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Cross Platform BIOS Flash Upgrades?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the when-the-LCD-isn't-the-lowest-anymore dept.

Operating Systems 103

niko9 asks: "I am a Linux user who lives in an all Linux household. I build all my Linux boxes from components that I know will play nice with Linux. I was recently contemplating building a box with a Tyan Tiger K8W dual-Opteron motherboard, as the original BIOS did not provide support for the built-in Intel Gigabit NIC. Tyan has since released a BIOS revision, but the instructions for flashing the BIOS explicitly state that you need a Windows 95/98 boot disk. As someone who doesn't know anyone who runs Windows 98, nor do I own any copies of any Microsoft operating system, how does someone complete the delicate task of a BIOS upgrade? Wasn't Windows 98 recently retired? An email to Tyan's tech support has so far not yielded any response. When will motherboard manufacturers realize that upgrading your BIOS is better off being a neutral OS event? Does anyone know of any motherboard maker that doesn't require a specific OS to flash a BIOS?" A simple solution is to not fight the requirement. Windows and DOS bootdisks are readily available on the Internet, and all you need to do is grab a floppy, write the image to it, and put it in a safe place for such occasions. The gist of the question is still valid, however: what will it take to get BIOS manufacturers to make an OS neutral BIOS upgrade path?

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Well, (3, Informative)

Sevn (12012) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828141)

I know how I did it. I did a search on google for a "dos boot disk image", found one, downloaded it, then used "dd" to make it. After that it was a matter of mounting the dos floppy and copying my new bios file to it. Reboot, run flash.exe, done.

Flash disk image, not self-extracting zip (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834067)

Manufacturers can instead provide a disk image then users on any platform could upgrade the BIOS.

For example, I have an old Dell which needed a BIOS upgrade the other year and had to go to the trouble of finding a Windows user to download and uncompress the disk image for me. If it have been available as purely a disk image, it would have been a non-issue instead of a black spot against Dell on my next x86 purchase.

If more users were to suggest using disk images instead of the MS-DOS/MS-Windows only executables, perhaps they would upgrade their process.

Buy another board (2, Insightful)

jasoncart (573937) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828143)

Vote with your feet... if you don't like the manufacturer's apparently alligence to MS then go buy a different make.

Re:Buy another board (1)

jacksonscottsly (699654) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828335)

I think the author is ready to, but (like me) doesn't know which manufacturer he can go to. I know my asus has a windows-flash-bios-update-system, too...and when I was shopping around last summer, I didn't come across anything that didn't.

I'd like to emphasize the question posed in the original post " Does anyone know of any motherboard maker that doesn't require a specific OS to flash a BIOS?"

Voting with your feet is great, but you gotta have a place to walk to.

Re:Buy another board (2, Interesting)

Sprinkels (41102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828592)

My Asus (A7V333) board has an BIOS update program built into the BIOS.

Press Alt-F2 during the POST and insert a floppy with the BIOS image file. Updated my BIOS a few weeks a go.

Asus has some documentation [asus.com] on their website

Don't know if will work without a normal floppy drive.

Re:Buy another board (1)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830934)

This should last only a little while longer as Microsoft cracks down on FAT licensing.

Of course, in the spirit of good will and openness, right?

Re:Buy another board (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828859)

BIOS flash software needs to be run.
In order for a computer to run it needs to be booted and have some OS.
There are no guarantees that the computer being flashed even has a hard drive yet, or that the hard drive is talking because the machine is using an old BIOS.

The computer can't really be running a full house OS from the hard drive when it is time to flash the BIOS, because when the BIOS flashes it needs to power down and power back up again without giving the OS a chance to politely close everything down and disconnect all the users etc.

The 'Windows98 Boot Disk' isn't a Windows boot disk any more than the bash shell is a KDE operating system - the 'Windows98 Boot Disk' is actually a bootable disk that invokes the command.com command interpreter, also known as the DOS (disk operating system) shell originally made by Microsoft and occasionally reengineered by Digital Research et.al., and is probably the most widely pirated piece of software known to man. It doesn't have to be DOS7 (the one associated with Win98) either, it can be DOS 6.22, DOS 5.0 too.

And here is the good part - all of the boot files to get this command shell fit in under 500k, so they will fit on just about any floppy disk or bootable media on the planet (360k floppy excluded.) I am not aware of any other boot OS + command shell for x86 machines that fits on a single floppy disk. If there is a way to boot Linux to a command shell using a single floppy (no hard drive, CD ROM, ramdrive tricks - just a single floppy) I am eager to learn about it - but if there isn't ... then that will explain why BIOS updates are not being eagerly created by vendors for Linux.

DOS boot floppies are pretty much free - Microsoft doesn't really care if you make a boot floppy to flash your BIOS even if you don't use Windows. You can download and dd a DOS boot floppy from the net.

PS - I didn't mean to come across as confrontational, I am just pointing things out.

How else are you going to boot an x86 system that only has a floppy drive?

FreeDOS (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828967)

Have you tried this with FreeDOS? I'm not that brave.

What happens when you no longer have floppy drives? I have never flashed any of my Macs but now I'm wondering how I would do it.

Re:FreeDOS (1)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829198)

Mac's work differently.. they use openfirmware.

Re:FreeDOS (1)

skahshah (603640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829659)

What happens when you no longer have floppy drives? I have never flashed any of my Macs but now I'm wondering how I would do it.

Done it recently. Downloaded the Open Firmware update with Software Update, clicked on it to install. It asked for my password, shut all applications, then advised that it would reboot the machine, that I would see various progress bars, then be welcome with a dialog box advising of the success of the operation. If not, reboot the computer.

Re:FreeDOS (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829942)

As for what happens when we no longer have floppy drives, good question. Actually quite telling as my new desktop doesn't have a floppy disk and I wanted to burn a bootable CD today. Had to fire up another machine (that has a floppy) to create a binary image of the floppy disk (used Roxio to make the image on that machine), copy the image file across the network to my new box and finally .. success.

Not sure what is going to happen if I ever need to update the BIOS, although I alway leave a small (4G) partition on the hard drives of all my machines formatted FAT32 so I can access them when I boot from the BootCD I make (I use the Windows 98 boot disk as a master, I like it because when it boots it pretty much guarantees that I can access the CD-ROM and has a bunch of nifty tools in a ramdrive (like format, fdisk, etc..)) I guess I could put the BIOS update program on that partition and run it after I boot from my BootCD.

As for FreeDOS - I don't have it, haven't felt compelled to track it down as I have a few Microsoft versions laying around.

Re:Buy another board (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831174)

because when the BIOS flashes it needs to power down and power back up again without giving the OS a chance to politely close everything down and disconnect all the users etc

Does it really have to? The only reason I ask, is because some time ago, I screwed up a bios flash. The method I used to fix it, was to pop the chip out, and put it in a running PC, re-flash, and replace the chips. It fixed my problem, and the running PC was able to function without an eeprom even installed. From what I gather, the PC caches the contents of the chip, and only accesses it at POST. Certainly you'd have to reboot to use the new bios revision, but it shouldn't need to do that immediately. Is that not the case?

Re:Buy another board (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831818)

Tomsrtbt, Floppix (that's two floppies), Fdlinux, etc., etc.

Re:Buy another board (1)

Jahf (21968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832202)

The IBM Thinkpads I service (a 570, a X20 and an A31) all have had "OS Neutral" versions of the BIOS updates that creates a DOS bootable floppy with the BIOS on it. They of course also have Windows-based updater versions as well, but as long as I have a "neutral" method I don't begrudge this (too much :).

Of course, this is about the only time I attach a floppy to these machines. Therefore a bootable CDROM image, Linux or not, would be alot future-proof and could contain more information. Since bootable CDs can emulate bootable floppies, this should be quite doable to any company out there that is large enough to be able to afford to be in the MoBo market.

Re:Buy another board (2, Informative)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828625)

Oh please.

A "Windows 95/98 boot disk" is nothing but a DOS boot disk. If you don't have DOS or Windows, then just get FreeDOS [freedos.org] , an open source version of DOS. It'll work just fine for a boot disk for ROM flashing. There's even a single diskette "distro" that you can download (although, frankly, you don't need anything more than kernel.sys and command.com as best I can tell). They even have a FAQ on this. And two manufacturers (MSI and ASUS) ship it with their utilities.

Good luck finding anyone who will provide a linux flash utility. There are a few manufacturers who will read the BIOS off a floppy disk (Gigabyte), a few that provide DOS or Windows flash utilities, but there's no software that I know of to do Linux flashes, nor is there any support in the kernel to do so (google for it -- there was some work on /dev/bios, but as best I can tell it's a deeply outdated hack now).

It's not "allegience to MS", as much as you might wish your little conspiracy theory to be true. It's called simplicity. Under DOS you don't have to worry about any other process interrupting the BIOS flashing. If another program was to do so, while the BIOS was being overwritten, and happened to need a BIOS call to a location that wasn't shadowed then all hell could break loose. DOS is freaking simple in this way (and before anyone says anything about TSRs -- it's recomended that you not have any loaded).

Quite frankly this is a lame Ask Slashdot. If the original asker had bothered doing any research on the subject they would've discovered a multitude of perfectly legal options available.

TSR (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832124)

now there's another TLA ready for recycling.

Re:Buy another board (1)

Feztaa (633745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832214)

there was some work on /dev/bios, but as best I can tell it's a deeply outdated hack now

I wish /dev/bios was a reality! There's nothing I'd like more than a simple 'dd if=biosfile of=/dev/bios' to flash my BIOS.

One can only hope.

Re:Buy another board (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834216)

Oh, I agree -- it'd be cool. But I wouldn't expect it to occur without a good bit of cooperation from both the BIOS makers and the MB makers. It was allegedly integrated into the OpenBIOS project, which is a good place for a start.

I'm curious, (4, Interesting)

nocomment (239368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828163)

Why couldn't they make a bootable downloadable iso image? Sure you lose a CD, but really, the last time I used a floppy it was just to upgrade the BIOS. I know OpenBSD has a really small downloadable iso for netowork installs. They could use a similar thing, but instead of formatting drives, and installing an OS, it could just boot and run the BIOS flash program. Easy, os agnostic, wouldn't require any work once the bootable image was done.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828196)

So what's stopping you from creating a DOS boot disk on a CD and flashing the BIOS that way?

Re:I'm curious, (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828923)

that's the way I do do it. But what about people who don't have access to that OS? hrm, would freedos? or pcdos do the trick?

Re:I'm curious, (1)

CmdrTHAC0 (229186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830430)

FreeDOS has done the trick for me before. Being on dialup, I disassembled AWDFLASH.EXE first to make certain it didn't pull any undocumented DOS stunts, then got the FreeDOS image, and did it. It worked fine. But I've only done it once. YMMV.

Why windows98? Mod this guy up... (1)

geoswan (316494) | more than 9 years ago | (#7832964)

FreeDOS has done the trick for me before...

Why windows 98?

I strongly suspect that lazy technical writers neglected to explain why they insisted on a windows 95/98 boot disk. I strongly suspect that they needed a boot disk that left the computer in real mode. If this is the case then freedos, or any version of msdos or drdos would work.

So, somebody should mod the parent up.

Re:I'm curious, (2, Interesting)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828275)

For some servers, IBM does this. Even better, the ISO image is actually a small linux distro, which is much better than having a small floppy. Downside is last time I updated some SCSI BIOS on an IBM server, I downloaded an 300MB image. It does more than that but I only needed to upgrade one single component, not the whole operating system.

Re:I'm curious, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7828582)

Even better, the ISO image is actually a small linux distro, which is much better than having a small floppy.
How is this "better"?

Re:I'm curious, (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830210)

First time it failed the nice graphical update process, I opened a shell and found the problem, ran the update w/o any problem. That's better.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833806)

--I'm just curious, did you notify them of the fix?

Re:I'm curious, (2, Insightful)

afay (301708) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828370)

Or better yet, why don't they make freedos images [freedos.org] that you can just write to a floppy? I can see the reason for not moving to some different os because the bios flash program would need to be rewritten. However, considering there is a free version of dos that doesnt need royalty payments, i would think they would be able to provide floppy images.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828963)

This interests me greatly. What if you created a freedos partition on your linux box, then you could download the images directly to /mnt/freedos, reboot into freedos, run the program, and reboot back into linux. This sounds like a really simple permanent solution. Of course short-term, just create a freedos floppy and boot from that. I think I might try making my next server without a floppy and testing this out.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829357)

I've done that on remote machines: reserve 1 cylinder and have a corresponding GRUB entry for DOS. When it comes to perform the flash upgrade or NIC configuration, copy the necessary programs to that partition, call an onsite person and walk them through selecting the correct partition to boot from and any other menu driven tasks. When it is finished, they just reboot the machine. They don't have to worry about having a few floppies on hand (the floppy drives are unused and are generally full of dust, so writing to a diskette usually destroys the 1st one) or have to worry if a good one is ever written.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

DA-MAN (17442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832714)

What if you created a freedos partition on your linux box, then you could download the images directly to /mnt/freedos, reboot into freedos, run the program, and reboot back into linux. This sounds like a really simple permanent solution.

You call that simple? How's making a bootable usb key, takes no space at all, and putting bios's on that whenever the occasion comes up.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833814)

--The number of computers that actually support booting from a bootable USB key is *vanishingly* small compared to the number of "legacy" PCs that DON'T.

--Linux is complete overkill for BIOS flashing, all you should need is something like FreeDos and a floppy drive.

Re:I'm curious, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7833837)

>You call that simple? How's making a bootable usb key, takes no space
>at all, and putting bios's on that whenever the occasion comes up
>
How about because usb keys are a basically a useless *JOKE* that are hyped mostly by brain-dead gamers like *YOU*. Let's see. I'm going to carry all my critical/vital data in my pocket on a keychain?!? I don't *THINK* so. And not let's get into the *STUPID* design of these things. They really are only pratical if you have a machine that has usb ports in the *FRONT* of the case that the key will actually *FIT* into. If not you're going to be dragging a usb extention cord around with you. Sort of defeats the purpose of the damn thing doesn't it?

Re:I'm curious, (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#7832862)

None of my computers have a floppy drive. It would make more sense to start using bootable CD ISOs.

Re:I'm curious, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7829282)

SAVING a copy of the old BIOS as part of the flash process dosen't work with bootable CDs.

Re:I'm curious, (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829542)

Why couldn't they make a bootable downloadable iso image?

I dunno about everyone else but I like to make a backup copy of the old BIOS before I flash it. Can't do that very easily with a CD-only system...

Re:I'm curious, (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 9 years ago | (#7834762)

Sure you lose a CD

You're saying that you don't have at least one rewritable?

Gigabyte (2, Interesting)

Merlin42 (148225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828172)

I have a gigabyte ga-7vaxp. It will has a section in the bios menu that allows you to flash the bios from a fat formated floppy before the os boots. Very nice, if you still have a floppy drive (my current system is floppy-free).

Re:Gigabyte (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828198)

I actually have a very similar system (7-VRXP), and was depressed when I had to add a floppy drive to it to make the RAID work under XP. My new solution after this is to hopefully add an external USB floppy drive that I can use when needed.

Back on topic, Gigabyte and a few other hardware manufacturers (nvidia for instance) take pains to make us Linux users more able to keep our hardware up to date from the system. Unfortunately those changes have to come from the consumers, not from the manufacturers in our decisions to buy hardware based on the software platforms they support.

ASUS too (1)

strmcrw (621623) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828774)

The recent ASUS Mainboards can flash from a fat formated floppy disk too. Just press ALT-F2 during boot and the build-in Flash Utility starts. (At least with my Asus N7N8X Deluxe - Nforce)

But I would be glad if I hadn't to build in a floppy every time I want to flash the bios.

Bootdisks (2, Informative)

sdelement-x (580553) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828180)

try out http://www.bootdisk.com/ This web site has a range of bootdisks from win95 to win2000 and so on. If you ever need a bootdisk, I'm sure it'll be there.

Re:Bootdisks (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833598)

Unfortunately the bootdisks are .exe's. However it seems unzip is able to extract a .IMG file from them that can be written to a floppy with:
dd if=boot98sc.IMA of=/dev/fd0 Or whatever your filename happens to be.

Boot Disks (1)

SpinningAround (449335) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828190)

If you need a prebuilt bootdisk, bootdisk.com [bootdisk.com] is usually a good place to start looking.

They have images available for just about any OS you need.

http://www.bootdisk.com/ (1)

gozar (39392) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828193)

bootdisk.com [bootdisk.com] has all sort of boot disks for this situation.

Back to the original question about an OS neutral solution, it will probably happen when people start clamoring for it. It wouldn't take much for companies to put a disk image up that has freedos and the new bios image on it so people can flash their bios just by booting the floppy. The problem will arise though when the machine you need to flash won't have a floppy drive, then I guess it's time for the motherboard companies to create ISOs of bootable CDs with the BIOS upgrades.

If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (4, Interesting)

Sevn (12012) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828194)

They could pop a tcp/ip stack and a dhcp client on a chip so you could do a network download/install of a new bios from the motherboard bios menu. This assumes you have some sort of NAT and dhcpd network and a built in NIC or wireless adapter. It's common enough that it would make life easier for a lot of people. Especially corporate environments.

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828252)

They could pop a tcp/ip stack and a dhcp client on a chip so you could do a network download/install of a new bios from the motherboard bios menu.

That is a slick idea. The best way to do that is to build an interface ala Linksys' web configurator. This allows for smooth operation of most cable/dsl providers -- and will work with most idiosyncracies (PPPoE, etc). It'd be an easy update. I guess that either the BIOS standards are really important, or mobo manufacturers just don't give a shit (otherwise, we wouldn't be having this thread).

--Turkey

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

ers81239 (94163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829501)

Sounds like an easy inroad for hackers.....

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829656)

Sounds like an easy inroad for hackers.....

Howso? It doesn't have to run a web server (I never implied that it did) for the configurator (it just has to be easy like Linksys' web interface). The only possibility that I can see for expliots are for a MIM attack. This can be taken care of pretty easily with public key authentication, and it's still more secure than the current model (download BIOS updates over WWW/FTP unauthenticated, no hash, and no security at all). I'm not talking about any service being run on the local PC -- I'm talking about a bootable CD that runs an OS with networking support that can grab an image and install it. Mind letting us all in on the security issues are you talking about?

--Turkey

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

CliffH (64518) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830178)

... and then, with this new slick feature, the latest virus sweeps through MS land and, upon reboot, directs said corporate environments to a site which flashes the BIOS to incorporate the latest whiz-bang spam tool which now, instead of running in your software, is now in your firmware. It's a great idea for ease of use but I think there is a reason it hasn't been (at least in the consumer market) done yet.

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

Sevn (12012) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830998)

It's a good thing no motherboard/bios makers have created a way to update the bios through the Windows OS then. Wait a minute, THEY HAVE. And your scenerio is a possible reality right now! Whereas what I'm suggesting would only be available from the bios menu, and not in the OS. You wouldn't be able to touch the bios from the OS. Did you even read my post?

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831359)

> You wouldn't be able to touch the bios from the
> OS.

Why?

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7831417)

Most motherboard bios are read-only by default. It's only a few new generation bios utilities that have been designed to flash the bios from within the microsoft operating systems. This is why. It's a very very bad idea to allow flashing of the bios from within windows and I shouldn't have to explain to you why. If you think about it you'll figure it out.

Re:If manufactures wanted to be really slick... (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831319)

That sounds very reminiscent of the update procedure for my Baystack 350 switch [nortelnetworks.com] which used bootp IIRC.

who has a floppy drive anyways.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828204)

though, there's ways.
freedos might be enough too, booting from cdrom might be useful enough(and have the space for the actual update as well..).

and if you really just need to do it(the free as in beer group) then 98 and all earlier rescue/bootdiscs are easily found with with google.

though personally i got an aging 6gigger still connected that works as the boot device and has a fat32 partition for the odd bios/firmware upgrade/tweak.
-

Re:who has a floppy drive anyways.. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829631)

Actually, I don't have a floppy drive on my new laptop. Which meant that when I went to install NetBSD on an old 486, I had to go down the hall and borrow the resident advisor's laptop (one of the only sophmores on the floor- the rest of us are frehmen, and are on a different laptop cycle...)

Re:who has a floppy drive anyways.. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831387)

> 98 and all earlier rescue/bootdiscs are easily
> found

Not legally.

It is neutral (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828205)

A bootdisk IS OS neutral. No matter what OS you have it will work. The real problem is when you consider something like Abit Flash Menu. It's an awesome windows app that automatically updates your BIOS over the net from within windows. Restart for it to take effect. I wish they had that for linux.

Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828215)

I'm not so concerned with OS-neutral BIOS updates. I can google for boot floppies.

The thing that gets me is that I've gotta use a floppy for BIOS updates. It's the only thing that I'll ever need a floppy for anymore (and I don't put those into any desktop machines anymore, for home or work). Why can't we just kill the floppy beast? Is it so hard to manufacturers to release updates on an ISO image (or something -- anything else!)? It costs me about the same either way (~$.75 for a floppy or CD-R). I could see the argument for floppies when AOL sent out their software on floppy discs (free media). But they don't anymore.

BTW -- why do they require DOS anyway? Do they just not want to recode their updaters? Do their coders just know DOS really well and they don't want to hire new programmers? Why can't they release on some stripped-down live Linux ISO (being free/free and all)?

--Turkey

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828240)

**BTW -- why do they require DOS anyway? Do they just not want to recode their updaters? Do their coders just know DOS really well and they don't want to hire new programmers? Why can't they release on some stripped-down live Linux ISO (being free/free and all)?**

straight direct access to hardware without fuzz.. though if you're writing the device drivers too i can't see how it would be a THAT big of a problem in xp/nt world either..

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829257)

straight direct access to hardware without fuzz.. though if you're writing the device drivers too i can't see how it would be a THAT big of a problem in xp/nt world either..

I can't see why that can't be done with a free OS (like a Linux/BSD/etc). You don't have to run any particular OS (to have a DOS license) -- run whatever the hell you want -- just have something that can boot their image. Sure, direct hardware access isn't super-easy -- but they own the mobo, they know how it works and how to address it. They just need to slap together a kernel module and let your users boot off of a live CD. This stuff isn't that difficult -- mobo manufacturers just don't give a shit.

--Turkey

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7831325)

I can't see why that can't be done with a free OS (like a Linux/BSD/etc).

FreeDOS [freedos.org] is capable of running most BIOS upgrade programs without any changes.

A motherboard manufacturer could easily package up a FreeDOS boot disk (and/or ISO image) which runs the BIOS update. A BIOS update is probably not something you want to do when using a multitasking OS - if the OS makes one badly-timed BIOS call, it could screw everything up.

But for loading firmware into peripherals, you should be able to do that from within an OS. The risk is much lower - if it goes wrong you can always retry it.

Floppies... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828411)

I used to think the same thing about getting rid of floppies, until I bought a machine without one.

Even though it's slow, and small, a floppy is the one common denominator among almost every PC in use today - except mine.

Floppies Just Work(tm).

I don't have to configure networking. I don't have to ask them to burn me a CD (some don't even have burners). I don't need ten different networking configurations for every possible OS version out there. I don't have to wait for a CD to finish burning(5 minutes...) when I want to send them a 10kB text document. I don't have to worry if they don't have UFS drivers for their OS *cough* NT *cough*. I don't need to worry about whether or not they've got USB drivers (or heck, even a USB port!).

Yeah, I don't like the floppy, but it's much more inconvenient living without it - especially if you've got to transfer files between work and home machines.

Re:Floppies... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829138)

Even though it's slow, and small, a floppy is the one common denominator among almost every PC in use today - except mine.
Floppies Just Work(tm).

With regards to point #1, this is untrue. PC manufacturers (like IBM, Dell, and Gateway) are phasing out floppies. They don't just come with PC's anymore (and haven't for the past year or so) -- you have to specifically request/purchase one. I'd be willing to guess that CD-R's are more common than floppies now (completely antecdotal -- I have nothing objective to back this up). As far as convinence -- this is also incorrect. The only convinence left for floppies is BIOS updates.

A CD-R/CD-RW is far better for transferring files between work -- almost as good as using your network (medialess). Especially due to reliability issues. Regarding point 2 -- floppies don't just work. From your post, it seems that you've never spent time working in a college computer lab. I will tell you this from years of experience, floppies are among the most unreliable storage available. Wanna lose your data? Stick it on a floppy (or any other removable magnetic media -- like a Zip drive) and if you don't have a backup, I promise you'll lose it. I've had more angry students angry students than I can count ask me how to recover their lost thesis from a floppy. My answer was standard: "No problem, I'll help you restore it from a backup. You did back it up, didn't you?".

Floppies are a lame, obselete technology. Old computers have 'em, and new computers don't. The CD-R/RW has replaced the floppy. BIOS flashing, and people who insist on using them for sneakernet are the last holdouts.

Please, for the love of convinence, speed, usability, and reliabity, let's kill this lame-ass media. You can help!

--Turkey

Re:Floppies... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829847)

The CD-RW has not replaced the floppy. You cannot edit the files on a CD-RW the same way you would edit files on a floppy or zip disk. You either erase and reburn the entire disk, or you copy the files to a temp directory and reburn once you're finished. And since reburn takes about 5-10 minutes, I really doubt students will save and backup their work at regular intervals.

Yes, a CD-RW does hold more. But they don't solve the fundamental problem of being able to edit one's work from any computer.

Until something better comes along, I'm using Zip disks. The larger ones will hold 750MB, and they are almost as fast as a hard drive. Plus, I can edit and save files in place, without going through some special software.

Now you might say that zip drives are relatively rare, and you'd be right. But just try to read your CD-RW in a WindowsNT system, or try to edit it in an older machine without a burner.

It's the same compatibility problem: floppies worked because, despite their disadvantages, they were the one media that every PC could read and write. Now it looks as if it's going to be a while before there's a de facto standard for a read-write-update media.

And no, CD-R/RW aren't better than floppies for data storage. In fact, they're worse, because much more is lost when they fail. I've had CD-R's go bad after six months of storage in a closet. Contrast this with Zip disks that have lasted several years.

Re:Floppies... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830752)

Until something better comes along, I'm using Zip disks. The larger ones will hold 750MB, and they are almost as fast as a hard drive. Plus, I can edit and save files in place, without going through some special software

It's your money...so this is all up to you. However, Zip disks are a HORRIBLE idea for removable storage if you care about reliability. If you haven't heard about it, do a google search for the click of death (or the related class-action lawsuit). The only storage media that caused more headaches for students than floppies were Zip drives. We eventually pulled them all from of our computers. After a student tried their click-of-death-infected disk on one drive and it didn't work -- they went right down the line. 6 weeks later, we had replaced the drives. Within 20 minutes of their arrival, another student did the same. The broken drives ruined each subsequent disk that went into them. Every other student who tried to use these drives after they were damaged ended up with a bad disk (that damaged their personal Zip drive after they used it in ours).

Also, as far as editing your work -- who cares? If you're using floppies for small amounts of data, you don't need to conserve your CD -- just write a revision to a different name. As far as reliability -- you're just plain wrong. CD-R's don't just die in your closet after 6-months. Something else has to happen -- like scratching from improper storage. Floppies, otoh (as well as Zip disks) are very suseptible to magnetism -- which is extremely common.

Again, do whatever you want, but removable personal magnetic media sucks ass (this means tape drives notwithstanding) -- there's very little to argue about on this point.

Anyway -- I'll concede that you may have a specific need that's different from other users (although I'd still use a network, CD burner, or USB keychain drive because floppies suck). For the purposes of this discussion, I don't care about special needs. If a bunch of people were running around using tapes for sneakernet, and I had to buy a tape drive with every computer so I could flash my BIOS, we'd be having the same argument -- and I'd still be right. For 99.9% of people, floppies are really, really stupid. Now, do you feel like discussing why punch cards need to stay around too?

And FWIW, the new common read/write media is Internet. Get a shell acocunt and start using it.

--Turkey

Re:Floppies... (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833851)

> As far as reliability -- you're just plain wrong. CD-R's don't just die in your closet after 6-months. Something else has to happen -- like scratching from improper storage.

--I'll call bullshit on this one. I've heard of cheap CDR media dying, and AAMOF my Memorex CDRWs die after about 5-6 rewrites, even if I blank the entire disc. Cheap(er) media is more susceptible to failure, period.

--I have some old leftover CDR media that looks TRANSLUCENT after 6-8 months. When I saw that I immediately ripped it and made a backup to non-cheap media.

--In fact, optical storage in general is really *not* where it should be in terms of reliability. I just bought a DVD burner +/- capable combo drive, and the DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW discs it's burned so far CANNOT BE READ in a DVD-ROM drive that was made in 2002(!!) (Could be the media, I bought Princo [possibly grade B] on the cheap. I'll have to experiment a bit more because I can't find a firmware update for the DVD-ROM drive and haven't tested DVD+R yet. But the whole situation sucks if I can only read-back the discs in the original burning-drive!!)

--FYI, the Zip drive COD hasn't been a problem for years. I use USB Zip-100, IDE Zip-100, and **original parallel-port** Zip-100 drives for critical backups (/etc, /root, et al) of my Linux boxes, and haven't had a drive or disk fail yet. Some of the disks have been reformatted from sda4 to sda1 and use ext2 filesystems, as well. At least one of the parallel drives is from when the tech was first introduced (1994?) and it's still ticking along just fine.

Re:Floppies... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 9 years ago | (#7835168)

--I'll call bullshit on this one. I've heard of cheap CDR media dying, and AAMOF my Memorex CDRWs die after about 5-6 rewrites, even if I blank the entire disc. Cheap(er) media is more susceptible to failure, period

You hit the nail right on the head -- cheaper media is more suseptible to failure, preiod. It's pretty much regardless of the type of media, when you buy cheap, you get cheap.

--I have some old leftover CDR media that looks TRANSLUCENT after 6-8 months. When I saw that I immediately ripped it and made a backup to non-cheap media.

See above -- buy cheap and get cheap. In all of the thousands of CD-R's I've burned, I've never experienced any problems like this.

--In fact, optical storage in general is really *not* where it should be in terms of reliability. I just bought a DVD burner +/- capable combo drive, and the DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW discs it's burned so far CANNOT BE READ in a DVD-ROM drive that was made in 2002(!!) (Could be the media, I bought Princo [possibly grade B] on the cheap. I'll have to experiment a bit more because I can't find a firmware update for the DVD-ROM drive and haven't tested DVD+R yet. But the whole situation sucks if I can only read-back the discs in the original burning-drive!!)

What's this got to do with anything? That's an incompability issue between your hardware and possibly an issue with DVD"s in general, which have never entered the discussion (AFAIK).

--FYI, the Zip drive COD hasn't been a problem for years. I use USB Zip-100, IDE Zip-100, and **original parallel-port** Zip-100 drives for critical backups (/etc, /root, et al) of my Linux boxes, and haven't had a drive or disk fail yet. Some of the disks have been reformatted from sda4 to sda1 and use ext2 filesystems, as well. At least one of the parallel drives is from when the tech was first introduced (1994?) and it's still ticking along just fine.

I have to admit, I wouldn't know about the click of death being fixed -- I won't buy iomega products anymore. Their commitment to quality has, in my experience, been subpar (I've had a number of failures from a number of Iomega products). In any case, I do not trust disc-type removable magnetic media and likely never will. I've seen too many failures and know that they are not to be trusted. I've found that tape drives are far better for backup -- the media tends to be less dense (datawise) and are (far) sheilded better which tends to make them less suseptible to magnetic erasure.

--Turkey

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828535)


So get a boot floppy image, add your BIOS update du jour, and create a bootable 1.44MB El Torito CD image from it. Voila! Bootable CD that is the same as having a floppy drive. (Yes, the CD appears as a: ).

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828858)

A lot of MB manufacturers have utilities now that will flash your BIOS from within Windows. ASUS has an update utility that does the BIOS download from their ftp site and flashes it all in one go.

I can't vouch for them being problem-free, but I've never had a problem with those sorts of widgets.

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829072)

# mkisofs -b floppy.img -o image.iso && cdrecord dev=(machine specific) -vv image.iso && rm image.iso
On systems with a ElTorito capable BIOS (practically any x86 machine built since 1996) this will allow you to boot a floppy image from a CD-R. No floppy needed. Of course if you don't like your data, there's always:
# dd if=floppy.img of=/dev/hda && reboot
I wouldn't recommend that though.

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829217)

# mkisofs -b floppy.img -o image.iso && cdrecord dev=(machine specific) -vv image.iso && rm image.iso

Yah, I know how easy it is to make an image. The point I was trrying to make is that this is neither easy nor is it intuitive for the "normal" user. Floppies need to be killed once and for all. This adherence to floppies being used for little jobs like BIOS updates just extends their lifetime. This doesn't help.

# dd if=floppy.img of=/dev/hda && reboot

Believe it or not, I've actually done this (sans the && reboot) -- very stoopid. I caught it with a ^c just after I hit enter...which was just quick enough to watch my ext2 filesystem destroy itself with each disk access. Man, that might need to go into the list of things not to do with your rootshell. (chuckle)

--Turkey

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829377)

The point I was trrying to make is that this is neither easy nor is it intuitive for the "normal" user. Floppies need to be killed once and for all.

Floppies suck - I agree with you there. If there's no reason to break compatability, however, then you shouldn't. I'm merely pointing out that the bootable floppy image is completely useable on a floppyless system where a non-floppy image system may be unuseable on existing systems. Sure, it could be made more user friendly (in fact I know there are lots of pointy-clicky GUIs for this, but I personally don't use them), but it doesn't impare the gradual death of floppies... And it should be a gradual death. Why should we make everybody change all at once when it's merely an minor inconvienience to be acommodating.

As an aside, I just did a BIOS update on an IBM eSeries x330, and it was slick. There was a gui utility that flipped an NVRAM bit and uploaded the floppy image into some flash on the motherboard. Then the system rebooted from the flash, updated itself and restarted. They also offer a floppy image, and a linux flashing tool. Go IBM!

Another aside... When are we going to see 3.5" slot-loading CD-RW or DVD+RW drives?

Re:Forget OS neutral, get rid of floppies! (2, Insightful)

BlueBlade (123303) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829792)

I'd just like to point out that the successor of floppy disks are NOT cds. If you boot DOS from a cd, you're not going to be able to write to the media and for flashing that means no BIOS back-up. CDs just aren't the solution.

I don't understand why so few seem to know about the "new" floppies, namely the USB memory keys. These things are smaller than floppies, blazingly fast (USB 2.0 vs traditional floppies anyone?) and all modern BIOSes can boot from one, either through a floppy emulation (el-torito-like) or even as a normal block device for very recent BIOSes.

Yes, they are still relatively expensive compared to a floppy disk, but they are getting cheaper fast. I just bought a new 128MB key for $25. It's not that bad considering you can carry it around on a keyring. Mine boots DOS and has all kind of recovery programs, such as partition magic, NTFS-Dos, various drivers, etc. You can also write to them without problem. OS support is good too. Linux 2.4 can read USB block devices, so can Win98 and up. You just plug it in your front USB port and you're set. And for those without front USB, a lot of keys come with a 3 feet USB extention (such as the Apacer ones) that you can use, allowing you not to mess around the back of the computer.

So yes, floppies are dead, but there are replacements already available that are incredibly superior.

Well, there's freeDOS (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828237)

I'm pretty sure that a freeDOS boot floppy would work just as well as a Win95 boot disk.

Most BIOS flashing utilities run in 16 bit real mode, and I believe the reason why Tyan specifies a Win95/98 boot disk is because it's the version of a DOS boot disk that most readily available. I'd bet that the utility would run just fine under DOS 6.0, or any other DOS.

And if you really must insist on using Linux, you might want to look up DOSemu, if it still exists. Last I heard, they're using the freeDOS kernel.

IIRC, the only system service which a Flash utility uses is the executable loader. I would think that any program capable of loading the .com or .exe files in real mode would suffice for your purposes. Since Win95/98/DOS doesn't have the direct ability to flash the BIOS, the only system services the flash utility might use are the file opening and reading services - which I believe freeDOS supports.

Why would they? (1)

jptechnical (644454) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828267)

Honestly, a dos boot disk has to be the most common and easily aquired items in the computer world. You can go to BootDisk.com [bootdisk.com] and get your boot disk. And as far as having win98 to make a 98 boot disk I havent myself or known anyone that actually used win98 to make a boot disk. Again they can make one from newer versions of Win or they can download one.

So if a dos boot disk it the simplest and most common type of disposable boot disks for doing a bios flash than why change.

Side point is that most bios flash utilities and the required boot disk have NOTHING to do with win98. I have seen a trend on newer boards with some additional non-volatile memory onboard that copies the bin to this memory and after a restart to bios level only (read NO OS other than bios) it completes the flash overwrite.

In these cases often a '98 boot disk' will not work anyway since it cannot run properly with any memory managers present. In those cases what I end up doing is formatting a floppy fat and setting the option to make it 'bootable' which copies the lowest level dos system files so basically all you get is command.com. Then it can run the bios upgrade in an abesolute and controlled clean environment.

Suck it up! download a boot disk (there are hundreds of them out there) or make your own (there are even more tutorials on how to make your own I would wager) and get a 10 minute job done in 10 minutes instead of re-inventing the wheel.

More bootdisks... (1)

afay (301708) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828324)

Check out these [bootdisk.com] . They have a selection of bootdisks for different purposes. Unfortunately, you do need windows to make them as they come in some dinky VB exe that writes to the floppy instead of a raw image. Anyway, make one and make a few copies and you should be fine for a while.

Re:More bootdisks... (1)

jpmkm (160526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829318)

Did you not read his question? How does this POSSIBLY help? He wasn't asking where to get bootdisks. He was asking how to flash a bios when neither he nor anybody he knows has windows. God damn.

Re:More bootdisks... (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831962)

Umm mhe is being told where to get a dos boot disk, and I believe bootdisk.com has some .img files (or at least links to them, at least they used too) So how is he not helping. I feel sorry for him not because he can't flash his bios from linux (the last thing I would want to do is flash my bios with other processes running) but that he is to fanatical about linux to understand that some OS's are better for specific tasks. And guess what DOS is pretty much perfect for flashing your bios.

Sheesh.

Here's What You Need... (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828349)

BootDisk.com [bootdisk.com]

Re:Here's What You Need... (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828391)

I should add some additional clarification. This site will be of use if you have access to any version of windows from 95 on. There may be pure images available as well, so you don't need a windows machine to extract them to disk. Check it out.

Re:Here's What You Need... (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828475)

Actually, they're self-extracting zip files, last I saw. Unix unzip is capable of skipping past the exe junk and unpacking them.

Oh my god, quitcher bitchin'! (2, Informative)

thenerdgod (122843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828385)

Okay, first off, "offering an .iso of OpenBSD" is the most ridiculous solution I'v ever heard. Why not just ship an EEPROM burner?
How about this: They require a DOS boot floppy because
a: These tools usually operate in real mode
b: DOS is real mode
c: DOS fits on a floppy
d: DOS isn't free

Oh, wait, DOS IS FREE [freedos.org] .
STOP WHINING. Your knee-jerk reaction to "this needs DOS" is to think inside the box and whine about how MSFT eats babies and is a monopoly and nobody considers freedom important and TEH LUNIX ROXORZ J00!.
Just get a DOS boot disk from freedos, or any of the other DOS-alikes. That's what I do. It's useful to have around... Sure. In some Magical Future, we won't have floppies or DOS. And then you can burn a FreeDOS .iso, I'm sure.
My god, people, show a little flexibility.

Re:Oh my god, quitcher bitchin'! (1)

thenerdgod (122843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828418)

OH, and ahem DOS ISOs [ibiblio.org] .
Freaks.

Re:Oh my god, quitcher bitchin'! (2, Informative)

Saiai Hakutyoutani (599875) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828906)

If you're so smart, then provide a FreeDOS ISO that works with most BIOS upgrades before yuo start bitching.

Dont Do It!!! (4, Informative)

jcavanaugh (28919) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829091)

I tried once to use FreeDos to flash upgrade the bios on a Tyan board. (I also did not have Win98 anywhere in the house).

Big Mistake. It vaporized my bios and I had to resort to unusual methods to recover the board. Fortunately I had 2 of the exact same board, so I was able to remove the bios eproms from both boards and copy from the good one to the corrupted one.

Freedos might be good for a lot of things, but bios flash upgrades isnt one of them...

Caveat Emptor...

--
John Cavanaugh

Re:Dont Do It!!! (1)

Fat Cow (13247) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831168)

why is this? surely the flashing program isn't using any dos-specific calls to actually do the writing.

Re:Dont Do It!!! (1)

subsolar2 (147428) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833002)

I've used FreeDOS at home & work for flashing BIOS's and have not had an issue. You just need to be sure no XMS, EMS, or UMBPCI TSRs are loaded.

Some single disk version will load one or more of these (usually XMS) and this can cause a small risk of causing issues, but so can MS-DOS/Win9x boot disk with HIMEM or EMM386 loaded.

Re:Dont Do It!!! (1)

0x1337 (659448) | more than 9 years ago | (#7833823)

I think this is a rather simple case of user error.

Did ya get the proper bios image?
Did you boot up with no drivers loaded - and especially no driver "loaded high"? That means no atapi.sys, no mscdex and no mouse.com.

FreeDOS a fscking clone of MS-DOG for crying out loud. No more - no less. Having failed at such a rudimentary task does not give you voice to discredit and slander a perfectly functional system.

Besides - don't whine about not having win98 in your house - you download thousands of (MS/PC/DR/Novell) DOS bootdisks - all free.

More neutral than dos? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7828392)

C'mon, what is more neutral than dos? Espicially with win9x officially leaving the support track what other use is there for dos?

I want linux, down with MS is less than a neutral mantra.

How about MOBO makers supply you with a memory card from an old tandy... wait how about old NES cartridges, who knows what OS is on them.

My sarcasm is not meant to fan the flames but choose your battles man. Changing bios upgrade methods to a truly neutral format isnt going make anyone feel warm and fuzzy except you.

How to do it (1)

GE32 (736258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828512)

Just get a win98 boot disk, and flash the Bios.. Linux (or any other OS) won't care, it will just detect the new hardware. (or updated) and then you can configure the approperate devices.

The most irritating thing... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828629)

... about this sort of problem is:

An email to Tyan's tech support has so far not yielded any response.

nik09 didn't say how long it had been since he send the question, and given the holidays it's entirely possible that Tyan just hasn't yet gotten around to responding to his question, but its also all too common that when faced with questions like this one companies simply choose not to respond. At all!

That really pisses me off. I'm a paying customer, and while it may not be worth the manufacturer's time to actually support my moderately unusual configuration, the least they could do is send me an e-mail telling me that they're not going to help me! I can understand that supporting Linux users directly may not be cost effective because there aren't enough of us, but what does it cost to send a courteous refusal?

Why would an OS even be necessary? (1)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 10 years ago | (#7828797)

They could make diskettes that don't use DOS at all. When they start executing code from the boot sector, the code would just raw read the ROM image from sectors x through y and then perform the same commands that their DOS based floppy does. DOS stands for Disk Operating System but in the case of flashing a ROM the only disk access needed is to read one file and possibly make a backup of the existing image first. Cramming DOS onto a flash disk is a waste of space and costs the manufacturer more than it's worth for the license. The only obstacle is their habit of hiring worthless microserfs who couldn't program "hello world" unless there is a wizard button to click their mouse on and do it for them. They need programmers who actually know what the PC is doing as it boots.

Ultimate Bootdisk Site (1)

Whatchamacallit (21721) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829223)

http://www.nu2.nu/

Of course his bandwidth has just been exceeded... Slashdot effect! Also he just came out with a WinXP Boot CD and it's rather popular.

Some do. (2, Informative)

RustyTaco (301580) | more than 10 years ago | (#7829971)

Well, sort-of. Compaq is now providing Linux binary-magic-wrapped-in-a-shell script BIOS updates for some of their servers. I upgraded a Proliant ML530(G1) and it's RAID controler from within Debian/sid rather painlessly. It's not cat new.bios.bin > /dev/mtd0, but it's probably safer that way.

- RustyTaco

Asus P4B533 (2, Interesting)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 10 years ago | (#7830823)

my P4B533 [asus.com] (always off, as it's an expensive space heater) has a feature called ASUS EZ Flash [asus.com] . it does exactly what you're looking for, it flashes the BIOS before any OS loads.

'course i've been too timid to try it out :P

Re:Asus P4B533 (1)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832681)

My Asus A7N8X has this also. It kicks much ass. Now that Win98 is supposedly retired I think we can expect more vendors to follow Asus' lead here.

I've kept one around (1)

Jebediah21 (145272) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831294)

Years ago I used to use Win98 but switched to Linux. It didn't take me long to realize that having a dos or win boot disk wasn't a bad thing so I befouled a floppy disk and made one with my roommates computer. Used dd to make an image of it and have had it ever since. It's come in useful for BIOS updates even on a machine with no floppy drive. If anybody wants a copy just e-mail me and I'll get it to you.

Anybody hardware that may require a boot disk at some time should provide one. If they had to pay fees to MS something tells me an alternative would come along in no time.

Chip Pulling (1)

TheDarkRogue (245521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831804)

I Saw an article awhile back, but it was something along the lines of the person pulled their BIOS chip out of the computer While it was still running, and then put in another chip of the same specs, Flashed it with the BIOS of the other mobo, and then pulled it and put the original BIOS back in, and replaced the freshly flashed BIOS into the computer it originally came from. Search around.

FreeDOS and dosemu or dosbox (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7831813)

Just use dosemu under linux, booting freedos to make a boot disk from the manufacturer's files and instructions. Then boot on the freedos-based boot disk. Simple and you can set it up from within Linux. An alternative to dosemu (which can be a beast) is dosbox [sourceforge.net] which is a dos emulator that runs on any platform and can be used to make boot disks. Although it runs it's own version of DOS, it can be made to make freedos boot disks.

I also have been very surprised that bios manufacturers haven't been using freedos, especially now that Windows 98 is falling out of vogue.

Give me a break (0, Flamebait)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7832577)

The gist of the question is still valid, however: what will it take to get BIOS manufacturers to make an OS neutral BIOS upgrade path?

No, it's not. It's a stupid question, based upon a stupid premise.

As someone who doesn't know anyone who runs Windows 98, nor do I own any copies of any Microsoft operating system, how does someone complete the delicate task of a BIOS upgrade?

You're either living in a spider hole like Saddam or you're lying.

You don't know anyone who runs Win 95, 98, ME, 2000, or XP who could whip up a boot disk for you? I don't believe you.

An email to Tyan's tech support has so far not yielded any response.

They're probably ignoring you, because they are just as sure as I am that you are trolling.

When will motherboard manufacturers realize that upgrading your BIOS is better off being a neutral OS event?

If the method that we now have works, why fux0r with it? If you can download a bios upgrade from the MB maker, you can download a dos boot disk image. You can download bochs and freedos and make your own boot disk.

I can't believe that Cliff let this question past and actually get posted. Please stop wasting our with with stupid questions.

Download a DOS boot disk image. Flash your bios. Shut the hell up and go away.

LK
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