Updating the BIOS on my Fujitsu laptop

Posted by pulkomandy on Wed Aug 30 18:32:07 2023  •  Comments (0)  • 

Long-winded and irrelevant introduction, like they do on cooking websites before you get to the recipe

I am the happy owner of a Fujitsu U7311 laptop. After several years of using used thinkpads, and not being happy with the new models designed by Lenovo, I had to switch to a new machine after my Thinkpad started developing some unexplained crashes, I suspect some kind of memory corruption.

I found that Fujitsu, not the most popular manufacturer, is actually still doing great machines. In fact, it was acquired by Lenovo a few years ago and it seems they took on the old Thinkpad spirit, or at least the parts that made it work for me.

Unfotunately, there is no equivalent of the thinkwiki for Fujitsu machines. This is pretty much the only downside. The customer support from Fujitsu is better than usual, with complete disassembly guides available from the support page (translated in several languages, and very well made with detailed pictures). There is also a support forum for specific questions (OK, maybe don't get TOO specific or you won't get an useful answer).

On the hardware side, I am happy with having basic IO (VGA (but the next generation U7312 removed that, oh well, I guess I could always use an adapter from HDMI or DVI?) and Ethernet ports) and I also got a docking station while I was at it (a proper one using a full docking connector under the machine, not one of these USB3 ones that I have no idea how they work). The magnesium chassis and case ensures I won't have bits of broken plastic everywhere after a few years. I also have a keyboard with a trackpoint (but you have to make a choice between that and a spill-resistant one, and I had to buy the keyboard separately and install it myself).

It is also interesting how the 13, 14 and 15 inch versions are largely identical, to the point that the BIOS image is the same for all 3. And the model numbering is also easy to follow, with one digit being the display size and the next two being the Intel CPU generation. So you easily know what you get, just from the model numbers.

Anyway, the BIOS update

The machine ships with an Insyde H2O BIOS, that is nothing unusual compared to other systems. I had two problems with the initial version shipped with the machine: boot was very slow (it took 10 seconds or so before even initializing the display), and it was not possible to switch between different displays after booting (the only way to use an external display for the BIOS was to boot with the lid closed, and then you can't use the keyboard).

The BIOS update is available from Fujitsu Support website and comes either as a "desk flash instant" or a "bios admin pack" version, but both of these contain Windows executables that won't run on my Haiku system. But it turns out that's not really a problem. The BIOS admin pack contains a file with a .bup file extension (I guess for "BIOS update package"). This can be extracted to the EFI system partition and it contains the executable that will perform the update.

So, extract the thing, copy it to the EFI partition and reboot to an EFI shell. From there, run the FJNB2E7.CAP file and let it run for a while (it takes a minute or so, be sure your battery is loaded and you are on mains power to avoid any chances of power loss during the update).

The first time I ran the executable, it did not flash anything, possibly because I had tried to run other things from the archive before (there's another executable but I'm not sure what it's for, and running it only resulted in an error message).

Anyway, run the thing, and when it's done, type "reset" to exit the EFI shell. That's it, your BIOS is updated! You can now remove the files from the EFI partition.

By the way, obviously do NOT try to install the BIOS from another machines or use tools from another manufacturer. This procedure worked for me but I take no responsibility if you break your machine, recovering from an erased BIOS is either very hard or impossible (I don't know which and I don't want to try).

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