Our laptop is making very annoying beeping noises (seem to be coming from the harddisk), and I thought updating the BIOS might fix it. So I ran to the Dell website to get a fresh BIOS. This is a .EXE file, that you have to run from a Windows or DOS install. Considering the Vostro 1700 doesn’t have a floppy drive and from experience I reckoned I couldn’t run the BIOS update from a running Windows (turns out that is possible), I started thinking: should I sacrifice a CD-ROM just to boot 1 MB of DOS to flash my BIOS? Shall I try anyway in Windows (remember I was thinking this is not possible) and possibly wreck my system?

Then I got a nice idea; there is a Dell Diagnostics partition on the first harddisk, on /dev/sda1. All I did was simple:

  1. copy the .EXE bios update to /dev/sda1,
  2. change autoexec.bat to autoexec.bak, so the Dell diags don’t start,
  3. fiddle the menu.lst from grub to boot that partition (mine was autodetected incorrectly).

After that, you can boot the Dell diags partition as a simple DOS partition and run the BIOS update. After this little change, you have a DOS partition handy (to do whatever you like, play Wolfenstein 3D or something). You can still start the Dell diag tools (which also happens to include a full text version, which is faster).

By the way. The annoying beeping didn’t stop after the update. Still have to figure out what’s the matter with the stupid harddisk.


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