I should not blog about this, but it’s actully spent me too much time on fixing the computer. And the customer support of aOpen did nothing for me but simply waste me time. So I decide to share some experience with you, then you don’t need to be pissed off by useless DrOpen web site.
I got a aOpen XCCube EZ945-P, and I was trying to refresh the bios due to the problem of booting from USB pen. However, it seems the BIOS EasyFlash tool from aopen web site has some problem on Windows. At the middle of reflashing process, the computer frozen. And if you understand the basic of PC, you will know that killed the BIOS and computer.
The good thing is the easyflash tools only flash the ‘system block’ but not the ‘boot block’ of BIOS, which means that you can still boot up computer and it will try to runin the Operation System on the floppy. (If you still have floppy disk driver)
The problem is I don’t have one, the other problem is the model use a special cable for floppy disk driver, which I can’t find it. Since the model is a AIO (all-in-one) model, it use a smaller connector for saving space on motherboard. So, I need to find a floppy disk driver and the cable. The driver is easy part, you can still purchase used driver from Y!Bid or Rutuen (they are ebay in Taiwan). For the cable, I need to get one from aOpen.
It sounds very good that aOpen have a self-help and tech-support cernter called `DrOpen‘, I thought I can get support from that website. It turnes out, it does not help at all. When I tried to consult the website for a procedures of recovering BIOS and where I can purchase the cable. And bascially the customer support agent (Niño) ask me these things
- He asked what’s my part number and serial number? # I asked for cable and bios image, and they asked me the numbers to confirmed I am a cusomter?!
- He think I have successfully upgrade the BIOS, because I can still hear a beep after boot. And he asked me to check the video adapter is connected properly by checking the FAQ. # He has no idea about how BIOS works, so he think beep means the BIOS is ok. And my model is All-In-One, the video chip is designed on-board! That’s the most stupid suggestion I can get.
- And he suggest me to download the BIOS file from their website, and then boot into dos, when I see the dos prompt, type the name of flash tool to reflash BIOS. # Since the BIOS is corrupted, you don’t get VGA display at all, where you can see and type in dos promopt!?
- At the end, he never tell me where I can purcahse the cable, and if you check the other issue in the DrAopen knowlodge base, they always suggest you come back to reseller for asking the cable. WTF.
So, I need to fix it by myself. The first thing is to get the cable and floppy disk driver. After asking about 10 sellers of this model, I finally get one seller can sell the cable for me. (it’s expensive then the driver!)
Then I tried to download the BIOS images from aOpen website, and I found out they customized a tool named IFC or WIFC, which help you reflash BIOS in DOS or Windows. And I can tell you the tools simply does not work! Here is my solution
- Most modern BIOS has a recovery system. If you failed on reflashing, it usually can be recovered from floppy disk. But you will lost VGA output and keyboard before you recover the BIOS.
- You will need a floppy disk with DOS installed. You can use FreeDOS. It’s free, powerful and provides DOS-compatible operating system. You can download the image and dd it into floppy disk, if you are using Linux only like me.
- After you installed freedos on floopy, you need to change configs a little bit. By default, freedos will boot into a menu system, which let you install freedos into hard disk. You can change it by modfiying fdconfig.sys. I changed it like this to run autoexec.bat
SHELL=A:\COMMAND.COM A:\ /E:2048 /F /MSG /P=A:\AUTOEXEC.BAT
- Then you will need the BIOS image, for my model there is a file named IFC14.BIN. Don’t use IFC14.exe, it does not work. You will need AwdFlash to reflash the image, which can be download from Softpedia. Then you have the reflash command written in autoexec.bat like this
AWDFL882.EXE IFC14.BIN /py/sn/Sb/cc/R
- The options of AwdFlash can be check by /?. You can change it whatever you like. Ok, we are all set, reboot and wait for it to reboot. The system sould be load into DOS and reflash the BIOS for you.
Good Luck, and wish you can also fix you BIOS as I did. 🙂