Burning ROM chips

Questions about burning ROM chips came up on the mailing list, so some information was written up to be put here for reference.

has anyone tried burning etherboot onto a bootrom
instead of booting from a floppy drive to get connected?

Most of the mailing list regulars did that. There are generally few problems that you could run in, so here they are - given your boot floppy worked perfectly.

  1. You need to burn the PROM.
    Only few Nics support to burn EPROMS in situ, so for most chipsets, you need a ROM burner. Those might be as cheap as 30 EUR, for the most basic device.
  2. You need to get 27C256 chips (27C128 might be too small for recent etherboot, but 27C512 and 27C010 will do as well with most card types - just they might be more expensive for the larger storage they offer).
    BIOS Chips from old 286 or 386 mainboards might be reused, by exposing the EPROM window to UV light.
  3. The ROM socket needs to be activated. This might be done by setting a jumper on the card, or by using the DIAG, SETUP, RSET, program coming on the NIC driver disk.
  4. In case your ROM is larger than the file to be burnt to it (it will be by a factor of 2 or 4), some say to write it several times one after the next into the ROM, others recommend to write it only once and leave the rest of the ROM alone. Your mileage may vary, but only writing it once, then testing, you could still write the rest of the chip if your test did not succeed in the first pass.

Hopefully the most common questions/problems are covered here. Feel free to ask on the mailing list if you run into problems.

Special ways of burning ROMs

If you are looking for a way to program EEPROMs …


…this is a nice sourceforge project, which may interest you:


The aim of this project is to use different kinds of alternative EEPROM programming devices in Linux like:


…or this programmer: http://www.willem.org/

It is available as already built and tested, kit or single sided PCB for the true hobbyists out there.
the programmer software is for windows but is wine compatible.