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Old 07-27-2017, 12:47 PM   #1
Timothy Miller
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It's a sad day...


So I was doing some upgrades last night, and saw that Chuwi had released newer firmware for my Lapbook. Since that's what I mostly was doing (upgrading firmware on all my Dell's), I also upgraded that firmware. Sadly, didn't read the posts of other users, as Chuwi released the new firmware to go with a new motherboard they're using. So now I have a bricked laptop, along with it seems about 1/2 the people that bought one of these laptops.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 01:06 PM   #2
lazydog
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Have you contacted them? They should have a way to re-flash the firmware but it might require you to send it in or take it to a repair shop of their choice.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 02:00 PM   #3
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For the future: you only upgrade the firmware when you need to (security patches or new capabilities/features) and make sure you know exactly what has changed In the new revision, and if there's any prerequisites. If possible take note of your current BIOS version and download that same version to use as a backup.. Some motherboards have two BIOS chips that you can use just incase one gets corrupted.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 04:05 PM   #4
Timothy Miller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazydog View Post
Have you contacted them? They should have a way to re-flash the firmware but it might require you to send it in or take it to a repair shop of their choice.
I'd have to ship to China. For a $225 laptop it's not worth paying the $60 to ship to China and back and waiting 3 months to get it back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by justmy2cents View Post
For the future: you only upgrade the firmware when you need to (security patches or new capabilities/features) and make sure you know exactly what has changed In the new revision, and if there's any prerequisites. If possible take note of your current BIOS version and download that same version to use as a backup.. Some motherboards have two BIOS chips that you can use just incase one gets corrupted.
I disagree. I've been making sure bios/firmware is up to date for 20+ years. First time I've ever seen a company post firmware that bricks their machines. And it's a chinese company for a laptop that sells brand new for $260-$300, so can't be overly surprised that their support is less than adequate. To me, if the hardware supports Intel ME/AMT and you don't patch your bios/firmware regularly if available, you might as well be still running windows xp with no virus scanner and no firewall as well, because you're leaving yourself open to attack through that which bypasses any installed OS's.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 04:32 PM   #5
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I don't know anything about that partituclar laptop or motherboard but I had an Asus mobo 5-6 years ago that I had a power outage on during a firmware upgrade that bricked my board and the computer wouldn't complete POST. After hours of searching the internet I finally found a page saying I needed to download the firmware that was already installed (not the upgraded firmware), rename it to I-don't-remember-what-exactly-anymore, put it on usb stick with the motherboard powered off and then I had to hold down the power button for about a minute. This eventually forced the mobo to reinstall the firmware and my mobo was working again.

I found it strange that this wasn't documented anywhere by Asus and I'm usually leary of random internet instructions but I figured I couldn't hurt the board anymore and gave it a shot.

Point is, you may be able to recover still with a bit of effort, bot OTOH, it is a cheap laptop and you may not find it worth your time
 
Old 07-27-2017, 05:09 PM   #6
jefro
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I have to agree with justmy2cents. I've been working on systems for longer. Unless the errata says it fixes some issue you exactly have then you are risking this. It just took you 20 years to find out why we say this. If you do too much maintenance on stuff that ain't broke......
 
Old 07-27-2017, 06:13 PM   #7
Timothy Miller
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I have to agree with justmy2cents. I've been working on systems for longer. Unless the errata says it fixes some issue you exactly have then you are risking this. It just took you 20 years to find out why we say this. If you do too much maintenance on stuff that ain't broke......
IMO, that's like saying if you're systems running, don't under any circumstances install a security update. Nope, install bios/firmware patches because that's what the firmware patches are nowadays, security patches for the initial OS. Sure, once in 20 years it bit me when dealing with a chinese company that their instructions are in broken english and their support doesn't exist. Oh well, it's sad because the laptop was really quite small and light for the 14" screen size, but it won't stop me from going forward continuing to make sure that my systems are fully up to date with security. Might stop me from buying form companies who's support structure doesn't exist, but won't stop me from making sure all firmware patches are applied in a timely manner or recommending others do the same. It's just what someone does if they're security conscious to me. Yes, there are people who disagree. And that's fine for them. I disagree with them and I think not installing firmware updates is actually worse than running something like XP that doesn't get updates (unless the system isn't on a network, then it's fine). After all, modern firmware can be connected to even if the power is off but still plugged in, unlike the OS.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 07-27-2017 at 06:47 PM.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 06:38 PM   #8
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I'm a cautious updater - I want the latest, but not till all the bugs have been found in it.
BIOS I usually wait 6-12 months, but I'll always put it on. Even distro upgrades I give 4-6 weeks to iron out all the wrinkles.

That's on systems I care about - on my test systems I track Linus' rc kernels, so all bets are off on those.

Last edited by syg00; 07-27-2017 at 06:40 PM. Reason: last sentence
 
Old 07-27-2017, 06:44 PM   #9
Timothy Miller
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I'm a cautious updater - I want the latest, but not till all the bugs have been found in it.
BIOS I usually wait 6-12 months, but I'll always put it on. Even distro upgrades I give 4-6 weeks to iron out all the wrinkles.
Distro's I'm very similar to you. I have 1 machine that's running Debian Buster/Sid just so I can see what breaks, the other Debians are all on Stretch. I did upgrade to Fed 26 on the desktop, and I regret it. Constant kwin crashes with Nvidia proprietary, and HORRIBLE performance with noeuveau (however it's spelled). I'm considering just abandoning Fedora on there and going to Debian. But I really just want to replace it, the desktop is 7+ years old now (although some parts are much newer, it's been consistently upgraded since new), and just really in need of a replacement at this point.

Although I do run some Arch which is definitely not for the upgrade-wary. Since installing it again for the first time in probably 6 years about a year ago (I got tired of how unstable Arch was), it's much, much, much more well-behaved than I remember. I'm actually really enjoying it, and picked up a cheap E5430 recently that I upgraded with a REALLY good SSD and 802.11AC. Originally just wanted to test the SSD in it then sell it, but I put Arch on there now and I might just keep it since the Chuwi is going in the recycling bin at work.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 07-27-2017 at 06:45 PM.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 08:12 PM   #10
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Pardon me but is this firmware just the Bios/UEFI ? Even though this may be cheap for a laptop it is my understanding that even really ancient BIOS systems, let alone UEFI, have Bootblock images that are not written over with a firmware update. I would look into recovery utilities since you may find a weekend is more than sufficient to get it all back. It's been a long time since I used such recovery and back then it required a floppy but I'm fairly certain that's been updated to include optical and usb media.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 09:44 PM   #11
Timothy Miller
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Pardon me but is this firmware just the Bios/UEFI ? Even though this may be cheap for a laptop it is my understanding that even really ancient BIOS systems, let alone UEFI, have Bootblock images that are not written over with a firmware update. I would look into recovery utilities since you may find a weekend is more than sufficient to get it all back. It's been a long time since I used such recovery and back then it required a floppy but I'm fairly certain that's been updated to include optical and usb media.
I'm doubting anything short of a CH341A (eeprom programmer) can recover it, as it won't even post. Doesn't even power on the lcd (which is one of the best features of this laptop, beautiful 1920x1080 IPS with a SUPER slim bezel making this a 14" that's the size of most 13" laptops), nor does it initialize the HDMI port. I checked with most of the pc repair places and even the local lug to see if anyone had the equipment to flash the proper bios (I have it on a usb), but noone does. I could get the parts for $20 from ebay, but absolutely no idea how I'd use it without windows (I've only ever seen windows software for flashing), or if I did try to use windows, the drivers are only good for windows 7, and I've read they fail to load due to being unsigned in anything newer. I'm considering getting it just to try regardless simply becuase...$20...but I can't find any for sale in the US, so they all take 1-2 months to arrive...

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 07-28-2017 at 08:16 AM.
 
Old 07-28-2017, 10:47 AM   #12
justmy2cents
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Like the TheEzekielProject mentioned, sometimes you can upgrade from a USB instead of loading up the OS, and depending on the motherboard it may not even need to be powered on as it would have standby power. If your computer doesn't display boot information on screen then you might want to get an external POST card which will give you LED light messages as the system is booting, so you can see what the status is and where problems might be happening during the boot process. You can connect POST cards to PCI/PCIe/parallel connections.

Last edited by justmy2cents; 07-28-2017 at 10:52 AM.
 
Old 07-28-2017, 02:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
So I was doing some upgrades last night, and saw that Chuwi had released newer firmware for my Lapbook. Since that's what I mostly was doing (upgrading firmware on all my Dell's), I also upgraded that firmware. Sadly, didn't read the posts of other users, as Chuwi released the new firmware to go with a new motherboard they're using. So now I have a bricked laptop, along with it seems about 1/2 the people that bought one of these laptops.
it is really sad. Haven't you a possibility to fix it? Maybe there is a shop specialized for such a thing/ not easy fix?
 
Old 07-28-2017, 03:26 PM   #14
Timothy Miller
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It actually IS an easy fix...just finding someone with the hardware to do so is not so easy. I've called all the local shops and none have it, I even checked with the local LUG and noone had it. I could send it back to Chuwi like I had mentioned, but that's a 3 MONTH turnaround. And I could get the parts as well, but again, they come from China, so nearly a 2 month wait if I could even find some software that I could use with them. So nothing easy even though the actual work of repairing IS easy.
 
Old 07-29-2017, 02:02 AM   #15
enorbet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
I'm doubting anything short of a CH341A (eeprom programmer) can recover it, as it won't even post. Doesn't even power on the lcd (which is one of the best features of this laptop, beautiful 1920x1080 IPS with a SUPER slim bezel making this a 14" that's the size of most 13" laptops), nor does it initialize the HDMI port. I checked with most of the pc repair places and even the local lug to see if anyone had the equipment to flash the proper bios (I have it on a usb), but noone does. I could get the parts for $20 from ebay, but absolutely no idea how I'd use it without windows (I've only ever seen windows software for flashing), or if I did try to use windows, the drivers are only good for windows 7, and I've read they fail to load due to being unsigned in anything newer. I'm considering getting it just to try regardless simply becuase...$20...but I can't find any for sale in the US, so they all take 1-2 months to arrive...
It looks to me as if 2 different procedures are possible. The most obvious, external chip reprogramming as with the CH341A you mentioned would require a 2nd PC which has the capability to boot from a CD. There are numerous recovery CDs but my all time favorite is Hirens Boot CD because it offers a DOS environment, a Windows environment, and a Linux environment and deep level tools. So it doesn't matter if the 2nd PC doesn't have Windows. They also can be customized to include specific files on the CD itself but commonly also have access to hard drives and usb drives as well, so one way or another you have access to the bios recovery files needed to reprogram the chip.

The Bootblock method has apparently become far less universal than it used to be but if you know the brand of BIOS/UEFI you can research any specifics. With the old simple BIOSes the Bootblcok code required a floppy and first an ISA video card but later versions accommodated a PCI video card but I have no idea how this was handled in locked down units like a laptop. I do know that it took a long time to display as ROM is slow and a bad flash will attempt to access normal boot before it recognizes a fail and switches to Bootblock Recovery mode. It might be worthwhile to try connecting to an external monitor and leave it on for several minutes to see if either display is activated once Bootblock is engaged.

Possibly of interest is that it can be possible to reprogram a bios/uefi chip on any PC that has the same family of chips including I/O chip. One sets the BIOS to shadow the ROM data to RAM, boots to a low level OpSys (commonly DOS) removes the working eeprom (pre-loosened for easy removal) and very carefully inserts the bad one. The bad one can then be reflashed. I've actually done this hot-swap method many times but it was "back in the day" before UEFI so I don't know how well it works now but as long as chips are not plugged in with an improper orientation, it isn't particularly dangerous and even under such sloppy circumstances only to the chip improperly plugged in. This might be an especially workable solution if you know anyone who has a working laptop mostly like yours, since you could boot theirs and swap in your badly programmed chip once booted and re-flash. It would require considerable trust, however on the part of the working unit's owner but they might be interested in "having an out" should they ever encounter a situation like yours.

One last possibility is ordering a replacement BIOS chip which shouldn't be too pricey to ship no matter from where. This of course assumes that the sole damage was a bad flash and all the hardware is still intact.

Best wishes for a successful recovery
 
  


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