Friday, November 8, 2013

Flashing your BIOS in Linux using a USB flash drive

These instructions are specific to Ubuntu and Ubuntu derivatives (like Xubuntu and Elementary OS), but they should work on just about any version of Linux. Just modify the steps for installing GParted and UNetbootin as necessary:

  1. Get the current version of your BIOS by running this command in a terminal:
    sudo dmidecode -s bios-version

  2. Find the BIOS update file for your computer. These are generic, but should point you in the right direction:
    1. Get the exact make (Lenovo, ASUS, Dell, etc) and model of your computer. The model will be a combination of letters and/or numbers and is either somewhere on the top or bottom of your computer.

    2. Open a browser and go to the website for the manufacturer of your computer.

    3. There should be a support section where you can navigate to the drivers/downloads for your computer. You'll probably have to search for your computer using the model number you looked up.

    4. From there, find the BIOS update file for your computer. If it's the same version as what you already have installed, you're already up-to-date and you can stop. Otherwise download it. If it comes as a .zip file, open it and extract the .exe file from it that's used to do the actual BIOS update.

  3. Get a USB flash drive that you don't mind erasing. If necessary, copy everything off of it first.

  4. Now, we'll use GParted to erase your flash drive to prepare it:
    1. Install GParted
      sudo apt-get install gparted

    2. Open GParted. If nothing happens, try opening it by typing this into the terminal:
      sudo gparted &

    3. On the upper-right side of the screen, select your flash drive. In the Mount Point column, it should have something starting with /media. Be very careful that you choose the correct drive in this step! If you don't, you could wipe your whole hard drive and lose everything. If you're unsure, you should probably ask for help. is a great place to get help.

    4. Right-click on any partitions, and click Unmount. Then right-click them again and click Delete.

    5. Right click in the large box at the top that says unallocated and click New.

    6. Change File system to fat16 and click Add.

    7. At the top, click the green checkmark to apply all operations, then click Apply. Remember, this will fully wipe your USB drive!

    8. When it's finished, click Close and exit GParted.

  5. Next, we'll use UNetbootin to make the USB drive bootable:
    1. Before you'll be able to use UNetbootin, open the file explorer, right-click on the USB drive, and click Mount.

    2. Install the latest version of UNetbootin
      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gezakovacs/ppa
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install unetbootin

    3. Open UNetbootin

    4. For Distribution, select FreeDOS

    5. At the bottom, make sure Type is USB Drive

    6. Click OK

    7. When it's finished, click Exit

  6. Go to your USB drive in the file manager and copy the BIOS update .exe file that you downloaded earlier.

  7. Now, you'll need to figure out how to boot to the USB drive. Normally this is done by pressing a special key at the boot screen (the first screen that comes up when you turn your computer on) to open a boot menu. Common keys are: Esc, F1, F2, F10, Enter. You may have to press Esc first to then see which key you need to press. If all else fails, Google it :)

  8. Once you've figured out how to boot to the USB drive, with the USB drive still plugged in, reboot your computer, and boot from your USB boot drive.

  9. At the UNetbootin menu, press Enter

  10. At the FreeDOS boot menu, select FreeDOS Safe Mode and press Enter

  11. Now change to the C drive by typing:

  12. Get the name of the .exe file you copied by typing:

  13. You should see a list of files, and one should have EXE in the second column. Flash your BIOS by typing the name of that file that's listed in the first column. For example:

  14. Once it's finished, turn off your computer, remove the USB drive, and turn it back on.

  15. Get the version of your BIOS again, and this time it should show the new BIOS version:
    sudo dmidecode -s bios-version


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