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Introducing SLOF, an open source implementation of Open Firmware

Oct 14, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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DeveloperWorks has interviewed the developers of Slimline Open Firmware (SLOF), a BSD-licensed implementation of Open Firmware (IEEE-1275) that can be used by software engineers developing boot firmware, operating systems, hypervisors, or applications for 64-bit PowerPC, and by hardware engineers bringing up new boards — including those based on Cell processors.

According to developers Otto Wohlmuth, Segher Boessenkool, and Hartmut Penner, SLOF was developed specifically to allow Linux to run natively on 64-bit PowerPC systems. It can also be used to develop hardware based on the PowerPC 970 processor, or to develop hypervisor environments such as Xen on hardware such as IBM's JS20 PowerPC blades. Additionally, SLOF is currently the only firmware that can boot Linux on Cell-powered computing blades, the developers say.

Compared with the Open Firmware implementation used by Apple in its PowerPC-based PCs, SLOF is less sophisticated. This is fine with Linux, however, since Linux performs many functions previously performed by BIOS software, such as PCI bus scans. SLOF's minimalism results in fast boot times, and since SLOF is completely open source, developers can add functionality as required.

The three developers go on to discuss the programming languages used in and supported by SLOF, SLOF's utility as a teaching tool, how SLOF copares with paflof, and SLOF's development roadmap. The full interview can be found here.

This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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