How to change the BIOS bootsplash screen (under Windows)

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This page describes how to replace the standard IBM BIOS Bootsplash (The one with the ThinkPad- and Pentium M-Logo), if you have Microsoft Windows. So far it has only been tested on XP.

Getting the Files

You'll need the bios upgrade file from the IBM website. The best way to do this is connect to IBM support, click "<math>\rightarrow</math>Detect my system" (sorry, IE only), then "Downloads and Drivers", and finally "BIOS Update (Non-Diskette)". Save the .exe file somewhere (the one I had was called 1RUJ31US.EXE).

For more modern, i.e. Lenovo, Thinkpads, go to Lenovo Support, select "Notebook" and then your model from the menus, click on "Downloads and Drivers," and download the BIOS update file (may take some searching; the easiest way to find it is to select "Refine Results > BIOS").

For Thinkpad R60e the bios is available as an iso which can be edited before burning See the readme file in the ISO for details of how to change the bootsplash.

Those readme instructions:

*  THIS VERSION OF THE FLASH UPDATE PROGRAM GIVES THE OPTION OF      *
*  REPLACING (OR ELIMINATING) THE DEFAULT "LENOVO" IMAGE THAT IS     *
*  DISPLAYED DURING SYSTEM START UP.  THE USER CAN SUBSTITUTE A      *
*  16 COLOR WINDOWS BITMAP (.BMP) TO REPLACE THE DEFAULT IMAGE.      *
*                                                                    *
*  1. LOGO.BAT WILL ONLY WORK IN A MICROSOFT (R) OPERATING SYSTEM    *
*     DOS WINDOW.                                                    *
*  2. PREPARE YOUR IMAGE BY NAMING IT 'LOGO.BMP', AND COPY IT.       *
*  3. GO TO THE DOS WINDOW. RUN LOGO.BAT TO COMPRESS AND PREPARE     *
*     THE BITMAP FILE FOR FLASHING. LOGO.MOD IS THE RESULT.          *
*  4. UPDATE ACCORDING TO INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS                  *
*                                                                    *
*  AFTER YOU UPDATE THE BIOS ON YOUR SYSTEM, YOUR LOGO WILL          *
*  APPEAR ON THE STARTUP SCREEN.                                     *
*                                                                    *
*  SOME GUIDELINES FOR THESE IMAGES INCLUDE:                         *
*                                                                    *
*  1. THE COMPRESSED IMAGE FILE SIZE LIMITED TO 10KB.                *
*  2. SIMPLE DESIGNS (THE IMAGE WILL BE COMPRESSED AND COMPLEX       *
*     IMAGES DON'T COMPRESS WELL...)                                 *
*  3. AN LENOVO LOGO IS USED BY DEFAULT, BUT A 16 COLOR 640x480      *
*     WINDOWS .BMP FILE CAN BE USED INSTEAD.                         *

Finding the floppy image

Run the executable file from the previous step and accept the license agreement. Once you do so, a floppy image is unpacked to a temporary directory somewhere on your hard disk. The easiest way to find it is to run the standard Windows search looking for a file called "1ruj31us.img" (or whatever the EXE was called only with IMG). Note that the following few steps are all performed with the BIOS updater window open and waiting for us to click "Next".

Mounting the virtual floppy

  • Download Virtual Floppy Drive and unzip it somewhere
  • Run "vfdwin.exe" (the VFD Control Panel). In the "driver" pane click "Start", then in the "drive0" pane click "change" and assign "Z:", and finally click "Open" and open the IMG file you've found. Now you have a new drive on your computer called Z:

Adding the custom image

Create a 16 color 640x480 BMP (4 Bit/pixel VGA palette) (for example with Gimp) and save it as logo.bmp on the virtual floppy drive (that is, drive Z:). You could use this tux image (logo.bmp, logo.mod) for example.
Now prepare the image by double-clicking the "logo.bat" command you see on the floppy. You should get a message confirming that the file was converted successfully. Otherwise you can try a simpler design (it has to compress to under 10K).

Now there should be a new logo.mod and your logo.bmp. If so, you are set.

Unmounting the virtual floppy

Make sure you close all applications and explorer windows pointing to drive Z:, then go back to the VFD Control Panel, go to the driver pane and click "uninstall". You'll be asked to save your changes - check the "overwrite" checkbox since that's what we want to do. You can quit the VFD Control Panel now.

The exciting part

After this worked, go back to the BIOS updater window and click next until it restarts. You should get an IBM tool screen. Be sure to have your Thinkpad on AC power and say Yes to the questions the BIOS Upgrade Tool asks. Make sure you get asked if you want to use a custom image. If not, something went wrong along the way. It will then flash the BIOS, which will take about a minute.

Suddenly the laptop turns itself off with two beeps. When booting, you'll have your bootsplash picture.

Unfortunately, you won't see it really long, but it's better than the standard one, so it was worth the action.

Have fun!


Recent BIOS Files

More recent BIOS update files do not come with floppy images, as they are designed to update the BIOS from within Windows itself. To change the bootsplash with one of the files, run the .EXE so that it extracts the files (it will ask you where to extract to). Find the folder containing the files, move your bootsplash .bmp there, and name it LOGO.bmp. Open up the command prompt (Run > cmd). Change working directories to the folder containing the extracted files (cd C:\DRIVERS\FLASH\... [or whatever your path might be]). Run the batch file logo.bat; if your image works, it will tell you that it compressed the image and no errors were found. The compressed image file will now be named logo.mod. Run WINUPTP.exe. Navigate the menus, telling it to update the BIOS. It will say that it has detected a custom bootsplash image and ask you if you wish to use it. Choose yes. Follow the remaining on-screen instructions (make certain that you are plugged into AC power and have a battery installed). It will flash the BIOS and tell you to restart. Restart, and you should see your new bootsplash.

(This was how I got it to work on my Thinkpad T61.)

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