For how to use an external programmer see the 25xx NOR flashing guide
The Intel Flash Descriptor defines that the first 5MiB of the 12MiB boot flash consists of the Intel Flash Descriptor, GbE and Intel ME regions. The final 7MiB of that 12MiB flash is the BIOS region. However, this 12MiB of flash is physically split into an 8MiB NOR flash and a 4MiB NOR flash; the OS sees a continuous 12MiB of flash, with the lower part being the contents of 8MiB NOR flash and the upper contents being the 4MiB NOR flash.
Do not worry too much about which flash chip your programmer is connected to. Flashrom will fail if you try to flash the wrong sized image for the chip you are connected to.
The libreboot roms released or built for haswell or ivybridge boards come as 12/16MiB roms. The size of the rom in question refers to the total size of both chips. In order to flash a full rom externally, you need to split the rom into two sections to fit the size of the two chips you wish to flash. This guide will show examples for the Thinkpad X230, but all of the information will apply to other boards.
Ivybridge boards require at least the intel management engine in order to boot. Haswell boards additionally require the mrc blob. Neither of these blobs are redistributable, so roms for these boards must be built from source or patched with the required blobs.
If you’re planning to flash a release rom to your board then you need only patch the existing rom. Alternatively, you can attempt to build a rom from source for your board.
For ivybridge specifically (e.g. thinkpad X230, T430) on Lenovo ThinkPads, it is possible to flash from vendor firmware to Libreboot, without using a clip, but some disassembly is still required. This can be beneficial if you want to save money by not buying external flashing equipment. All you need is a pain of metal tweezers or something similar that can be used to create a short circuit between two conductors.
See: ivybridge internal flashing
If you have built your rom from source then all of the blobs are generally downloaded automatically. Some boards however, do not have sources for all blobs and require manual blob extraction. If you try to build a rom from source and lbmk fails to locate the blobs, you can extract them from an existing rom backup. To do this, start by obtaining a full backup rom from your machine.
Once you have connected your programmer and read from both flash chips, you will have to combine the two images to a single rom. In general, the 4mb image is the top, and the 8mb image is the bottom. To create a readable rom file, simply concatenate the two files.
cat bottom.rom top.rom > full_backup.bin
Once you have a backup of your vendor rom, you can use lbmk to automatically extract the necessary blobs. The blob extraction script takes a board name as the first argument and a path to a rom as the second argument. For example, here is how you would extract the blobs from an x230 rom backup.
./blobutil extract x230_12mb full_backup.bin
Note that the above command must be run from the root of the lbmk directory. See building instructions for more details.
Release roms cannot include certain blobs for legal reasons. You therefore cannot directly flash a release rom to your board. You must patch the release rom with the necessary blobs and then flash it to your board.
Lbmk includes a script that will automatically inject the necessary blobs into a rom file. The script can determine the board automatically if you have not changed the name, but you can also manually set the board name with the
In order to inject the necessary blobs into a rom image, run the script from the root of lbmk and point to the rom image. For example:
./blobutil inject -r x230_libreboot.rom -b x230_12mb
Optionally, you can use this script to modify the mac address of the rom with the
-m flag. For example:
./blobutil inject -r x230_libreboot.rom -b x230_12mb -m 00:f6:f0:40:71:fd
NOTE: Haswell machines come with
mrc.bin or without, depending on the ROM image configuration. These ROM configs have
w541mrc_12mb. These ROM configs have libre MRC:
w541_12mb - it is critical that you choose the right one, when using the
-b flag in the
blobutil inject command. For example, if you used
-b t440p_12mb on a ROM image that actually corresponds to
t440pmrc_12mb, then the required
mrc.bin file would not be added and that ROM would not boot when flashed.
NOTE: the MAC changer makes use of
nvmutil, which you can read more about in the nvmutil documentation.
**WARNING: This is broken in Libreboot 20221214’s src archive. It fails when attempting to use cbfstool, due to a faulty check in a script. This is fixed in recent Libreboot releases or revisions. The fix is as follows:
Edit line 137 in
resources/scripts/blobs/inject. The line in 20221214 says this:
make -C cd coreboot/default/util/cbfstool || Fail 'could not build ifdtool'
Modify it to say this:
make -C coreboot/default/util/cbfstool || Fail 'could not build cbfstool'
When generating a MAC address, the same script tries to build
/util/nvmutil, in Libreboot 20221214. This was discovered on 10 January 2023, based on user report on IRC. Fix it like so (already fixed, in latest Libreboot from Git):
Line 30, it says:
make -C /util/nvmutil || Fail 'failed to build nvmutil'
Change it to say:
make -C util/nvmutil || Fail 'failed to build nvmutil'
Until this is edited accordingly, the inject script will exit with non-zero status, and no blobs will be injected.
This has been fixed, following the Libreboot 20221214 release, but you must apply this fix yourself, if using that release.
You can use
dd to easily split your rom into the two separate portions for external flashing. For example, here is how you would split a 12mb rom for installation:
dd if=libreboot.rom of=top.rom bs=1M skip=8 dd if=libreboot.rom of=bottom.rom bs=1M count=8
You would then flash the 4MiB chip with
top.rom and the 8MiB chip with
bottom.rom. For a larger rom image, the same logic would apply.
skip means that you want the program to ignore the first n blocks, whereas
count means you want it to stop writing after n blocks.
Once you have your rom image split you can proceed to flashing.
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