DOS flashing in 2011

Still BIOS updates and other firmware flash operations mostly need to be done from DOS. Seriously, DOS, in 2011?

I found a decent strategy. When you install your computer, make a small (256Mb) FAT partition with a FAT16 filesystem on it first on your harddrive (with some skills and luck you can use it also as linux /boot partition). Whenever you need to flash BIOS or anything else, put the DOS flash utility on this partition.

Make yourself a bootable FreeDOS CD. When you boot into freedos you just do:

  a:\> c:
  c:\> dir
  (dir output - to find the name of the update program)
  c:\> BIOS1234.exe

When everything is done you can just reset the computer with the reset-button, eject the CD, and boot your normal OS.

So, what is clever about this? It is not so easy to make FreeDOS read USB-keys or access the network, and the bootable CD is naturally read-only. But a little FAT16 filesystem first, on your first hard drive, is very easy to access. And you can easily put any upgrade files there, from any OS you like to run normally.

On a brand new computer (or hard drive), the first thing you do is boot FreeDOS (or your Linux live cd of choice) and create the little FAT partition. Then you can install your other OSs. If you got the computer with Windows already installed, and you intend to keep it, you probably dont need to flash anything anyway.

  1. An alternative solution can be found here:

    http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootablecd

    This utility creates an image for a bootable CD. It also lets you add extra files to the CD while creating the image, allowing you to put eg firmware updates on the boot-CD itself.

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