Update system BIOS on a Linux machine with a Windows/DOS updater

I recently had to update my BIOS on my Toshiba Portege R705 laptop. Unfortunately, the updater can only be run on a Windows/DOS system. Luckily, I remembered reading this article on Linux Journal that described how one can boot into FreeDOS to update the system BIOS. I will outline what I did.

  1. Find a USB drive with a capacity < 2 GB.
  2. Using GParted, format the drive to be FAT16.
  3. Download fdbasecd.iso and install qemu (sudo apt-get install qemu).
  4. Boot up FreeDOS with qemu: qemu -hda /dev/sdb -cdrom /path/to/fdbasecd.iso -boot d (assuming usb drive is /dev/sdb). Continue booting from “cd-rom” (iso file) and install FreeDOS to “harddisk” (usb stick) with default values.
  5. Do not reboot system after FreeDOS is done installing. Type following in DOS prompt:
fdisk /mbr 1
cd 
edit fdconfig.sys
## for line that starts with "SHELLHIGH...", change to "1234?SHELLHIGH..."
## save: Alt-f
## exit to Dos, exit qemu
  1. Test if USB drive will boot using qemu: qemu -hda /dev/sdb -boot c
  2. Copy .exe file into usb drive. When I tried executing it in FreeDOS, it says it can’t because it is a Win32 file. I extracted the EXE file and read the README. It contained some files I can run in DOS.
  3. Restart system and boot with USB drive. On my Toshiba laptop, I had to press ESC then F12 to select USB drive.
  4. Once in DOS, run the command to update BIOS. NOTE: I take no responsibilities for your actions. Update your BIOS at your own risk. You can brick the machine if you aren’t doing things correctly or use the wrong BIOS file.

About Vinh Nguyen

Statistician

8 comments

  1. hi,

    how have you extracted the latest bios, B2.10-EC1.40? i’ve tried to unzip it but it didn’t work.

    When i runned the exe i got the message ….Win32 something…

    cheers

  2. @Inx In Linux (Ubuntu), I extracted the file using the default app. In Windows, I’m sure 7zip or winzip would also work. An exe file is nothing but a bunch of files packaged into one file (like a directory).

  3. hi,

    tks for the reply.
    I’m still out of luck, i extracted the exe and tried to run the executables and other files in it but one of the .exe files says it must be run from win32…. , another says it can only run in v86 mode ?!?!??! and one file which the extension is .COM aborts the execution and outputs some stuff about opcodes (is this the update?)

    any ideia what the problem is? none of the exe files inside the original exe is extractable from winrar.
    i got the correct bios update for my model, i’ve doble checked today

  4. @Inx First, are you even on a Linux machine? If you are on Windows (you are using winrar), then update your bios the windows/bios way.

    If you are on Linux, then read my procedures carefully. In particular, read the README file from the extracted EXE.

    Sorry I can’t help you any further.

  5. hi,

    ok i’m sorry i’m not explaining myself right. i only have a VM with win xp installed. it runs with VT-x enabled but i cannot updgrade from it. yes i’m on linux, archlinux.

    i’ve partitioned and formated usb pen with cfdisk, installed freedos with qemu and it boots fine.

    i’ve extracted bios update .exe to my pen, booted freedos and tried to run all extracted files. none of them worked. i have no README file.

    my laptop is a toshiba R630.

    if u can’t help that’s ok

    tkss

  6. @Inx this will be my last response to you. I don’t own a toshiba r630, so I don’t know what is inside the exe file. I looked here since mine is a toshiba r705, and extracted the exe file, and I see a readme.txt file. Good luck.

    PS I tried searching for an 630 bios update file but could not find one after a few searches.

  7. That’s right, gentlemen… R630 seems to be kind of an outcast model for emerging markets or something like this. At present I’ve been facing the same issue as lnx stated above.

    My solution has been to start FreeDOS WITHOUT DRIVERS (the last menu option) :) In this case the chgbiosf utility worked.

    Still the update so far seems to have brought no effect to my laptop…

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