Screenshot of the EFI shell, showing doom.wad and doom.efi in 'ls' command output, and then doom.efi being loaded

DOOM? In Your BIOS? More Likely Than You Think!

We’ve seen hackers run DOOM on a variety of appliances, from desk phones to pregnancy tests. Now, the final frontier has been conquered – we got DOOM to run on an x86 machine. Of course, making sure we utilize your PC hardware to its fullest, we have to forego an OS. Here are two ways you can run the classic shooter without the burden of gigabytes of bloated code in the background.

[nic3-14159] implemented this first version as a payload for coreboot, which is an open-source BIOS/UEFI replacement for x86 machines. Some might say it’s imperfect — it has no sound support, only works with PS/2 keyboards, and exiting the game makes your computer freeze. However, it’s playable, and it fits into your BIOS flash chip.

But what if your computer hasn’t yet been blessed with a free BIOS replacement? You might like this UEFI module DOOM port instead, originally made by [Warfish] and then built upon by [Cacodemon345]. To play this, you only need to compile the binary and an UEFI shell, then use the “Load EFI Shell” option in your UEFI menu – something that’s widely encountered nowadays. This version also lacks sound, but is a bit more fully featured due to all the facilities that UEFI provides for its payloads.

Of course there’s far more efficient ways to slay demons on your computer, but even if they aren’t necessarily practical from a gaming standpoint, these two projects serve as decent examples of Coreboot and UEFI payloads. BIOS replacements like coreboot take up so little space, we’ve even seen Windows 3.1 fit alongside coreboot in the BIOS chip. Wondering what UEFI is, even? Here’s a primer for you. And, if you don’t mind the exceptional bloat of a stripped-down Linux install, here’s a Linux image built from the ground up to run DOOM specifically.

Continue reading DOOM? In Your BIOS? More Likely Than You Think!”

Windows 3.1 In My BIOS? It’s More Likely Than You Think

It might be difficult for modern audiences to believe, but at one point Microsoft Windows fit on floppy disks. This was a simpler time, with smaller hard drives, lower resolution displays, and no hacker blogs for you to leave pessimistic comments on. A nearly unrecognizable era, to be sure. But if you’re one of the people who looks back on these days fondly, you might wonder why we don’t see this tiny graphical operating system smashed into modern hardware. After all, SkiFree sure ain’t gonna play itself.

Well, wonder no more. A hacker by the name of [redsPL] thought that Microsoft’s latest and greatest circa 1992 might do well crammed into the free space remaining on a ThinkPad X200’s firmware EEPROM. It would take a little fiddling, plus the small matter of convincing the BIOS to see the EEPROM as a virtual floppy drive, but clearly those are all minor inconveniences for anyone mad enough to boot their hardware into a nearly 30 year old copy of Visual Basic for a laugh.

The adventure starts when [redsPL] helped a friend install libreboot and coreboot on a stack of old ThinkPads by using the Raspberry Pi as an SPI flasher, a pastime we’re no strangers to ourselves. Once the somewhat finicky software and hardware environment was up and running, it seemed a waste not to utilize it further. Especially given the fact most firmware replacements only fill a fraction of the X200’s 8 MB chip.

Of course, Windows 3.1 was not designed for modern hardware and no proper drivers exist for much of it. Just getting the display resolution up to 1024×768 (and still with only 256 colors) required patching the original video drivers with ones designed for VMWare. [redsPL] wasn’t able to get the sound hardware working, but at least the PC speaker makes the occasional buzz. The last piece of the puzzle was messing around the zip and xz commands until the disk image was small enough to sneak onto the chip.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Windows from this era running on a (relatively) modern ThinkPad. For whatever reason, these two legends of the computing world seem destined to keep running into each other.

[Thanks to Renard for the tip.]

Arduino Uno BIOS Flasher

We’ve seen the Arduino used to flash BIOS chips several times now. But these hacks are almost always the result of a bad flash. This time around [GNUtoo] is interested in putting a tool in your hands which can be used to flash Coreboot to your motherboard. His offering uses the Arduino Uno, but there are several other hardware options covered as well.

The firmware makes use of the serprog-duino library which was crafted at writing to flash memory chips. On the computer side of things the flashrom package pushes the BIOS image to the Arduino. The nice thing is the flashrom is a common packge in Linux repositories so it’s probably just an apt-get away.

The process isn’t fast, taking about ten minutes to program a 1 Mb chip. But if you’re just interested in loading an open source BIOS alternative this is easy to set up.