Flashing the Dell Latitude E6400

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Initial flashing instructions for the E6400.

ROM images are available in the Libreboot 20230423 release, and subsequent releases.

Variants with Nvidia GPUs are NOT supported in Libreboot 20230423 or 20230625.

Variants with Nvidia GPUs are supported in Libreboot 20231021 or higher.

This guide is for those who want libreboot on their Latitude E6400 while they still have the original Dell BIOS present. This guide can also be followed (adapted) if you brick your E6400, and you want to recover it.

Variants (nvidia or intel graphics)

Dell E6400, E6400 XFR and E6400 ATG are all believed to work. The flashing instructions are identical, on all of them.

100% Free Software possible (Intel GPU)

This board can boot entirely free software in the flash. The hardware is similar to that of ThinkPad X200, T400 etc where no-ME setup is possible.

No-microcode setup feasible

The microcode bugfixes/mitigations added for GM45 are also applicable to this board, for users who are interested. Read that article for more information.

Libreboot still recommends that boot with CPU microcode updates, by default, for all the reasons described by Libreboot’s Binary Blobs Reductions Policy but this board run reasonably well without them.

A note about GPUs

We confirm that the Nvidia models are PM45, and therefore will require a VGA ROM for initialisation. This is supported in Libreboot after the 20230625 release, if you compile from source; the e6400_4mb target can work on both variants, but will need the Nvidia VGA ROM inserted to work on Nvidia models. This insertion is handled automatically in newer lbmk revisions, during build time, or you can insert it on a release rom after 20230625. - A Video BIOS Option ROM is used, in this configuration. Libreboot’s build system automatically downloads this at build time, or it can handle that for you in the same way if it was scrubbed from a release ROM.

Models with Intel graphics are GM45, and fully supported in Libreboot with native initialisation; ROM images are available since Libreboot 20230423. The Intel video initialisation is libre, implemented with publicly available source code via libgfxinit, from the coreboot project.

Flash chip size

Use this to find out:

flashprog -p internal

We believe most/all are 4MB (32Mb) flash sizes, but larger ROM images are provided for people who wish to upgrade.

MAC address

The MAC address is part of the ROM image that you’re flashing. You can change it at any time, before or after you’ve flashed Libreboot; you can also change it in the Dell BIOS, if you really want to. This is for the onboard gigabit ethernet device.

Refer to mac_address.html.

It is recommended that you run nvmutil. See:

nvmutil usage manual

The nvmutil software is specifically designed for changing MAC addresses, and it implements a few more safeguards (e.g. prevents multicast/all-zero MAC addresses) and features (MAC address randomisation, ability to correct or intententionally corrupt(disable) GbE sections if you wish, swap GbE parts, etc). You can also run ich9gen, if you wish:

ich9gen usage manual

Intel GPU: libre video initialisation available

Libreboot uses coreboot’s native libgfxinit on this platform, for variants with Intel graphics.

For Intel GPU variants, Libreboot 20230423 and up have full support. Simply flash a release ROM, if you wish.

Nvidia GPU: Video BIOS Option ROM required

NOTE: nouveau (Linux video driver) is unstable when it was last tested, in this setup. Either specify nomodeset kernel option, or use another operating system such as OpenBSD. More information is written on the E6400 hardware page, regarding OS compatibility.

This is unavailable in Libreboot 20230423 and 20230625, but a future release will contain support for these variants; for now, you must compile Libreboot from Git. It is available in the default master branch of lbmk, under build target e6400_4mb - either build from source and it gets inserted automatically, or you can insert it manually on future release ROMs past Libreboot 20230625.

An earlier experimental revision existed in an experimental branch of lbmk, as build target e6400nvidia_4mb, but it was decided that since SeaBIOS is the only payload anyway on this board, having just a single build target is more efficient if that can (and it does) support both variants. It was therefore added to the master branch.

Actual installation is the same as with regular E6400 (Intel GPU) variants. Refer to the E6400 flashing instructions.

Problems with Linux video drivers on Nvidia

Technically, there is nothing wrong with Libreboot itself, but the nouveau driver hangs/crashes on Nvidia models, after booting Linux with the Nvidia VGA ROM loaded from coreboot.

Until that is fixed, you must specify nomodeset in your Linux kernel boot parameters.

Refer to development discussion for more information - testers needed!

The Intel GPU variant of E6400 is more stable, and works fully, with full acceleration - the Nvidia models can only be run in software, and the BSD systems only have the slow nv driver (which is nonetheless stable).

Nvidia errata

BEFORE you flash it, please know that support for Nvidia variants is a proof of concept. Known issues exist. For more information, please read the E6400 info page, E6400 nvidia news page and the development discussion via codeberg.

How to flash internally (no diassembly)

Flashing from Linux

MAKE SURE you boot with this Linux kernel parameter: iomem=relaxed - this disables memory protections, permitting /dev/mem access needed by flashprog. The flash is memory mapped and flashprog accesses it via /dev/mem.

You can flash Libreboot directly from the vendor (Dell) BIOS, without taking the machine apart. It can be done entirely from Linux. It will probably also work on BSD systems, but it has only been testing on Linux thus far.

NOTE (15 October 2023): The util is now called dell-flash-unlock, but it was previously called e6400-flash-unlock. Links have been updated.

Check util/dell-flash-unlock in the lbmk.git repository, or in release archives for Libreboot releases from 20230423 onwards.

Go in there:

cd util/dell-flash-unlock

With this program, you can unlock the flash in such a way where everything is writeable. Information about how to use it is in the README.html file which is included in that program’s directory, or you can read it online here:


Literally just run that program, and do what it says. You run it once, and shut down, and when you do, the system brings itself back up automatically. Then you run it and flash it unlocked. Then you run it again. The source code is intuitive enough that you can easily get the gist of it; it’s writing some EC commands and changing some chipset config bits. The EC on this machine is hooked up to the GPIO33 signal, sometimes called HDA_DOCK_EN, which sets the flash descriptor override thus disabling any flash protection by the IFD. It also bypasses the SMM BIOS lock protection by disabling SMIs, and Dell’s BIOS doesn’t set any other type of protection either such as writing to Protected Range registers.

When you flash it, you can use this command:

flashprog -p internal -w libreboot.rom

Where libreboot.rom is your E6400 ROM. Make sure it’s the right one. If flashprog complains about multiple flash chips detected, just pick one of them (doesn’t matter which one). On most Dell machines, the most correct would probably be this option in flashprog: -c MX25L3205D/MX25L3208D.


flashprog -p internal -w libreboot.rom -c MX25L3205D/MX25L3208D

When you see flashprog say VERIFIED at the end, that means the flash was successful. If you don’t see that, or you’re unsure, please contact the Libreboot project via IRC.


The -w option flashes libreboot.rom. You may consider backing up the original Dell BIOS first, using the -r option:

flashprog -p internal -r backup.rom -c MX25L3205D/MX25L3208D

Do this while in a flashable state, after the 2nd run of dell-flash-unlock.

Make sure the backup.rom file gets backed up to an external storage media, not the E6400 itself.

With this method, you can probably flash it within 5 minutes. Again, zero disassembly required!

How to flash externally

Refer to spi.html as a guide for external re-flashing.

The SPI flash chip shares a voltage rail with the ICH9 southbridge, which is not isolated using a diode. As a result, powering the flash chip externally causes the ICH9 to partially power up and attempt to drive the SPI clock pin low, which can interfere with programmers such as the Raspberry Pi. See RPi Drive Strength for a workaround.

Have a look online for videos showing how to disassemble, if you wish to externally re-flash.

Markdown file for this page: https://libreboot.org/docs/install/e6400.md

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