[flashrom] Error Reading BIOS on Dell Optiplex 745

Carl-Daniel Hailfinger c-d.hailfinger.devel.2006 at gmx.net
Fri Jan 8 18:52:22 CET 2010

On 08.01.2010 18:06, ron minnich wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 8:32 AM, Adrian Glaubitz wrote
>> IIRC the newer Dell OptiPlex series have a special way for flashing
>> the BIOS. You use a Dell-provided utility to copy the new BIOS image
>> into a special (non-volatile?) memory, then reboot the machine. Once
>> it reboots, it will automatically start to flash.
> wow, how ... special. So you have no visibility into the reflash
> process and no idea of its progress.

I think the special Dell stuff has existed for years. Back then, they
probably didn't know (or didn't care) about flashrom, and nowadays this
flashing procedure is actually a reliability advantage over the
alternative: Windows flashers. Flashing from a multitasking OS
(especially if not done as kernel driver) means there are no guarantees
whatsoever about timing, reliability, crash resistance and other stuff
you'd care about.
You can find boatloads of reports from people who bricked their machines
by flashing under Windows, and because people are too unskilled (or
unwilling) to run DOS based flashers, it all burns down to doing the
reflashing from the BIOS.

> This is the default mode for many new BIOSes, I understand, since so
> many of them are EFI at the core. It's not an improvement for the
> customer, but it's what the vendors are going to provide. It's very
> disappointing.

I think this is only somewhat related to EFI (first time you can easily
add executables to the BIOS). Most of it is about reliability concerns.
And if you look at vendors like Sun, it seems there is an unwillingness
to perform host-based flashing at all, instead they opt to run the
reflashing process from the Management Engine.

I see a flashrom driver for such Management Engines on the horizon
(unless they are not providing direct hardware access), but since I
don't own the hardware, this is pretty low priority for me.

Now if we could motivate at least one board vendor to ship (or offer for
download) flashrom CDs for reflashing their boards, we'd win big time.


Developer quote of the year:
"We are juggling too many chainsaws and flaming arrows and tigers."

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