- 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 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.
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 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".
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.
Updating Thinkpad X Series
X Series Thinkpads do not have an internal drive. If there is no Windows installed, the BIOS must be updated by booting from an USB drive or a drive that is integrated in the docking station. Since a while Lenovo provides BIOS updates in form of bootable CD images. Unfortunately, these images are intended to be used with the docking station's CD drive. If you do not own such a drive, things get complicated.
The problem is that current BIOS updates are quite large, about 3 MB in size. Booting from CDs typically works like booting from a 1.44 MB or 2.88 MB floppy disk. The floppy image is stored on the CD and is referenced in the CD's boot record. Because the BIOS update file are that large, they do not fit on such a floppy image. Thus, they must be stored on the CD outside the virtual floppy image. To access these files a driver for the CD drive has to be loaded. Since Lenovo's CD images are intended to be used with a docking station's CD drive, it is not possible to use them for BIOS updates by booting from an USB CD drive.
But there is hope. The CD images provided by Lenovo can be modified such that they contain drivers for USB CD drives. I tested the following with a Thinkpad X60s.
The idea is to take Lenovo's ISO CD image and modify it such that a USB CD drive can be used instead the CD drive in the docking station. Unfortunately, simply replacing the drivers is not enough. While doing the BIOS update, the USB ports seem to get disabled or something. Therefore, before starting the update process the CD contents have to be copied to a RAM disk. I will describe the procedure step by step.
- Download the ISO image style BIOS update from Lenovo's website. This file will be refered to as /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso.
Extract the floppy image from this ISO image. You can use the following shell script for this task (or an alternative one from ). Simply save this code into the file /tmp/extractbootimage.sh, set the x-flag (chmod +x /tmp/extractbootimage.sh) and call it using the command /tmp/extractbootimage.sh /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso /tmp/bios-lenovo.img. The floppy image contained in the ISO image will then be saved to /tmp/bios-lenovo.img. Here is the code of the shell script:
#!/bin/bash # This script extracts the floopy boot image from bootable ISO images # # Written by Joachim Selke (email@example.com), 2007-04-07 ISOFILE=$1 IMAGEFILE=$2 if [ ! -r $ISOFILE ]; then echo $ISOFILE: file does not exist or is not readable exit 1 fi if [ -z $IMAGEFILE ]; then echo Error: no image file specified exit 1 fi ISOFILESIZE=`stat -c %s $ISOFILE` # collect El Torito data # see http://www.phoenix.com/NR/rdonlyres/98D3219C-9CC9-4DF5-B496-A286D893E36A/0/specscdrom.pdf for reference BOOTCATALOGPOINTERBYTE=$((17 * 0x800 + 0x47)) if [ $ISOFILESIZE -lt $(($BOOTCATALOGPOINTERBYTE + 4)) ]; then echo ISO file is too short, possibly damaged exit 1 fi # absolute pointer to first sector of boot catalog: BOOTCATALOG=`od -A n -t x4 -N 4 -j $BOOTCATALOGPOINTERBYTE $ISOFILE | tr -d [:blank:]` BOOTCATALOGBYTE=$((0x$BOOTCATALOG * 0x800)) echo Boot catalog starts at byte $BOOTCATALOGBYTE if [ $ISOFILESIZE -lt $(($BOOTCATALOGBYTE + 32 + 2)) ]; then echo ISO file is too short, possibly damaged exit 1 fi # media type of boot image # only floppy disk images are supported by this script BOOTMEDIATYPE=`od -A n -t x1 -N 1 -j $(($BOOTCATALOGBYTE + 32 + 1)) $ISOFILE | tr -d [:blank:]` if [ $BOOTMEDIATYPE -eq 1 ]; then echo Boot media type is 1.2M floppy disk IMAGEBLOCKS=$((1200 / 2)) elif [ $BOOTMEDIATYPE -eq 2 ]; then echo Boot media type is 1.44M floppy disk IMAGEBLOCKS=$((1440 / 2)) elif [ $BOOTMEDIATYPE -eq 3 ]; then echo Boot media type is 2.88M floppy disk IMAGEBLOCKS=$((2880 / 2)) else echo Boot media type is $((0x$BOOTMEDIATYPE)). This type is not supported yet. exit 1 fi # absolute pointer to start of boot image BOOTIMAGE=`od -A n -t x4 -N 4 -j $(($BOOTCATALOGBYTE + 32 + 8)) $ISOFILE | tr -d [:blank:]` BOOTIMAGEBYTE=$((0x$BOOTIMAGE * 0x800)) echo Boot image starts at byte $BOOTIMAGEBYTE if [ $ISOFILESIZE -lt $((0x$BOOTIMAGE * 0x800 + $IMAGEBLOCKS * 0x800)) ]; then echo ISO file is too short, possibly damaged exit 1 fi echo Extracting boot image ... dd if=$ISOFILE of=$IMAGEFILE bs=2K count=$IMAGEBLOCKS skip=$((0x$BOOTIMAGE)) echo Finished
Mount the floppy image as root using the loop device:
# mkdir /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt
# mount -o loop /tmp/bios-lenovo.img /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt
Download needed drivers. First download some USB drivers from Panasonic Japan. Save the file to /tmp/f2h_usb.exe This file is a self-extracting EXE file, that can be executed under Linux using Wine:
$ wine /tmp/f2h_usb.exe
Let's modify the floppy image:
$ cp /tmp/F2h/Usbaspi.sys /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/
$ cp /tmp/F2h/USBCD.SYS /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/
$ cp /tmp/F2h/RAMFD.SYS /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/
$ cp /tmp/srdisk/srdxms.sys /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/
$ cp /tmp/srdisk/srdisk.exe /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/
DEVICE = A:\SRDXMS.SYS DEVICE = A:\RAMFD.SYS DEVICE = A:\USBASPI.SYS /V DEVICE = A:\USBCD.SYS /D:TPCD001
Finally, edit the file /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt/autoexec.bat replacing the last line (saying COMMAND.COM) by the following:
A:\SRDISK 10000 COPY *.* D: D: COMMAND.COM
Maybe the RAM disk gets a drive letter different from D: on your system. In this case, you have to change the above lines accordingly.
Unmount the floppy image (as root):
# umount /tmp/bios-lenovo.img-mnt
Copy the content of the original CD image to a new directory and create a new ISO file:
# mkdir /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso-mnt
# mount -o loop /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso-mnt
$ mkdir /tmp/bios-new.iso-mnt
$ cp /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso-mnt/* /tmp/bios-new.iso-mnt
$ cp /tmp/bios-lenovo.img /tmp/bios-new.iso-mnt/boot.img
# umount /tmp/bios-lenovo.iso-mnt
$ mkisofs -relaxed-filenames -b boot.img -o /tmp/bios-new.iso /tmp/bios-new.iso-mnt/
- The file /tmp/bios-new.iso is the modified ISO file. Just burn it to CD and use this CD for updating your BIOS (boot from it using your USB drive). Please give some comments here if it worked for you.
Alternative method using a USB stick
Note: none of the above methods worked on my X60s. This method worked for me, however. PhilipPaeps 16:41, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
This method was surprisingly painless once I convinced my ThinkPad X60s to boot DOS from a USB stick. I used VMWare and some mystical tool to get DOS on the stick. If you can find another way to get a bootable DOS stick, please update this section!
- Tell VMWare to create a virtual floppy image for you and format it under Microsoft Windows and tell it to create a system disk. You can do this by clicking into "My Computer", then right-clicking on the "Floppy" icon and selecting "Format". In the box that pops up, you need to check the box that says "Create an MS-DOS startup disk" and then click "Start".
- When you've done that, get this tool: http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/330/mirrors.php and install it. The tool is apparantly something HP once wrote, but I have been unable to find a link to it anywhere on the HP website.
- In a command prompt again:
C:\DriveKey\HPUSBF.EXE E: -Q -B:A:\, replacing the
E:with the "drive letter" associated with your USB stick (you can find this letter in "My Computer" under "Removable Storage"). WARNING: this wipes anything on the USB stick. You will end up with a USB stick which appears empty at this point, but there is DOS on it somewhere.
- Now mount the BIOS update ISO image from Lenovo as a virtual CDROM using VMWare again and copy the files from it to the USB stick:
copy D:\*.* E:\.
At this point, you may want to fiddle with the splash image, as described elsewhere on ThinkWiki.
- Reboot and press F12, tell the BIOS to boot from your USB stick.
Think happy thoughts. The ThinkPad will beep quite ominously (and loudly!) a couple of times. Do not let this worry you too much. After about three minutes, the program will ask you to press enter to restart and hopefully all will be well.
- I have followed your excellent instructions. The CD booted, the update program ran but stopped working and responding while updating. Luckily the BIOS was not destroyed. Since destroying the BIOS is a very high risk, I am going to recover the original Windows on an old HD and will run the update exe update program from there.
- I followed these clear instructions, and like the comment above I ended up with a CD that booted but the update program stopped working and responding. An ALT-CTRL-DELETE rebooted my x60s, and it works so the BIOS must not have been damaged. I was trying to upgrade from version 2.08 to 2.11, I wonder if these instructions are somehow particular to certain versions? Latch 01:22, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
After following the above instructions, the program also stopped working while updating the BIOS. But after changing the drive letter from D: to C: (see code below), it everything worked fine. However, I had some trouble figuring out, which letter to choose over D: at first, as the BIOS Upgrade program started right away.
A:\SRDISK 10000 COPY *.* C: C: COMMAND.COM
Mtx, 1 August 2007, Thinkpad X61s
Flashing the bios (2.12) works for me on a X60s (using drive c). Using the DVD-R on an USB-Hub did not work.
Ra 00:15, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Alternative method to the above "alternative method"
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
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.
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.
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.