Updating bios without a floppy
This is important to say, because it means I have no direct access to the hardware, and nobody else can help me there.First, I decided to get rid of the low-hanging fruit: the IPMI sideboard.So it’s that time of the year again when you have to run a few BIOS updates; and you know I love updating BIOS.In this case the victim is the very Excelsior that I bought to run the Gentoo tinderbox, and which I’m hosting to my expenses at Hurricane Electric in Freemont.It does not fit in a floppy disk unformatted, let alone in the formatted disk, with the update utility, the kernel and the command interpreter. So I decided to go back to the i KVM client, the Java Web Start one. So I download that, copy the BIOS and the updater into the CD and set it in the virtual media settings for the i KVM, and then boot. If you leave it unattended it’ll ask you what you want to do and default to boot from the HDD. As a failsafe device I left in one of the USB slots a random flashdrive I got at Percona Live reflashed with Sys Rescue CD — it was one of those because I had gotten a couple while over there, and I forgot to bring one from home.Now luckily the new release of it works fine with Iced Tea, unlike the previous one. I even found a blog post showing how to do so, based on Gentoo, as it says to ! Unfortunately, Free DOS download page now provides you with a great way to download … If you do remember to type 1 and press enter at the Sys Linux prompt, it’ll then default to install (again, why did I bother installing Gentoo on the NUC when I could have used Free DOS like the cool kids? Instead, you can choose to boot Free DOS from the Live CD with no support and no drivers, with just the CD drivers, with the CD drivers and . Since Sys Rescue CD uses VFAT by default, and the BIOS shows the USB devices transparently to DOS, it was visible as .I say “quite well” because it seems like ATEN (the IPMI vendor for Super Micro and another long list of server manufacturers) still has not mastered the ability to keep configuration consistent across firmware upgrades.
On the other hand, I was hoping for an SVM/IOMMU fix which is not there still, as KVM made it complain, so I wanted to try.
The answer is of course to build a BIOS upgrade floppy disk, which is after all what their own Windows tool would have done (albeit on a real disk rather than an image — do people really still use floppy disks on Opteron servers?
) Too bad that there is a small problem with that plan: the BIOS itself is over 2MB uncompressed. Who doesn’t think every day “I should stop procrastinating and finally install Free DOS on my laptop! After some fiddling around I found a tiny non-descript directory in their FTP mirrors that includes which is the actual Live CD. unfortunately the driver does not support USB CD-Rom (like the one the i KVM provides me with) but just IDE ones, so no access to the ISO for me. But I’m not totally unprepared for this kind of situations.
But I only needed to set an admin password and IP address and routing, so… This is very neat, but it comes with some downsides.
The second step is to update the BIOS of the server itself. You have two options to download: a Windows executable or a ZIP archive. The Windows executable is supposed to build a floppy to upgrade the BIOS. At first I wanted to give it a floppy disk image via HTTP, and use the Serial-over-SSH to enter the boot menu and do stuff.