[lug] TFTP, bootp, u-boot...ethernet drivers

stimits at comcast.net stimits at comcast.net
Tue Dec 10 19:31:08 MST 2013


Many years ago (or so it seems) boot loaders had a BIOS to depend on to provide basic network card functionality so we could boot linux via tftp/bootp and maybe run diskless with nfs. The trend has been to trim away BIOS and let the o/s handle all device drivers. Now I'm kind of wondering one of those "chicken and the egg" dilemmas, as I'm thinking I'd like to use tftp to start boot of an ARM9 embedded system running linux and not always flash the built-in memory. The u-boot boot loader claims there is no ethernet, but when in the current linux o/s that is installed networking works fine. What does one have to do to make an ethernet card available to u-boot prior to linux loading on a piece of hardware running u-boot when the BIOS does not provide NIC support?

Just a related curiosity, prior to the o/s loading on newer UEFI setups, are the drivers which support hand-off to the o/s all written in assembler? Does lack of o/s in this early boot stage mean drivers from something like linux are completely incompatible at that stage without a massive rewrite?
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