Tag Archives: BIOS

Make FreeDOS boot ISO to flash BIOS

I needed to flash the BIOS of one of my old server motherboards and to my dismay found the only way to do so was via DOS boot image. It was not straightforward so I thought I’d write it down. Thanks to pingtool & tummy.com for the information I needed to pull it off.

First, obtain a copy of FreeDOS ISO and extract it to a directory

  • mount -o loop <freedosISO.iso> <mount directory>
  • rsync -aP <mount directory> <directory you want files to copy to>

Next, copy the necessary flash utilities and firmware files to that same directory as above.

Lastly, use genisoimage to create a new ISO image based on the above folder. Modify -o output to wherever you want the ISO to go.

sudo apt install genisoimage
cd <folder you copied your files to>
mkisofs -o /tmp/freedos_biosupdate.iso -q -l -N \
   -boot-info-table -iso-level 4 -no-emul-boot \
   -b isolinux/isolinux.bin \
   -publisher "FreeDOS - www.freedos.org" \
   -A "FreeDOS beta9 Distribution" -V FDOS_BETA9 -v .

From here you can take the ISO and mount / burn it as needed. It will boot into FreeDOS. Tell it to go to a shell and away you go.

Flashing updates to HP Proliant DL380 G5

A little while ago I bought an old HP Proliant DL380 G5 from ksl classifieds. I have used it off and on as a backup server but noticed that the drive performance was pretty abysmal. In an effort to fix this I decided to try and upgrade the ROM on the RAID controller it came with – an HP Smartarray P400 SAS/SATA controller.

It turned out to be more difficult than I expected. I first tried booting into Ubuntu server per this guide but I ran into problems with getting it to work. I tried a 32bit version of Ubuntu but I couldn’t even get that version to boot – maybe because of the 6GB of  RAM this unit has.

In experimenting with this I learned a little bit about Hp iLo syntax. This server comes with HP iLo 2, which has a web as well as an ssh interface. I encountered a need to hard reset the server (it was locked up) but the web admin “power off” button did nothing. I had to ssh into the ILO IP address and issue the following command:

power reset

I eventually abandoned my Ubuntu attempts and went with Arch Linux. Its live CD worked like a charm the first time – no fuss. I simply loaded the live CD, copied the update package to my current directory, marked it executable, and ran it.

scp nas:/storage/CP017698.scexe .
chmod +x CP017698.scexe
./CP017698.scexe

Capture

It took about five minutes.

I then set to flash the BIOS, which hadn’t been updated since 2007. It was easier than the RAID array because HP created .ISO images for this task. I obtained the BIOS from here. It was a Windows executable for some reason. The EXE extracted the various image files and had a handy how-to guide.

I took the iLO network CD installation route. I brought up the virtual media manager, loaded the ISO provided, and booted the machine. It brought up a simple flashing screen which updated the BIOS in about 5 minutes.

Capture

My proliant is feeling very hip and up to date now.