The Free Software Foundation is calling on developers of open-source software to put their efforts into creating a free version of a crucial but obscure piece of software used in personal computers.
The Boston-based FSF wants to foster the broader development of free BIOS software for standard PCs. The BIOS, or basic input-output system, is a little-known application that acts as a go-between for a PC’s hardware and operating system. It enables many advanced hardware features–power management for extending notebooks’ battery life, for example.
Right now most BIOS software on PCs or computer motherboards is developed by a PC manufacturer or a BIOS specialist such as Phoenix. That manufacturer typically decides when and how the BIOS software is updated, if it’s updated at all. The Free Software Foundation’s effort to foster a free BIOS–meaning a BIOS that costs nothing and could be installed and used freely–would put control of BIOS more in the hands of end users, foundation President Richard Stallman said in a speech last week in Brussels, Belgium.