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Fedora Linux to Keep Legacy BIOS Support, For Now

Fedora Linux to continue support of Legacy BIOS as the decision for Fedora 37 is rejected by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) due to several factors.

Fedora Linux and Legacy BIOS Saga

Removing Legacy BIOS entirely and adopting modern UEFI was a proposed feature of Fedora 37, and it has been under discussion for the last couple of weeks.

This feature discussion attracted serious discussion with counter-argument that why the industry is not yet ready to dump the Legacy BIO support at all.

Fedora is modern and the first to adopt many cutting edge tech (such as Pipewire and Wayland) – the feature proposal was excellent. But if you look at the industry’s modern state, millions of hardware, including laptops, PCs, and servers, still require Legacy BIOS support to continue. And the other mainstream distros, such as Ubuntu, continue to support it.

Although Fedora is the “testbed” for Red Hat, many users still use it for their daily driver in that older hardware.

Why is BIOS still relevant?

Not only that, Legacy BIOS is still very much needed for virtual machines. Today, all the major virtual machine emulators, such as Virtual Box and virt-manager – still depend on the Legacy BIOS-based firmware to emulate the physical system. Although there is UEFI support present, they sometimes run into problems if chosen in those virtual machines. For example, most open-source virtual machine managers still use the SeaBIOS, the open-source implementation of x86 BIOS architecture.

Legacy BIOS Still requires for Virtual Machine Emulators (such as SeaBIOS)
Legacy BIOS Still requires Virtual Machine Emulators (such as SeaBIOS)

As you can see, the industry is not yet mature to get rid of Legacy BIOS completely.

Furthermore, no matter how many tech improvements we see, a modern Linux distribution still needs backward compatibility with specific features.

For instance, recently Linux mainline kernel removed IDE driver support and raw floppy disk support. These decisions are acceptable because the industry moved away from these methodologies long back.

But not for Legacy BIOS. Due to this fact, the team finally voted out the feature proposal from Fedora 37. So, Legacy BIOS support to continue with Fedora Linux.

Finally, I believe it’s a far more complicated decision to remove support for a critical boot technology which is still running across millions of hardware. I am glad that the team took a wiser decision, for now.

On a side note, I feel this situation is somewhat similar to removing X.Org and adopting the Wayland display server. Which, I think, would take many more decades to move to Wayland completely.

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