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How do I update motherboard BIOS in Ubuntu 8.04.2 ?

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  • How do I update motherboard BIOS in Ubuntu 8.04.2 ?

    Hi. Sunday I ordered from Newegg an ATI RadeonHD 3650 to plug into my Gateway 614GE desktop PC (I SOOO want to test with Kubuntu 9.04 BETA !!) but now I'm worrying my 6-year-old PC's motherboard won't boot with it.

    Gateway's website quickly led me to an appropriate BIOS update, but it's filed as ".EXE" and I have NO Windows partition on my computer. How would I install this to my motherboard BIOS without Windows? I've never performed a BIOS update on any computer before now.

    Now, truth be told, I have *not* received my treasure yet, so I may not actually need the update when my card gets here. But if I *do* need a BIOS upgrade, how would I perform it with Ubuntu 8.04.2 ?

    ((must... test... new... xorg...drivers!)

  • #2
    I would like to know too. I keep a Windows partition so I never bothered to learn how to flash a BIOS under Linux. A while ago I came upon this site, but I never tried it. I think you can use cabextract to unpack .exe files, which should give you access to the actual BIOS file.


    • #3
      OK, I actually went back and searched for Gateway's instructions (doh)

      While no instructions were offered for Linux (Windows XP only), I downloaded the EXE file and extracted the contents using Wine. The file I apparently need was "a674v1vg1.nrg" and I can easily burn that to a CD using Brasero. Gateway says this file automatically re-flashes the BIOS upon system reboot.

      BUT.............will it actually work if I just pop in the CD and reboot? I'm rather afraid to try; I don't want to go borking my motherboard beyond all repair.


      • #4
        I think the .nrg file produces a bootable cd image, so yes, you can just burn the image to a disc and reboot from that.
        Last edited by rbmorse; 04-08-2009, 12:26 AM.


        • #5
          Umm, BIOS updating could be a nasty thing. Well.

          There are several solutions:
          a) You have an ASUS board. They offer the so called "EZ flash" feature (I think I saw something similar on... was it Gigabyte?) - there you just put the BIOS image file on anything FAT formatted (USB stick, CF-Card, even a partition on your HDD, good old floppy e.g.) and tell the in-Bios-update-program where to look for the imagefile. Then it'll read the file in, display version info and ask you if you want to update. Say yes and there you go. 1 reboot and it's all done.

          I consider that a very decent feature of my ASUS boards, makes BIOS updating system independent and very comfortable.

          b) You have no such EZflash or similar stuff. Well, a lot of older boards just uses the good old "make a bootable (free)DOS floppy" method. You just create a DOS floppy and put the image file there. They'll provide you with some AMIflash, Awardflash or something DOS-executable which you call often by awdflxxx (xxx ist often version) some parameters and at last the BIOS image file you want to write into your BIOS.
          The good thing is that by means of FreeDOS everybody is able to create such a floppy, no need to pay MS.
          Often Mainboard vendors even offer these kind of bootdisk images and often they already contain the very FreeDOS plus an automated setup by autoexec.bat containing the neccessary steps.

          b2) in case the provide you only that exe file for BIOS, check it! It's often nothing but a self-extraction version, rar/unrar, zip or something.
          Either you try it in WINE (don't try to flash the BIOS from withing WINE or DOS emulators, it prolly won't work) - so it will extract itself or use some tool (unrar, p7zip etc.) to try to extract the image file and then use the procedure described above (maybe you have to get some AWDflash or something still).

          c) they only provide you with a Windows-only-updater? Kick that vendor from your buy list. And tell them that they suck.

          For updating BIOSes within Linux, there should be a few methods, but I didn't try them. Afair Dell supports a Linux based update prog and I dunno if you can activate some stuff in your Kernel to read and write EEPROMs. Thus you should be able to access any EEPROM in your box and write whatever you want to it. I think it's possible but that would maybe something for Michael to make an article.


          • #6
            Hooray, I just received my new ATI card and it booted up just fine!

            So...... the BIOS thing has become moot.

            Anyway, Kubuntu 9.04 BETA rocks! (forgiving various bugs and whatnot)


            • #7
              Originally posted by Adarion View Post
              (I think I saw something similar on... was it Gigabyte?)
              Yes, that was on Gigabyte !
              I got a gigabyte mobo for my Q9550 and I got a flash utility directly in BIOS. I just need a USB drive, access that utility during boot strap and flash the BIOS. That makes the bios update completely independant of the operating system.
              That was a major argument for me when purchasing my new mobo, as it's completely out of question that I install windows just for flashing a BIOS update.

              According to my knowledge, there is only Asus and Gigabyte that have such utility to flash BIOS.

              However, BIOS updates can also be made using a DOS utility. You can then use "Freedos" installed on bootable CD. "SystemRescueCD" is a Linux distro made for rescuing systems and has a freedos option on startup. That could be a way, but I never tested it.
              This way can be used for flashing DVD recorders for example, as plextor gives a DOS utility (there is also an old binary linux utility that few has been able to run).

              Gigabyte offers as well the dual BIOS, which makes you safe in case of BIOS flashing problem : if you break your BIOS during flashing process, you can always recover it by a readonly BIOS copy that lies on a second BIOS chipset soldered on the motherboard.
              I guess that Asus has also the same.

              Avoid Foxconn motherboard : they have declared to be hostile to linux, as reported by Phoronix. Their BIOS can even avoid you to boot any other OS than Windows. There are workarounds of course, but that's unacceptable IMO.


              • #8
                Yep, afair ASUS also has this DualBios or whatever they name it. Didn't need that kind of function in 15 years yet but anyway, it won't do a harm and if someone really experiences a powerloss during flashing that might come in handy.
                And besides... that BIOS internal update cirumvents all the nasty possibilities that come from a multitasking environment.

                And yes, I remember to having considered the idea that I could also choose a Gigabyte board when I saw that feature. I think Gigabyte is on a good way.

                But interesting to read that about Foxconn, I used a popular but privacy endangering search engine and found a few results about evil ACPI implementations. I mean, what the hell. When they don't want to give active support to Linux cause they have no knowledge... well, okay. But actively sabotaging Linux people... well, another firm on my blacklist and something I will actively disrecommend my pals if it is true.

                PS: I wonder... Foxconn doesn't have a big market share, right? I remember having heard of them maybe in the MiniITX scene. So - why do people with so little market share and little chance against the big players (for example also VIA, look at their C3 or C7 CPUs and their chipsets) play unfair with Linux. That would be a spot where they could gain some (satisfied) customers.
                Last edited by Adarion; 04-14-2009, 06:04 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Adarion View Post
                  PS: I wonder... Foxconn doesn't have a big market share, right? I remember having heard of them maybe in the MiniITX scene. So - why do people with so little market share and little chance against the big players (for example also VIA, look at their C3 or C7 CPUs and their chipsets) play unfair with Linux. That would be a spot where they could gain some (satisfied) customers.
                  Looking closest at the components on your Asus mobo. I'll bet you'll some connectors engraved "Foxconn", as I have on my Gibabyte mobo. I guess their market is in supplying parts for bigger companies like Asus or Gibabyte.
                  They also trying to be on the overclocking spot lights with some very advanced mobos with the name I can't remember.
                  As you, I really don't understand companies that don't want to make a little effort for their linux customers. I'll bet that wouldn't cost them much (just releasing the specs, the community will do the program, for free) and they could gain much than the expense. Still a mystery for me.
                  Probably because linux customers satisfaction, linux customers buying hints to friend are not things that can be measured. And therefore, as always in our occidental societies, what is not measurable doesn't exist...


                  • #10

                    You can view your current BIOS version with a
                    dmidecode -s bios-version

                    And to upgrade there are a few ways possible:
                    - a native windows installation on another partition
                    - a boot cd if the motherboard vendor provides this
                    - use a (bios)-tool which can read the bios from a fat32 device
                    - flash the image with a flash tool on DOS on a floppy
                    - use flashrom [1] There are many chipsets already supported. I like this possibility most, because you make yourself more independent from DOS/Windows. If your mainboard is not supported yet, you can ask in the irc channel of coreboot for help i think.

                    I'd not try to upgrade with a flashtool for windows and wine, i think you could destroy your mainboard. But you can start the .exe with wine, if it is a self-exctracting archive and you cannot extract the bios image with file-roller for example.