ambient reality

pimping code and tech crap

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Adventures in BIOS Flashing & Live CDs

Last October I went on a shopping spree and bought a bunch of crap including a server that I was going to turn into a firewall. Well, I finally assembled this server and fired it up. Immediately the BIOS starts beeping at me. After Google'ing the error message "Unknown BIOS error" with the error code 0163, I discovered it was because my Sempron 2800+ CPU was too new for the BIOS.

So begins the fun. Updating the BIOS on an ASUS motherboard sucks ass. Finding the latest BIOS update was easy. Installing it is a whole other issue.

There's two ways to update the BIOS: a program called AsusUpdate that only runs in Windows and another program called AFUDOS that only runs in DOS. Simple, if you have Windows installed, but I didn't have an OS installed. I also didn't bother to install a floppy drive in this server, so...

Enter the Live CD. I started by downloading Bart's Preinstalled Environment. After installing it, run the PEBuilder, insert your Windows XP SP2 disc, pick a custom folder to dump onto the Live CD (i.e. the AsusUpdate and the update ROM) and specify the output ISO file. From there burn the ISO, slap it in the server, boot up a very watered down version of Windows, run the AsusUpdate program and smile as you stare at a dialog box that doesn't say shit. Clicking OK caused the installer to exit and leave a bunch of crap in the temp folder.

Ok, no problem, lets try Bart's DOS live cd. First you need to download like 4 seperate files, decompress and assemble them. After totally messing up the first CD, I figured out how to hack the files together. I added the AFUDOS program and the ROM and finally burned a cute little CD from the generated ISO file. I slapped this disc in the server and booted it up. Finally got the updater to work and I needed to reboot.

After the system booted up and hitting F1 to confirm the BIOS message that the CMOS is messed up, somehow everything started working. The BIOS now recognized my CPU and finally I could install my firewall, but that another story.

In short, Asus BIOS are a huge pain to flash if you don't use Windows and Bart has really kick ass and super handy bootable CDs.


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