How to change the BIOS bootsplash screen

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This page describes how to replace the standard IBM BIOS Bootsplash (The one with the Thinkpad- and Pentium M-Logo), without access to Microsoft Windows or a floppy drive.

Getting the Files

You'll need the bios upgrade file from the IBM website.

Using a Non-Diskette-File and cabextract

For ThinkPad R50/p, R51 (1829, 1830, 1831, 1836), T40/p, T41/p, T42/p this file is suitable:

There may be a more recent file on the IBM website.

Do this to extract the disk image from the file:

cd /tmp
cabextract -F 1RUJ27US.IMG 1ruj27us.exe
mv 1RUJ27US.IMG floppy.bin

Using a Diskette-File and dosemu

Another option is to use the "Diskette BIOS file".
For ThinkPad R50/p, R51 (1829, 1830, 1831, 1836), T40/p, T41/p, T42/p this file is suitable:

I got the bios upgrade diskette from the IBM site. It was an .exe-file... but no, no Windows executable, an OS/2 executable (well, it's IBM after all). The file is an OS/2 executables don't run in wine, so you need to install dosemu to run it and create the image.
apt-get install dosemu dosemu-freedos (for non-debian-users: Get dosemu and freedos somewhere and make it work somehow).

With dosemu, I could run this executable. But this program unfortunately needs a floppy drive to write to. So I dig into the linux toolbox and find: The loopback device. A dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/floppy.bin bs=1024 count=1440 creates a file for the floppy, a losetup /dev/loop0 /tmp/floppy.bin makes it look like a block device, and this block device is what I put in the dosemu configuration as the floppy disk device. Now I can run the extractor executable (dosemu something.exe) and it will happily make a /tmp/floppy.bin floppy image.

Adding the custom image

Mount your floppy.bin as a loopback device.

mkdir /tmp/mnt
mount -o loop,umask=000 /tmp/floppy.bin /tmp/mnt

Create a 16 color 640x480 BMP (4 Bit/pixel) (for example with Gimp) and save it to /tmp/mnt/logo.bmp.
No prepare the image with prepare.exe using wine: (This does not work with dosemu!)

wine prepare.exe logo.scr

Now there should be a new logo.mod. If so, you are set, don't forget to unmount your loopback device:

umount /tmp/mnt

Fake a floppy

Now you need to put the image on a floppy and boot from it. Since recent Thinkpads don't have a floppy drive, we can use a CD-R (or a CD-RW, actually, for the cheap ones, like me) and burn it with the following command:

mkisofs -b floppy.bin floppy.bin | cdrecord dev=<device> -

(<device> being your cd writer device)

The exciting part

After this worked, reboot your Thinkpad from the cdrom by pressing F12 while booting and wait for the IBM tool to start. Be sure to have your Thinkpad on AC power and say Yes to the questions the BIOS Upgrade Tool asks. 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!