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Old 10-12-2010, 07:54 AM   #1
nass
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the ever popular BIOS update through linux


Hello everyone!
explained in this thread I have quadzillion of problems and crashes on a laptop that i recently installed slakcware too(I used to run fedora before with no problems - but without any 3d acceleration and many other things too)

I would like to know HOW i could flash the BIOS from within linux or at least through freedos.

NOTE: forget about ALL the usual bootable media:
-dvd NOT working
-floppy doesn't exists (but it exists as a bios boot option - stupid toshiba)
-there is no boot option to boot from USB

in fact i installed slackware through network boot.

In the end I am looking for a guide of the sort:
-mount the flash img file using lilo
-boot to that img
-get a (dos?) prompt in order to run the BIOS flash utility
OR
- do it all nicely through linux (somehow...)

The very nice eeprom programmerflashrom that exists for linux, advises me not to use it on a laptop.

The laptop is Toshiba (Satellite M40 series) so the BIOS update came as a packed .exe, which when I extract , I get (among other files) a bootable floppy disk image (most probably) fdbase.img, the BIOS as KPM170.ROM, and the flashing utility ( an .exe ).

so do you have ANY guides in mind -maybe even toshiba related (if that's not too far fetched)?

Thank you in advance for your help
 
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:13 AM   #2
GrapefruiTgirl
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I don't see anywhere in this thread or the other thread you link to, the make & model of the laptop. That might end up being relevant, so posting it is a good idea. Maybe edit your OP and add that in there?

Now, I have an idea, but that's all it is and I have no idea if it'll work, but since you're low on options, I'll throw it out there:

I wonder if you could install Dosbox or Dosemu, and run the BIOS installer from that? You'd need to give the emulator full hardware access if it were to have a chance. But this idea, I'd like to hear input about it from others before you go and try it, as it might be a bad idea.. Or, it may just plain not work. In the past, I have been able to load up and play with DOS BIOS editing tools on my Slackware machine, and they *appeared* to work OK, however I have not ever tried to actually flash the BIOS from Dosbox or similar, so you are forewarned.

Above idea aside, a more reasonable suggestion would appear to be via PXE or over the network somehow, but I have zero experience with something like that so someone else will have to advise in this area if it's possible.

Sorry, not much to go with here.. Booting from USB or flash/memory/sd card would be ideal! Are you sure you can't do one of these? Yes, I know you say "No USB boot option", but have you tried it anyway? Who knows...

I wish you luck!
 
Old 10-12-2010, 08:19 AM   #3
nass
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Well thank you for digging in

Its a Toshiba Satellite M40 185.

and yes I even tried Slax and freeDOS on a boot usb stick.. wouldn't have it.

as a matter of fact i'm thinking of trying to add the freedos kernelas a lilo entry and take it from there...
if i get anything prominent i'll let you know

thank you

Last edited by nass; 10-12-2010 at 08:22 AM.
 
Old 10-12-2010, 08:22 AM   #4
H_TeXMeX_H
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Get an external USB floppy or get a new DVD player. I wouldn't trust anything but a DOS boot floppy or CD to flash the BIOS. Remember, that a bad flash will result in a brick (your system will become as useful as a brick, toss it out the window).
 
Old 10-12-2010, 08:27 AM   #5
GrapefruiTgirl
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Yes, @ OP - if you can get LILO to boot you into DOS, you'd be ahead of the game, IF you can subsequently tell DOS where to find your BIOS flasher and image. If you only have the built-in HDD, you may have some difficulty pointing DOS to it and making it think it's a floppy drive but again, good luck. This topic always interests me because there is no single, generic, reliable way to flash BIOS from Linux. I still boot from a DOS on floppy and flash that way.

Aside: I was going to mention what Texmex wrote above - get a USB floppy disk drive - however, if the machine won't boot off USB, I question whether it would boot off a floppy plugged into USB either. Texmex, have you any thought on that?
 
Old 10-12-2010, 08:27 AM   #6
nass
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advise noted H_TeXMeX_H and I know about the possible pitfalls.
the laptop is more than 5yo and i'm not willing to spend any money on it.

I'll first wait a few days to try ALL possible things that will come to mind (unload even the least relevant modules) and then i'll take the risk...
 
Old 10-12-2010, 08:55 AM   #7
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl View Post
Aside: I was going to mention what Texmex wrote above - get a USB floppy disk drive - however, if the machine won't boot off USB, I question whether it would boot off a floppy plugged into USB either. Texmex, have you any thought on that?
You're right if the laptop is old, it may not.
 
Old 10-12-2010, 09:14 AM   #8
HasC
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what about loading System Rescue CD from network, and then start its included FreeDOS?
 
Old 10-12-2010, 09:16 AM   #9
nass
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looking into it...
 
Old 10-12-2010, 01:13 PM   #10
eveningsky339
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In my limited Linux BIOS flashing experience, you will need to burn a FreeDOS CD and use it to execute your manufacturer's BIOS flashing tool.

http://www.freedos.org/
 
Old 10-12-2010, 01:48 PM   #11
frieza
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not to sound silly but nobody has asked WHY you want to flash your bios in the first place? as has been mentioned a bad flash could turn the laptop into a brick so unless you are encountering a specific problem that flashing the bios will fix then it woud probably be best to not flash the bios at all.

i myself am a computer tech by trade and have seen first hand what a bad flash can do to a computer (my boss did the flash but the manufacturer's site had provided a bogus flash image that said it was for the motherboard in question but upon further investigation it was actually for a different motherboard, well understandably that didnt work, and it was a customer's machine.. fortunately the motherboard was dicy to begin with so the customer wasn't mad that he ended up having to replace it since he was half expecting to have to do so anyways, the flash was just a last ditch effort to keep from having to replace the mobo)

personally i would go with the old addage that if it aint broke don't fix it and forget about flashing the bios.

that being said if you know how to setup a pxe boot perhaps you could serve a DOS boot image with the bios flash image/flashing tool, i know such functionaltiy exists with netware so it probably can be done with linux as well.

Last edited by frieza; 10-12-2010 at 01:51 PM.
 
Old 10-13-2010, 01:20 AM   #12
allend
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This looks relevant if you still want to take the risk. http://blog.terryburton.co.uk/2007/0...-to-flash.html

Whether the GRUB technique could be adapted to lilo, I do not know, as I have not tried it, but I see no reason why not.

BIOS upgrades are risky ( I recently bricked an old machine, probably because the floppy drive was not working properly) but can be worthwhile. I successfully upgraded the BIOS on an old Toshiba 1410 laptop to overcome a hardware issue.
 
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Old 10-13-2010, 07:32 AM   #13
nass
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ok ok i decided NOT to go forth with the BIOS update (in the end).
why?
I tried disabling the ACPI support in the custom kernel and voila it has been booting flawlessly (well almost... but the fact that the dhcpcd does not get a dhcp lease during normal boot is another threads discussion).

Needles to say I don't like disabling the ACPI so i'll try re-enabling the options one by one and see what causes the resets..

I am starting to think that what causes the reboots has to do with some system overheating and so the ACPI deamons kick in..
That would explain the phenomenally random resets... but it doesn't explain why, once I manage to get the system to boot, it can stay on all day!
could it be the case here?
also would the ACPI cause a reboot or a complete shutdown if a system's temperature would exceed some value?
i should read up on ACPI too... arrgghhh

I can't help but think that something is very wrong with the BIOS... The laptop froze within the BIOS settings screen!! (i tried to enable the pxe option in my attempt to boot from freedos and that's when it happened.

I will try to run freedos over the network and also to see if i can successfully add a freedos option in the lilo bootloader and let you know.

Thank you all for your help.
 
Old 10-13-2010, 10:19 AM   #14
allend
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Quote:
Whether the GRUB technique could be adapted to lilo, I do not know, as I have not tried it, but I see no reason why not.
As a followup to this, I downloaded the fdboot.img from Freedos and copied it to a directory /boot/freedos/. I also copied /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk to the same directory.
I then edited my /etc/lilo.conf
Code:
# Linux root partition section
image = /boot/vmlinuz
initrd = /boot/initrd.gz
append = " resume=/dev/sda6 video=1024x600"
read-only
label = S13-current
# Testing freedos boot
image = /boot/freedos/memdisk
initrd = /boot/freedos/fdboot.img
label = Freedos
# End freedos
root = /dev/sda5
# End root Linux partition section
After running lilo, I can now boot to Freedos.
It would be trivial to add a BIOS flashing program and BIOS binary to the fdboot.img as described in the link I gave earlier.
 
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:22 AM   #15
nass
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How to get into a freedos environment in order to do a BIOS update

I was tampering around with the same files too but I used the 'append' directive as follows (probably mixed it up with pxelinux):

image = /boot/memdisk
append = "initrd=/boot/fdboot.img"
label = Freedos
read-only

(i'm not gonna quote that since it didn't work).

with that lilo configuration, choosing freedos would cause memdisk to give me an error about not providing an initrd. so i was trying to work on that. oh well i need to read up on kernel and lilo too :P in due time...

Anyhow once you know freedos is loading, (for others reference) one can do the following:

1) rename fdboot.img to fdboot.img.gz (since it a gzipped archive)
2) gunzip fdboot.img.gz
3) mount that as a loop device and add the flash utility and the new BIOS in the directory.
4) backtrack these steps in order to be left with a gzipped .img file which you can load through lilo as stated by allend just above.


As for the loading the freedos kernel from PXE and assuming you have a network boot server operational (read AlienBOB's excellent network boot guide here as well as general info (wiki) about (iso|sys|pxe)-linux here) all you need to do is:

-use the same files (memdisk and fdboot.img) as with lilo. Place them in a /tftpboot/freedos/ directory
-append an entry in /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default similar to the one used in lilo.conf:

label freedos
kernel /freedos/memdisk
append initrd=/freedos/fdboot.img

an entire /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default file based on the slackware's pxelinux.cfg/default file would look like:


Code:
default hugesmp.s #default label to boot after $timeout is reached
prompt 1          #wait for use input after $display is displayed 
                  #(info on what to type in the prompt should be included in mes.txt.
timeout 1200
display mes.txt    # the basic welcoming msg
F1 slackware/message.txt #if you press F1 this msg will be displayed
F2 slackware/f2.txt # if you press F2 this one will be displayed
F3 mes.txt
label huge.s    #actually entries
  kernel slackware/kernels/huge.s/bzImage
  append initrd=slackware/initrd.img load_ramdisk=1 prompt_ramdisk=0 rw SLACK_KERNEL=huge.s
label hugesmp.s
  kernel slackware/kernels/hugesmp.s/bzImage
  append initrd=slackware/initrd.img load_ramdisk=1 prompt_ramdisk=0 rw SLACK_KERNEL=hugesmp.s
label freedos
   kernel /freedos/memdisk
   append initrd=/freedos/fdboot.img

That's all folks!
Thank you all for helping out!

FINAL NOTE: I did NOT go forth with the BIOS update, even though that was my initial intention. So even though here you can find essential info into booting freedos from lilo and/or pxe and getting a prompt with the flashing utility and new BIOS, only do it at your own risk.

Last edited by nass; 10-13-2010 at 11:26 AM.
 
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