PXE BIOS updating

We have a pile of HP 8530p laptops for the Trusted Infrastructure Workshop, which need to have their BIOS updated. The motivation for this is that BIOS versions before F.0E run the risk of getting the laptop stuck in an infinite loop of reboots upon invoking the GETSEC[SENTER] instruction, rendering it useless. We’ve actually warrantied two of them because of this issue.

Anyways, HP makes the BIOS update available in several formats, including and ISO and a self-extracting EXE. Grab whichever one you want. Mount the ISO or extract the EXE (worked fine using wine in linux for me). You are looking for the files EROMPAQ.EXE and 68PDV.BIN. These two files are the key to updating the BIOS. Everything else is just a fancy way to get running in a suitable DOS environment so that they can be invoked.

The goal here is to do some kind of PXE boot that will bring up a DOS environment where the BIOS update can be performed.

A simple way of PXE booting into FreeDOS good for doing manual updates is described here, but I found a more sophisticated environment that includes ‘wget’ support in this thread. Basically, they’ve already put together a FreeDOS environment that creates a 16MB RAMDISK and then uses wget.exe to pull down the appropriate files (chosen from the PXE menu). They were even able to automatically invoke the BIOS update and a reboot, although on my systems one must enter a password to perform the update.

It worked beautifully, especially given that I have an FAI server (see my previous post) all set up as a TFTP host.

Fully Automated Installation (FAI) of Ubuntu systems

For the 2009 TIW I used Debian Lenny and FAI to automatically configure all of the relevant lab machines. This year I want to use Ubuntu 9.10, which is slightly more complex as Ubuntu support in FAI is less mature. I’ve found some useful information in various places, none of which seems to be definitive. Thus, here I have pasted some useful links:

Ubuntu Jaunty FAI Howto – quite thorough, assumes the reader is fairly novice, and is configured for a German client environment, found it via here

Ubuntu 9.10 and FAI – not very detailed but suggests latest FAI packages from PPA (personal package archive?) should work for Ubuntu 9.10

FAI Multi-distribution – the “official” multi-distribution page. contains some info wrt grub and sudo for Ubuntu that I expect I will be glad to have later

Here is a page that describes adding a local directory as a package provider for apt. I found this useful for making a custom kernel available for installation, since I just used apt-proxy on my install server and did not create a full private mirror.

Flatten Comments / “TypeWriter” text in Acrobat Pro 9 on Mac OS X

It’s harder than it sounds.

This page shows how to add a JavaScript file to teach Acrobat to expose this supported functionality to the user. The provided example is for Windows, however. I put the file in /Applications/Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro/Adobe Acrobat Pro.app/Contents/MacOS/JavaScripts on my system, restarted Acrobat, and the new entries appeared in the Documents menu. They seem to work*! The contents of flatten.js are as follows:

app.addMenuItem({ cName: "Flatten page", cParent: "Document", cExec: "flattenPages(this.pageNum)",cEnable: 1, nPos: 16});
app.addMenuItem({ cName: "Flatten document", cParent: "Document", cExec: "flattenPages()",cEnable: 1, nPos: 17});

* I define “work” as the resulting PDF, after File : Save, does not cause an error when using the ‘pdfjoin’ command in Linux, and that the joined PDF can be opened in xpdf on Linux with all of the “TypeWriter” text intact.

No idea why this is not something standard with the full version of Acrobat.