Gecko Flash BIOS saga

Take 1: DOSBox
I had the idea of booting Quirky from external USB stick, install DOSBox MSDOS emulator, then run the 'spiflash.exe' utility. I realised it is a long shot, as the emulator is just that, an emulated environment.

The experiment itself was pretty straightforward. I booted Quirky, with SDL, SDL_net and dosbox PET packages on the stick, then installed them. The 'spiflash.exe' and '' are available on /mnt/sda1...

# dosbox
Z:\> mount c /mnt/sda1
Z:\> c:
Z:\> spiflash u edu.rom
Unknown CPU type

...that is, spiflash executed, put up some preliminary text, then that message about CPU type.

Take 2: MSDOS format
I have reformatted the Gecko internal SD card with sda1 as fat (256MB), sda2 as ext3 (6GB+) and a bit left over in case I want to create a swap partition. I did this with Gparted.

The XP recovery console has 'format' utility, but it does not accept the '/s' (install system shell). So, I'm going to take out the SD card, plug it into another computer that runs Windows, then see if I can run 'format d: /s' (or whatever).

Then I will put the SD card back into the Gecko and should be able to boot to a MSDOS prompt.

...well, that's the theory anyway!

Take 3: Bootable MSDOS CD
Daftdog and bigpup posted some links to boot CDs, I might try them first. Whatever method I come up with, it needs to be easily reproducible by others, so "Take 2" really should be last.

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 8:54


Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 10:57 by Kevin Bowers
Use an external floppy?
How large is the update utility? Could it be put on a Windows startup floppy, then boot the Gecko to it? That would save swapping out internal SD cards.

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 11:12 by technosaurus
dosbox + freedos

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 14:59 by BarryK
Gecko, bootable FreeDOS partition
I took the SD card out of the Gecko, plugged it into my laptop.

I used Gparted to partition the SD card with 256MB fat32 first partition and 6GB+ ext3 partition. I set the 'boot' flag on the fat32 partition.

I installed 'ms-sys'. This is a PET package available in the official Puppy4 repository. I then ran (the SD card is /dev/sdc):

# ms-sys --mbrdos /dev/sdc
DOS/Windows NT master boot record successfully written to /dev/sdc
# ms-sys --fat32free /dev/sdc1
FAT32 FreeDOS boot record successfully written to /dev/sdc1

I downloaded FreeDOS 1.0 iso, opened it, copied 'kernel.sys' and '' to the SD card fat32 partition.

So, will it boot?... unfortunately, it tried to boot, but reported:


I ran fdisk:

# fdisk -l -u /dev/sdc

Disk /dev/sdc: 7950 MB, 7950303232 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 966 cylinders, total 15527936 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x000215b8

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdc1 * 63 530144 265041 b W95 FAT32
/dev/sdc2 530145 14474564 6972210 83 Linux

I downloaded another package, that is designed specifically for FreeDOS, 'sys-freedos-linux'. I unzipped it and ran:

# ./ --disk=/dev/sdc1
DOS boot sector for /dev/sdc1 will be created by:
nasm -o /dev/stdout ./bootsecs/boot32.asm
Using FAT32. Partn offset 63, CHS *x255x63 Drive 80, (0x0, 0x29),
SerNo 4B6B-99ED, Strings '', 'FAT32 '.
Boot sector successfully updated. there is just an underscore character displayed, nothing happens.

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 16:03 by pakt
BIOS upgrade tips?
Found an Edubook BIOS upgrade HOWTO in the "APM on Xcore/Vortex86 [HOWTO]" thread on the DeviceOnChip Forum:
Stevan uses a Hiren's Boot CD, but maybe the thread can give some tips.

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 16:33 by pakt
FreeDOS USB boot image
Barry, here's a link for a 'FreeDOS 1.0 USB Boot Image' to put on a USB stick. Sounds like an easy way to get FreeDOS running on the Edubook:

Posted on 5 Feb 2010, 17:22 by BarryK
Take 4: GRUB4DOS
Success, see next blog post: