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View Full Version : Can the BIOS be Replaced?



vinref
06-04-2005, 01:59 PM
I am attempting to do a multiple machine install, and some machines have the awful "non-standard" BIOS' from Compaq, HP and IBM. These bloody things nut me out, as they never seem to implement shutdown properly, have weird and wonderful password protection features, and it just makes it that bit harder to diagnose POST problems. Unfortunately, Google won't help me find a way to replace them altogether, which makes me think that you cannot.

Oh well, just in case someone knows of a way.

Speedy Gonzales
06-04-2005, 02:09 PM
Just find out what the make/models are of the PC's, go to the site and download the BIOS update/s (if there's a later BIOS update).

Is that what u mean by can the bios be replaced??

You cant replace them with a completely different BIOS, (if it's not the original BIOS, or a BIOS update for that particular PC) if thats what u mean.

It's either update whats there now, and if there's no update for them. You cant do much about it.

Theyre either too old / obselete, or its time to get a more up to date system.

If they dont shut down properly, it doesnt necessarily mean the BIOS is the prob, it could be a windows prob (if it isnt updated), on why it doesnt shutdown.

Metla
06-04-2005, 02:15 PM
Can the bios be replaced?

of course.

Will it still run?

Most probally not.

I presume your projected course of action is to find the actual manufacturer of the board and use the closest match they have?

I wouldn't even think about it unless the boards are surplus to requirments,there is no telling how many changes have been made to the board to fit in with Compaq,HP and IBM 's view of the world.

vinref
06-04-2005, 02:27 PM
I want to replace the Compaq, HP or IBM BIOS' with something like AWARD, AMI, PHOENIX etc. I do suspect that this is either not possible, or more trouble than it is worth.

Compaq BIOS on most Deskpros I have used do not shutdown or reboot properly under Linux or BSD. Many HPs and IBMs give me other sorts of grief, and make it very difficult and dodgy to administer remotely. And yes, these are older machines (mostly under 500MHz).

Ah well...

Speedy Gonzales
06-04-2005, 02:33 PM
No u cant then.

It has to be the BIOS/brand whatever it is award/phoenix etc, that was made for that pc or an update made for that PC.

Graham L
06-04-2005, 03:21 PM
... awful "non-standard" BIOS' from Compaq, HP and IBM.

How can an IBM BIOS be non-standard? They invented the x86 PC BIOS. Compaq copied ("reverse engineered") the IBM BIOS.

If you've got a real standard BIOS, it will complain about ROM BASIC being not found if there's no bootable device.

It's all those others who are out of step. :)

PaulD
06-04-2005, 03:22 PM
It would depend on whether the motherboard used in the PC was adapted from a standard design used elsewhere. Dell Dimensions around the 500MHz era used Intel motherboards and the Dell customised BIOS could be replaced with the generic Intel one.
This allowed some CPUs that Dell never offered to be used. Usually these BIOS switches become common knowledge (Google) if there's something to be gained.

Terry Porritt
06-04-2005, 03:29 PM
What is really annoying is that the proprietary splash screens hide the POST. Like on my 500MHz Deskpro, the Compaq screen comes up with an hourglass in the bottom lefthand corner, which is then followed by 'Starting Windows 98..'

Cptn Hotshot
06-04-2005, 03:30 PM
Pardon my ignorance on the subject, but doesnt the BIOS relate to the motherboard irrespective of what the computer is? So isnt it then a matter of finding the motherboard model number and updating the BIOS if so inclined?

godfather
06-04-2005, 03:37 PM
But, as pointed out by Metla, "brand name" motherboard versions used by Compaq, HP, Packard Bell et al do not always conform to the exact configuration that the retail versions of the motherboards do.

They are a often sub-model produced exclusively for the PC maker, and often have subtle differences that a retail BIOS flash finds, with disastrous results.

Cptn Hotshot
06-04-2005, 03:42 PM
Oh .... that pretty well explains the problem .... what you see is not necessarily what you have got!

That' seems to be a good reason to steer away from branded PCs.

Graham L
06-04-2005, 03:52 PM
Terry: You usually have an option in the BIOS to see the gory details rather than the gory logo. It's to improve your "computing experience", with the computer as appliance, that they give you the logo ... but the details are handy for maintenance people. IBM in particular have usually tried to make maintenance easy. (Though they are have found an easier way --- they've sold the desktop PC business.;)).

Capn: "What you see" is exactly what you have got: a computer made to a complete specification by a large manufacturer, not a collection of "commodity" parts cobbled together in a garage, with a sticky label put on the front panel.

Terry Porritt
06-04-2005, 06:58 PM
Big deal really :)
In the Deskpro (EN SFF) Setup, under the Advanced tab there is a Power-On Self Test option, and under that is the option to enable POST Messages.

When that is enabled the Compaq splash screen or logo does not appear, and all that comes up on the screen is:
Attempting Boot from CD-ROM
Attempting Boot from Floppy Drive
Attempting Boot from Hard Drive

As I say big deal, that is the sum total of POST, I'd prefer to see the logo :)

vinref
06-04-2005, 08:25 PM
"What you see" is exactly what you have got: a computer made to a complete specification by a large manufacturer, not a collection of "commodity" parts cobbled together in a garage, with a sticky label put on the front panel.

These collections of commodity parts are cobbled together using the default settings, which almost always are the standard-compliant settings. Those damned Compaq, HP, IBM etc boxes seemed designed to make it difficult to upgrade and modify because they put in their unnecessary proprietary stuff. And it is impossible to find BIOS upgrades or even specification lists for their older products.

I'll just have to avoid them. Besides, the no-name boxes sporting no-name Taiwanese/Korean motherboards with AWARD/AMI/PHOENIX BIOS' are a lot cheaper and more standards-compliant.

AMD1
06-04-2005, 09:06 PM
I want to replace the Compaq, HP or IBM BIOS' with something like AWARD, AMI, PHOENIX etc. I do suspect that this is either not possible, or more trouble than it is worth.

Compaq BIOS on most Deskpros I have used do not shutdown or reboot properly under Linux or BSD. Many HPs and IBMs give me other sorts of grief, and make it very difficult and dodgy to administer remotely. And yes, these are older machines (mostly under 500MHz).

Ah well...

Forget the idea.
This is why I build my own so I know what motherboard and BIOS I have and also an intelligible manual. If I need a BIOS update later I can hopefully get one. I use Asus, Gigabyte and Soltek motherboards for myself and friends. Usually the motherboards supplied by the likes of Dell, HP, Compaq and IBM etc have modified versions of motherboards so that they fit in the case and some have pins cut off so you can't identify where to even plug in the ATX power etc. for the case in the event you want to change things.

Granted that most people just want to buy a computer and get on and do their thing with it. For those people brand name computers will mostly work for a while until the Grandchild gets around with the latest game. Suddenly we need a new video card and and extra 512 meg RAM.

Try upgrading an HP Vectra with a better video card.
:eek:

Mostly I give this type of computer away to really young people.

AMD1
06-04-2005, 09:13 PM
These collections of commodity parts are cobbled together using the default settings, which almost always are the standard-compliant settings. Those damned Compaq, HP, IBM etc boxes seemed designed to make it difficult to upgrade and modify because they put in their unnecessary proprietary stuff. And it is impossible to find BIOS upgrades or even specification lists for their older products.

I'll just have to avoid them. Besides, the no-name boxes sporting no-name Taiwanese/Korean motherboards with AWARD/AMI/PHOENIX BIOS' are a lot cheaper and more standards-compliant.

So you knew the answer all along then did you not?
I have no idea why I attempted to help!

vinref
06-04-2005, 10:43 PM
So you knew the answer all along then did you not?
I have no idea why I attempted to help!

Not really, I just suspected it. The good folk here confirmed it.

Agent_24
07-04-2005, 12:10 AM
That's why compaq, HP etc are weirdos.

If you desperately want a new bios you would probably have to code your own (not something that would be enjoyable, I expect)

Simply_Si
07-04-2005, 12:40 AM
You mentioned that the new bios was for linux. Have you had a look at the Linux Bios Project (http://www.linuxdevices.com/links/LK8294110575.html) and there is also LinuxBIOS (http://wiki.linuxbios.org/index.php/Main_Page) which would appear to be a better bet.

The LinuxBIOS page has a link to supported motherboards, so you should be able to see if your ones are there.