Flashing a DELL BIOS in Ubuntu (or Debian)

June 22, 2010

This is a guide designed for Dell laptops, netbooks, desktop and workstation machines running Debian GNU/Linux and also Ubuntu. I have tested it on a machine running Debian Lenny i386. There are three logical steps: get all the necessary tools in place, extract the actual BIOS image, and apply the image. For Dell servers, the BIOS images provided by Dell are ready to flash from Linux directly, so the method described here should not be needed.

Before starting
The Dell BIOS updates itself by loading the BIOS ROM image into RAM and warm-booting directly into the flashing program. It keeps the BIOS image to be flashed in RAM. Therefore it is important to reboot the machine instead of powering it off when updating the BIOS so as to not lose the contents of RAM.

First things first
Download the BIOS update .EXE file from Dell’s website. Save it somewhere.

Get a few packages installed: WINE, smbios-utils/libsmbios-bin, and firmware-addon-dell.

For Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install wine smbios-utils firmware-addon-dell
For Debian:
sudo apt-get install wine libsmbios-bin
Also for Debian, download the firmware-addon-dell package manually from here: http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid/all/firmware-addon-dell/download and install manually (the version may change and the file name may be different than in the example):
sudo dpkg -i firmware-addon-dell_2.1.0-0ubuntu2_all.deb
Prepare the system
Load the required kernel module:
sudo modprobe dell_rbu
If you haven’t run WINE before, run winecfg and just exit immediately, it will set up your .wine directory and profile:

Extract the actual BIOS image from the .EXE with WINE
Where DELLBIOSUPDATE.EXE is the .EXE file downloaded from Dell’s website:

wine DELLBIOSUPDATE.EXE -writehdrfile -nopause
This will leave a .hdr file with the same name as the .EXE file.
Check the BIOS image and flash it
First check the BIOS image to make sure it is good:
dellBiosUpdate -t -f DELLBIOSUPDATE.hdr
Assuming all is well, apply the update:
dellBiosUpdate -u -f DELLBIOSUPDATE.hdr
Finally, reboot, and the BIOS will be flashed to the new version.

Courtesy of: http://www.allurgroceries.com

Grub 2: General Information Linked

October 23, 2009


Fix: “Failed to Parse” xorg.conf error while Saving Nvidia-Settings

October 15, 2009

Testing with Karmic Beta (shouldn’t matter):

1) open a terminal
2) sudo mv -i /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup
2) sudo touch /etc/X11/xorg.conf
3) sudo nvidia-settings
4) hit "save configuration"

This will result in blank xorg.conf file (DON’T RESTART X!!) Now copy ONLY the “Device” section from the backup to the new conf, since that is what it said was required after an ensuing error that you can avoid like this: (Mine was as follows)

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
Driver "nvidia"

I put this little Fix together, so you the reader won’t have to jump from thread to thread to thread like I did to put it all together. Ridiculous…someone’s got to be doing this besides me.

If you only learn one thing as a user, master your xorg.conf file in X and at the console. If you can’t get into X, and you’re an average ‘user’, you’re done for unless. Don’t ask how I know 🙂

Running Sudo Graphically

October 13, 2009

For your edification, taken verbatim from Pyschocats for your viewing pleasure:

What’s the Issue?
Since most Ubuntu documentation asks you to use sudo even with graphical applications, I often get asked by Ubuntu users why I recommend gksudo or kdesu for graphical applications instead of sudo.

For example, a lot of guides (including the first book ever published about Ubuntu) will ask you to type this sort of command:
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

I will always recommend, however, that people use instead this sort of command:
gksudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

And reserve sudo for command-line applications, like so:
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Why is it an issue?
Well, to be perfectly honest, most of the time it isn’t. For a lot of applications, you can run them the improper way—using sudo for graphical applications and see no adverse side effects.

1. There are other times, though, when side effects can be as mild as Firefox extensions not sticking or as extreme as as not being able to log in any more because the permissions on your .ICEauthority changed. You can read a full discussion on the issue here.

These errors occur because sometimes when sudo launches an application, it launches with root privileges but uses the user’s configuration file.


For example, if you launch Firefox with the command
gksudo firefox
it uses root’s Firefox configuration file.


But if you launch Firefox with the command
sudo firefox
it runs with root privileges but uses the user’s configuration file (in this case, you can see the homepage and theme are different).

2. Running graphical applications with sudo also has the downside of always having to be run from the terminal. If you don’t use the proper command—gksudo or kdesu, you will not be able to use the command as an icon launcher or keyboard shortcut because there will be no graphical dialogue box to enter your sudo password in.

3. There are also some graphical applications that simply will not run with the sudo command. Kate, for example, can be run as
kdesu kate
but cannot be run as
sudo kate

Why not make exceptions?
Bottom line: most of the time when you use sudo for graphical applications, it’s fine. Some of the time, though, it is not fine, and is, in fact, extremely bad.

If you made exceptions, you would have to give people a list of all the graphical applications that are okay to run as sudo and a list of all the graphical applications that must be run as gksudo or kdesu.

Why make a list that needs to be compiled and updated, that most people won’t refer to, and that is completely unnecessary? Just be consistent in suggesting good practice: gksudo and kdesu for graphical applications. sudo for command-line applications.

But gksudo sometimes gives me an error… even though it appears to work…
You may notice that even though gksudo is the proper way to launch graphical applications, if you launch a gksudo application it will sometimes give you what appears to be an error. This, for example:
(gedit:####): GnomeUI-WARNING **: While connecting to session manager:
Authentication Rejected, reason : None of the authentication protocols specified are supported and host-based authentication failed.

That is not a real error, and there’s already been a bug report filed on the message appearing. The developers have seen the bug and labeled it a low priority. In the meantime, just ignore the message and keep encouraging people to not use sudo for graphical applications so they won’t potentially mess up their ~/.ICEauthority and other user configuration files.

HowTo: Cleaning up all those unnecessary junk files

October 7, 2009

from Ubuntu Forums:

Hello everyone! So, do you ever get the feeling that your system is being flooded with a bunch of junk files that you can’t get rid of? I know I do. Well, I’m going to show you a few ways to get rid of most, if not all, of those annoying junk files.

Please note : If doing any of this messes up your system, don’t blame me. Everything worked flawlessly on my machine. Everthing should be beer ‘n skittles for you if you follow this HOWTO step-by-step. Good luck!

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Tip #1 – Getting rid of Residual Config packages – In Synaptic Package Manger, there is a built-in feature that gets rid of old Residual Config packages. Residual Config packages are usually dependency packages that are left behind after you uninstall a package from your machine. To use this feature, go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. On the bottom left hand corner of the window, click the Status button. In the list above the Sections, Status, Search, and Custom buttons, you should see the following text:

Installed (local or obsolete)
Not installed
Residual config
Click on the “Residual config” text. (If the “Residual config dialogue does not appear, that means you do not have any Residual Config packages on your machine and you can skip down to Tip #2.) Do you see the packages that popped up in the window on the right? Those are the Residual Config packages. To get rid of these pests, click on the box to the left of the package name and select “Mark for Complete Removal”. After you have done that for all of the Residual Config packages, look at the top of the Synaptic Package Manger window. Do you see the green check mark with the text “Apply” right under it? Click that button, and you’ll flush all those Residual Config packages down the toilet!

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Tip #2 – Getting rid of partial packages – This is yet another built-in feature, but this time it is not used in Synaptic Package Manager. It is used in the Terminal. To access the Terminal, go to Applications > Accessories > Terminal. Now, in the Terminal, key in the following command (or you can just copy and paste from here):


sudo apt-get autoclean

Enter your password when prompted and press Enter. See the package names that appeared in the Terminal? Those were partial packages that have just been deleted. Say goodbye! That’s it! This command deletes the not-so-fully-downloaded packages that you acquire when a package that is being downloaded is suddenly cancelled. This is my favorite little trick when it comes to getting rid of junk files.