BIOS update booting on USB

You might have to flash your BIOS (update it) someday, and you will be faced to something odd: it awdflash.exe is a DOS executable. It requires direct access to hardware to flash a BIOS, thus it cannot be done from evoluated OSes like Windows or Linux.

If you don't have an Windows 98 installation CD, or something like that to boot DOS, or if you don't have a cdrom drive, here is the solution. You can flash your BIOS using FreeDOS and booting on a USB key using linux or other unices for setting this up.

Download the minimalist boot floppy from FreeDOS, called OEM Bootdisk. Gunzip it, and mount it with a loop device like: mount -o loop FDOEM.144 mnt. Add inside it (just copy files) the BIOS flash utility, like awdflash.exe and your new BIOS file, probably .BIN. Unmount the image, and that's all for this part, you have now your bootable FreeDOS image, with a BIOS flash utility ready.

To put it on a USB key and be able to boot with it on this image, you just have to dd if=FDOEM.144 of=/dev/sdb. Make sure your USB key is sdb, because this will destroy all data on the drive specified! Then reboot, configure your BIOS to boot on USB device (not all support this feature), plug the USB key, and you will appear the FreeDOS prompt in something like half a second! Just run awdflash, specify the BIOS binary file name, confirm and it is done! It takes less than 5 mins to do all this! So nice!

Warning: this may destroy your BIOS. Something unexpected can happen, and may crash FreeDOS while copying the new BIOS, leaving it in a non recoverable and non bootable state, probably resulting in the loss of your mainboard. (However, that worked for me on a Jetway mini-itx board and lots of people, and FreeDOS is kind of robust now).

0 comment

Discuss this article, add a comment:

If you are human, type 12: