from history), then Gujin will be upgraded. Anyway it is
GPL - and written in C so there is a lot of people around able to
change it, unlike assembly code.
It is not as clean as described because of the APM / ACPI /
PCI configuration BIOS32 calls; but that did not change by the
Gujin bootloader. Note also that the SMP tables are passed in
One last thing I have to add (for people who have read up to here),
is that having removed the "header" of the vmlinuz file, I lack the
only important parameter in this header: the root device (rdev command).
Right now, I am guessing it in a lot of configurations, but that
is not a perfect solution. I think one of the simplest way is
to add a "root=/dev/hd**" in the described comment field of the GZIP
header; that is still not coded.
From the same area, there is no way to know if a kernel will be able
to boot in graphic mode (support of VESA framebuffer and which BPP
are available). If vesafb is not compiled in and you start the
kernel in graphic, the kernel boots but the display is like a
crash... Right now the dirty way is the write-protect bit of the
vmlinuz file - not a long term solution.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Aug 15 2001 - 21:00:33 EST