After a half-hour on the phone with a tech rep from Dell I learn that Dell
builds some portables (including some Latitude models) so that the BIOS can
be upgrade with linux (i.e., they provide the firmare as .hdr files), and
others can _only_ be upgraded via Windows or DOS. My E5410 (and its
replacement, the E5420) will run linux perfectly but the BIOSes cannot be
upgraded with this OS.
If someone has a FreeDOS bootable USB stick on which I can copy the two
.exe files (because the BIOS version needs to be upgraded first to A10, then
A11) I would like to borrow it.
Alternatively, if someone can teach me how to make a bootable FreeDOS USB
drive with a vfat file system rather than an iso9660 file system
(read-only) from fd11src.iso, that would work, too.
I'm quite upset that Dell would support linux on only some models and not
others. But, since I've a lot of money invested in this laptop I want to
upgrade the BIOS so it will use all 8G of RAM and fix a few other glitches.
Rich Shepard <rshepard*******> dijo:
I have such a USB stick. I was even able to find it. It is only 512 MB,
because I made it a long time ago when that was the sweet spot for
prices of USB sticks.
Now the trick is how to get it to you. I am in North Portland, but
tomorrow afternoon I will go to PSU. If I recall correctly from previous
conversations, you are extremely suburban. It might be cheaper
This would be the ideal scenario. Tragically, I cannot remember how I
made the bootable USB stick.
I have (had?) a 128M one but cannot immediately put my hands on it. The
two .exe files are 2.8M each so space is not an issue.
I spent time futzing with the USB drive here and will test it tomorrow or
Thursday (depending on how much client work I get done today and how much of
tomorrow is getting around Frontier's blocking of outgoing port 25 even
though they're not the ISP but the copper between here and aracnet.
Anyway, I used parted to remove all partitions on the stick. Then cfdisk
to make two partitions: /dev/sdb1 is vfat 32 (10M) and /dev/sdb2 is vfat 32
LBA (the rest of the 4G drive). /boot/initrd-tree/sbin/mkfs.vfat put the
file systems on each partition.
Turns out that FreeDOS 1.1 lacks the bootable capabilities of 1.0. So I
downloaded dfbasews.iso and fdboot.img. The former has not been used, but I
used dd to copy fdboot.img on /dev/sdb1 (wasting most of the space, but that
doesn't matter at all). For whatever reason, I as user could not copy the
two BIOS files (*.exe) to /dev/sdb2, but root could. So, now I have
command.com, driver/, fdconfig.sys, freedos/, and kernel.sys in /dev/sd1 and
the BIOS images on /dev/sdb2. As soon as I can, I'll boot the laptop with
the USB drive (I think that kernel.sys is what's needed, then see if it
finds the .exe files to run.
More when I have it,
Rich Shepard <rshepard*******> dijo:
I didn't actually test my USB stick here because I can't easily reboot
the computer at the moment. But I stuck it in a port and observed the
following files on it:
Shortcut to CD Drive.lnk
<+ a bunch of irrelevant coursework files>
The .old file was probably a renaming done by me, as I commonly
add .old to files when I want to get rid of it, yet save it for just in
The awdflash.exe file I am sure was the file I used to flash an Award
BIOS on my old laptop, a Compaq R3200. It was at least five years ago.
But at least it tells me that FreeDOS can run an .exe file.
If I mail this to you it would arrive no later than Thursday, probably
tomorrow. Better you should have it and not need it than need it and
not have it.
Here's an ancient plug email where I gave instructions on creating a
bootable USB flash drive that contains FreeDOS. I'm not sure how
relevant it is today.
Hold off for the moment. I need to learn if my USB stick will work. And,
tonight Frontier is switching me from a static IP address to their DHCP
server and that requires reconfiguring postfix, too, to use port 587
outbound rather than port 25. I think a lot of tomorrow will be spent geting
mail working again.
Someone on the SlackBuilds.org mail list just submitted a package to build
unetbootin on Slackware. As soon as it's approved I'll give it a try.
Now that I figured out how to replace a VFAT file system on the USB flash
drives I don't worry about getting them all messed up. :-)