Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Do We Have to Use a Floppy to Flash BIOS?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the there's-better-removable-media-out-there dept.

Media 174

Koskun asks: "With all the time and technology that has come and gone with computers why must we still use a floppy disk to flash the BIOS anymore? Yes, some manufacturers are enabling BIOS flash from within Windows, but there are still a lot of motherboards out there that require you to find a floppy to flash the BIOS. It took me two floppy drives and four floppy disks just to find one of each that worked." Are there reasons why BIOS manufacturers haven't moved BIOS flashing to modern media like USB flash drives, or bootable CD-ROMs?

cancel ×

174 comments

That razor thing (4, Interesting)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945831)

The simplest explanation tends to be the best. They are lazy programmers who know they won't sell many extra motherboards if they do include the extra ability.

Re:That razor thing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946101)


That razor thing [wikipedia.org]

Re:That razor thing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946138)

Simple math:

Windows Default Privileges (letting every virus run as root)
+ Windows Security
+ BIOS Reflashable from within Windows
= POOF [goat.cx]

Because (2, Insightful)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945854)

They haven't been forced to do so by market forces. It's the philosophy if it's not broke don't fix it. In this case they haven't been forced to do anything different by the end use customers. (And in this case you generally are the end user; HP, Dell, IBM, etc. are the next in line from the motherboard manuafacturers).

That's you are NOT the end user (edit) (2)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945890)

sorry

Re:That's you are NOT the end user (edit) (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12947458)

As good an example as any why I metamoderate pretty much as often as I can. Slashdot does not let you edit your posts, so this is the only way to correct or clarify something. To the shitforbrains moderator, doing so is not offtopic! Since I'm replying to this I suppose I won't get a chance to review that mismod, unfortunately, but someone else may.

Re:Because (1)

JofCoRe (315438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12947004)

I think that "market forces" probably sums it up. Furthermore, the "average" user doesn't even know that a BIOS can be flashed, or what the hell a BIOS is. Therefore, it's not a priority for them.

I'm sure that when an "average" user tries to do something that would required a BIOS flash (like using a big hard drive or changing processor or something), they usually end up being told that their motherboard doesn't support it and they need to buy a new motherboard. Which they then do...

not all (3, Informative)

TheDarkRogue (245521) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945857)

I use giga-byte boards, which allow me to flash from windows with @Bios or something along those lines

Re:not all (2, Funny)

croddy (659025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945886)

i can't imagine anything more hair-raising than modifying the BIOS while windows is running

Re:not all (2, Informative)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945918)

Eh, it's about as hair-raising as doing anything in Windows: Kinda, but not really.

Re:not all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12945932)

> i can't imagine anything more hair-raising than modifying the BIOS while windows is running

It's not like Windows uses the BIOS for anything once it's booted. Besides, you probably have to have shadow BIOS turned on to use this feature, which means Windows will use the copy in memory.

Re:not all (1)

Zugok (17194) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946871)

I just toasted my Gigabyte GA-8IK1100 by flashing BOTH BIOSes. When I flashed the main BIOS it, seemed to work so I flashed the backup BIOS as well but on reboot, nothing happened, not even the video BIOS would show.

Perhaps I was just a dick with the motherboard. I guess the lesson learnt is even for dual BIOS motherboards, flash ONLY EVER UPGRADE ONE BIOS and just keep the upgrade for rainy days.

What a damn shame, although it was the entry level 875P motherboard from their range, it was more bang for your buck than the crappy Asus P4P800 SE I got last week.

Re:not all (1)

interweb (895527) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946986)

Does that motherboard have boot block [pcguide.com] support to still let you reflash the bios from a floppy even when your system won't boot properly? or did that also fail for you?

Re:not all (1)

Zugok (17194) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947195)

Not that I am aware of. I'd be shitted if it does. I email Gigabyte support and basically they told me I was SOL so I took my box into the local computer store and got a new mobo installed. I still can't get over how featureless my new motherboard is. The only noel thing about it for me is the gigabit lan, which doesn't really help me at all.

Re:not all (2, Informative)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947385)

You can try to go to http://www.badflash.com/ [badflash.com] .
They might have something for you.
If you feel like something really cool, you can put a good bios in the mobo (one you got from badflash or a similiar mobo), boot up, pull the good bios, put the bad one back in and reflash.
Sounds crazy-I know-but it's worked every time for me.

Some use CD (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12945867)

I flashed my IBM NetVista at work a while back with a bootable CD. At least some companies provide a CD-based installer.

It's your duty (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945873)

To keep the floppy industry alive.

Stop complaining, and start backing stuff up on floppies too!

you don't (5, Informative)

agristin (750854) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945878)

Make a boot floppy image and burn it to cd.

Boot from cd update BIOS. I've done this about 10 times for different motherboards.

I've even done it just from linux using dos bootdisks from the internet (I don't have dos anymore):
1) download awdflash and bios for mobo
2) download bootdisk image from bootdisk.com
3) loop mount disk image
4) delete some files to make room, pare down the autoexec.bat, put awdflash and bios on mounted disk image
5) umount disk image and burn as a bootable cd (you can even use something like K3b or xcdroast to do this from a gui)
6) boot from cd, and then flash bios.

It gets niftier...

Say you have to do this in a cluster. Keep that dos boot disk image and automate it some (awdflash has some command line switches, batch file etc).

Then put that image on your PXE server as a bootable option. Change your DHCP server and PXE boot, then you can remotely upgrade bios on 100s or thousands of identical machines. Be careful with this part or you can make some thousand dollar paper weights.

If you are running windows, many modern mobo manufacturers have bios updaters that run in windows.

-A

Re:you don't (1)

Compuser (14899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946678)

I recently had this issue and the way I did it is:
1. Download CD DOS bootdisk image off net
2. Burn boot CD
3. Format usb key with FAT16
4. Put bios update files on usb key
5. Boot from CD
6. Change drives to usb key
7. Update bios

Very simple, flexible, and takes no time. You only
burn one CD for all updates.

Re:you don't (2, Informative)

BRTB (30272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946960)

Or (if you can read USB key after a DOS boot, most likely you can boot from it):

1. Format USB key with FAT16/FAT32
2. Copy DOS system files to USB key
3. Put bios update files on USBkey
4. Boot from USB key
5. Update bios

Bonus points if you use SYSLINUX to choose between multiple DOS floppy images - some having network support for multiple NICs, a MemTest image, and a copy of ZipSlack.

Re:you don't (1)

Compuser (14899) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947242)

Yeah, in my case the computer refused to boot from
USB key straight but if it works for you it is
simpler.

Re:you don't (2, Informative)

Miffe (592354) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947069)

Or even better

Use memdisk [zytor.com] from syslinux to boot the floppy image directly from grub or so.

ASUS does so (1)

Deorus (811828) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945882)

My ASUS motherboard can also flash itself from a bootable CD. In fact it's the only way to revert to the original BIOS in case your flash doesn't go so well and you end up with a blank screen after rebooting.

Linux/OSS workaround (5, Informative)

Taliesin (2033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945893)

Last time I was faced with this, I found it wasn't to hard to pull of touching neither Microsoft software not a floppy disk. First this I did was to download the freely available and open source FreeDOS. I simply downloaded a pre-built bootable floppy image, though you could make your own from scratch. I mounted that floppy image in Linux using the loopback device, added the necessary flash tool and BIOS binary, and unmounted. Using my custom image, I burned a bootable CD (bootable CDs use basically the same format as bootable floppies). I popped that CD in, and the machine booted right up as if I had a put in a floppy. Ran the tool as instructed, and I had a newly flashed BIOS. A little work, maybe, but worth it.

...But you don't need BIOS in Linux! (2, Insightful)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946352)

But if you're running Linux, why even bother updating software that will only ever be used from the time the power turns on to the time Grub or Lilo hand off to the kernel? Seems like a big risk of blowing that code and making a big, unbootable doorstop for absolutely zero payoff.

Re:...But you don't need BIOS in Linux! (1)

BRTB (30272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946979)

Because some motherboards use the BIOS setup for such things as memory timings, processor speeds, power management settings, configuration of integrated devices like NICs and IDE controllers....

Re:...But you don't need BIOS in Linux! (2, Informative)

mjg59 (864833) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947131)

Because in the ACPI world, information stored in the BIOS is used for a wide variety of tasks during kernel runtime. How do you think the kernel learns how your interrupts are wired? How does it know what power saving modes your motherboard and processors support? For that matter, how does it know how many processors you have in the first place? All of this information is stored in tables in the BIOS, and a lot of the time vendors get it wrong in earlier BIOS revisions.

How is this a problem? (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945896)

If the BIOS and flasher can fit on a floppy, it runs in DOS. This means that I can use FreeDOS and actually flash the BIOS at all.

A floppy is...... (1)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945924)

still the most universal form of storage. Everything still supports it.

I don't see why it would be a big deal to have multiple forms of updates. I can imagine being able to update from a USB flash drive, for example, would be great for an enterprise.

Re:A floppy is...... (3, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946005)

Everything still supports it.

Except for the mac.

And the PC built by someone trying to save $50 on a floppy drive they'd only use to flash their BIOS.

Re:A floppy is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946127)

Except for the mac.

And when was the last time you had to use a floppy drive on a Mac to update OpenFirmware? Hint: never.

Re:A floppy is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946139)

$50? Decent floppy drives can be had for $5-$10 from many online shops.

pricewatch: floppy drives [pricewatch.com]

A $50 floppy???? (1)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946165)

Where the hell do you buy floppy drives for 50? Floppys are about $8 for a generic to $12 if you go for a name brand like Teac.

Re:A $50 floppy???? (2, Informative)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946225)

Where the hell do you buy floppy drives for 50? Floppys are about $8 for a generic to $12 if you go for a name brand like Teac.

That's what the Apple Store charges if you want one in your PowerMac.

Re:A $50 floppy???? (1)

RatPh!nk (216977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946453)

You have not been able to get a floppy installed in your macintosh since....the G3 based beige boxes (say 1997 or so). The G3 B/W and subsequent machines had internal expandability for internal Zip drives (that was a CTO option), and there may have been third party add-on floppy drives, but you have not been able to CTO a floppy drive in a PowerMac for quite some time.

....or you could have been joking and mod'ed wrong :)

Re:A $50 floppy???? (1)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946511)

If you want a external USB floppy, it is about $30 unless you go for their "fashionable" marked up line. If you want an internal, it is $14.99 through CompUSA.

As I said, it still supports it.

Re:A floppy is...... (2, Funny)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946235)

someone trying to save $50 on a floppy drive

Have they started making floppy drives out of babies?

Re:A floppy is...... (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946649)

If you do not live in the city, rural computer solutions are pricey. My local computer shoppe has 1.6 ghz laptops with no wireless selling for 2000 dollars. We do not even have a Walmart within 100 miles. I suppose we are lucky in every aspect but convience but it is an artificial economy here in Eureka, Ca. The local governing bodies oppose monopolies and large corporations in some part but there are cities that are breaking the trend and are in talks with Walmart.

Re:A floppy is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12947022)

You're in Eureka, CA... you're pretty close to the warehouses of many of the best online computer shops in the US. Why do you need Wal-Mart? Try newegg.com.

Re:A floppy is...... (4, Funny)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947197)

If you do not live in the city, rural computer solutions are pricey. My local computer shoppe has 1.6 ghz laptops with no wireless selling for 2000 dollars.

If only there was some sort of digital global computer network with "sites" where you could order a computer (from one of thousands of competing suppliers) and have it mailed to your house.

Re:A floppy is...... (2, Interesting)

seanellis (302682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946250)

>> Everything still supports it.
> Except for the mac.

And my PC.

When I bought a Firewire board for my PC, it needed one of those small power connections from the PSU, like the floppy drive uses. Since they were all (both) already in use, I had to choose between Firewire board and floppy drive.

The floppy drive is now in my "obsolete computer bits" pile, along with my zip drive and 4x CDROM.

Re:A floppy is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946583)

When I bought a Firewire board for my PC, it needed one of those small power connections from the PSU, like the floppy drive uses. Since they were all (both) already in use, I had to choose between Firewire board and floppy drive.

You know, most computer stores sell power splitters for a buck or two when the PSU doesn't have enough plugs.

Admittedly, I don't use my floppy much - maybe once a month.

Case in point... (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946612)

A $500,000 65 GHz network analyser/BERT tester/whatever high-end RF equipment would allow you to either 1) save data to a floppy or 2) print to a (Centronix-connected) printer or 3) yeah, get data over GPIB, if you write a program/.vi to do that.

So, I guess, the floppies are here to stay -- I know that my company-issued laptop had one BECAUSE I had to transfer data to/from those beasts.

Paul B.

Re:Case in point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12947024)

Bullshiat. We have pricey equipment at our lab and it does come with all the legacy connectors and IO, but it also comes with Ethernet and RS-232.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

nuggetman (242645) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947026)

>Everything still supports it.

Except for the mac.


Until the Intel Macs start shipping Macs don't have a BIOS... so this is a moot point

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946262)

No computer I've bought in the past 3 years has had a floppy drive. "Everything still supports it." my ass.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946327)

Whether or not you had a floppy included, I am willing to bet there is still a connector on the motherboard for one. In other words still supported.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946372)

I want to say the last motherboard I bought did not, in fact, have a floppy connector. I'd have to check.

I'm fairly certain that the last two notebooks I bought (2 of the 3 machines I was referring to in my post) did not have floppy connectors inside. I'll have to go read the specs on them to find out.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946634)

They do not make non small form factor boards w/o floppy connectors and even than it is super rare.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946299)

Everything still supports it.

Except the Macintosh. And most PCs. And any laptop you're going to come across these days. And software vendors. And media manufacturers (show me a new, shrink-wrapped box of floppies that works and I'll show you a company who didn't stop making obsolete technology and switch to selling the leftovers in the warehouse from 8 years ago). Even corporate IT has shunned the floppy. I just realized the machine I've sat at every day for the last 4 months still has the floppy drive protector fake-floppy-disk insert thing in the drive, and that machine's been on my cubicle's desk longer than I even knew the company existed.

Re:A floppy is...... (2, Interesting)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946482)

Apple still sells floppy drives for current model computers. Are there any PC motherboards out there that don't have a connector for a floppy? Mainstream, not specialized form factor boards.?

Four months is not that long. All the new stuff I have looked at coming in the door still has the option of updating the BIOS by floppy. We are talking mostly Dells here. Even checked the servers in the closet. They do as well.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946608)

Um, I would like to see the numbers on floppy usage because everything I have seen lately is USB flash drives or CDR.

Re:A floppy is...... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947058)

Everything supports it? Funny, most manufacturers don't seem to ship floppy drives with their machines anymore, barley any laptops have them (Laptops outsold desktops in the US recently), and many people leave them out of their home machines.

Of most of the people I know that have them, they only put in floppy drives because they had them lying around. A few who build new machines from scratch didn't get floppy drives and didn't pull them out of their old machines.

As far as I can tell, floppies are nearly dead, so it's a little bit dangerous to try to use them. USB keys are much safer these days since everybody has USB ports. Many more people have USB ports than floppy drives.

Bootable CD (4, Informative)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945940)

If you have a floppy image there is no reason you can't make a bootable CD from it. Depending on the BIOS flash program (i.e. the image is embedded in an exe or com file) you may have to make the floppy first.

I have had to make bootable CD's in the case there wasn't a drive available on a computer to be flashed. Also, it's useful if you have to flash several computers.

There is also the chicken/egg dilemna in the case (perhaps rare) of flashing to support bootable CD's.

Re:Bootable CD (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946287)

Occasionally you get a BIOS upgrade utility that you run in Windows to create a boot disk, then you boot from the disk. It may be possible to extract the disk image from the executable, but it certainly wouldn't be a task for the faint of heart.

Re:Bootable CD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12947172)

Telling nero to create a bootable CD, and pointing to the floppy drive is not for the faint of heart?

You're also talking to people who are more than proficient with computers, smart guy. You could probably even run the .exe from Wine, seeing as most of them are nothing more than self image extractors...

I'm too lazy to rant right now. (1)

kc32 (879357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945968)

I'll just let the rest of Slashdot rant about how much floppy drives suck, and how the disks only hold data reliably for maybe 20 minutes if you're lucky and how damn slow they are and how floppy drives are just a waste of a drive slot.

because then viruses would erase your CMOS (0, Troll)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945977)

because then viruses would erase your CMOS

Re:because then viruses would erase your CMOS (1)

ScottyUK (824174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946493)

I thought the CMOS only contained set up parameters eg time, date, bios settings. If you erase it, the BIOS should revert to defaults. Inconvenient, but hardly killer?

I can't agree more (3, Funny)

nilbog (732352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12945983)

Seriously ... it's like using a spoon to repair an engine.
I had to flash my bios and didn't have any floppy disks. So here I am at the store at 2am buying a package of ten floppy disks (of which I will use only 1) for $10 - more expensive then cds I could have burned the image onto.

Anyway, I got home only to realize the computer didn't even have a floppy drive. Throw me a freakin' bone here.

Re:I can't agree more (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946013)

more expensive then cds I could have burned the image onto.

Exactly. You could have. So why didn't you? You have only yourself to blame.

The answer is: Mu (4, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946019)

The question is inane. As others already have pointed out, you don't have to use a floppy to flash your BIOS, and you never had to. Yes, some boards will only let you flash from within something like DOS, but how you get to a DOS environment never mattered at all. Boot from anything, a CD, a memory stick, network, or a hard disk, it doesn't matter. Make it writable if you want to back up the current image.
To save myself from burning a CD every time an update was released, I created a tiny (100 meg) FAT16 partition and just one DOS boot CD. I couldn't access the NTFS drives from DOS, but the FAT16 partition containing the BIOS images was no problem. I stopped having a floppy disk drive attached to my computer years ago.
And of course, these days I just flash from within Windows. The (perceived) added danger of things going wrong makes it all more exciting!

Perhabs a better question would have been - are there ways to flash from within Linux these days? Last I looked (a long time ago), I couldn't find anything reliable.

Re:The answer is: Mu (2, Informative)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946702)

Perhabs a better question would have been - are there ways to flash from within Linux these days? Last I looked (a long time ago), I couldn't find anything reliable.

Not exactly flashing from within Linux, but check out biosdisk [dell.com] . Gentoo has the package.

Uses few MB resources, lowest common denominator (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946042)


Primarily because that's how it's always been done.

Secondarily because even if you munge the flash there is usually a very tiny portion of the BIOS that is difficult to corrupt which holds the code to boot a floppy and execute simple code fromt the floppy - meaning you can screw up your bios and still fix it with a floppy.

It takes a lot of bios code to start a motherboard, but very little to start a floppy drive to the point where a flash can happen.

There's no reason why this couldn't be done on a bootable flash drive, cdrom, or other device as long as you don't mess up the bios during the flash.

-Adam

Similar, but possibly OT (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946083)

I've always wondered why the BIOS can't simply skip over a floppy in the boot process when it isn't bootable.

I'm sure everyone here has left a floppy in the drive and had it tell you to remove it and then hit any key to continue. Why can't it just realize that there isn't anything bootable there and go on to the next boot device? It will skip over non-bootable CDs and DVDs fine, but for some reason, the BIOS can't do that with floppies.

Does anyone have a clue as to why this is?

more OT: your sig (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946226)

Libertarian socialists believe in the abolition of privately held means of production and abolition of the state as unnecessary and harmful institutions.

I'm curious how your political "philosophy" proposes to do away with both government and private property? Or are you not against private property per se, just private property protected by the state?

Re:more OT: your sig (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946311)

You are hereby referred [slashdot.org] . Reading the full of the Wikipedia article will also help answer your question. It is a good article, but I don't agree with everything it says.

Also, I'll be changing by sig because most of the replies I get are about it and not my posts.

Skipping Bootable Floppies (2, Interesting)

CokeJunky (51666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946498)

The trick is that the floppy is bootable!


The spec that describes floppies and how bios's read them to boot says that the bios will load the first sector (512 bytes, IIRC) into memory and execute it. A simple solution for those old machines that ran only on floppy disks. However, because of this, when you format a floppy, the format utility puts a minimal 'boot' program in there that displays the message that you need to put a system disk in the drive and restart the computer. If they didn't do that, the bios would load whatever was in that sector and attempt to execute it.


For reference, a system disk has just enough room in that 512 bytes to get the system files loading into memory and executing.


Really though, it wouldn't be difficult to create a new standard whereby that minimal boot loader can query the bios to see if it is smart enough to continue the boot process, and if so go back to that. Older bioses would not respond correctly, and the default message could be displayed.

Re:Similar, but possibly OT (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946625)

I've always wondered why the BIOS can't simply skip over a floppy in the boot process when it isn't bootable.

IME, most modern BIOSes do...

to f*** up your MB.. (1)

ramunas (771197) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946086)

so you'd have to buy a new one. This once happened to me. My bios had this thing against my (at that time) newly bought GeForce 440MX so I had no other choice but to flash it. So I downloaded the bios flash put it on a floppy and gues what, the floppy just crashed on me in the middle of the flashing... After that you can guess what happened. Anyway my current PC doesn't even have a floppy so unless I find some painless way of flashing my bios I'm not doing it.

Re:to f*** up your MB.. (1)

interweb (895527) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947076)

So, you didn't do a full format of your floppy before using it for a bios flash upgrade?

Burn floppy image to CD... (1)

kosmosik (654958) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946091)

You always can take floppy image and burn it to CD and make it bootable. But I understand what you mean - as I've seen some manufacturers don't just provide floppy images. They provide some dumb program extracting data directly to floppy. I once owned old IBM ThinkPad which BIOS could be only controlled from Windows application or from crude dos prompt (PS2.EXE). And provided files could only extract directly to floppy. So I had to extract it on other machine, make image and burn it on CD :\ ... It was old laptop I know. But still kind of silly as one zip with image and rawrite.exe program in batch would do the trick also...

I guess it is because manufacturers are lazy and don't give a shit? After all flashing your mobo is stuff for geeks or tech shops...

Re:Burn floppy image to CD... (1)

C. E. Sum (1065) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947029)

You always can take floppy image and burn it to CD and make it bootable

Even then, lots of BIOS implementations only supported (support?) the floppy drive emulation part of El Torito [wikipedia.org] .

El Torito is probably the only place you'll ever use the BIOS' support for 2.88MB floppies.

Why are we still using BIOS's (3, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946108)

Why are we still using a BIOS on the motherboard patterned after the designs of 20 years ago. None of my computers come with serial, parrellel, or PS2 ports, and no more ISA.. so why are we still using old hacked together BIOS? Sun and Mac have been off of standard BIOS's for years...

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (2, Insightful)

Kalzus (86795) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946261)

Because we are still using (on x86) a CPU that, when it powers up, emulates a CPU that was designed 20 years ago. So your peripherals have to have options ROMs that expect an operating environment that is similar to 20 years ago.

If someone can get every BIOS maker, motherboard maker, video card maker, SCSI card maker and network card maker to all simultaneously (a) switch to a different pre-boot environment, or (b) include code for both the existing AT-style pre-boot as well as a hypothetical newer environment; escaping the AT-style POST environment won't happen.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946335)

Why are we still using a BIOS on the motherboard patterned after the designs of 20 years ago. None of my computers come with serial, parrellel, or PS2 ports, and no more ISA.. so why are we still using old hacked together BIOS?

Probably because some crufted-over operating system of 20 years ago [microsoft.com] still doesn't know how to live without it, and even more perplexingly, is still used despite lack of a modern implementation that takes into account today's hardware and security concerns. Even you noticed modern OSs lack this problem.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (2, Interesting)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946872)

Probably because some crufted-over operating system of 20 years ago still doesn't know how to live without it, and even more perplexingly, is still used despite lack of a modern implementation that takes into account today's hardware and security concerns. Even you noticed modern OSs lack this problem.

False. All x86 OSes "need" a BIOS to bootstrap. Once the bootloader kicks in, however, the BIOS is irrelevant. This applies to Windows, Linux, BeOS, OS/2, even OS X/intel - all of them.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

C. E. Sum (1065) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947009)

of cource there's always http://www.linuxbios.org/index.php/Main_Page [linuxbios.org]

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947423)

Which provides exactly the same function - performs some basic hardware initialisation and then bootstraps the OS, after which it becomes irrelevant.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947291)

Bootstrap doesn't count, every computer, x86 or not needs enough "BIOS" to hand off to the boot loader. Don't be obtuse.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947411)

Bootstrap doesn't count, every computer, x86 or not needs enough "BIOS" to hand off to the boot loader. Don't be obtuse.

I'm not. The original poster claimed that the only reason the BIOS still exists was because Windows required it. This is false - we still have the BIOS because *every* x86 OS "requires it".

Windows needs a BIOS as much - or as little, depending on your perspective - as Linux, BeOS, OS/2, OS X, etc.

Re:Why are we still using BIOS's (1)

lysander (31017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946461)

Sun and Mac have been off of standard BIOS's for years...

In fact, the last time I updated a bios, I just netbooted the machine. Then again, this was a Sun machine.

Related questions (0, Redundant)

Shag (3737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946120)

Why are you still using BIOS?
Why are you still using floppies?

MSI boards have 2 bios for that (1)

XXIstCenturyBoy (617054) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946485)

MSI board have 2 BIOS. You can flash one from Windows. The change take effect on the next reboot of course.

You can still do it trough a floppy, and the good thing is that with 2 BIOS, if the update fail, MSI boards recover by themselves.

But I did it in Windows a couple of time. Now Unbuntu is installed on that machine, I guess i'll do it with a floppy (MSI is great, but they support is a little hmmm foreign)

Re:MSI boards have 2 bios for that (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946817)

Ooh, an MSI plug, complete with bad English.

bootable cds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12946530)

make a bootable cd with dos. stick your bios image and flash program on a fat partition. boot cd and flash.

Wrong Question (3, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946543)

The real question is "Why does Windows XP SP2 setup still only accept SCSI and RAID drivers from a standard old floppy drive?". I know you can slipstream drivers into an install CD, because that's what I had to do the last time I built up a PC without a floppy, but the setup routine really should at least allow drivers to be installed from a USB floppy drive by now.

Re:Wrong Question (1)

kc32 (879357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946680)

When I installed XP SP2 on my SATA drive, the floppy disk stopped working _DURING_ the installation. I had to find another good disk out of 50 just so I could install the damn thing.

Re:Wrong Question (1)

xetovss (17621) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946751)

Actually WinXP's setup will work with USB floppy drives. I recently setup a Sager laptop with RAID support(yes the laptop had 2 IDE harddrives in it) and because the laptop didn't come with an internal FD I used a USB floppy drive I had laying around and it worked just fine for loading the RAID drivers.

Re:Wrong Question (1)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946949)

The real question is "Why does Windows XP SP2 setup still only accept SCSI and RAID drivers from a standard old floppy drive?". I know you can slipstream drivers into an install CD, because that's what I had to do the last time I built up a PC without a floppy, but the setup routine really should at least allow drivers to be installed from a USB floppy drive by now.

Yup - but you can work around it. Check out this [dfi-street.com] thread for more info on not only adding SP2, but all the other NVidia drivers on your CD only install.

My story (2, Interesting)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946566)

Yep, same thing happened to me. I have an ASUS and I could flash it from Windows. My problem is that the BIOS problem didn't allow me to even install Windows. The old BIOS calculated the CPU temperature wrong and forced a shutdown within 5 minutes of being turned on, not nearly long enough to install the OS.

So I had to flash using the floppy. I never bought a floppy drive because I didn't use the floppy in my then-current machine, so why would I use a floppy in a new machine. So I went to the old machine and tried to get the floppy out. But the screwhead is stripped! I can't get it out. It takes forever (in reality, about 25 minutes). But I finally get it out and am able to flash the BIOS.

So flashing from floppy seems annoying as hell. But if the BIOS problem prevents you from running Windows, it makes sense.

Toshiba supplies bootable .isos (1)

emag (4640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946833)

When I went to update the BIOS in my Toshiba Satellite, which doesn't even come with a floppy drive, I discovered that since sometime in 2002, Toshiba started supplying bootable .iso images with BIOS updates. So, a quick CD-RW burn later (with the Satellite's DVD/CD-RW drive), I was booting off the CD, and updating BIOS and the CPU's microcode...

I've yet to try it with my desktop system, but that's a 1999-vintage Tyan.

(OT: for the love of christ, WTF can't logged-in users post through tor [eff.org] ?!)

Just make the floppy into a bootable CD (1)

xetovss (17621) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946838)

You can always take a floppy disk with the BIOS info on it and make it into an image to make a bootable CD with it. I work on laptops for a living and that is what I have todo with a lot of the laptops nowadays because of the lack of floppy drives. Plus once the bootable CD is made it takes next to no time to update the BIOS's as the system doesn't have to read the information from the floppy drive every time.

Re:Just make the floppy into a bootable CD (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946983)

" You can always take a floppy disk with the BIOS info on it and make it into an image to make a bootable CD with it. "

This is true but irrelevant. It's not about what media you used -- floppy, CD, whatever.

The real issue is -- why do you have to shut down your computer and then boot some antiquated operating system from some media other than your hard drive, just so you can flash the BIOS.

Dell (3, Informative)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12946870)

Dell laptops allow you to flash the bios from GRUB (linux bootloader). Not sure how well it works.

counter example (1)

cs (15509) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947049)

Coincidentally, I just fetched a bootable CDROM for updating a BIOS for an IBM x-series machine. So not everyone is still in floppy land.

I Only Wish (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947052)

My Plextor DVD drive [hutnick.com] can only be flashed from Windows or MacOS. I only /wish/ I could flash it from a boot floppy.

-Peter

Re:I Only Wish (1)

Swarfy (895636) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947318)

I think whats Koskun is asking is why haven't the manufactures made it so it's standard to flash the BIOs from a CD or USB drive. Some computers don't come with a floppy drive, and some people don't want to be bothered to buy a ten pack of floppys for ONE that they will actually use. I think you guys went off on a topic that he wasn't even talking about.

Bootable CD (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 8 years ago | (#12947447)

Many machines allow you to flash with a bootable CD. My Toshiba laptops (3 years old) and ASUS motherboard (1 year old) do. It's usually just a matter of using the bootable floppy image to create the bootable CD. Check with your manufacturer - if it can boot a CD, it will probably work. Usually they just consider the creation of a bootable CD to be too hard for their customers.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...