I have mentioned the flashrom utility in my blog in the past. This is a small command line tool which allows you to update your BIOS/coreboot/firmware chips without opening the computer and without any special boot procedures.
Yesterday, flashrom 0.9 was finally released. Here's a short passage from the release announcement:
After nine years of development and constant improvement, we have added support for every BIOS flash ROM technology present on x86 mainboards and every flash ROM chip we ever saw in the wild.
Highlights of flashrom include:
- Parallel, LPC, FWH and SPI flash interfaces.
- 157 flash chip families and half a dozen variants of each family.
- Flash chip package agnostic. DIP32, PLCC32, DIP8, SO8/SOIC8, TSOP32, TSOP40 and more have all been verified to work.
- 75 different chipsets, some with multiple flash controllers.
- Special mainboard enabling code for dozens of nonstandard mainboards.
- No physical access needed. root access is sufficient.
- No bootable floppy disk, bootable CD-ROM or other media needed.
- No keyboard or monitor needed. Simply reflash remotely via SSH.
- No instant reboot needed. Reflash your ROM in a running system, verify it, be happy. The new firmware will be present next time you boot.
- Crossflashing and hotflashing is possible as long as the flash chips are electrically and logically compatible (same protocol). Great for recovery.
- Scriptability. Reflash a whole pool of identical machines at the same time from the command line. It is recommended to check flashrom output and error codes.
- Speed. flashrom is much faster than vendor flash tools.
- Supports Linux, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X. Please refer to the README for build instructions.
Please note that rewriting your flash chip can be dangerous and flashrom developers make no guarantees whatsoever. That said, many users have successfully replaced proprietary tools such as awdflash, amiflash and afudos with flashrom.
Do yourself a favor and try flashrom next time you want to upgrade your BIOS. No more floppies or bootable CD-ROMs with DOS/Windows binaries or similar crap. Run flashrom conveniently from the Linux command line, or even via SSH or serial console if you want...