Flashing BIOS images to newer laptops with linux

Stephen Dowdy sdowdy at ucar.edu
Thu Aug 23 13:03:42 CDT 2012

I used to use:

    wine FOO.EXE -writehdrfile

to extract .HDR BIOS images from Windows-Only systems to use with
libsmbios flashing utilities on linux. (this worked for precision,
latitude, inspiron)

However, of late, the .EXEs appear to be some monstrosity Phoenix
BIOS WinPhlash full Windows32 GUI executable only. (no capability
to extract a .HDR.  This seems to be the result of the brave new
world of UEFI BIOS, i suppose)

I have successfully flashed the BIOS on an Inspiron 17R using a
WinPE 3 boot CD and a USB stick with the N...A12.EXE, but i also
had to put a copy of "OLEDLG.DLL" onto the same directory on the
USB, because that wasn't on the WinPE CD.
This was for a personally owned system.

This frankly SUCKS.  And now, i have a shiny new Latitude E6430n for
WORK, that i had to get special ordered with Ubuntu.  Even though
Dell Supports and indicates it's an orderable option the online
configurator doesn't allow you to choose Ubuntu.

So, i go to 'support.dell.com' and find that this system only
has Driver/Firmware downloads for Windows systems (though it is
sold with Ubuntu).  And, the BIOS update isn't the old style
'-writehdrfile' .EXE, and it doesn't appear to be the WinPhlash
thing either.
('strings' shows:
    Dell System BIOS Update Utility - General Usage:
there's a GUI-less cmd option (/s), but no ability to write HDR
output to flash with libsmbios.  I suppose this may just be an
impossibility, so...

Does Dell have any plans to support Flashing BIOS on Linux AT ALL,
for non-poweredge systems?  I'd even be happy (well not happy,
but satisfied) if dell provided a standalone bootable USB image
for applying BIOS to laptops) or do others here have any reliable
solutions they use?

It really makes sense to detach the PAYLOAD from the Flashing
Application, so we could just have the application per OS and only
download small payloads from Dell as needed.


Stephen Dowdy  -  Systems Administrator  -  NCAR/RAL
303.497.2869   -  sdowdy at ucar.edu        -  http://www.ral.ucar.edu/~sdowdy/

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