Knowledge Base

Updating the Dell BIOS in Linux and Ubuntu Environments



If you wish to update the system BIOS in a Linux environment such as Ubuntu, then you can get some help here.

Note: This article refers to Client systems only (Desktops and Laptops), this does not cover Enterprise systems (Servers Etc.)

Table of Contents:

  1. Flashing a Dell BIOS in a Linux Only Environment
  2. Updating the BIOS on supported UEFI systems (2015 onwards)
  3. Creating a USB Bootable Storage Device Using FreeDOS (Legacy Sytems)
  4. Update the BIOS on Dell systems before 2015
  5. Frequently Asked Questions about Ubuntu Linux

1. Flashing a Dell BIOS in a Linux Only Environment

As Linux and Ubuntu distributions are becoming more and more popular on Dell systems, there are more situations where a Linux only environment is present.

UEFI Capsule updates

If your system is listed at https://secure-lvfs.rhcloud.com/lvfs/devicelist External Link then it supports UEFI capsule updates and can be updated natively within the OS.

Ubuntu 16.04 and later natively will notify you for BIOS updates. The system will regularly check for BIOS updates automatically. When an update is available, a popup will be displayed to flash the update

Note: Other Linux distributions may need to have the capsule flashing tools manually installed. Check with your distribution vendor for more information.

If your system or Operating System does not support UEFI capsule updates:

  • For newer systems (post 2015), refer to Section 2 below

  • For older systems and releases of Linux/Ubuntu, the process to create a bootable USB storage device with a BIOS update is included in Section 3 and Section 4 below.

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2. Updating the BIOS on supported UEFI systems (2015 onwards)

BIOS Boot menu updates

All Dell systems from 2015 and later support flashing an updated BIOS from within the boot menu. Follow the directions below to update the BIOS on these systems.

  1. Format USB storage device

    Users will need to format a USB storage device as FAT32

    On Ubuntu 16.04 and later, this can be done by following these steps:

    Figure 1: Find Disks app

    find disks

    1. Plug in a USB storage device such as a Memory Stick

    2. Click or touch the Ubuntu dash icon

    3. Type disks to search for the Disks application

    Figure 2: Disks app

    disks app

    1. Click on Disks

    Figure 3: Format Volume

    Format Volume

    Note: On other Linux distributions, you may need to check with your distribution vendor for information on how to format the USB storage device.
    1. Select the USB flash drive on the left. (1 in Figure 2 above)

    2. Look at the Partition Type below. (2 in Figure 2 above)

      • If the partition type contains FAT32 it’s already formatted properly

      • If the partition type is something else, it will need to be formatted

    3. Click the gear icon above Size (3 in Figure 2 above)

    4. Select Format

    5. Make sure that Type is FAT

    6. Click the Format button

  2. Download BIOS update

    Visit www.dell.com/support/drivers to find your system

    Select the BIOS update, and download using your web browser

    Navigate to the Downloads folder, and copy the BIOS to your USB disk

    Note: the BIOS will end in an .EXE extension. Even though Linux can’t open it natively, it will be processed by the BIOS properly
  3. Flash BIOS update

    If the system isn’t already plugged into a power outlet, plug it in now

    1. Reboot the system, and press F12 at the Dell splash screen

      This will bring up the One time boot menu (Figure 4)

    2. Select the option to BIOS Flash Update

      Figure 4: One Time Boot Menu

      One Time Boot Menu

    3. In the popup, navigate to your USB disk and select the BIOS you downloaded

    4. Once the update has been completed, the system will reboot automatically

      Figure 5: BIOS Update

      BIOS Update

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3. Creating a USB Bootable Storage Device Using FreeDOS (Legacy Systems)

Warning: This procedure will NOT work on USB 3.0 only systems. This process is provided as a courtesy, and requires the use of third party utilities to create the bootable USB key. This process will not be supported by Dell Technical Support. Please proceed at your own risk.

For older versions of Linux and Ubuntu and on systems that are pre 2015, you will need to update the BIOS using the following method:

Note: This procedure may not work on systems that were not capable of having Linux factory installed. This process is provided as a courtesy, and requires the use of third party utilities to create the bootable USB key. This process will not be supported by Dell Technical Support.

Users will need to create a bootable USB storage device with FreeDOS on it to proceed with flashing the BIOS.

Note: Note again that this process is unlikely to work on systems that are unable to have FreeDOS or Linux factory installed on it.

Download the following to the system before beginning :

  • The latest BIOS for the system, which can be located at www.dell.com/support/drivers

  • The FreeDOS Base ISO 1.0, located at www.freedos.org/download External Link

  • UNetbootin, which can be installed by going to the Software Center in Linux, and searching for UNetbootin and then installing it.

After UNetbootin is installed, run the program and select the Diskimage option, and set to ISO and then select the FreeDOS Base ISO file that was downloaded earlier.

Select the Type as USB Drive and the drive as /dev/sdb1 and click OK.

Use the image below as a sample of what the UNetbootin screen should look like.

Figure 6: UNetbootin screen

After this operation is complete, copy the BIOS exe file to the USB storage device.

Now move on to Section 4

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4. Update the BIOS on Dell systems before 2015

  1. After the BIOS flash file has been copied, reboot the system, and press F12 at the Dell logo to bring up the "One time boot menu"

  2. Select USB Storage Device to boot from the USB stick.

  3. Once the system reaches the boot menu, choose the fdos option, then choose safemode

Caution: Do not choose to Load FreeDOS to the hard drive, as it will damage the operating system
  1. Once the boot has completed, it will show an A: prompt.

  2. Switch the drive letter to B: or C: (The drive letter assigned to the USB memory stick)

  3. Type in the filename of the BIOS flash file to begin the update process e.g. O9010A12.exe and press Enter

  4. Once the update has completed the system should reboot automatically

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4. Frequently Asked Questions about Ubuntu Linux

For further information about Ubuntu Linux on your system please see the following link:

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Article ID: SLN171755

Last Date Modified: 08/14/2017 10:24 AM


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