Article published by: Leah Rowe in GNU Leah Mode™
Date of publication: 17 July 2023
This project was originally named GNU Boot or gnuboot, unofficially, with the intent that it would be re-used by the real GNU Boot project, to help them get in sync with modern Libreboot releases; on 17 July 2023, they still used very old Libreboot releases, with old coreboot revisions from around ~mid 2021.
This non-GeNUine release was renamed to nonGeNUine Boot after receiving a legal threat, citing trademark infringement from the official GNU Boot project.
More context for this is provided by the Libreboot project. See: GNU Boot article on libreboot.org
nonGeNUine Boot provides boot firmware for supported x86/ARM machines, starting a bootloader that then loads your operating system. It replaces proprietary BIOS/UEFI firmware on x86 machines, and provides an improved configuration on ARM-based chromebooks supported (U-Boot bootloader, instead of Google’s depthcharge bootloader). On x86 machines, the GRUB and SeaBIOS coreboot payloads are officially supported, provided in varying configurations per machine. It provides an automated build system for the configuration and installation of coreboot ROM images, making coreboot easier to use for non-technical people. You can find the list of supported hardware in nonGeNUine Boot documentation.
nonGeNUine Boot’s main benefit is higher boot speed, better security and more customisation options compared to most proprietary firmware. As a libre software project, the code can be audited, and coreboot does regularly audit code. The other main benefit is freedom to study, adapt and share the code, a freedom denied by most boot firmware, but not nonGeNUine Boot! Booting GNU+Linux and BSD is also well supported.
nonGeNUine Boot is a fork of Libreboot. This release is based on Libreboot 20230625, with certain boards/documentation removed so as to comply with the GNU System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG).
Libreboot 20220710 was the last regular Libreboot release to comply with the old Binary Blob Extermination Policy adhering to GNU FSDG ideology. Read the Libreboot 20220710 release announcement.
For the purpose of continuity, this release will list changes relative to that version. Future releases of nonGeNUine Boot will reference past releases of itself.
These laptops would have been compatible with Libreboot, under the old policy, and they were added in this release of nonGeNUine Boot:
FUN FACT: This includes building of ASUS KFSN4-DRE, KCMA-D8 and KGPE-D16 boards, which were updated based on coreboot
4.11_branch. ROM images are provided for these boards, in this nonGeNUine Boot release. The toolchain in this coreboot version would not build on modern GNU+Linux distributions, so I spent time patching it.
In nonGeNUine Boot 20230717:
e70bc423f9a2e1d13827f2703efe1f9c72549f20, 17 February 2023
8da4bfe5b573f395057fbfb5a9d99b376e25c2a42 June 2022
1c13f8d85c7306213cd525308ee8973e5663a3f8, 16 June 2021
f7564844f82b57078d601befadc438b5bc1fa01b, 14 February 2023
ea1b7a0733906b8425d948ae94fba63c32b1d425, 20 January 2023
890233ca5569e5787d8407596a12b9fca80952bf, 9 January 2023
In Libreboot 20220710:
b2e8bd83647f664260120fdfc7d07cba694dd89e, 17 November 2021
ad983eeec76ecdb2aff4fb47baeee95ade012225, 20 November 2019
f7564844f82b57078d601befadc438b5bc1fa01b, 25 October 2021
1281e340ad1d90c0cc8e8d902bb34f1871eb48cf, 24 September 2021
The changes are vast, and most of them visible directly by viewing the Libreboot git history; for reference, this nonGeNUine Boot release corresponds approximately to
lbmk (LibreBoot MaKe) revision
8c7774289ca60a1144b3151344eb400a059390e0 from 16 July 2023.
And now, the changes (summarised, relative to Libreboot 20220710):
acpica(for use of
iasl), the old upstream links to tarballs are no longer online. Newer versions of coreboot pull from github, but nonGeNUine Boot is still using some older coreboot revisions prior to that change. The corresponding tarballs are now hosted on Libreboot rsync, and used by nonGeNUine Boot’s build system, gbmk (itself a fork of the Libreboot build system, named
lbmk). (NOTE: gbmk was renamed to cbmk, when the project became Canoeboot)
cros: Disable coreboot-related BL31 features. This fixes poweroff on gru chromebooks. Patch courtesy of Alper Nebi Yasak.
u-boot: Increase EFI variable buffer size. This fixes an error where Debian’s signed shim allocates too many EFI variables to fit in the space provided, breaking the boot process in Debian. Patch courtesy Alper Nebi Yasak
util/spkmodem-recv: New utility, forked from GNU’s implementation, then re-written to use OpenBSD style(9) programming style instead of the originally used GNU programming style, and it is uses OpenBSD
pledge()when compiled on OpenBSD. Generally much cleaner coding style, with better error handling than the original GNU version (it is forked from coreboot, who forked it from GNU GRUB, with few changes made). This is a receiving client for spkmodem, which is a method coreboot provides to get a serial console via pulses on the PC speaker.
extra.shdirectly from given coreboot tree. Unused by any boards, but could allow expanding upon patching capabilities in lbmk for specific mainboards, e.g. apply coreboot gerrit patches in a specific order that is not easy to otherwise guarantee in more generalised logic of the nonGeNUine Boot build system.
util/e6400-flash-unlock: New utility, that disables flashing protections on Dell’s own BIOS firmware, for Dell Latitude E6400. This enables nonGeNUine Boot installation without disassembling the machine (external flashing equipment is not required). Courtesy Nicholas Chin.
cbutils: New concept, which implements: build coreboot utilities like cbfstool and include the binaries in a directory inside lbmk, to be re-used. Previously, they would be compiled in-place within the coreboot build system, often re-compiled needlessly, and the checks for whether a given util are needed were very ad-hoc: now these checks are much more robust. Very centralised approach, per coreboot tree, rather than selectively compiling specific coreboot utilities, and makes the build system logic in nonGeNUine Boot much cleaner.
gru_kevinchromebooks, U-Boot is used instead of Google’s own depthcharge bootloader. It has been heavily modified to avoid certain initialisation that is replaced by coreboot, in such a way that U-Boot is mainly used as a bootloader providing UEFI for compliant GNU+Linux distros and BSDs. Courtesy Alper Nebi Yasak.
sh(though, many dependencies still use GNU extensions, such as GNU Make, so this portability is not directly useful yet, but a stepping stone. nonGeNUine Boot eventually wants to be buildable on non-GNU, non-GNU/Linux systems, e.g. BSD systems)
nvmutil- can randomise the MAC address on Intel GbE NICs, for systems that use an Intel Flash Descriptor
grub.cfgfiles on the HDD/SSD.
All of the following are believed to boot, but if you have any issues, please contact the nonGeNUine Boot project. They are:
This website, that you are reading now, and the nonGeNUine release itself, was originally named GNU Boot, but clearly marked as unofficial, with the hope that the GNU project would adapt and re-use it for their project. I did this, specifically to help them get up to date. They currently use Libreboot from about 8 months ago (late 2022), and that revision used coreboot releases from ~mid 2021.
Modern Libreboot uses coreboot from early 2023, and contains many bug fixes in its build system, owing to an extensive build system audit; GNU Boot still contains all of the bugs that existed, prior to the audit. Bugs such as: errors literally not being handled, in many critical areas of the build system, due to improper use of subshells within shell scripts (Libreboot’s build system is implemented with shell scripts), improper handling of git credentials in the coreboot build system, fam15h boards no longer compiling correct on modern Linux distros… the list goes on. All fixed, in newer Libreboot, including the recent release.
The GNU Boot people actually sent me a cease and desist email, citing trademark infringement. Amazing.
Despite the original site clearly stating that it’s unofficial. I literally made it to help them. You know, to help them use newer Libreboot because they use old Libreboot and even older coreboot.
Anyway, I complied with their polite request and have renamed the project to nonGeNUine Boot. The release archive was re-compiled, under this new brand name and this nonGeNUine website was re-written accordingly.
Personally, I like the new name better.
Here is a screenshot of the cease and desist request that I received, from Adrien ‘neox’ Bourmault who is a founding member of the GNU Boot project:
This, after they themselves tried to steal the name Libreboot for their fork, when they first announced themselves on 19 March 2023 at LibrePlanet, only renaming to GNU Boot months later (on 11 June 2023). Utter hypocrisy, and a great irony to boot.
I may very well send patches. If I want to.
The following binary blobs were overlooked, and are still present in the release archive for Canoeboot up to 20231101; this mistake was corrected, in the Canoeboot 20231103 release, so you should use that or newer if you don’t want these files. They are, thus:
Thanks go to Craig Topham, who is the Copyright and Licensing Associate at the Free Software Foundation; you can find his entry on the FSF staff page. Craig is the one who reported these.
The Canoeboot 20231026 and 20231101 release tarballs will not be altered, but errata has now been added to the announcement pages for those releases, to let people know of the above issue.
You are advised, therefore, to use the Canoeboot 20231103 release.
This file was also overlooked, and is still present in the release tarball:
This has now been removed, in the Canoeboot git repository (
cbmk.git), and this file will absent, in the next release after Canoeboot 20231107. Thanks go to Denis Carikli who reported this. The patch to fix it is here:
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