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Old 04-17-2010, 10:16 AM   #1
Registered: Mar 2005
Posts: 56

Rep: Reputation: 15
Flash BIOS or not? Compare BIOS features?

I'm having one heck of a time finding the features of various Dell bios'.

Here's my SPECs:

Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, SLED 10 [hda2] (no SP's)
openSUSE 10.3 [hda3]
Ubuntu 8.10 [hdb3] (default)

Dell Optiplex GX260
Pentium 4 @ 2.00GHz
Chipset Intel 845G
Bios A08


ATI Technologies Inc. Radeon RV200 QW [Radeon 7500]
32mb onboard graphic memory
AGP Aperature 128mb

Here's what I want:

Have USB flash drive bootable on this system.

In reading my user guide it says my system setup allows a boot sequence of; Normal, Diskette drive, Hard drive, CD drive, PXE, and USB Flash device. However, when I go into system setup there are only 3 devices listed; Diskette, CD, and Hard drive.

I'd like to know if the next Bios version (A09) will list more devices or at least allow USB Flash Device booting. I don't want to Flash the Bios if it won't benefit this endeavor.

Could anyone suggest Dell "search" questions to compare the various bios' they have for my system?

So far all my search query's have resulted in Dell wanting my model number.

I'd like to be able to compare the features of, say, Dell Bios A07, A08, A09, and A10.

Old 04-17-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
LQ Guru
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: NJ, USA
Distribution: Slackware, Debian
Posts: 5,852

Rep: Reputation: 357Reputation: 357Reputation: 357Reputation: 357
I don't know if Dell keeps actual Changelogs of their BIOS updates, but there is really no reason not to upgrade the BIOS, so you might as well give it a shot.

Last edited by MS3FGX; 04-17-2010 at 05:27 PM.
Old 04-17-2010, 11:12 AM   #3
Registered: Mar 2010
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu & Fedora
Posts: 189

Rep: Reputation: 44
Many BIOSes will only list boot devices if the hardware is installed. In this case, if you do not have the USB flash plugged in when you boot, it won't be an option.

Personally, I never upgrade my BIOS unless it provides/fixes somethong I want. I blew away a mainboard once when I didn't even need the update.

Cheers, Lou
Old 04-20-2010, 07:44 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2009
Location: Federal Way, WA
Distribution: openSUSE 11.4 x86_64, openSuSE 12.1, Fedora 15
Posts: 207

Rep: Reputation: 34
You may be able to g et some info from Phoenix Technologies. They develop the BIOS used by Dell. I personally don't upgrade BIOS unless it's absolutely needed. Made that mistake with my Dell Studio 1745 which came with A01 and booted okay. When I went to A02 BIOS, the boot time increased by about 25 seconds and always says it fixed the hard drive (which has nothing wrong with it!).

One problem upgrading Phoenix BIOS is you can't revert to an earlier version, the BIOS flash program checks the BIOS date.

Last edited by tommyttt; 04-20-2010 at 07:46 PM.
Old 04-20-2010, 09:46 PM   #5
Registered: Mar 2005
Posts: 56

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Thanks to everyone who replied to my post/question, I do appreciate your thoughts.

This next dissertation is a bit lengthy.

I too don't like to fix something that ain't broke as they say.

Since I made this post I have continued my own search for the answer.................... This just may be one of those things that can not be resolved. I never did find any comparison of the various Dell BIOS's. A chart or something similar showing the features of each would be handy. Also I believe this Optiplex system is aging a bit, although it has been and remains very versatile. It will be hard to let go of.

This BIOS (Dell A08) has these 2 separate settings available in the BIOS setup:

(1)Hard-Disk Drive Sequence
Option: USB device
Option: System BIOS boot devices
(you make a choice as to which one you want 1st and which you want 2nd) [it appears to me that the "System BIOS boot devices" option refers directly to the next setting;

(2)Boot Sequence
Option: Diskette Drive
Option: IDE CD-ROM Device
Option: Hard-Disk Drive C:
(you make choices putting the options in the order you want the system to look for boot instructions)

So much for that, I believe I have the setting correct at this time. Somewhere in my search a person suggested you needed to have all possible bootable USB devices unplugged, so only the USB flash drive was attached. Then the bootable flash drive would boot.

I did this, and if the system was cold (not being restarted, but rather OFF) and then started, and the USB flash drive was plugged in ................ it booted from the flash drive. Yeah!

Okay, now I wanted some more. I had originally used Ubuntu Intrepid 8.10 and it's "Create a USB startup disk" program on my Toshiba 16-GB thumb drive. I also used the Intrepid 8.10 .iso image in lieu of an actual burnt CD. I had it use 2.5 GB to set-up the Live CD/USB bootable flash drive, leaving the remaining space unused.

So now I wanted another formatted partition on the memory stick, so I could carry files back and forth from other folks computers. Make that extra space usable.

I rebooted with Parted Magic 4.10 CD and reformatted the memory stick. All FAT-32. Another reboot to run Create a USB startup disk again giving it 2.5 GB for persistance purposes. Another reboot with Parted Magic to create a 2nd partition on the memory stick. Here I renamed the 2 partitions as:
1) Flash U8~10 (this the first partition, flagged as boot, this is the Live bootable USB partition)
2) Flash xNTFS (this the second partition, formatted ntfs, this partition is/was to be used for "storage" of files for transfer or whatever)

Well this was going just fine and when I clicked the "apply" changes button it gave each partition a mount point; /media/Flash U8~10 and /media/Flash xNTFS. Lookin good.

Shutdown system, unplug all bootable USB peripherals, plug in USB memory stick, start computer, and once again "yeah" it boots from the flash drive.

Since I was looking for the "semi-perfect" set-up where I could carry my computer around in my pocket and use any hardware to boot-up my system I was feelin pretty good. I could even see the 2nd partition, saved a file to it, deleted the file, man this was cookin :-)

I did notice one irritating thing though. That pesky "Install" icon lurked on the desktop. Deleting it did no good because it was replaced with each successive boot.

What a bummer, I didn't want some lady reaching over my shoulder saying "what's that pretty little thingy do?" as she clicked on it with the mouse. Could cause many, many additional hours of unexpected work.

Now I needed to find a way to get rid of that darn icon.

Google searched for 2 days trying to find the answer. So many 95% technical answers but nothing like what I was looking for. I simply wanted to know how to run a shell script that would delete the "Install" icon as the system booted.

Finally today I found someone referencing System, Preferences, Sessions, Startup Programs. Wa la, the lights finally went on. I wrote the following shell script:

cd /home/chip/Desktop
rm ubiquity-gtkui.desktop

(ubiquity-gtkui.desktop is the real name associated with the Install icon)

Named it, set it to executable, renamed it to Delinstal, and put it in my MyPrograms folder.

Went to System, Preferences, Sessions, Startup Programs, clicked on the Add button, for the name; Delinstal, for the command; /home/chip/MyPrograms/./Delinstal

Cold reboot and all that stuff, and doggone, it worked. Just as the desktop completes the "Install" icon vanishes. Great !!!

I'm happy! Yes ...................... NO the storage partition "Flash xNTFS" won't mount. Instead of seeing the boot partition (Flash U8~10) as being mounted on /media, the system is seeing it mounted on /cdrom ...................

And so the saga continues and it looks like the BIOS may still be the culprit in this caper. Or maybe bootable USB Live isn't quite there yet. I'll just keep tryin.

Ubuntu 10.4 is coming in 10 days and I think I'll try the whole thing over again after I install it. I sure do like the idea of having my computer in my shirt pocket.

Thanks again for your suggestions,


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