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:
- copy the .EXE bios update to /dev/sda1,
- change autoexec.bat to autoexec.bak, so the Dell diags don’t start,
- 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.