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Bootloader gets chattier

November 6th, 2008 by

Since openSUSE 11.0. we have some basic speech support in our bootloader. This enables visually impaired people to use the bootloader as there is usually no other output device available at that time (BIOS doesn’t really support braille displays).

It uses the PC-speaker for output (which has the benefit that you don’t need specialized sound drivers for every hardware).

If you didn’t try it yet: press F9 at the boot screen.

I’ve reworked that a good deal in openSUSE 11.1 RC1 (2MB sound samples) and now it reads all menus and dialogs to you and spells all chars you enter in input dialogs (actually it speaks the char left from cursor).

The sound samples are pre-generated with espeak. But you are of course free to replace them with your own voice if you like that more. ;-)

Installation over serial line

September 12th, 2008 by

It’s now possible to install openSUSE if you only have a serial line (without additional tricks). Our graphical bootloader frontend used to ignore serial input. That’s now (starting with 11.1 beta1) changed.

In the default setting it monitors com1/com2 (the first two bios configured serial ports) for input. Baud rate is autodetected (you have to press a few keys until it catches on). Output is sent to all lines it receives input from.

When it works, the first screen looks like:

(more…)

FirmwareUpdateKit

June 16th, 2008 by

[PS. I coudn't resist. I just had to name the package '*Kit'. ;-) ]

Need to do a firmware update with a DOS program?

Can get tricky if you don’t have a DOS system around. We used to provide a bootable floppy image for that in the past (package dosbootdisk). But who has a floppy drive anyway?

So, here comes the new
FirmwareUpdateKit
package. Install it and run run, e.g. fuk --grub foobar.exe That’s it. The next reboot gives you the option to start DOS and run foobar.exe.

fuk can also create bootable ISOs and, of course, even floppy images.

Find Your Monitor

June 6th, 2008 by

Quite often I get bugreports that the hardware detection doesn’t find the monitor. Well, what should I do? We run a Video BIOS function for it, and if the BIOS can’t see the monitor, we’re out of luck.

But maybe not? It can well be that running BIOS code in Linux is not the best idea either.

To shed some light I wrote a small (6.5k if you must know) DOS-program and put it on a bootable CD. If that can’t detect the monitor it’s probably the BIOS’s fault, if it works blame, well, someone else. ;-)

On a side note, the program was created with the usual gcc. It’s really surprising what you can do with a nice include file and a linker script.