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So how am I going to update this BIOS ?

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knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Ive got an ancient laptop that needs a BIOS update to run a full GB of DDR1. Thats right DDR-1 :)

This is just a vanity project Ive been working on for a little while. Dell Inspiron 2650 that I rescued from the recycle pile and works --- sort of. This thing has been all kinds of un-fun. First was finding a PATA laptop drive. Check. Next was the missing keys on the keyboard. Check. Now the issue is the maximum RAM. Ive done a little reading and have seen that plenty of folks have put 2x512mb DDR in this guy and gotten it to work, but I cannot get boot with more than 1x512mb. 512 + 256 = no boot. 512 + 128 = no boot. Ive almost given up and decided to to live with 512mb but my last hope is to bring the BIOS completely up to date and then pray :)

Here is the problem: The BIOS update file is in the form of an .EXE :( and that is a problem because of my OS. Apparently Linux and .EXE are incompatible ;) This particular .EXE is supposed to write the BIOS update to a floppy. I tried running it from within WINE with no luck. WINE sees the drive. The disk is formatted. The .EXE wont see the disk in the drive though. I tried all the floppies I had (purchased for another BIOS update some time ago) and none of them seem to work. The FDD mounts with no errors and presumable has been formatted correctly. Assuming the disks and drive are good (disks are old and Ive never tested the FDD before so it may be faulty) led me to try running the exe from VM with Windows 98. Still a no go.

The last and most horrible option here is to install Windows 7 (I havent got installation media for Win 95 or 98, XP is a maybe but my media is prone to problems) and run from there. I am really dreading the time this will take, especially when I will just be turning around and reformatting/reinstalling a different OS directly afterwards. Are there any other options? Is there way to force install to optical media (no option for USB boot) for the .EXE? Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
OP
knoober

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Any question related to 18th century hardware, ask Scotty!!! ;)

That because computers were so slow then all they had time to do was sit around and think! ;)

I checked out that link and the zip it led to. Mixed feelings all around actually. I'm not trying to be a complainer, I just don't got the skills to work with what was there. :)

CONS
1) the typos were the kind you see in scam emails (but not unforgivable, just don't like it)

2) the download was in one of those 4 page mazes that keeps making you click stuff and look at ads. (once again: not unforgivable, just something I try to avoid)

3) even though it says Live "CD" the Readme was prepped for USB and so were the instructions. I burned the image contained inside to optical media, but that wasn't the right thing. I've gotta add the ntdlr and other things as well. I'll have to search around and see if I can reconcile how to get all the correct files on a CD. This I chalk up to user error/my own limitations, but still... It was marked "CD" and I hoped to find one

PROS
1) It exists at all. I searched around and didn't find a whole lot of other options. Most that I did find lead to dead links. Other were for instructions on making my own (which is probably where I'm headed with this project)

2) zip contained Rufus and another utility (I forget the name) to format a USB stick. I really appreciate /admire whomever packaged that up. It's not often that you get everything you need put together so nicely like that. Thumbs up.

There are plenty of instructions out there for making your own disc and that is probably how I will attack this situation. Another option that didn't occur to me before is to just dual boot this dinosaur. Ive got the space and that saves my existing installation + gives me the option to just wipe the Windows partition after the work is done. Now I just have to sit down and see which will take less time: waiting for Xp to install on a single core and 512mb of RAM, or learning to make a live ISO of Windows :)
 

Johan45

Benching Team Leader Super Moderator
Joined
Dec 19, 2012
I suppose you can't make the floppy on another PC. Lack of a FDD?
 
OP
knoober

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
I suppose you can't make the floppy on another PC. Lack of a FDD?

Yeah and no. I've got a couple of machines in pieces that might fit the bill, but they wouldn't be any faster to install Windows on or anything. The big reason to go against that is a) having to dredge all those pieces out of their dark corners for a trivial task b) never used the FDD either so there isn't any guarantee they will work. It might come to that eventually of course, I'm just hoping to get it solved in another way.
 
OP
knoober

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
So I spent a morning trying to create my own live cd but had no luck. I used the "latest" version of BartPE (it's even abandoned apparently and 3.1.10a seems to be the last one). I've tried a few different things things here :

1) slipstreamed SP3 into my XP ISO with nlite

2) used a vanilla version of the same ISO.

3) Gutted the installation (with nlite)

4) ever combo it mentioned (Gutted iso + SP3 etc)

And the closest I came to a finished ISO was with the vanilla disk. There were still 2 errors about missing dll though and over 100 warnings. The Gutted ISO had over 500 errors but only about 350 with SP3 installed. I still can't see how the vanilla disk could only be missing 2 dll but the vanilla + SP3 is significantly more :bang head:

If anyone has experience with these types of things or knows what the errors are the please let me know. Until then I'll have my nose in the manual. Thanks in advance :)
 

Mr.Scott

Beamed Me Up!
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
For as much time as you've spent on it already, you could have just loaded XP, flashed the bios, and re-loaded Linux.