You can now run Doom entirely within a motherboard BIOS

Doom has been played on pretty much everything these days: a rotary phone (opens in new tab)through twitter (opens in new tab)and even in 100 kilos of moldy potatoes (opens in new tab). So, in that spirit of playing Doom on all kinds of hardware from PC to potato, here’s the 1993 game running in a motherboard’s BIOS.

Yes, there is now a version of Doom that runs on a motherboard firmware platform known as Coreboot.

Now Coreboot is not a totally normal motherboard BIOS like what you would find on your gaming PC. It is an open source alternative to regular BIOS software. It’s intended to be more open, faster, and more flexible than manufacturer-made software, and it’s starting to really take shape. Recently the BIOS, together with the Dasharo framework, was successfully implemented (opens in new tab) on an MSI Z690 motherboard.

Coreboot depends on things called payloads (opens in new tab): The payload is the actual software doing the work after Coreboot has successfully initialized the hardware. They take many forms, including those that boot Linux and those that use legacy x86 SeaBIOS, but today there is one payload we are interested in: coreDOOM (opens in new tab).

CoreDOOM seen by Linux wizards Phoronix (opens in new tab), is a payload for Coreboot 4.17 that essentially loads a system directly into a Doom game on boot. It’s excellent material. The entire game is actually stored in ROM, it’s so small, and that means the PC knows next to nothing but playing Doom.

With that comes some, er, small limitations. If you quit the game, your entire system freezes. OK everything is fine. Also only PS/2 keyboard is supported. You probably have one of these lying around somewhere, right? There is also no sound support. Or save support.

Look, it’s not perfect – it’s Doom running inside a motherboard’s BIOS, what did you expect?

CoreDOOM is a gateway to doomgeneric (opens in new tab), a version of Doom designed to be even more portable than the 1993 classic already is. Doom’s public source code and portability are just a few of the reasons you often see it as the first game to be loaded on hardware it shouldn’t be. Like an ATM or a digital camera (opens in new tab). That and Doom doesn’t require a lot of processing power to run these days.

No matter the limitations of this particular implementation, it’s still so amazing and impressive that there’s still more hardware left for Doom to conquer. Coreboot has come a long way, too, and maybe there’s a chance we’ll see a version of it where we can play all modern Doom games at some point in the future.

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