Archive for February 16th, 2010

Updating your BIOS without Windows or a USB stick

On some of the new lab machines I made, I noticed the CPU clock did not drop when idle. This is usually due to a motherboard not having support for a new CPU, and can be fixed by doing a BIOS update. The really old way of doing this using a floppy disk. This really is not an option, but writing a CD or a USB stick can be as much hassle. Here is a dead easy set of steps to update your BIOS on a Fedora system. The following should be done as root.

yum install syslinux
cp /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk /boot/
wget -O /boot/floppy.img.gz
gunzip /boot/floppy.img.gz

Now edit /etc/grub.conf and add the following lines at the bottom

title Floppy Image
    root (hd0,0)            # Or whatever the other entries use
    kernel /boot/memdisk
    initrd /boot/floppy.img

Of cause the floppy image does not yet contain the flash program or data. To get these you will need to look up your motherboard at the manufacturers website and click on support. Then find the latest BIOS data file. These will be either in a ZIP or an archive EXE. If it is an EXE then usualy you can extract their content without having to resort to Windows. Try using unzip, unrar (available from RPMFusion) and 7za (available in the p7zip package). Gigabyte for example use both rar and 7zip based executables. Once you have extracted it, you should have a flash file (the file extensions on these are completely random) and a flashing program (something like FLASHSPI.EXE or AWDFLASH.EXE). To copy these to the floppy image execute the following:

mkdir /mnt/floppyimage
mount -o loop /boot/floppy.img /mnt/floppyimage
cp {your flash and executable files} /mnt/floppyimage/
umount /mnt/floppyimage/

What you have now is a FreeDOS floppy disk image which can be booted by selecting it in the grub boot menu. Remember the grub menu is now hidden, so keep any key pressed during the boot reach it. Once it has booted (you can press F5 to bypass executing autoexec.bat) simply run the program as instructed by the motherboar website:

flashprog.exe flashfile.123

Happy flashing!