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How do I flash My Bios in Linux?

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by DocHolliday2006, Nov 8, 2007.

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  1. DocHolliday2006

    DocHolliday2006 Thread Starter

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    I've got a MSI k2n Neo 4. The live update doesn't work because I don't have IE. The instruction for the manual bios flash demand that I make a bootable windows 98/me boot disk, which I can't do.

    So how do I flash my bios in Linux?

    Thanks.
     
  2. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    The cardinal rule for flashing a BIOS is - don't try to fix it if it ain't broke!

    Flashing a BIOS is very tricky, meaning that if you screw it up, it will cost you at least a new BIOS chip if not a new computer.

    So, enlighten us all as to your process for rationalizing why you need to flash your BIOS?

    While you are at it, please explain what MSI k2n Neo 4 is so I don't have to look it up. Where did you get the live update that you reference? Why do you not have IE? Where can we look at the instruction manual for the BIOS? Why can you not make a bootable Windows 98/ME boot disk?

    -- Tom

    P.S. One thought comes to mind: install Wine on Linux to execute MS executables.
     
  3. saikee

    saikee

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    One can download a bootable disk for most MS systems from bootdisk.com.

    The downloaded system is just the bare bone and does not infringing MS's rights I pressume. It is good enough to make any bootable disk out.

    Just download the executable Bios file and run it. I don't think IE is mandatory as a browser is just a browser.
     
  4. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    I've flashed mainboard BIOS'es using freedos boot image, which you just dd(1) to a floppy and is probably included in your distro. This is also used by certain big disk manufacturers for their Drive Fitness Test utilities (others use the Caldera DrDOS), so I think it's just as good MS-DOS for this purpose.

    You need to run an insecure operating system that gives their program full access to the hardware in order to do the field upgrade. These systems would not support a full environment with many programs from different sources reliably, as it would permit rival firms to do low level tweaks which would break over programs. Nevermind the field day virus writers would have.

    The main danger is if the power fails 1/2 way through the flash leaving the device unable to run another field upgrade.
     
  5. DocHolliday2006

    DocHolliday2006 Thread Starter

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    My computer continuously freezes. and I sometimes get this error message when I reboot: "Error 18 : selected cylinder exceeds maximum supported bv bios"

    I don't always though, and I have also tried cleaning off and reapplying thermal grease/paste, adding a another case fan, and trying a different PSU without success. I've also had to replace my graphics card and hard drive because they've died. Don't know if it's related.

    A MSI k8N Neo 4 Platinum is a motherboard.

    You get the live update here.

    I don't have internet explorere because I run Ubuntu, which uses firefox. I wasn't even aware that IE would run on linux natively.

    The instructions for my bios can be found by downloading the bios here

    I can't make a bootable windows boot disk because I use linux, and I wasn't aware that it was possible to make one in it.

    Suggestions?
     
  6. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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  7. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    Hi DocHolliday2006,

    Ok, so you have an AMD 64-bit MB. The live update indicates you need a Windows OS running to install it.

    What BIOS do you have (detail)? And, what is the Model Number of your MB?

    What I am most interested in knowing is why your think a BIOS upgrade will solve a problem where the computer freezes (as it probably should for some reason) and says: "Error 18 : selected cylinder exceeds maximum supported by bios"?

    Have you tried going into the BIOS (check the bottom of the first screen that shows after you power on to see the keystroke needed to get into the BIOS)? What you should try to find out at this stage of problem solving is "what is the limit of maximum cylinder supported by the BIOS"? If it is not in your BIOS, then it is probably related to how your initial OS was installed - I'm guessing that was Windows - which Windows version as your posts seem to indicate win98/me?

    Just because the BIOS supports a limit that has been reached does not mean that the BIOS is not doing its job which it should, or that anything whatsoever is at fault with the BIOS.

    I suspect that you loaded Ubuntu without checking whether your MB/BIOS combination (which previously had a version of Windows) adequately is supports Linux (i.e. in the configuration for Windows as applied to Linux) - and, consequently, there may need to be some changes made to your BIOS which will comfortably solve your problem and may not require flashing the BIOS. You need to focus first on making this determination before deciding whether a newly flashed BIOS is the answer to solve your problem.

    -- Tom
     
  8. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    Have you looked at the MSI Bios update page? Dr Holliday provided all that info via URL link.

    Quick scan of it, I thought I saw something relevant. Shipping boards with dodgy Bioses is normal, a self-build expects to have to flash at least once via download. I can't think of a system I've self built where I've not had to do it, at least once.
     
  9. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    Yes I did RobLinux, but I am still unconvinced that the problem as described by Doc pinpoints the BIOS as the culprit, nor does your information.

    If the MB had a dodgy BIOS to begin with, then it would have manifested sooner, not after Ubuntu was loaded. I suspect the mfgr doesn't support Linux - do ya think?

    -- Tom
     
  10. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    I think that Bios'es get tested with windows a lot more than with Linux, so it's common to have to flash.

    It sounds like a self builder rather than a "in warranty" PC from a name manufacturer. It's very likely that he has hardware issues, but when you report stuff like that you get asked "Do you have the latest BIOS?".

    If he's looked at the web page he'll have seen :

    Attention:
    Users who download BIOS from here (not using Live Update) should use the flash utility included in the downloaded compressed file when doing the BIOS update. To avoid BIOS update failure, please do not use older versions of the update utility or utilities not provided by MSI.

    Ie. flash prorgram is included in the zip file you download.


    Please tell me, what BIOS settings you have needed to change to run Linux, on a "Windows" PC?

    The only one I've altered recently is AGP Aperture, and that's just a performance tweak and I'm not even totally convinced of that.

    Dual boot FAQs don't have BIOS hacks in them, it would be a royal pain to have to diddle with setttings, wouldn't it?
     
  11. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    And it says you can use the traditional download. It is important that having M$ OS is not a pre-requisite for maintaining a machine and flashing BIOS etc, so I'd complain to the manufacturer if their utility requires M$ Windows. Others have posted work round to get M$ boot disks, should non-Free solution be impossible.

    So how would that effect Linux, when it accesses the HW directly rather than use BIOS calls?

    At MSI web page :

    http://global.msi.com.tw/index.php?func=downloaddetail&type=driver&maincat_no=1&prod_no=165

    They clearly say "MSI Reminds You...
    1. Because of the limitations of chipset, this MB does not support Win98/ME.
    2. Please use MSI Live BIOS tool to upgrade BIOS of this product."

    So what makes you think he ever ran Windows 98/ME? The dude says he doesn't have IE, and this is a recent board supporting AMD64 X2 etc.

    Linux doesn't use the BIOS calls to access the disk, once it's loaded up. That's the reason you could boot off first 512MB in past, but access all partitions past that BIOS limit, on non-LBA BIOSes.

    He's most likely got a hardware problem, system lock ups and freezes, can easily be caused by chipset PCI issues.

    On the dead hard drive, I'd try downloading and booting a DFT from the disk manufacturer, if his board won't boot the CD image, then Hitachi (may be seagate) have a floppy based one, that'll check a disk, but not fix by other manufacturers. Preferably on a different PC.

    Sometimes I've had disks with problematic partition tables (i/o error on that sector), and using sfdisk to dump the table and then re-write it has solved the issue. Once I had to use a tool to guess the likely partition table (gpart? for GNU part, not the modern gparted utility), and there's specialised Rescue CD's with these low level kind of tools.

    If this board is sick, he needs to strip out stuff, get specific errors and have it exchanged. The Ubuntu 7.10 kernel, on system with updates has seemed solid and they haven't been stepping versions regularly so it's less likely to be kernel related issue, unlike OpenSuSE 10.3 which has had to update several times.

    As some of the changes are security advisory related, I wouldn't use desktop Ubuntu as a firewall (perhaps they patch the server one more often?).
     
  12. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    The only BIOS I ever considered flashing and even bought a flash upgrade for was a VIA board until I found out that the problem I was having was a couple of blown caps on the MB. Since I needed a new MB at the time and my disks had recently been replaced within the 6 months previous, I decided to purchase an entirely new system, chassis, PS and all.

    I have never needed to change any BIOS settings to run LInux on my PC. When I purchased it, I specified dual-boot with Windows XP SP2 and Fedora Core 3 on separate 80GB disks with the previous disks slaved to each particular instance of their successor OSes (it came with an Award BIOS and Grub boot loader). It just worked out of the box.

    Dual-boot is not such a mystery if you follow saikee's links in his signature.

    -- Tom
     
  13. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79

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    Ok, going back to check it looks like I mistook what Doc had said about 98/me - but, you have to allow for the question what was there before he loaded Ubuntu?

    I agree, it appears to be a hardware problem, but the question is whether it is a configuration problem in the BIOS or a deeper hardware problem. Do you know if Doc has fiddled with the BIOS before this problem occured?

    Once all potential BIOS configuration causes can be ruled out, then a hardware malfuinction is more likely.

    The problem domain seems to clearly be an issue between the BIOS and the disk configuration limit, but without Doc's input about what was on the computer before he loaded Ubuntu and whether he made any changes to the BIOS in the course of loading Ubuntu, we are not likely to make very much progress.

    -- Tom
     
  14. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    Well if you build your own system, you may well find you need to flash the BIOS for all kinds of reasons. Having a PC from a name manufacturer is very different. They sort out this stuff for you and will be disapproving if you go and meddle with their stuff.

    Thought so. I've never needed to change my BIOS settings (excepting which Drive to boot from) to run Linux either, even without specifying anything Linux related.

    That's releveant to Dr H. when he hasn't got M$ Windows? You just seem to be missing the point in this thread and spreading FUD.

    Dr H, has problems and he wants a hand to move forwards not nannying about potential harm that a BIOS upgrade can do if he has a power failure in the middle. Frankly if he kills this board stone dead, he can probably return it easier than if it's sorta running....
     
  15. RobLinux

    RobLinux

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    Probably nothing! You can buy a Mobo, CPU, RAM etc and boot a Linux install disk, clean without any taint of non-Free OS.
    What could he alter, that would screw up his machine? Lets say RAM timings. Then try "Load Defaults". He's shown signs of "adult" thinking, swapping out PS for instance, which I would suspect with bad disk + bad graphics card.
    Rubbish, as explained before kernel doesn't use the BIOS to write to disk. Don't you think if this were a Dell, he'd have shipped it back by now, or called on their support? Most likely he'd have IE available anyway, and could have re-installed the OS, and run their diagnostic utilities.

    The bottom line is, flashing the BIOS is low risk and he'll have to do it most likely anyway. On doing it the defaults are generally reset, so if he had diddled something, he'd have to re-diddle.

    It's just patronising to tell a self builder they should do that, until all other avenues are exhausted. In the real world, Mobos, CPUs and drive get shipped with Flash firmware, precisely so they can be field upgraded, and the HW is often buggy and getting fixed up by firmware workrounds. The boards are delivered in a rush to market, and they ship with mistakes.

    The dude needs to boot a supposedly non-buggy configuration and then run some serious diagnostic stuff. Check out RAM for instance to. If the issues look like over-heating then sorting air-flow in case, and checking all the lm-sensor stuff to see if that is a cause makes sense.
     
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