I have been having odd problems with a Mach Speed Viper K8M8MSr2 motherboard under Linux. All of my other machines, at this point in time, happen to be the same brand, make, and virtually the same model: those are the “r1” or revision 1 boards.
The problem I am seeing under Linux is:
- I cannot load Fedora Core x64 4, 5, or 6 directly on the machine.
- When I did get something to load, it had to be on a hard drive smaller than 160GB.
- Any update to the kernel results in an machine that cannot boot off of the new kernel.
Now, individually, each one of those problems could be related to a distinctly different thing. However, all together, they just seem weird. Additionally, due to a bug in the BIOS version (A02) that is already on the board, I cannot boot the system off of the net (via a PXE boot) while all of my other machines, even client machines, boot off of the network without any issues. It was recommended by the support folks over at MachSpeed.com that I upgrade the BIOS to the A03 version.
So, I took on the task of upgrading the BIOS to the recommended level (A03). This is not easy, since all of the machine I build now-a-days do not have floppy drives in them. Fortunately, being the tech packrat that I am, I have about 15 floppy drives hanging around. But, first, I thought there had to be a better way, like a bootable CDROM.
After a lot of searching and trial-and-error, I came across Bart’s PE Builder which builds a custom bootable CDROM drive for just about any purpose. This worked out very well to create a bootable CDROM, but, unfortunately, it would not allow me to execute the awdflash.exe binary. It kept claiming that it wasn’t a Win32 executable. 🙁
After several attempts at other programs and the final failure with the PE Builder, I broke down and started with the floppy procedure. Now, I would have proceeded faster had I realized that Windows XP includes the option to make an MS-DOS bootable floppy. Since I didn’t know or notice that, I hunted all over until I found BIOSMods.com which provided some good floppy images. Of course, I found that site while looking in to an awdflash.exe problem (read further) after realizing that Windows XP could make the disks, but I thought it was worth noting the since since it has some good links to Dr-DOS.
So, I attached a floppy drive to my desktop system, right-mouse clicked on the A drive and selected “Format..”. Notice the option to “Create an MS-DOS startup disk”. I wish I had seen it earlier. 🙂
After clicking start, the drive whirred for a little while (Floppies are so inefficiently slow) and finished up. I opened up the disk to take a look at contents:
Things looked good. I copied over the awdflash.exe file I got from the Mach Speed BIOS update procedure and the correct BIOS file. There was literally no room left on the disk which worried me a little, but I thought I would cross (burn?) that bridge when I got there. Thinking I would be smart, I created a BIOS folder and placed the two files in to that folder.
I then hooked a floppy drive up to the Linux machine and booted off the floppy I just created (yes, I tested the boot functionality of the floppy on my machine first) and got to an A:\ prompt. I went in to the BIOS folder (cd BIOS) and executed the awflash.exe application (awdflash.exe K8MR2A03.BIN). awdflash.exe eventually came up and it had the BIOS file name pre-filled in. It was flashing “Please Wait” at the bottom of the screen as it was, I assumed, reading the BIOS off of the floppy. It stayed there forever, with the floppy drive spinning. 🙁
I then tried this same procedure on a test machine I had, and the results were exactly the same. I’m beginning to suspect a problem with the A03 BIOS file. By this time, it was late, and I gave up for the evening.