Flashing gPXE ROM to a Compaq Armada Notebook

The Compaq Armada M700 (and also M300, V300, E500, E500S and Prosignia 170 and 190) has an build in PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment) Boot ROM for the internal Intel EtherExpress Pro 100 NIC (Network Interface Controller). This ROM is ok, if you only want to network boot from (the very stupid) TFTP Daemon. But what to do, if you want to netboot from i.e. HTTP or iSCSI? Yes right, you need gPXE.

Successfully tested with: Compaq Armada M700

In this HowTo, I show you, how to replace the original PXE ROM Image with the gPXE ROM Image generated with rom-o-matic, because the original "Burning gPXE into Intel EtherExpress cards" won't work with the Compaq Armada M700.

Now some of the good bad news. We need wine and dosbox to run some of the programs described in this HowTo. The good news is, that we don't need Windows to follow this HowTo.

Step One: Get all the things we need

At first we need the Compaq PXE Boot Manager Upgrade for the Intel Pro 100 NIC, which can be found at [1] and [2] (if the direct download link don't work). Than we need 1,44 MB Floppy Disk to start the upgrade process for the PXE Boot Manager. And we need the gPXE Rom Image itself. To find out, which version you need, look at the output of the `lspci -nn` command. There should be a line like

00:09.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Intel Corporation 82557/8/9/0/1 Ethernet Pro 100 [8086:1229] (rev 09)

that tells you the PCI ID of your network controller (here it is [8086:1229]). Now as we know the PCI ID, we can generate and download the right ROM from [3]. For me it was “eepro100:eepro100 – [0x8086,0x1229]”. Look at the PCI IDs at the end of the rows, to find the right one. If you've found the right ROM, than go further and change the ROM format to “Binary ROM Image (.zrom)”. Now you can click on “Get ROM” and wait until the download begins.

[1]Compaq Armada M700 - Mobile Intel PRO/100 NIC PXE Boot Manager Upgrade (Direct Download Link)
[2]Compaq Armada M700 - Mobile Intel PRO/100 NIC PXE Boot Manager Upgrade (Compaq Website)
[3]ROM Image generator

Supported Compaq Armada Models: M300, V300, M700, E500, E500S Supported Compaq Prosignia Models: 170, 190

Step Two: Extract the Disk Image to a Floppy Disk

Now we need to execute the setup of sp22934.exe. If you don't have a Windows installation on one of your systems, you can use wine, as this setup only extracts three files to “C:\SWSetup\SP22934A”. So we do a

`wine so22934.exe`

wine prints out, that it cannot start “C:\\SWSetup\\SP22934A\\qrst5.exe” because vm86 mode is not supported. We will ignore this message for the moment and go further to extract the disk image inside qrst5.exe with dosbox. So we do a

`cd ~/.wine/drive_c/SWSetup/SP22934A`

to change to the install directory of qrst5.exe. Now we start dosbox with

`dosbox .`

and inside the dosbox, we execute

QRST5.EXE -i,PXE-4109._01

to extract the disk image to harddisk. The extracted image from the Compaq PXE Boot Manager Upgrade package should now be copied to a floppy disk. This can be done with Attention: All data on the floppy disk will be erased

dd if=QIMAGE1.IMG of=/dev/fd0

You can find the QIMAGE1.IMG file at ~/.wine/drive_c/SWSetup/SP22934A/.

Step Three: Get the right filename and upgrade to gPXE

Insert the floppy into your Notebooks floppy drive and boot from floppy. If the upgrade tool asks you to store a backup to onto the floppy, say yes, because we need the filename of that backup file.

After the upgrade is complete, we replace the existing backup file of the ROM Image with the gPXE ROM Image. Save the old backup to your harddrive, if you want to flash the original PXE ROM back to the notebook. The backup file is named something like xxxxxxxx.fls, where the eight X's are the last eight digits from the NICs MAC-Address. Now rename your gPXE ROM Image to the same name as the ROM Image Backup from the floppy and copy the gPXE ROM Image to the floppy disk.

Step Four: The final Step

Here comes the last step, to flash gPXE to the Compaq Notebook. Insert the floppy disk with the gPXE ROM Image into the Notebooks floppy drive and boot from floppy. If the upgrade tool ask you, if you want to restore the backup, say yes, and gPXE will be flashed into your NICs Boot ROM.

So, thats it.

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