[Beowulf] BIOS

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Sat Aug 11 20:44:26 PDT 2007

On Thu, 9 Aug 2007, Henning Fehrmann wrote:

> Hello,
> we are interested in flashing a BIOS image and in manipulating the NVRAM of the motherboard
> automatically.
> Unfortunately, using certain vendors, the access to the NVRAM is not straightforward.
> These vendors are offering DOS tools only, to write in the NVRAM, hence, we have to boot
> a DOS image and here starts the trouble.
> Optimally, using the DOS environment does following things:
> * flashes the BIOS
> * sets the NVRAM
> * sends a message to the install server
> The last point is necessary to prepare pxeboot for the installation process.
> It also means, we need networking under DOS.
> In particular, we are looking for a DOS-DHCP client. Everything needs to be packed on
> a 2,9M floppy image.
> Has somebody experiences with this?

Sure.  You can PXE-boot DOS (which doesn't need to fit on a floppy sized
image, actually).  Last time I looked, there were some bootable DOS
images freely available on the net -- google turns up e.g.


pretty readily.  So create a PXE bootable remote-mountable partition and
pop the BIOS flash program on that, and write a suitable autoexec.bat.
Terminate the image in the batch file with the mandatory reboot, and set
up suitable DHCP toggles so that you start the flash by hand, then it
defaults to a kickstart install, then it defaults to a local disk boot,
in that order.

> In the worst case, the DOS environment is working autonomously and the install server is 'guessing'
> whether the BIOS is flashed or not on the clients,
> e.g., by analyzing the DHCP logs, but this is not what we really want.

I'm hoping that the process described above IS what you want.


> Regards
> Henning Fehrmann
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Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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