Dimension L566cx BIOS Level A06

Discussion in 'Dell' started by wm_walsh@hotmail.com, May 27, 2008.

  1. Guest

    A Dell Dimension L566cx has found its way into my collection of Dell
    systems, and I'm trying to figure out why it would see two (known
    working) low density 256MB DIMMs as being only 64MB of installed RAM.

    Since the system probably never saw a BIOS upgrade in its life, I'm
    trying to see if that might help with the memory recognition issue. It
    must have been an early model since it shipped with Windows 98SE.
    Going back through the list of BIOS releases for this machine, I
    haven't seen anything about memory. However, there is no description
    offered for what A06 and earlier might fix.

    That's my question--does anyone happen to know what the A06 (and
    possibly earlier) BIOS releases are supposed to fix? Dell has nothing
    on them that I can find beyond download links.

    (Interestingly enough, this system has some unique features that I
    haven't seen on my Dim2100 and L550r. It has dedicated video RAM for
    the 810 graphics, a Creative ViBRA sound chip onboard, and integrated
    Ethernet.)

    William
    , May 27, 2008
    #1
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  2. Guest

    What an adventure...

    I downloaded the bootable version of BIOS A14 (the system was at
    A01!), put it on a diskette and started the system up. It went right
    into the flash utility, asked me if I wanted to replace the current
    BIOS with the new one, and then it proceeded to do the job.

    The system rebooted, but all was clearly not well. Diagnostic lights
    A, B and C were yellow, while D was green. Looking that up revealed
    the problem to be a corrupt BIOS. Uh-oh.

    There is nothing quite like the sinking feeling you get when a BIOS
    upgrade doesn't work and the system doesn't start afterwards.

    Dell's diagnostic/recovery procedure for that particular light code
    involves changing a jumper on the board to enter a so-called
    "maintenance mode" and entering system setup afterwards. I didn't
    think this made sense, and indeed it did not. In fact, the system
    won't even attempt BIOS recovery from diskette if this jumper is set
    to maintenance mode. And getting into system setup when the display
    doesn't come up...well, I'd like to see how to pull that off.

    So how does one recover from a corrupted BIOS on this machine? As it
    turns out, the system will try to boot a BIOS flash diskette even when
    in the bad state. What I couldn't get it to do, however, was to
    actually recover the BIOS. Most of the time the system would give up
    after seeking all over the diskette for a while. One time it got
    farther, only to give up with angry sounding low pitched "growls" from
    the onboard speaker.

    I knew the diskette was good, so I changed the disk drive even though
    it appeared to work. The system still did not want to continue with
    BIOS recovery, so I just kept trying. Finally I got two high pitched
    beeps. Not knowing what they meant, I waited a few minutes and killed
    power to the system again. That time it booted, seemingly having been
    cured of all its ills. It's running fine now.

    So, if you ever corrupt the BIOS on your Dell Dimension L___cx or
    similar machine and go to recover it, you'll know it worked when you
    hear two high pitched beeps after a bit of floppy diskette thrashing.

    It would seem to me that no small amount of encouragement is required
    to make the system take a new BIOS despite what Dell says.

    The good news is that the memory I installed is now being recognized
    correctly.

    William
    , May 27, 2008
    #2
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  3. Ben Myers Guest

    BIOS recovery of most any Dell system could be problematic, because Dell embeds
    the BIOS image inside the executable that does the job. By contrast, I can see
    how BIOS recovery on an Intel-branded board makes good sense. The BIOS image
    for an Intel board is just sitting there on the floppy diskette along with the
    flash BIOS program. In this instance, the BIOS recovery code remaining in the
    BIOS itself knows how to read the FAT structure on the floppy and find the
    segments of the BIOS image by name. Unles Dell has some insanely smart
    programmers writing its BIOS updaters, I have real difficulty understand how the
    BIOS recovery could ever work at all... Ben Myers

    On Tue, 27 May 2008 13:46:37 -0700 (PDT), wrote:

    >What an adventure...
    >
    >I downloaded the bootable version of BIOS A14 (the system was at
    >A01!), put it on a diskette and started the system up. It went right
    >into the flash utility, asked me if I wanted to replace the current
    >BIOS with the new one, and then it proceeded to do the job.
    >
    >The system rebooted, but all was clearly not well. Diagnostic lights
    >A, B and C were yellow, while D was green. Looking that up revealed
    >the problem to be a corrupt BIOS. Uh-oh.
    >
    >There is nothing quite like the sinking feeling you get when a BIOS
    >upgrade doesn't work and the system doesn't start afterwards.
    >
    >Dell's diagnostic/recovery procedure for that particular light code
    >involves changing a jumper on the board to enter a so-called
    >"maintenance mode" and entering system setup afterwards. I didn't
    >think this made sense, and indeed it did not. In fact, the system
    >won't even attempt BIOS recovery from diskette if this jumper is set
    >to maintenance mode. And getting into system setup when the display
    >doesn't come up...well, I'd like to see how to pull that off.
    >
    >So how does one recover from a corrupted BIOS on this machine? As it
    >turns out, the system will try to boot a BIOS flash diskette even when
    >in the bad state. What I couldn't get it to do, however, was to
    >actually recover the BIOS. Most of the time the system would give up
    >after seeking all over the diskette for a while. One time it got
    >farther, only to give up with angry sounding low pitched "growls" from
    >the onboard speaker.
    >
    >I knew the diskette was good, so I changed the disk drive even though
    >it appeared to work. The system still did not want to continue with
    >BIOS recovery, so I just kept trying. Finally I got two high pitched
    >beeps. Not knowing what they meant, I waited a few minutes and killed
    >power to the system again. That time it booted, seemingly having been
    >cured of all its ills. It's running fine now.
    >
    >So, if you ever corrupt the BIOS on your Dell Dimension L___cx or
    >similar machine and go to recover it, you'll know it worked when you
    >hear two high pitched beeps after a bit of floppy diskette thrashing.
    >
    >It would seem to me that no small amount of encouragement is required
    >to make the system take a new BIOS despite what Dell says.
    >
    >The good news is that the memory I installed is now being recognized
    >correctly.
    >
    >William
    Ben Myers, May 27, 2008
    #3
  4. Hi!

    > BIOS recovery of most any Dell system could be problematic, because Dell
    > embeds the BIOS image inside the executable that does the job.


    It was interesting the way the system reacted. Although it was not
    displaying anything on the screen, the system was clearly looking for a boot
    diskette that would lead to a suitable BIOS flashing routine. The boot
    diskette was the key. I tried just putting the flash BIOS update file on the
    diskette after the first few failures, but the computer did not like that.

    I really expected that when the flash failed, that was going to be the end
    of the line...I have a ROM writer that might work, but the ROM itself is (of
    course) soldered to the board.

    > By contrast, I can see how BIOS recovery on an Intel-branded board
    > makes good sense.


    I never liked Intel boards for a variety of reasons. :) However, the Asus
    boards that I (prefer to) use also have what is called a "crashfree BIOS"
    that should let the board recover from a bad flash. I've never had to try
    this, so I can't say how it works.

    Whatever the case, I'm glad the recovery did (finally!) work. I'd only been
    tinkering with this system for a few hours after it spent months sitting in
    my shed.

    William
    William R. Walsh, May 28, 2008
    #4
  5. Ben Myers Guest

    I've had generally positive experiences with Intel boards, going back to the
    earliest Socket 4 Pentium. Nothing exciting about them, one way or the other.
    Just fairly predictable and overall reliable operation. Flashed a lot of BIOSes
    on Intel boards, sometimes to force to BIOS to look like Intel generic, and
    sometimes to make a generic board look like an OEM board such as a Gateway.

    Never had any serious issues with Asus boards except the detuned ones sold as
    OEM variously to HPaq, IBM and others. The generic boards are fine, but the OEM
    ones are a serious PITA... Ben Myers

    On Wed, 28 May 2008 02:24:27 GMT, "William R. Walsh"
    <> wrote:

    >Hi!
    >
    >> BIOS recovery of most any Dell system could be problematic, because Dell
    >> embeds the BIOS image inside the executable that does the job.

    >
    >It was interesting the way the system reacted. Although it was not
    >displaying anything on the screen, the system was clearly looking for a boot
    >diskette that would lead to a suitable BIOS flashing routine. The boot
    >diskette was the key. I tried just putting the flash BIOS update file on the
    >diskette after the first few failures, but the computer did not like that.
    >
    >I really expected that when the flash failed, that was going to be the end
    >of the line...I have a ROM writer that might work, but the ROM itself is (of
    >course) soldered to the board.
    >
    >> By contrast, I can see how BIOS recovery on an Intel-branded board
    >> makes good sense.

    >
    >I never liked Intel boards for a variety of reasons. :) However, the Asus
    >boards that I (prefer to) use also have what is called a "crashfree BIOS"
    >that should let the board recover from a bad flash. I've never had to try
    >this, so I can't say how it works.
    >
    >Whatever the case, I'm glad the recovery did (finally!) work. I'd only been
    >tinkering with this system for a few hours after it spent months sitting in
    >my shed.
    >
    >William
    >
    Ben Myers, May 28, 2008
    #5
  6. Guest

    Hi!

    > I've had generally positive experiences with Intel boards, going
    > back to the earliest Socket 4 Pentium. Nothing exciting
    > about them, one way or the other.


    The only real trouble I ever had was with getting the Intel supplied
    drivers to load properly. It never seemed to go very smoothly for me.
    Most of the time I went directly to the hardware maker's web site, got
    a newer driver and was off and running. Other than that, they've been
    very reliable. I have a nice one here with eight (!!) PCI slots on it.

    > Flashed a lot of BIOSes on Intel boards, sometimes to force
    > to BIOS to look like Intel generic, and sometimes to make
    > a generic board look like an OEM board such as a Gateway.


    How'd you force the flashing operation to complete? I've got a couple
    of boards that I know to directly cross to Intel boards (they have the
    Intel name and model # printed right on them!) but they won't accept
    the Intel flash BIOS out of the box. The message returned is what
    you'd expect--that the board doesn't match the BIOS. They are Gateway
    supplied boards.

    (Note: I'm not particularly worried about doing this. I've done it
    plenty of times before with other boards and haven't lost one yet.)

    William
    , May 28, 2008
    #6
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