Insert vendor files on Sandybridge/Ivybridge/Haswell

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NOTE: This page also applies to PM45 machine Dell Latitude E6400 if it contains an Nvidia GPU (Libreboot vendor scripts can insert the VGA ROM)

This is not a general purpose installation guide, but you should read it before installing Libreboot! This guide must be followed, no matter what method you use to install Libreboot; even if you compile from source, you should still read this page for later reference.

For how to use an external programmer see the 25xx NOR flashing guide


PLEASE MAKE SURE you have build dependencies installed first. Although you do not need to re-compile release ROMs, you should follow these instructions before reading the instructions below:

Coreboot is nominally free software, but requires certain vendor code on some boards, for certain functionalities; we cover this more thoroughly in the Freedom Status page and in the Binary Blob Reduction Policy.

Well, not all of these files are freely redistributable. Coreboot does provide vendor files in some cases, if the vendor has allowed it. In other cases, extraction from factory firmware is required, or you can extract them from vendor-supplied updates - Libreboot’s build system does the latter.

When you compile Libreboot ROM images from source, Libreboot will automatically download any given files that are required, for any given board target. This is done without user intervention, and only when absolutely needed to make the machine boot properly.

The problem?

Well, if the files cannot be freely redistributed, then we can’t provide them. So how do we handle that, in the context of Libreboot releases?

The solution

The answer is very simple: these files are NOT provided, at all! However, the very same logic used by the build system can be run standalone, to re-insert these vendor files on release ROMs. The inject script detects what files are needed for your ROM image.

The script will detect what board you’re inserting on, or you can manually tell it what board, and it will fetch them for you, inserting them, so that your board is ready to flash - flashing it without these required files may result in a brick.

Vendor file locations

During auto-download of files, they are saved to these locations within the Libreboot build system:

The above list refers to the non-redistributable files, and these are not directly included in releases. These are auto-downloaded during the build. The me.bin files are produced by extracting them from vendor updates and neutering them with me_cleaner so that Intel ME is disabled during early boot.

Injecting vendor files into ROM

You must determine the correct board name, for your board, based on the list generated when running this command:

./build roms list

For example, t440pmrc_12mb corresponds to ThinkPad T440p with MRC firmware. Whereas t440plibremrc_12mb corresponds to T440p with libre MRC firmware. Another example: x230_12mb corresponds to Thinkpad X230.

In order to inject the necessary files into a rom image, run the script from the root of lbmk and point to the rom image.

If you only wish to flash a release rom then the process of injecting the necessary files is quite simple. Run the injection script pointing to the release archive you downloaded:

./vendor inject /path/to/libreboot-20230319-18-g9f76c92_t440pmrc_12mb.tar.xz

The script can automatically detect the board as long as you do not change the file name. You can then find flash-ready ROMs in /bin/release/

Alternatively, you may patch only a single rom file, but you must supply the correct board target name as alluded to above. For example:

./vendor 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:

./vendor inject -r x230_libreboot.rom -b x230_12mb -m 00:f6:f0:40:71:fd

Check that the files were inserted

You must ensure that the files were inserted.

Some examples of how to do that in lbmk:

./update trees -b coreboot utils

Now you find cbutitls/default, which is a directory containing cbfstool and ifdtool. Do this on your ROM image (libreboot.rom in the example below):

./cbutils/default/cbfstool libreboot.rom print

You should check that the files were inserted in cbfs, if needed; for example, EC firmware or MRC firmware.


./cbutils/default/ifdtool -x libreboot.rom

This creates several .bin files, one of which says me in it (Intel ME). Run hexdump on it:

hexdump flashregion_2_intel_me.bin

Check the output. If it’s all 0xFF (all ones) or otherwise isn’t a bunch of code, then the Intel ME firmware wasn’t inserted.

You’ll note the small size of the Intel ME, e.g. 84KB on sandybridge platforms. This is because lbmk automatically neuters it, disabling it during early boot. This is done using me_cleaner, which lbmk imports.


NOTE: Haswell machines come with mrc.bin or without, depending on the ROM image configuration. These ROM configs have mrc.bin: t440pmrc_12mb and w541mrc_12mb. These ROM configs have libre MRC: t440p_12mb and w541_12mb - it is critical that you choose the right one, when using the -b flag in the ./vendor 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.

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