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The time now is Sun 10 Dec 2017, 20:46
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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Cutting edge
Linux on Intel Management Engine?
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technosaurus


Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 4764
Location: Kingwood, TX

PostPosted: Mon 04 Dec 2017, 20:55    Post subject:  Linux on Intel Management Engine?  

If you haven't heard about Intel ME, its basically a backdoor built into newer Intel chips with Minix built in to on chip programmable persistent memory (I'm not sure what type)

Intel presumably used Minix due to Linux's GPL license and the relative size of Minix vs the various BSDs, but if we were to replace Minix with Linux (or even a clean Minix build), we could not only override any security backdoors, but also have an extremely fast boot mechanism based on Coreboot or Libreboot. The 9.0 firmware is over 10Mb and I have gotten a basic Linux with Xvesa, rxvt and jwm in under 1Mb, so there is plenty of room for extra drivers - even some versions of tiny core would fit by default.

Has anyone seen any project like this in the works?

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s243a

Joined: 02 Sep 2014
Posts: 685

PostPosted: Tue 05 Dec 2017, 00:38    Post subject:  

That sounds like a really cool idea!!!!
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amigo

Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 2631

PostPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2017, 04:31    Post subject:  

The problem lies with getting access to that area of the motherboard. I did see the other day a linux laptop which uses coreboot and claims to have disabled the IME.
Here's the article I saw:
https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3019569/purism-disables-intels-management-engine-on-linux-powered-laptops
Gentoo has some info:
https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Sakaki's_EFI_Install_Guide/Disabling_the_Intel_Management_Engine
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technosaurus


Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 4764
Location: Kingwood, TX

PostPosted: Wed 06 Dec 2017, 13:55    Post subject:  

At the moment, its possible to reflash the firmware on systems that have it "enabled" for the user (mostly business class machines) but the images have to be signed. From what little I have found out though, it uses a builtin ARC processor (yes ARC, not ARM - not a typo) so it would be a lot more complicated to run Linux on it directly - not impossible though, Adapteva's Parallela systems use 2 ARM processors and supplement it with 8-1024 tilera cores and IIRC the PPC system in the PS3 used a controller core.

From what I understand there are some smaller pre-signed images, so if you downsized to the smallest IME image, it would be possible to free up enough space to accommodate coreboot or a bootloader and linux image, though the process isn't simple.

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