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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:30 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 1:21 am
Posts: 338
Location: France
Hello there .o/

I've tried making a tutorial for someone on another forum about how to make a custom version of UBCD 5.3.3 so he could update his Dell Dimension 9100's BIOS before upgrading to a better CPU.
Basically I told him how to make a custom CD using the built-in ubcd2iso, then to boot on "UBCD FreeDOS R1.51 (Based on NwDsk V3.40)" and run the update program from Dell (the actual thread in french over there). Unfortunately, he reported that the update failed with the following message :
Quote:
update failed!

the flash image failed one or more consistency checks.

So, I tried the method I had given him on two Dell Optiplex 360, once choosing the default option "Boot UMBPCI (silent)", and another time choosing "Boot no UMB (defensive)", disabling everything except CDROM support and french keyboard : it failed for me too, with the very same error message. I did check that the BIOS update program had been burnt correctly.

However, flashing the BIOS from a Dell Optiplex 360 does work with UBCD 4.1.1 when booting with "FreeDOS Boot Disk V3.40" : I had done that several times before, and tried again, successfully, this evening on one of the computers that failed to update using UBCD 5.


Hence my questions below :
- Did anyone else try flashing Dell BIOSes with UBCD 5?
- Did it work for you, or did you have any issue? Which method exactly did you use? On which computer models?
- And last but not least: any idea why my method didn't work with UBCD 5 while doing pretty much the same with UBCD 4 works just fine? ^^'

_________________
Hammerite Compendium of Precepts, Regimens and Rules of Conduct, Vol. 113 :
A stroke of thy chisel, once made, canst be undone, but a stroke thou dost not make from fear is a worse flaw.
Be not cautious - be correct.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:36 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 5:26 am
Posts: 825
Constance wrote:
And last but not least: any idea why my method didn't work with UBCD 5 while doing pretty much the same with UBCD 4 works just fine?


It is not clear to me what exactly you have done (or trying to do).

Are you saying that you were/are trying to use on UBCD 5.3.3 the same method of DOS customization that used to work for UBCD 4.1.1?

How exactly are you trying to add to UBCD 5.3.3 the DOS executable program (to update the BIOS)?

When exactly did you receive the error message? During which step?

Regards,
Ady.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 1:21 am
Posts: 338
Location: France
Hello and thank you for showing interest in my question :]

Quote:
Are you saying that you were/are trying to use on UBCD 5.3.3 the same method of DOS customization that used to work for UBCD 4.1.1?

I'm saying I tried to flash the BIOS of some Dell computers using a DOS environment provided by Ultimate Boot CD to do so.
The customization of the CD works using the same method (see below) for both versions, but the actual flashing attempts fail when using a v5 based CD… for some reason ^^'

Quote:
How exactly are you trying to add to UBCD 5.3.3 the DOS executable program (to update the BIOS)?

Here are the steps I followed:
1 - mount the original UBCD ISO in a virtual drive
2 - copy its files to a folder made especially for the purpose of customizing the contents, such as C:\myubcd
3 - add my collection of BIOS and firmware flashing stuff into a sub-folder (such as C:\myubcd\bios-fw )
4 - use ubcd2iso to create a custom ISO from the contents of "C:\myubcd", so basically it just has that "\bios-fw" folder's contents added, compared with the official ISO
5 - burn the custom ISO to a CD
6 - make sure all files on the burnt CD match the original ones

Quote:
When exactly did you receive the error message? During which step?

The error message appears within a few seconds after the BIOS flashing procedure has been initiated, only if I started the DOS environment from UBCD 5.
To illustrate the problem, I recorded it on video:
- a successful attempt using my custom UBCD 4.1.1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxwVGcNvJdo
- a failed attempt using my custom UBCD 5.3.3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Heu1YTbRFfs

_________________
Hammerite Compendium of Precepts, Regimens and Rules of Conduct, Vol. 113 :
A stroke of thy chisel, once made, canst be undone, but a stroke thou dost not make from fear is a worse flaw.
Be not cautious - be correct.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 5:18 pm 
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I was about to mention several differences between UBCD 4.1.1 and UBCD 5.3.3 in relation to fdubcd and the boot process, but instead I'd rather suggest alternative methods of flashing these Dells' BIOS.

The information I am writing here is not a complete step-by-step, but just a generic description. Moreover, in some cases some details that are not specified here might be relevant for the success of the procedure.

Beware readers out there: flashing BIOS could potentially make your computer unusable in some cases.

Disclaimer: I am writing this post in good faith, with the solely intention for this info to be useful, but with no warrant of any kind to anyone and with no responsibility at all on my part. Use at your own risk and own responsibility.

***

Alternative A:

This procedure is directed to UBCD 5.3.3, but it can be adapted for UBCD 4.1.1 too with minor differences. It should be relatively consistent for most versions of UBCD using ISOLINUX (or SYSLINUX for USB sticks).

A1_ Instead of copying the DOS-based executable flash program directly onto "c:\myubcd" (or under a sub-directory) as mentioned in the prior post, you could build a simple uncompressed bootable DOS floppy image containing:
_ DOS boot code (VBR)
_ DOS kernel
_ DOS shell (e.g. command.com)
_ the flash program.

The file name of the DOS-based executable flash program should rather contain only common English printable characters and no symbols (not even a minus sign "-"). The file name should rather be limited to "8.3" format.

There is no need for this floppy image to include additional drivers. In fact, adding any driver / TSR / RAM manager to this floppy image should be discouraged, unless the instructions from the BIOS/PC manufacturer indicate its use is recommended or necessary.

A2_ Copy the floppy image file :
Code:
<ubcd_extracted>/ubcd/custom/myflash.img


A3_ Add a boot entry to:
Code:
<ubcd_extracted>/ubcd/custom/custom.cfg

as follows:

Code:
LABEL myflash
LINUX /boot/syslinux/memdisk
INITRD /ubcd/custom/myflash.img
APPEND floppy raw


Note: Some (or all) of the appended parameters for MEMDISK might not be needed.

A4a_ If the target system to be flashed allows to boot from USB, use the ubcd2usb script for a bootable USB stick.

A4b_ As an alternative to the above option "A4a", re-build the customized UBCD 5.3.3 by means of the ubcd2iso script, and burn the new customized ISO on optical media.

A6_ Boot UBCD -> custom -> myflash -> execute the flash program...

Advantage of this method (in comparison to the method presented in the prior post): There are no additional DOS drivers using RAM, reducing the chances of incompatibilities with the flash program.

There are some minor details that would be different in UBCD 4.1.1, such as some path(s), and the "FLOPPY RAW" appended parameters for the MEMDISK version included in UBCD 4.1.1. (these parameters either didn't exist at the time or were not used / needed in UBCD 4.1.1).


If the particular target system (the one that needs the BIOS update) cannot boot with ISOLINUX, then using El Torito floppy emulation should be possible too. The basic steps are not _that_ different, but the ubcd2iso script does not (currently) support El Torito floppy emulation, so I am not adding details about such alternative method.




Alternative B:

Some BIOS versions allow to use the DOS-based flash executable program directly from a FAT-formatted USB stick.

First insert the USB stick (with the flash file included in it) and power on the computer.

During POST, the user can press some specific key (DEL / F1 / F2 / F8 / F12...) allowing for some "quick flash" method (this is not the same as the "boot priority" options). The "quick flash" method is embedded in the BIOS itself. It shows a screen where the user can select a drive, a sub-directory and the flash file provided by the BIOS/PC manufacturer (similar to what users can see in NC, VC or "edit.com") from the FAT-formatted USB stick.

Depending on the type of flash file provided, this alternative procedure might or might not be available.


There are some additional possible methods available, and some BIOS / PC manufacturers also include their own recommendations / methods / downloads...

***
This info is not to be considered exhaustive / thorough / detailed / complete. Use at your own risk.

Regards,
Ady.


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