I wanted to upgrade my BIOS, but I only want to use Free Software. Right now, the only exception I have to do is the BIOS for which I don’t have much choice there. But I want to avoid MS-DOS if I can, so I investigated how to get FreeDOS to boot on an USB disk. Success! It worked. Here’s what I did.
Partitioning the usb stick
In my case, the USB disk was
/dev/sdb, so I launched parted in order to prepare the boot disk. Since I have a 64MB usb drive lying around, I’ll use it. You may need to replace fat16 by fat32 if you want to use way bigger partitions:
[root@roque ~]# parted /dev/sdb mklabel msdos Warning: The existing disk label on /dev/sdb will be destroyed and all data on this disk will be lost. Do you want to continue? Yes/No? yes New disk label type? [msdos]? Information: Don't forget to update /etc/fstab, if necessary. [root@roque ~]# parted /dev/sdb print Model: FlashDis Flash Disk (scsi) Disk /dev/sdb: 65.5MB Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B Partition Table: msdos Number Start End Size Type File system Flags Information: Don't forget to update /etc/fstab, if necessary. [root@roque ~]# parted /dev/sdb mkpart primary fat16 0 64MB [root@roque ~]# parted /dev/sdb toggle 1 boot
Pay attention that if you see
Partition Table: loop then beware, since it doesn’t support bootable flag, so you really need to run the
mklabel part in order to change it to msdos. After that, you’ll need to make a partition as well.
Installing a boot loader
While a friend was trying at the same time to use syslinux, I tried grub, but it still needed some help from a syslinux file, memdisk :). Here’s how I did it:
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt cp -r /boot/grub /mnt cp /usr/lib/syslinux/memdisk /mnt cd /mnt/grub echo '(hd0) /dev/sda' > device.map cat <
grub.conf default=0 timeout=10 bootsplash=/grub/splash.xpm.gz root=(hd0,0) title FreeDOS kernel /memdisk initrd /fdodin06.144 EOF cd .. wget -c http://odin.fdos.org/fdodin06.bin.zip unzip fdodin06.bin.zip fdodin06.144 Archive: fdodin06.bin.zip inflating: fdodin06.144
Now we need to put grub into the MBR (master boot record), this is how I did it:
grub> find /grub/stage1 find /grub/stage1 (hd0,0) (hd1,0)
There’s two of them. That’s not good, is it? No, it’s in fact quite normal. The first one is from /dev/sda, my main hard disk. You’ll have to go to the correct partition though:
grub> root (hd1,0) root (hd1,0) Filesystem type is fat, partition type 0xe grub> setup (hd1) setup (hd1) Checking if "/boot/grub/stage1" exists... no Checking if "/grub/stage1" exists... yes Checking if "/grub/stage2" exists... yes Checking if "/grub/fat_stage1_5" exists... yes Running "embed /grub/fat_stage1_5 (hd1)"... failed (this is not fatal) Running "embed /grub/fat_stage1_5 (hd1,0)"... failed (this is not fatal) Running "install /grub/stage1 (hd1) /grub/stage2 p /grub/grub.conf "... succeeded Done.
Now it will boot from the usb drive, and launch grub.
boot and test
So I guess this is your final stage… place what you need to run in the usb stick, unmount it and there you go!
Now you can use that pesty BIOS upgrade proprietary crap.