System Startup Gets a Boost with New LinuxBoot Project
Mike Dolan | 25 January 2018
Enables Server Setup and Boot with a Linux Kernel
The Linux Foundation is pleased to welcome LinuxBoot to our family of open source projects and to support the growth of the project community. LinuxBoot looks to improve system boot performance and reliability by replacing some firmware functionality with a Linux kernel and runtime.
Firmware has always had a simple purpose: to boot the OS. Achieving that has become much more difficult due to increasing complexity of both hardware and deployment. Firmware often must set up many components in the system, interface with more varieties of boot media, including high-speed storage and networking interfaces, and support advanced protocols and security features.
LinuxBoot addresses the often slow, often error-prone, obscured code that executes these steps with a Linux kernel. The result is a system that boots in a fraction of the time of a typical system, and with greater reliability.
This matters in data centers providing cloud services. A data center might have tens of thousands of servers, and even a small failure rate adds up to expensive repairs. LinuxBoot enables organizations to improve operational aspects such as debugging and remediation, as well as functional aspects like powering machines on or off rapidly for elastic loads.
Speed and reliability of the boot process can also be a problem in consumer devices and industrial devices. For IoT, devices in the field may be tough to reach and a boot failure can render a device useless for the customer and even cause safety issues in critical systems.
The LinuxBoot model brings key advantages for users across the broad spectrum of embedded, mobile, and server platforms. Leveraging the massive scale of development of Linux in the boot process gives the user control and support that can’t be achieved any other way.
The technique of using Linux to boot Linux has been common since the early 2000s in supercomputers, consumer electronics, military applications, and many other systems. The LinuxBoot initiative will further refine it so it can be more easily developed and deployed by a broader range of users, from individuals to data center-scale companies.
Organizations involved in LinuxBoot include Google, Facebook, Horizon Computing Solutions, and Two Sigma. The LinuxBoot community welcomes newcomers and invites people to get involved with the project at any level.
To learn more, visit https://www.linuxboot.org/.
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