Forgot to mention this here: We released flashrom 0.9.4 a few days ago, the latest release of the open-source, GPL'd ROM chip flashing software for Linux, *BSD, DOS, and partially also Windows (work in progress, though).
Here's a quick summary of the release announcement. Some of the noteworthy news items include:
$ svn co svn://flashrom.org/flashrom/trunk flashrom $ cd flashrom $ make
I already updated the Debian package to 0.9.4 (it has also already migrated to Debian testing and Ubuntu), other people have updated Fedora, Gentoo, NetBSD etc. etc.
There's already a huge amount of patches queued for the next release, including support for even more programmers, PowerPC support (tested on Mac Mini and others), and of course the usual "more boards, more chips" items...
From the announce:
New major user-visible features:
* Dozens of newly supported mainboards, chipsets and flash chips.
* Support for Dr. Kaiser PC-Waechter PCI devices (FPGA variant).
* Support for flashing SPI chips with the Bus Pirate.
* Support for the Dediprog SF100 external programmer.
* Selective blockwise erase for all flash chips.
* Automatic chip unlocking.
* Support for each programmer can be selected at compile time.
* Generic detection for unknown flash chips.
* Common mainboard features are now detected automatically.
* Mainboard matching via DMI strings.
* Laptop detection which triggers safety measures.
* Test flags for all part of flashrom operation.
* Windows support for USB-based and serial-based programmers.
* NetBSD support.
* DOS support.
* Slightly changed command line invocation. Please see the man page for details.
Experimental new features:
* Support for some NVIDIA graphics cards.
* Chip test pattern generation.
* Bit-banging SPI infrastructure.
* Nvidia MCP6*/MCP7* chipset detection.
* Support for Highpoint ATA/RAID controllers.
Infrastructural improvements and fixes:
* Lots of cleanups.
* Various bugfixes and workarounds for broken third-party software.
* Better error messages.
* Reliability fixes.
* Adjustable severity level for messages.
* Programmer-specific chip size limitation warnings.
* Multiple builtin frontends for flashrom are now possible.
* Increased strictness in board matching.
* Extensive selfchecks on startup to protect against miscompilation.
* Better timing precision for touchy flash chips.
* Do not rely on Linux kernel bugs for mapping memory.
* Improved documentation.
* Split frontend and backend functionality.
* Print runtime and build environment information.
The list of supported OSes and architectures is slowly getting longer, e.g. these have been tested: Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, Nexenta, Solaris and Mac OS X. There's partial support for DOS (no USB/serial flashers) and Windows (no PCI flashers). Initial (partial) PowerPC and MIPS support has been merged, ARM support and other upcoming.
Also, the list of external (non-mainboard) programmers increases, e.g. there is support for NICs (3COM, Realtek, SMC, others upcoming), SATA/IDE cards from Silicon Image and Highpoint, some NVIDIA cards, and various USB- or parallelport- or serialport- programmers such as the Busirate, Dediprog SF100, FT2232-based SPI programmers and more.
More details at flashrom.org and in the list of supported chips, chipsets, baords, and programmers.
I uploaded an svn version slightly more recent than 0.9.2 to Debian unstable, which should reach Debian testing (and Ubuntu I guess) soonish.
I have mentioned the flashrom utility in my blog in the past. This is a small command line tool which allows you to update your BIOS/coreboot/firmware chips without opening the computer and without any special boot procedures.
Yesterday, flashrom 0.9 was finally released. Here's a short passage from the release announcement:
After nine years of development and constant improvement, we have added support for every BIOS flash ROM technology present on x86 mainboards and every flash ROM chip we ever saw in the wild.
Highlights of flashrom include:
Please note that rewriting your flash chip can be dangerous and flashrom developers make no guarantees whatsoever. That said, many users have successfully replaced proprietary tools such as awdflash, amiflash and afudos with flashrom.
Do yourself a favor and try flashrom next time you want to upgrade your BIOS. No more floppies or bootable CD-ROMs with DOS/Windows binaries or similar crap. Run flashrom conveniently from the Linux command line, or even via SSH or serial console if you want...
If you want to generate a custom Debian live CD, including only the tools you want (and maybe additional tools you don't find in other live CDs) there's a really simple solution: live-helper.
Creating a basic bootable Debian live CD ISO image in the current directory is as simple as:
$ lh_config $ lh_build
That's it. The result will be a file called binary.iso, which you can either burn on a CD-ROM via
$ wodim binary.iso
or test in QEMU using a command line like this:
$ qemu -boot d -cdrom binary.iso
Of course there are many possibilities to customize the generated image to your likings, see the documentation in the Debian wiki, or the lh_config/lh_build manpages.
Please note that live-helper can not only generate CD ISOs, but also bootable DVDs, images for USB thumb drives, or netboot images.
There's also a nice GUI called live-magic which will make the process a bit easier if you don't like doing things on the command line.
There are a gazillion HOWTOs out there for flashing a BIOS image without having to resort to ugly "boot DOS from floppy" or "run Windows *.exe file from BIOS vendor" and other ugly stuff. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions are equally ugly (e.g. creating custom CD-ROMs which contain the "floppy" with DOS/Windows flash tools).
Folks, this is so much simpler than you think:
The flashrom tool (GPL'd, written for LinuxBIOS purposes, but works perfectly fine with proprietary BIOSes, too) will easily do what you want, on a running Linux system. No floppy crap, no CD-ROM crap, no DOS/Windows crap, no rebooting crap.
$ apt-get install flashrom
Detect whether flashrom knows about your chipset/mainboard/BIOS chip:
Read the BIOS image into a file:
$ flashrom -r backup.bin
Write a BIOS image (proprietary or LinuxBIOS) on the ROM chip:
$ flashrom -wv newbios.bin
WARNING: This will overwrite your current BIOS! Make sure you know what you're doing!
For the Debian-challenged, flashrom is available in source form too, of course:
$ svn co svn://linuxbios.org/repos/trunk/util/flashrom $ cd flashrom $ make
The list of supported chipsets, mainboards, and ROM chips is limited of course, but it's constantly expanding. Contact us on the LinuxBIOS mailing list if you want other hardware supported (or even better: if you have patches!). In many cases adding support for new hardware is pretty easy...