GSoC 2011: midterm report under panic

Well my progress is not so shiny as other students. Looks like I overestimated my capabilities in my project proposal. I ended up with long exam session, lurking by reading coreboot mailing list (like an old cow), reading stuff about computer architecture, making hardware tools and trying to understand how git works 🙂

Done some patches, unfortunately, nobody likes it 🙂

Temporary libpayload fixes for flashrom as a payload

Flashrom as a payload with usb flash drive support

SerialICE for coreboot

Triggering another payload

For the second half of GSoC:

I’m working on “carFlashrom” (Yep, sounds a bit french) project:

If this project is possible, then flashing would be possible without working RAM.

I would like to receive some response to my mails in the list as I am confused with my project goals, what others do think? I need some alternative goal if this is not feasible.

Give me some thoughts.


Bonus for readers: this one might be used with flashrom as rayer_spi. Modify flashrom source according to pinout and bits of par port registers:

I used m74hc244 from ST, even though parport signals are 5V, the chip is working right with VCC 3.3V.

GSoC 2011: flashrom + filo = ?


The answer is flashrom payload, which is capable flashing roms out of usb stick. If you use seabios, you will be able to choose to run this payload instead of booting os. It might be worth for payload developers if we would have a small payload for selecting other payloads out of CBFS 🙂

Patches are here. Sorry for weird stuff there 🙂


My GSOC project is not going well, I end up with problems almost everywhere 🙁 (Only the good thing is that my exams went well). I spend my time trying to understand what is going on. Yesterday I was running an overflowing code allmost all day, until I found out what is wrong… My E350M1 is still not working (coreboot doesn’t run with 512 kB chip). So I have ordered some chips from ebay. While I’m waiting I have made some PCB adapters to make a dual flash device. Also made additional PCB for RS232<->UART<->USB interface.

I would better go coding… Bye!

GSOC Coreboot Kconfig summary

Although the GSOC 2010 is closed,  my patch about coreboot kconfig which involving the payload kconfig is send to the mail list. There are only two payload are supported.”Filo and coreinfo”. I can add more, but i would like to wait a moment. Because the most important of my project is not how hard it is but how to make the users can use it easily. There are also some consideration should be discussed with the others.

The latest patch which i send now support:

1. use coreboot to load the payload’s kconfig. This feature can be used by “make config PAYLOAD=filo” or “make config PAYLOAD=coreinfo”. Coreboot users can use the coreboot as before too. just “make config” and “make” to manually put payload.elf under coreboot directory. The new method will do all of these things automatically. The method which i use is let the coreboot kconfig detect the macro PAYLOAD, if the variable matches filo/coreinfo, it would load the filo/coreinfo kconfig. It also disable the coreboot kconfig’s payload menu which could avoid conflict.

there is a consideration which should be discussed. There is an sinario,the libpayload may be modified between “make config” and “make”. I did not take this into consideration, because it can be avoid by “make clean” to rebuild the project. If anyone thought it’s improper, please let me know.

2. Most of the payload are using libpayload. Libpayload should be installed to certain path to make sure payload can be compiling correctly. The previous patch which i send are using to let payload can load libpayload automatically, it can configure the libpayload each time. Like enable USB features or not. It’s pretty easy to build the payload. the whole things can be worked as one.

I also posted an new patch about filo to use an new method to do these things. The previous method is trying to use filo’s kconfig program to load libpayload config files. Lots of messages are show the same with filo while filo configuring libpayload. The new patch use a remote method which invoke libpayload’s own kconfig program to buid itself. The patch also looks simpler that previous.

The time is passed much quick. But i learned much about the open source. I reviewed the goals of GSOC

Google Summer of Code has several goals:

  • Create and release open source code for the benefit of all
  • Inspire young developers to begin participating in open source development
  • Help open source projects identify and bring in new developers and committers
  • Provide students the opportunity to do work related to their academic pursuits during the summer (think “flip bits, not burgers”)
  • Give students more exposure to real-world software development scenarios (e.g., distributed development, software licensing questions, mailing-list etiquette)

I am so glad that i can join the open source family before graduation. Coreboot is a wonderful project, from here I can learn much about the X86 systems, firmware things. I also should spend lots of time to learn them. One of my experience is that real-world software should thinking every possibility not only the realization of  features. Marc always told me: thinking about all of the corner cases. That helps a lot. Thanks to google give me this opportunity to join in Coreboot. Thanks to my mentor Marc,  he is a very nice man who knows everything that i want to know He tells me how to join an open source project, how to do real software programming, how to considerate the software. Thanks to QingPei, who helps me a lot during the whole process. He also tells me that: “GSOC is an opportunity to teach new developers rather than a chance to get a pile of free code. It’s a big step for me to learn how to contribute to coreboot. So no matter my last evaluation is passed or not. I will try to do all of these things.

By the way, Any ideas about the coreboot kconfig things is welcome.

There are also some questions that should be completed:

1) What was the final outcome of your project?
well, i am not sure about this. I think i am good, i learned how does coreboot work, how wonderful it is. Although patches are still pending. But the patch is the best way i can realize the feature with my ability.

2) What problems did you encounter and how did you work through them?

The problems which i can not forget is it’s much more hard than i had ever think about low level things. At the beginning, it’s only seems wonderful for me, Coreboot did the all of the legacy system bios things. But after several weeks, i found that the coreboot developer are all genius, it’s too hard to understand the who things. Fortunately i at least know how does coreboot work, i know lots of things that i can not learn from class. i used to call QingPei for 3 hours to let him tell me what’s the coreboot things going on.

3) What did you learn about open source development?

Lots of them, there are two parts. First, the real project programming skills. At least i can read most of the Makefile and understand how does these things doing. I also know pretty much about Kconfig language. By the way, i also learned much about “Bash” “Sed” programming. I learned how to work with linux gcc.there are something more i can not write down one by one. Second, i finally can join an open source project, i knew how does the large open source project are working. It need “singed-off-by” and “ack-by” before checking in the code. the build service will show interesting messaging if there is any error between the building progress.
4) Do you plan to work on other open source projects? Which ones?

Because there are also lots of thing should be done with the coreboot kconfig things. I would like to still my work with coreboot, i hope i can contribute more for coreboot.
5) What did you learn about coreboot?

Pretty much. As i said in question 3.
6) Do you plan to develop or use coreboot in the future?

Sure, i will.
7) What could coreboot do better to help developers in the future?

More manuals for the new developers? Although i thinks the wiki is good enough. If there is more manuals, it will be better.
8) Would you recommend coreboot GSoC to other students?

I will, but i should check if he is smart enough.
9) Do you feel that you passed or failed your GSoC project?

I do not know, it does not matter, as least i learn  pretty much more thank i thought.

Thanks to Google

Thanks to Coreboot

Thanks to Marc Jones

Thanks to Wang Qing Pei

progress of libpayload infrastructure and filo

it’s so happy that, filo finally can load libpayload kconfig. i deleted the first line of libpayload which is “mainmenu”, it still work even if libpayload build itself alone. After this, filo can easy load libpayload kconfig by adding “source ../libpayload/”. The variable is also blocked me a while for each variable is defined by quotation mark. the makefile should remove these quotation mark before using them, i learned that from coreboot makefile.

the xcompile things of libpayload has already resolved, i found that filo have the same problem which seem the scripts are almostly the same with libpayload, they are need to use the correct directory of coreboot, not themselves.

the problem now is the kconfig command “source” is used to read specified configuration file, this file is always parsed which means that it is parsed at the first beginning, i can not make it get the variable from the forward defined lines. it can only read from ../libpayload. i am thinking if we put filo under coreboot/payloads/, then the path is permanent. We did not need to change this path.

weekly report #1

As the first week has already gone so soon, i spend the whole week to clear my thought, checking the xcompile configuration of libpayload. I also read some code of buildroot which wish could bring some ideas for me.

I know it may be a little wasting. But i began to write code in the weekend. Hope everything goes fine this week.

Payload infrastructure

hi i am Cai Bai Yin. And my GSOC 2010 project is Payload infrastrcuture. The main job may including adding payload build support to the coreboot kconfig and crossgcc build which would make the project as an whole. if time permit, some filo improment will aslo be included.

I am a freshman to coreboot. But i am trying my best to do things better. There may be lots of tough probems stay in front of me. Hope i can deal everything well. I will aslo try to learn as much as i can from the others.