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Re: About firmware facilities

From: Colin Watson
Subject: Re: About firmware facilities
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 01:28:38 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 09:26:55AM +0930, Brendan Trotter wrote:
> An OS could choose to use the information provided by GRUB, or choose
> to ignore the information provided by GRUB.

Sure, but the less code that needs to go in the boot loader the better.

> Assuming GRUB implements something that isn't hopelessly inadequate,
> I'd prefer to attempt to use the information provided by GRUB (and
> then have a fall-back). However, I may be a little unusual, in that
> I'm willing to do a lot of extra work to avoid a little unnecessary
> end-user configuration.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't suggesting end-user configuration - I'd
rather have it in grub-mkconfig than in the core, that's all.

> With this in mind, as an OS installer developer, what form of language
> identifier would you consider the 'least hopelessly inadequate"? What
> if GRUB used the exact same language identifiers that (for e.g.)
> Ubuntu already uses?

You mean glibc locale identifiers with any territory and character set
information stripped off, and the variant stripped off unless it's
Portuguese or Chinese since those are the only currently significant
cases where language variants have significant enough differences to be
worth considering as essentially separate languages?

Oh, and locale configuration tends to go together with keyboard
configuration to some extent (at least for the purpose of setting
defaults); since text entry is possible in GRUB it makes some sense to
be able to configure the keymap, and you want to be able to pass that on
to the operating system as well. Language-to-keymap mapping is a
non-trivial problem often involving dispute resolution among local users
to figure out the most appropriate default, and, for us, the keymaps
themselves are maintained as part of the xkeyboard-config project and
change quite frequently.

Beyond the provision of some generic core facilities such as setting a
keymap, this honestly doesn't seem suitable for the boot loader core,
and nor does it seem likely to be particularly portable among anything
other than quite closely related operating systems. Of course it does
pretty much exactly what we need, but it's far too ad-hoc to live
outside a scripting language, IMO.

If GRUB made up its own set of identifiers, then somebody would have to
maintain the list, and my expectation would be that churn would be
substantial and frequent. If it used some kind of generic superset, I'd
expect that we'd end up ignoring it and doing our own thing anyway.

I've just seen this done wrongly far too many times.


Colin Watson                                       address@hidden

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