Updating your UEFI BIOS from the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu

Introduction

Terms:

  • Basic Input Output System (BIOS)
  • Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI)
  • System Management BIOS (SMBIOS)

The Basic Input Output System (BIOS) is the user interface that allows interaction one to interact with their computer outwith the Operating System. This is necessary for example in order to boot an Operating System from USB in order to install it. Originally this user interface only allowed a number of very basic interactions such as a basic legacy boot from CD/DVD or USB and some simple changes in hardware settings.

In 2012 the BIOS was superseded with the much more advanced Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI). Despite UEFI displacing BIOS, the term BIOS, BIOS Setup, BIOS Boot Menu and BIOS Update are still in widespread usage. I generally prefer using the term UEFI, UEFI Setup, UEFI Boot Menu and UEFI Update however will use the term UEFI BIOS in the place of UEFI.

During the life cycle of a system a number of security patches, fixes and performance tweaks can be made in the systems firmware. These are made available with UEFI BIOS updates.

Another term that gets often confused with BIOS is the System Management BIOS. The system management BIOS doesn't change unless you physically upgrade the motherboard or purchase a new computer. It is a reflection of the age of the hardware and the number of technologies made available.

SMBIOSTechnologies
2.5Legacy Boot
2.6Legacy Boot
Early UEFI Boot (Select models only)

BIOS Flash Update from USB using FreeDOS
2.7-2.9UEFI Boot
Secure Boot

BIOS Flash Update from USB using FreeDOS
>3.0UEFI Boot
Secure Boot
Dell Data Wipe

BIOS Flash Update from USB

The BIOS Updates are usually released only in .exe format which are designed to be ran in a Windows OS however it is usually recommended to have the latest BIOS Update before installing an Operating System particularly the latest build of Windows 10 or Linux distribution.

In such cases it becomes more convenient to update the UEFI BIOS within the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu from a USB Flash Drive. Only systems with a SMBIOS of 3.0 or higher have the ability to natively update the UEFI BIOS from the UEFI BIOS Menu. For older systems a FreeDOS Bootable USB should be used instead.

Lenovo are slightly behind Dell when it comes to Updating the UEFI BIOS from USB and even their newer systems still require a FreeDOS Bootable USB. Installing the UEFI BIOS from within Windows is as cumbersome as making the FreeDOS Bootable USB as it requires using the powershell or command prompt. However the Lenovo driver update utility normally downloads the BIOS update and automatically installs it for the user.

SMBIOS Version 3.0

Tutorial Video

Checking the UEFI BIOS Version from the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu

Power up your Dell and press [12]:

This will take you to the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu. For most cases the Boot Mode should be set to UEFI and Secure Boot should be ON. If you have BIOS Flash Update listed under Other Options you have a SMBIOS of 3.0 or higher and have the ability to Update the BIOS from USB.

To the bottom is the system model and the BIOS Revision. In this case an OptiPlex 7050 with a BIOS Revision of 1.12.1 manufactured by Dell. If you have an older system and this information does not show you can enter the BIOS Setup and get the information under system information.

Checking the UEFI BIOS Version and SMBIOS from within Windows

Press [⊞] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32:

Here you should get the System Manufacturer, System Model, BIOS Version/Date and SMBIOS Version. In this case a Dell OptiPlex 7050 with UEFI BIOS Version 1.12.1 and SMBIOS Version 3.0:

Checking the Updated UEFI BIOS Version and SMBIOS from within Ubuntu

Open a terminal and type in:

sudo dmidecode

Because you have ran the command using super user do everything (sudo) you will be asked for your password to verify:

You will need to scroll up to see your SMBIOS Version, BIOS Version, Manufacturer and Model.

To check just the BIOS Version you can instead use:

sudo dmidecode -s bios-version

Download your UEFI BIOS Update

To get your latest BIOS Update, go to the Dell Website:

Select Support and then select View All Support:

Select Drivers and Downloads:

Then Browse All Products and select your Product Series and then Model. In my case A Dell OptiPlex 7050:

Select BIOS and download the latest update:

Preparing a USB Flash Drive in Windows (SMBIOS 3.0+)

It is recommended to use Rufus to create a Blank FAT32 formatted USB Flash Drive:

Double click Rufus to launch it:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Ensure the USB Flash Drive is selected, select Non Bootable under Boot Selection, GPT under Partition Scheme and FAT32 under File Format. Once you have made the selection, select Start:

The select OK to format your USB Flash Drive (all data on the USB Flash Drive will be removed):

This should be finished relatively fast:

Copy the update to your USB Flash Drive:

Preparing a USB Flash Drive in Ubuntu (SMBIOS 3.0+)

In order to make sure the USB Flash Drive is formatted as FAT32 we will install GParted. This will remove all data on your USB Flash Drive.

To install GParted use the command:

sudo apt-get install gparted

Launch GParted from applications, you will need to input your password and authenticate it to run it as a super user:

To the top right select your USB Flash Drive:

Right click your USB Flash Drive and select Unmount:

Then right click your USB Flash Drive and select Format to → FAT32:

Select OK to perform the operations:

Select Apply:

Select Close when complete:

Remvoe and reinsert your USB Flash Drive, it should automatically mount. Copy your UEFI BIOS Update to it:

Updating the UEFI BIOS from USB (SMBIOS 3.0+)

Power up your Dell with the USB Flash Drive attached and press [F12] to get to the Boot Menu:

Press the [↓] key until you get to BIOS Flash Update and select [↵]

Select the Browse Button:

Your USB should automatically be selected, if not change the File System from the drop down box. Select your UEFI BIOS Update and select OK:

Select Begin Flash Update:

Select Yes:

The computer should restart and complete the UEFI BIOS Update:

SMBIOS Version 2.5-2.9

Tutorial Video

Preparing a Rufus FreeDOS Bootable USB Flash Drive in Windows (SMBIOS 2.5-2.9)

It is recommended to use Rufus to create a Blank FAT32 formatted USB Flash Drive:

Double click Rufus to launch it:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Ensure the USB Flash Drive is selected, select FreeDOS under Boot Selection. The Partition Scheme should be set to MBR and the File System should be set to FAT32 by default. Once you have made the selection, select Start:

The select OK to format your USB Flash Drive (all data on the USB Flash Drive will be removed):

This should be finished relatively fast:

Copy your UEFI BIOS Update to the USB Flash Drive.

Some of these older Dells may require an older BIOS Update to be applied before the latest update:

Updating the UEFI BIOS from the Rufus FreeDos Bootable USB (SMBIOS 2.5-2.9)

Note if you have a system with a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot, you will need to temporary Disable it and allow a Legacy Boot with Legacy ROMs Enabled.

Note if you have a system with a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot, you will need to temporary Disable it and allow a Legacy Boot with Legacy ROMs Enabled.

On a Dell system press [F2] to enter the UEFI BIOS setup:

Look for a tab called Secure Boot, expand it, select Secure Boot Enable and change the setting to Disabled. Select OK at any warning dialog box:

Legacy Option ROMs must be enabled. Go to the general tab and select Advanced Boot Options, ensure Enable Legacy Option ROMs are Enabled:

Next go to Boot Sequence and ensure the Boot List Option is set to Legacy:

Select Apply:

Press OK:

This OptiPlex 790 has an early UEFI BIOS so it always has both a Legacy and UEFI Boot option listed. In this case Legacy ROMs are always Enabled and this system does not have Secure Boot.

Power up your system with the FreeDOS Bootable USB and press [F12] to get to the Boot Menu:

Press the [↓] key until you get to your USB Flash Drive. If you have a system with a UEFI BIOS, you should select the Option under Legacy Boot:

When you have selected your USB Flash Drive, press [Enter]:

You will be given an option to select your keyboard layout. I will select UK-English:

You will now get a FreeDOS console:

Type in

dir

This will list all the files on the USB Flash Drive:

The BIOS Update should show. In this case O790-A22

Type in the name of your BIOS Update followed by .EXE in my case:

O790-A22.EXE

You will get a Dell warning about Updating your BIOS, basically informing you that the loss of power (or force shutdown) during the BIOS Update may brick your system. Press:

y

To proceed:

Now it will tell you the Version Installed and the Version Available to Update:

Once again press:

y

To proceed:

The BIOS Update will now begin:

The system should automatically reboot when the update is complete:

It now says A22 so the BIOS Update is complete:

Once the Update is complete re-enable a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot if you Disabled these settings earlier.

The version can also be checked within Windows by pressing [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]:

It is A22 as expected:

Preparing a Unetbootn FreeDOS Bootable USB Flash Drive in Ubuntu (SMBIOS 2.5-2.9)

Insert your USB Flash Drive and search for Disks. Launch Disks:

Select your USB Flash Drive and check what device it is, in this case /dev/sdb1

Search for terminal:

Copy and paste the following commands into terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gezakovacs/ppa

As we are running the command using super user do everything, we will need to type in our password to authenticate it. Enter your password when prompted:

Press Enter

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unetbootin

Press y to proceed:

y

Unetbootn should now be installed:

Launch Unetbootn from all applications. As it needs to run as a super user it will prompt for authentication. Input your password. If you get an empty window launch it from terminal using:

sudo QT_X11_NO_MITSHM=1 unetbootin

Under distribution select FreeDOS:

Under Device select your device, in my case/dev/sdb1

All data on your USB Flash Drive will be wiped. Select OK:

Press [Exit]

You now have your FreeDOS Bootable USB Flash Drive:

Copy your UEFI BIOS Update to this Bootable USB Flash Drive:

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Some of these older Dells may require an older BIOS Update to be applied before the latest update:

Updating the UEFI BIOS from the FreeDOS Unetbootin Bootable USB (SMBIOS 2.5-2.9)

Note if you have a system with a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot, you will need to temporary Disable it and allow a Legacy Boot with Legacy ROMs Enabled.

On a Dell system press [F2] to enter the UEFI BIOS setup:

Look for a tab called Secure Boot, expand it, select Secure Boot Enable and change the setting to Disabled. Select OK at any warning dialog box:

Legacy Option ROMs must be enabled. Go to the general tab and select Advanced Boot Options, ensure Enable Legacy Option ROMs are Enabled:

Next go to Boot Sequence and ensure the Boot List Option is set to Legacy:

Select Apply:

Press OK:

This OptiPlex 790 has an early UEFI BIOS so it always has both a Legacy and UEFI Boot option listed. In this case Legacy ROMs are always Enabled and this system does not have Secure Boot.

Power up your system with the FreeDOS Bootable USB and press [F12] to get to the Boot Menu:

Press the [↓] key until you get to your USB Flash Drive. If you have a system with a UEFI BIOS, you should select the Option under Legacy Boot:

When you have selected your USB Flash Drive, press [Enter]:

It will Boot Using Default:

In the next screen press the [↓] key to get to FreeDOS Safe Mode:

Press [Enter]:

Unlike the Bootable USB created with Rufus, this Bootable USB starts in A:\ and not in C:\. Type in:

C:\

Type in:

dir

To list all the files on the Bootable USB:

Your BIOS Update, in my case O790-A22.EXE should be listed to launch it type in its name followed by .EXE:

O790-A22.EXE

Follow the onscreen instructions to perform the BIOS Update, as this system has just been updated via the Rufus FreeDOS Bootable USB I will press n to cancel the update.

Once the Update is complete re-enable a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot if you Disabled these settings earlier.