Thursday, March 14, 2013

Floppy Disk attack on Zombie BIOS...

You know those sureal moments when something from the past comes back to life... wanders around and tries to eat your brain? 

I have had two of those in the past couple of days.  One was people from the past contacting me and having mid-life crisies... the other was a computer needing a floppy disk to fix a corrupt bios.

Talk about a blast from the past.  Even finding a functioning USB floppy drive is hard enough... then I had to scrounge for a floppy disk in working order.

But so far to no avail.  The machine is still in a loop of death ( it was working... ok-ish before I tried to flash the bios... but had obvious problems) So I am considering either canabalising it for parts or just dropping it down the stairs a couple of times....

I am still blown away that a floppy drive is the manufacturers fallback position... even for a machine that was never supplied with one.  It does make sense as BIOS basic features were carved in stone a few decades ago....



Anyway, this machine looks like its bricked.

It powers up, with a normal HP boot screen... but the F9,F10 & F12 options do not work.  Then it quickly flicks to a black screen with the message:

"Your BIOS failed to complete update..... blah blah"  again with the F10 option mentioned at the bottom.  Again F10 does not work.

Then after a couple of seconds it reboots. Rince - repeat.

I have read my way across the net and tried all the recomended BIOS recovery procedures involving USB sticks, old bios images, win+b button combinations and have not found anything that has worked..(obviously)

 It's interesting that when I run a BIOS recovery using the USB Floppy, you can hear it seek and start to read... but it still reboots on the same schedule. This suggests that the USB drivers, FAT driver and the disk driver are getting loaded... but something choaks or is corrupt and it reboots.

To me it sounds like the boot region of the bios has been corrupted and its just not able to set up enough of a rudimentary system to be able to reload the new BIOS image from the disk.  Keep in mind that the BIOS image that is supplied for flashing, is not the "whole" of the code in the BIOS eprom.  There are some other regions that are not always replaced when you "flash" the bios.  If these get corrupted...well the ability to repair them gets increasingly low-level.

From reading between the lines and looking at the discussion on the MyDigitalLife boards about BIOS mods... I think there is no reasonable way to replace this code without desoldering the BIOS chip and reloading it with a working image dumped from another machine (Ignoring the serial number issue... which can be managed)

As this sounds like fun.... I have thought about it... but realistically... I just don't have the time.  I have about 8-10 laptops of the same model and some are in worse shape than this one... but boot happy... so I think its canabal time. 

No comments:

Post a Comment