Mar 122010
 
 March 12, 2010  Posted by at 1:52 am documentation, hardware Tagged with: , , , , , ,  No Responses »

The wonderful world of motherboard BIOS updates, is still old fashioned. Updates are often still built for Microsoft Windows environments. Those of us who don’t have MS Windows, DOS, a floppy drive, an install of Windows 98 to create a bootable floppy, or cheesy Pâté for that matter ….. Here is a way one can flash that BIOS of your mobo using, our favorite free software licensed, operating systems and tools.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t attempt this unless you know what you are doing. I have never had problems doing this, BUT many things can go wrong and you CAN easily “brick” your hardware. Proceed at your own risk!!

We will be using FreeDOS, a wonderfully free and royalty exempt Microsoft DOS compatible operating system. Licensed under the General Public License (GPL).
Note: As usual, my posts require some knowledge of the command line.

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UPDATE: Because the 1.4mb and 2.8mb FreeDos disk images are not large enough for most modern BIOS flashing utilities and payloads you will need to build a custom disk image of freeDos.

The easiest way to do this is to write freeDos onto a usb flash drive. Here is an example of how to do this.

  1. download the Lite USB version and unzip
  2. write the FD12LITE.img to a USB stick. I used gnome-disks (right click and open with “Disk Image Writer” or you can use dd.
  3. mount the usb stick and copy the bios update onto it. If your bios update is too large to fit you will need to resize.
  4. run “sudo gparted” resize the fat16 partition. I chose 100mb. Apply
  5. now copy the bios update and boot from the usb. Don’t run the DOS installer, instead run DOS. Now you can execute the bios update. Done!

Another option would be to install FreeDOS using qemu. This is more complicated but I’ll leave the instructions here for reference.

Download FreeDOS Standard CDROM Installer at http://www.freedos.org/download/

sudo qemu-system-x86_64 -cdrom FD12CD.iso /dev/sdb -boot d

Go through the DOS installer. You can use it to partition the usb stick. I made a 700MB fat 16 partition and marked it “active”. I said no to the fat32 LBA because I had issues, the first time I tried this, reading files that I had put on the fs while booted into DOS. Fat32 should be ok, try it and let me know your experience. After this it will ask to restart the install. Install to hard disk again and now you partition the c: drive. Then install the full version. Done.
If you need more space you can always run cfdisk, gparted or fdisk to add a large fat32 partition on the usb stick. This would show up as d:\ while booted up in FreeDOS. You can copy your BIOS files to the usb DOS partition and boot into FreeDos to run them. Yay! No more floppy space issues!
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And feel free to try the old floppy way. I’ll leave it up here for reference.

wget http://www.fdos.org/bootdisks/autogen/FDOEM.144.gz
gunzip FDOEM.144.gz
mkdir floppy
sudo mount -o loop FDOEM.144 floppy/
ls floppy

you should see these files:
AUTOEXEC.BAT COMMAND.COM CONFIG.SYS KERNEL.SYS README sys.com

Download your BIOS update file from the manufacturer or vendor.
Note: Sometimes, the update will be distributed as a .exe (Windows Executable) file. Most likely it will actually be a compressed zip archive. You can use unzip to extract the .exe file.

Download the update using wget, then unzip the resulting image file “FDOEM.144” into the mounted folder: “floppy/”

wget http://path-to-your-bios-update/BIOS_UPDATE.zip
sudo unzip BIOS_UPDATE.zip -d floppy/

In this case, the following files are extracted from the BIOS_UPDATE.zip file:
inflating: BIOS.WPH
inflating: OEMPHL.EXE
inflating: OPTIONS.BAT
inflating: PHLASH16.EXE
inflating: releasenotes.txt
inflating: 1.BAT

now, move to the previous directory (cd ..), and un-mount the FDOEM.144 image:

cd ..
sudo umount floppy/

generate an el torito bootable iso image:

genisoimage -o flashboot.iso -b FDOEM.144 FDOEM.144

Now burn flashboot.iso to CD using wodim:

wodim flashboot.iso

Now you can boot from that cd and run your flash utility!! Read the BIOS update instructions on how to do this..