- 1 Before You Begin
- 2 BIOS Upgrade Paths
- 3 Updating Thinkpad X Series
- 4 Updating via CD/DVD Drive
- 5 Updating via Grub and a Floppy Image
- 6 Updating with Network Boot Image
- 7 Updating via "IBM Predesktop area", suitable for model X (not have CDROM and floppy)
- 8 After updating
- 9 Check List
This page is meant to describe ways to update the BIOS on a ThinkPad that only runs Linux for users that don't have ready access to Windows. If you have Windows on your ThinkPad you can just boot into it and follow instructions on the IBM website.
Before You Begin
Updating the BIOS in Linux (with few exceptions) is not officially supported by IBM/Lenovo. However there are work arounds.
Please consider updating the List of DMI IDs before (and after) updating your BIOS.
BIOS Upgrade Paths
For every firmware (either BIOS or Embedded Controller program) update on the IBM web site there used to be two different firmware update programs provided. The Diskette Updater and the Non Diskette Updater. For newer Lenovo Models the Diskette Updater is replaced with a bootable CD-Image and the Non Diskette Updater is renamed BIOS Update Utility, both of which update the BIOS and the Embedded Controller program at the same time. A list of links to firmware downloads can be found at BIOS Upgrade Downloads for nearly all Thinkpad Models.
The Diskette Updater
The Diskette updater appears to be a 16 bit DOS program which asks you to accept a license agreement. It will run in Windows, DOS, OS/2, or Dosemu perfectly, but requires a real floppy disk attached via a real floppy controller. A USB Floppy Drive will not work.
The flash environment can be a really dumb piece of work and it will be reading the data from the floppy as it goes, i.e. it is dangerous as all heck should the floppy reads fail. Use a clean (in the physical sense) floppy and floppy drive. Have two or more flash disks ready, all of them binary copies of each other, and all of them tested to be perfectly readable. And the only thing you can tell DOS without risking your ThinkPad, is to "Retry" if it asks.
Important floppy-drive knowledge for those who are not used to them:
- One floppy is never enough. Good quality ones are very dependable for short-time data storage when new, but chances are you'll be using either old or extra-shitty diskettes (good ones have not been manufactured for a long while now), so you cannot trust them at all
- When a floppy fails to read because you failed at the "use clean floppies" part, it may get dirt stuck to the drive head and will not work well until cleaned
- You can clean a floppy disk, but it requires much care as you must do it without using any fluids, and you only want to remove the dirt on top of the metal-oxide layer, without damaging said layer (i.e. you can't rub it, and you can't cause any scratches)
- Dirty driver heads sometime damage floppies. Wet driver heads always damage floppies. Clean the drive heads first, and make sure to wait until they dry before inserting a floppy in the drive
- You may need to clean the floppy drive head before it will work again if it gets dirty. You'll need the usual "floppy disk cleaner diskette with isopropil alcohol" kit to fix it (if you know the other way to clean the heads, you don't need to be reading this!), always telling DOS to "retry" (hit anything else, and your ThinkPad is likely toast)
- If you forget to let the head dry after a cleaning, it will destroy the next floppy it touches and get very dirty.
The Bootable CD Image
Newer models from Lenovo can be updated using the Bootable CD Image. This should be the easiest way for non-Windows users and also maybe a more secure way for Windows users, as well. As the image is provided as a plain ISO-file without any Windows enclosure, you can simply burn it to a CD-R/RW with any modern operating system, as long as you have a CD/DVD-RW Drive and are then able to boot from it.
Extracting a Bootable CD-ROM Image from the Non Diskette Updater
This installer appears to be a 32bit windows .exe which is designed for updating the BIOS directly from a running Windows OS. It turns out that this .exe is really a wrapper license program around Windows .cab files (see BIOS-Bootsplash). If you install the Linux program cabextract you can expand these .cab files directly. Run the following:
$ cabextract FILENAME.exe
This will extract 8 files in the current directory. One of them will be FILENAME.img. In this discussion, "FILENAME" represents the name of the Non Diskette file that you downloaded, such as "1NHJ04US".
The non Diskette download was not extractable for at least the version 3.23 (T41p), but the diskette version worked perfectly - cabextract delivered a .img file to continue here...
You can test that this is really a floppy image by running:
# mkdir mntfloppy
# mount -o loop FILENAME.img mntfloppy
# ls -la mntfloppy
If the results of
# ls -la mntfloppy look like a dos floppy, and no read errors were displayed, you have a pretty good chance that the floppy image is usable.
Unmount the image after you are done:
# umount mntfloppy
Now, you can proceed to BIOS_Upgrade:Creating a Bootable CD from a Floppy Image, below.
Booting the image with syslinux
Once the image is extracted from the Non Diskette Updater, it can be booted directly through GRUB without the need of burning a CD. This method has been tested on T42 with a broken DVD-ROM, but it should be applicable to any ThinkPad.
1. Download the Non Diskette Updater.
2. Extract the images using cabextract (see previous sections for details). Let's say that the image file is called 1RUJ37US.IMG (replace with the actual filename).
3. Make sure that syslinux package is installed in your system. Locate the memdisk file from the syslinux package. In case of openSUSE 11.1, it is placed in /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk. On Ubuntu 9.04, it can be found at /usr/lib/syslinux/memdisk.
4. Copy both the image and memdisk files into /boot directory. You must be root to do this.
# cp ./1RUJ37US.IMG /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk /boot/
5. Open /boot/grub/menu.lst in your favourite editor.
6. Copy the active section and edit title, kernel, initrd according to this example:
title IBM BIOS update root (hd0,0) kernel /boot/memdisk initrd /boot/1RUJ37US.IMG
Updating Thinkpad X Series
The special update instructions for X series Thinkpads are quite long. You can find them at the page BIOS_Upgrade/X_Series.
Updating via CD/DVD Drive
The whole thing gets more complicated if you neither have Windows nor a floppy drive installed. This is what this page is intended to describe.
Another possibility which works even without a CD-drive or network is to boot the disk image via the grub initrd mechanism.
Be aware that IBM officially does not support this! The official statement to my support request was:
I'm afraid we only support the options listed on our web page and no you can't burn a CD/DVD, however you can try to use an external USB FDD (floppy) drive. The experts recommend a IBM USB FDD, however they have also tested it with a Sony USB FDD drive. In order to make sure the drive is recognised you can boot up the FDD with a bootable dos diskette for w98
But it seems to be possible as Mathias Dalheimer describes this here.
Another indication that it should work is that IBM uses PHLASH16.EXE (at least on T4x/p systems) to flash the BIOS into the chip. The same tool is used by other vendors to flash the BIOS from bootable CD-ROMs.
Some interesting but very technical information about the used flash tool can be found here.
Creating a Floppy Image
If you have created a boot floppy on another machine, you need to create an image file of that floppy. This can be easily done in linux by running a command line:
# dd bs=2x80x18b if=/dev/fd0 of=/tmp/floppy.img
You can also create a floppy image by using Ken Kato's VMware's back. It is a free Windoze tool that creates a virtual floppy drive and allows you to produce an image file ready to be ISO'ed. Note: you might have to 'manually' (through application's interface) assign the virtual drive a volume letter in order to be seen by IBM's application (as, by default, it seems not to do it).
You should verify this floppy.img as explained above.
Creating a Bootable CD from a Floppy Image
Once you have your floppy image, either from imaging a real floppy, or from extracting them via the cabextract method above, you need to make a boot CD out of it.
The eltorito bootable CD standard is a wonderful thing. What this means is that a bootable CD can be made with a bootable floppy in such as way that the CD believes that it is a 2.88 MB floppy drive. This allows you to replace a boot floppy by a boot CD in nearly all situations.
It is very easy to create such a bootable CD ISO image in Linux using the mkisofs tool. To do this run a command as follows:
# mkisofs -b bootfloppy.img -o bootcd.iso bootfloppy.img
where bootfloppy.img is the name of the .img floppy image file, for example 1NUJ10US.IMG.
Note: This creates a CD with one file on it and marks that file as the boot image. For more info on this read
$ man mkisofs.
You can now burn the bootcd.iso in your favorite CD burning program.
To get an overview which models have been tested with this version, here is a list:
Does not work:
Please note that testing this is at your own risk!!!
Updating via Grub and a Floppy Image
Floppy images may be booted from Grub via a utility called MEMDISK, which may be compiled from the SYSLINUX source. Copy the compiled memdisk image and the floppy image to your boot directory and configure grub as follows:
title Bios Flash kernel /boot/memdisk initrd /boot/FILENAME.img
Again, proceed at your own risk. This was tested on an R51 type 2888.
This also worked for me on a T41p type 2373. -- James Lee 20:55, 8 May 2006 (CEST)
And it worked for me on a X31 type 2673-CBU. -- Jan Topinski, 18 September 2006
And it worked for me too on a X31 type 2672-CXU, very useful. -- TheAnarcat 16:21, 7 March 2007 (CET)
Same here (worked) on a X31 type 2673-58G --FaUl 15:53, 20 June 2007 (UTC)FaUl
Works well on a X31 type 2672-PG9, but with a big moment between starting update and the updating window -- Starox 22 Jul 2007
And it worked for me on two X40 type 2371 -- Jakob Truelsen, 19 Jan 2007 -- BIOS: 2.07 1uuj21us.exe -- ECP: 1.62 1uhj10us.exe
Worked on X40 type 2386 -- Galen Seitz, 15 Feb 2008 -- BIOS: 2.08 1uuj22us.exe -- ECP: 1.62 1uhj10us.exe -- memdisk from syslinux 3.61
Not working for me on T43 type 2668-F7G -- Maus3273 20:48, 30 January 2007 (CET) -- BIOS: 1.29 1YUJ18US.IMG -- I got into the bios program, but the machine never restarts after initiating the upgrade.
X41 type 2525-F8G -- Lauri Koponen, 11:08 16 Apr 2007
BIOS: 2.09 (74UJ15US.IMG), is no go. (hangs while initialising the actual flashing process) I tried with 2.07 (74UJ13US.IMG) and 2.06 (74UJ12US.IMG) aswell and they all failed in the very same fashion.
ECP: 1.02 74HJ03US.IMG, works.
It works fine on R30 type 2656-64g, BIOS v.1.40 -- Yuri Spirin, 10 May 2007.
Workes fine on T40 type 2373 with cabextracted 1RUJ37US.IMG / 1RHJ10U2.IMG and memdisk from syslinux 1:3.31-4 (Debian package version) -- Euphoria 00:10, 29 May 2008 (CEST)
Works fine on R40 type 2723 with cabextracted 1OHJ11WW.IMG/1PUJ25US.IMG, memdisk from syslinux 3.70 (slackware 12.1) -- Qunying 21:28, 23 Jul 2008 (PST)
Worked perfectly on a T40 type 2373 with 1RHJ10U2.IMG (3.04, 2004-11-15) and 1RUJ37US.IMG (3.23, 2007-07-03) using cabextract and memdisk from syslinux 3:1.36-4ubuntu5. Morphics 10:58, 20 Aug 2008 (BST)
Worked perfectly on a T41p type 2373 with 1RUJ37US.IMG (3.23, 2007-07-03) using cabextract and memdisk from syslinux 3.71 on gentoo linux. --Deggel 21:03, 22 September 2008 (CEST)
Updating with Network Boot Image
This requires that you have a DHCP and tftp server configured and setup properly on your network, and is probably not for the faint of heart.
Make sure the firmware bootdisk is in linux 'dd' format, as the self-extracting .exe disks from the IBM website cannot be booted directly as such.
On X22, works with EC 1.30 but NOT with BIOS 1.32
Updating via "IBM Predesktop area", suitable for model X (not have CDROM and floppy)
It's so difficult to update BIOS and ECP without cdrom, floppy disk. Don't know the reason why I couldn't update BIOS and ECP(1QHJ08US and 1QUJ19US) for my IBM Thinkpad X31.Hmm, may be cause of the dividing partition on my hard disk, that is:
Primary: ext3, ext3, ntfs Extended: Ntsf, fat32 Bootloader: GRUB
No problem, you can use this way to do it:
- First, config in BIOS
In Security part:
- Remove all password of Subpervisor and Power on password
- Set Access IBM Predesktop Area to Normal
- Choose Enable "Flash BIOS updating by End User" in BIOS update Option.
In Config part:
- Choose Enable for Network flash over Lan
- Second, download the newest version of BIOS update and ECP update
Running: The program extract all files to the folder. There is a .img file (1QUJ19US.IMG, 1QUJ08US.IMG) in each folder. Copy the imformation content in that img file and paste it to one FAT partition(using winimage or TotalCmd to extract)
as seen All files in 1QUJ19US.IMG is extracted to D:\BIOS
695,764 $018E000.FL1 163 0691.HSH 2,049 0691.PAT 163 0694.HSH 2,049 0694.PAT 163 0695.HSH 2,049 0695.PAT 2,049 06D0.PAT 163 06D1.HSH 2,049 06D1.PAT 163 06D2.HSH 2,049 06D2.PAT 163 06D6.HSH 2,049 06D6.PAT 2,049 06D8.PAT 697 CHKBMP.EXE 8,128 COMMAND.COM 26 CONFIG.SYS 24,860 FLASH2.EXE 26 LCREFLSH.BAT 170 LOGO.BAT 330 LOGO.SCR 111,925 PHLASH16.EXE 91,648 PREPARE.EXE 45 PROD.DAT 22,252 QKFLASH.EXE 9,923 README.TXT 4,260 TPCHKS.EXE 39,666 UPDTFLSH.EXE 6,958 UPDTMN.EXE 12,501 USERINT.EXE 15,254 UTILINFO.EXE
And all files in 1QUJ08US.IMG are: D:\ECP
315,404 $018E000.FL2 8,000 COMMAND.COM 36 CONFIG.SYS 16,910 ECFLASH2.EXE 45 PROD.DAT 17,812 QKFLASH.EXE 990 README.TXT 4,260 TPCHKS.EXE 89,738 UPDTEC.EXE 31,134 UPDTFLSH.EXE 12,501 USERINT.EXE 15,226 UTILINFO.EXE
- Okie, now plug AC Adapter, charge full battery to your laptop and continue third step:
- Flash BIOS first,
1. Power On, press blue button on keyboard: Access IBM
2. On "Utilities", double click " Diagnostic disk"
3. Your laptop will start PC-DOS, wait when this message appear:
Please insert the first floppy diskette and Press any key to continue
4. Press Ctrl + Break, you will see :
Terminate batch job (Y/N) ?
5. Okie, press Y, you will get DOS prompt like D:\
6. Enter to c:\BIOS
c: cd c:\BIOS
7. Run FLASH2.EXE /u $018E000.FL1
8. Wait flash progress compelete and reboot.
- Flash ECP
Follow above instruction from step 1 to 5
6. Enter to c:\ECP
c: cd c:\ECP
7. run UPDTFLSH.EXE $018E000.FL2
8. Follow UPDTFLSH's instructions
9. Wait flash complete and auto turn off computer.
I done it on my IBM Thinkpad X31.
Tested by nm.
Please consider updating the List of DMI IDs after (and before) updating your BIOS.
The following is important to remember:
- You must update both the Control Program and the BIOS at the same time if your current Control Program is not compatible with the new BIOS (see below)
- You must find versions of the Control Program and BIOS that are compatible. Not all of them are, so follow the readmes on the IBM website carefully to determine which are.
- You must update the Control Program before you update the BIOS
When the Control Program and the BIOS need updating, have both update disks or CDs ready. Update the Control Program first and the system should switch itself off when finished. Insert the BIOS update disk and proceed to update the BIOS. When it's all finished, enter setup, reset the settings to their defaults and reboot. Enter setup again and tweak the settings as necessary.