Updating the BIOS on Lenovo laptops from Linux using a USB flash stick

Aren’t hardware manufacturers funny? They either require an old-fashioned operating system (Windows) or museum hardware (floppy drives) to update a BIOS. Apparently they never learn and are instead busy adding features like DRM and UEFI to make our lives even more miserable.

However updating the BIOS on my Lenovo X230 laptop was surprisingly easy once I learned how to do that (kudos to a G+ post I stumbled upon).

  1. Go to support.lenovo.com (or better use a search engine becaues the Lenovo website is beautiful but technically pretty broken and slow) and search for the BIOS upgrade of your laptop model.
  2. Download the most recent ISO file. Look for “BIOS bootable update CD”.
  3. Convert the ISO image using the geteltorito utility (if you don’t have it: apt-get install genisoimage).
    Example:
    geteltorito -o bios.img g2uj18us.iso
  4. Insert any USB stick into your laptop that you have lying around. The image file is just 50 MB in size so even USB sticks with low capacity will work. Keep in mind that the stick will be completely overwritten.
  5. If you are in a graphical environment then unmount the USB stick again.
  6. Find out the device name of the stick. Enter a terminal window and enter “dmesg | tail”. You are looking for something like:[ 2101.614860] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI disk
    The “sdb” tells you that your USB stick is available on /dev/sdb. Don’t just assume it’s sdb. If it’s on another device on your laptop then you will destroy your data.
  7. Copy the image to the USB stick:
    dd if=bios.img of=/dev/sdb bs=1M
  8. Reboot your laptop.
  9. After the Lenovo logo appears press ENTER.
  10. Press F12 to make your laptop boot from something else than your harddisk.
  11. Select the USB stick.
  12. Make sure your laptop has its power supply plugged in. (It will refuse to update otherwise.)
  13. Follow the instructions.

73 thoughts on “Updating the BIOS on Lenovo laptops from Linux using a USB flash stick

  • 2015-05-14 at 20:12
    Permalink

    I have a lenovo E330 and had to update the bios firmware
    This technic worked with an ubuntu
    I want to add that I had to modify the boot option to boot in legacy mode with the quick boot disable

    Reply
    • 2015-09-29 at 17:48
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      Strange. I had to boot with secure boot + UEFI πŸ˜€

      Reply
      • 2016-10-02 at 13:49
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        Hey, man! You saved my day! I was trying to boot with
        Secure Boot Off
        – UEFI/Legacy Boot [Both]
        but that was failing. You gave me a hint and I did my settings according to the readme table
        at https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles/r02uj49d.txt
        with “OS Optimized Defaults” setting [Disabled] case, i.e. settings from the first column. See the table below:
        “OS Optimized Defaults” setting [Disabled] case [Enabled] case
        – Security
        – UEFI BIOS Update Option
        – Secure RollBack Prevention [Disabled] [Enabled]
        – Secure Boot
        – Secure Boot [Disabled] [Enabled]
        – Startup
        – UEFI/Legacy Boot [Both] [UEFI Only]
        – UEFI/Legacy Boot Priority [Legacy First] (Not shown)
        – CSM Support [Yes] [No]

        May be it will help someone else too πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • 2017-09-29 at 17:44
          Permalink

          These settings worked fine for me, and after have done two times the dd step, I was able to upgrade my T460s’ Bios. I think that the crucial part is boot in a Legacy mode, not UEFI.

          Reply
          • 2018-01-16 at 02:33
            Permalink

            Excellent! YES you have to run the dd command TWICE compulsorily…then verify the contents under the flash drive. It should look something like this:

            total 8
            drwx——. 2 user user 2048 Feb 26 2016 $RECYCLE.BIN
            drwx——. 3 user user 2048 Mar 25 2016 EFI
            drwx——. 2 user user 2048 Feb 16 2017 System Volume Information
            drwx——. 3 user user 2048 Jan 16 07:57 Flash

            Once you get this then your BIOS WILL be updated for sure. Just make sure your flash drive gets detected properly.

  • 2015-06-30 at 17:15
    Permalink

    I use fedora and decided to update my T520i (BIOS 1.29/EC 1.22), using the USB method.
    After a minute of updating, i received an error on the screen.
    I was able to boot with new 1.45 BIOS, but the EC was at version 1.22
    Using an update with a CD fixed things.

    Reply
  • 2015-07-21 at 23:14
    Permalink

    Worked great on my X1 Carbon 3rd gen, thanks. I had originally tried dd’ing the downloaded iso directly to the usb like you can do with so many other isos, but that wouldn’t boot. I was just missing the geteltorito step.

    Reply
  • 2015-07-27 at 13:41
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    Thanks. Worked fine on my X220.

    Reply
  • 2015-08-09 at 13:01
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    Thanks, it worked! πŸ˜€

    Reply
  • 2015-09-06 at 13:17
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    I just upgraded the firmware on my Lenovo X131e with this manual and it worked perfectly.

    A lot easier than having to find a USB CD ROM drive and burning a CD that you’re only going to use once.

    Thanks a lot for your tutorial!

    Reply
  • 2016-01-08 at 12:23
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    Thanks! Worked perfectly on my ThinkPad X230. Only couldn’t find USB after dismount. Had to replug (and not dismount).

    Reply
  • 2016-02-22 at 16:58
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    Worked great on my W550s

    Reply
  • 2016-04-09 at 21:35
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    Can’t find the CD for the Lenovo Ideapad U430 Touch :-/

    Reply
  • 2016-04-30 at 15:49
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    Thanks – it works perfectly on my ThinkPad X1 Carbon! Very nice!

    Reply
  • 2016-05-01 at 11:21
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    Thanks!

    It worked on my x260

    Reply
  • 2016-05-06 at 12:35
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    Help. When trying to boot the usb drive it says “non-system disk or disk error”

    Reply
    • 2017-07-07 at 21:44
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      I got the same error message “Non-System disk or disk error” after following all the instructions above. Please help!

      Reply
      • 2017-07-09 at 11:14
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        I had that a lot with bootable USB sticks and I suspect that it’s a problem with the partition table. Try to remove all but one partition and format that with VFAT (mkfs.vfat). Also “wipefs” seems to have helped me.

        Reply
  • 2016-07-13 at 10:09
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    Many thanks! It works fine on my ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2nd Gen.

    Reply
  • 2016-07-19 at 21:00
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    Worked perfect for me! No problems at all! Thanks.

    Reply
  • 2016-07-20 at 00:35
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    On my X260 with the 6/20/2016 bios update (version 1.21), when I use F12 and try to boot from my USB, it just returns me to the boot menu. I’ve tried changing the UEFI/Legacy boot options, but it doesn’t help. Has anyone else gotten this to work? I can’t run the latest fedora kernel without a bios update (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1353103)

    Reply
    • 2016-09-08 at 07:24
      Permalink

      Hey Snowpaws… I managed to post my solution by replying to the wrong person below.

      Reply
    • 2017-07-01 at 01:29
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      When selecting “boot from the usb” returned me to the boot menu, it was because I hadn’t properly created a bootable USB. (I was mistyping the “geteltorito” command in the OP above.) Can you boot from the USB on another machine?

      Reply
  • 2016-07-27 at 02:19
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    This was really helpful. I just updated the BIOS on my T450s and it worked without a hitch. Thanks!

    Reply
    • 2016-09-08 at 07:23
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      Had the same problem. To fix it I simply re-did the dd part, unmounted the disk (I had forgot to do that the first time) and tried another usb port. This time it worked!

      @Christoph: Thanks again for this guide, I used it so many times πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • 2016-10-07 at 14:11
    Permalink

    Thanks! Worked great on my Thinkpad X240.

    Also potentially helpful: you can check your current BIOS version from linux by running the dmidecode utility. For example:

    $ sudo dmidecode -s ‘bios-version’
    GIET87WW (2.37 )

    Reply
  • 2016-10-17 at 15:38
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    I am trying to update my BIOS following your guide … just one thing for which I need reassurance:

    The newest iso for the X230t downloads correctly and the checksum fits.
    However, the iso is about 32MB in size, while the result of geteltorito is only 512B.

    Is this correct?

    (I’d rather ask something stupid than being sorry afterwards.)

    Reply
    • 2016-10-17 at 16:09
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      I searched the Lenovo website for the “X230 tablet” and then went to the “Drivers & Software” section. Next I clicked “BIOS” in the left selection box. That lead me to an ISO file download described as “BIOS Update Bootable CD for Windows 10 (64-bit), 8.1 (32-bit, 64-bit),8 (32-bit, 64-bit), 7 (32-bit, 64-bit), XP – ThinkPad X230 Tablet and X230i Tablet”. I downloaded it and got an ISO file called “gcuj25us.iso”.

      Using “geteltorito” I converted it into an image:

      $ geteltorito -o bios.img gcuj25us.iso
      Booting catalog starts at sector: 20
      Manufacturer of CD: NERO BURNING ROM
      Image architecture: x86
      Boot media type is: harddisk
      El Torito image starts at sector 27 and has 65536 sector(s) of 512 Bytes

      That file now seems to have a reasonable size:

      $ ls -al bios.img
      -rw-rw-r– 1 chaas chaas 33554432 Okt 17 18:07 bios.img

      I hope that helps a bit.

      Reply
      • 2016-10-17 at 17:14
        Permalink

        Thank you for such a quick reply.

        I did the very same several times now, but I always got the output

        $ geteltorito -o bios.img gcuj25us.iso
        Booting catalog starts at sector: 20
        Manufacturer of CD: NERO BURNING ROM
        Image architecture: x86
        Boot media type is: harddisk
        El Torito image starts at sector 27 and has 1 sector(s) of 512 Bytes

        Seems like the ‘geteltorito’ from the ‘genisoimage’ package in debian β€œwheezy” (64bit) is broken.

        I found this version here:
        http://www.splode.com/~friedman/software/scripts/src/misc/geteltorito

        Which gives me the same result you got (now I’m confident to continue with this img).
        Thank you very much the reference!

        After enabling ‘USB UEFI BIOS Support’ in BIOS Configuration, I could finally update.

        And it worked!
        Thank you again for your good and to the point reference.

        Reply
  • 2016-12-20 at 05:09
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    Thanks. Worked on my T460s.
    Needed to select as follows:
    USB UEFI support = enabled
    OS optimized defaults = disabled
    secure rollback = disabled
    secure boot = disabled
    UEFI / Legacy = both
    Priority = Legacy First
    CSM = yes

    then select F12 to pick USB boot option.

    the menus once inside are weird – written in pseudo english. Select 2. Leave the USB stick plugged in. Press ENTER. (PC will reboot). Then will flash your ROM. then reboot again. Then will flash the ECP.

    Reply
  • 2017-01-28 at 04:49
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    Thanks for this – worked like a charm on the W541. This is ridiculous how Lenovo packages updates

    Reply
  • 2017-02-07 at 16:32
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    if only i could find a iso for Lenovo z50-70 πŸ™

    Reply
  • 2017-03-28 at 20:06
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    Thank you for this solution. I wish I found it earlier after struggling for a few hours.

    Reply
  • 2017-04-18 at 11:54
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    Hello, when I try to do the 3rd step it says:
    – Cannot read image/device “6muj31uc.iso”. Aborting
    What am i doing wrong??
    Pls Help

    Reply
    • 2017-07-01 at 02:41
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      Felix: Sanity check: Does your user have permissions to read the .iso file?

      Reply
      • 2018-06-26 at 20:19
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        I don’t think it’s a permissions problem. I had the same problem and I attempted to eXecute the same command with the root account which I assume has permission to do whatever and I still got the same error.

        He needs to type the path or directory of the .iso file and include it in his command. I don’t know why we seem to be the only ones who had to that, maybe we’re just noobs who didn’t know that we had to save the .iso in a certain place in order for the terminal and the geteltorito utility to be able to see it without guiding it.

        So for eXample: -o bios.img /home/user/Desktop/g2uj18us.iso

        instead of just: -o bios.img g2uj18us.iso

        That worked for me

        Reply
    • 2018-06-26 at 20:21
      Permalink

      Hey FeliX I had the same problem

      You need to type the path or directory of the .iso file and include it in your command. I don’t know why we seem to be the only ones who had to that, maybe we’re just noobs who didn’t know that we had to save the .iso in a certain place in order for the terminal and the geteltorito utility to be able to see it without guiding it.

      So for eXample: -o bios.img /home/user/Desktop/g2uj18us.iso

      instead of just: -o bios.img g2uj18us.iso

      That worked for me

      I’m more than a year late on my reply but hopefully this helps someone in the future maybe

      Reply
  • 2017-07-01 at 01:36
    Permalink

    I successfully booted the resulting USB stick. I select “2” to update the BIOS, and then press “y” or somesuch to proceed, and it gives an error: “The system program file was not found on the CD.” I tried the USB stick in all USB ports, that doesn’t help. I’m trying to update a 460p.

    The contents of my USB stick looks like:
    .
    β”œβ”€β”€ EFI
    β”‚Β Β  └── Boot
    β”‚Β Β  └── BootX64.efi
    β”œβ”€β”€ Flash
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ 406E1.PAT
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ 406E2.PAT
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ 406E3.PAT
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ 506E2.PAT
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ 506E3.PAT
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ BCP.evs
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ NoDCCheck_BootX64.efi
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ R07ET75W
    β”‚Β Β  β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ $0AR0700.FL1
    β”‚Β Β  β”‚Β Β  └── $0AR0700.FL2
    β”‚Β Β  β”œβ”€β”€ README.TXT
    β”‚Β Β  └── SHELLFLASH.EFI
    β”œβ”€β”€ $RECYCLE.BIN
    β”‚Β Β  └── desktop.ini
    └── System Volume Information
    β”œβ”€β”€ IndexerVolumeGuid
    └── WPSettings.dat

    Reply
    • 2017-07-01 at 02:43
      Permalink

      A T460p, I should have said.

      Reply
    • 2017-11-20 at 12:16
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      Strange, I got this behaviour when erroneously trying to use the T470 image for a T470s.

      Reply
  • 2017-07-02 at 21:27
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    This worked on Chapeau 23 (Fedora 23) so thanks! The geteltorito command wasn’t in the repos so I searched online and found a noarch rpm for Fedora 24 and it worked fine. The text in the BIOS update utility is mostly Chinglish which baffles my why a company so large can’t have someone proofread their software but I’m now running the latest BIOS so I’m happy.

    Reply
  • 2017-07-17 at 04:44
    Permalink

    Has anyone here successfully updated the BIOS on a G40-30? Download for my BIOS is an .exe with the following contents:

    -a7cn48ww_64/BiosImageProcx64.dll
    -a7cn48ww_64/Ding.wav
    -a7cn48ww_64/FlsHook.exe
    -a7cn48ww_64/FlsHookDll.dll
    -a7cn48ww_64/FWUpdLcl.exe
    -a7cn48ww_64/InsydeFlashx64.exe
    -a7cn48ww_64/iscflashx64.dll
    -a7cn48ww_64/iscflashx64.sys
    -a7cn48ww_64/isflash.fd
    -a7cn48ww_64/xerces-c_2_7.dll

    I have looked around quite a bit, and have yet to come across my scenario – not sure which files I need to copy or whether all etc.

    Just updated the SSD firmware and processor microcode successfully btw

    Thanks,

    Maurice

    Reply
  • 2017-08-02 at 22:19
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    What file do I use for Lenovo T520?

    Reply
  • 2017-08-05 at 09:07
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    Worked on Lenovo ThinkPad P50 — BIOS 1.43, Firmware 1.16

    Reply
  • 2017-08-24 at 16:12
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    Have a problem on ThinkPad W510 – “no operating system” display, when reviewing the USB I can see that there is no EFI directory with data. Only Flash directory and some files like comand.com, autoexec.bat, etc.

    The iso file got from:
    http://support.lenovo.com/pl/en/downloads/migr-74859 version 1.45 supposedly.

    Reply
  • 2017-10-16 at 05:46
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    Worked great for me FC26 Lenovo W550s 20E2 model. THANKS!!

    Reply
  • 2017-12-02 at 18:39
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    W541 with the 2.32 update: I can’t get the update to load no matter what. I’ve re-converted the iso, I’ve re-written it to different USB drives. I’ve tried all manner of BIOS options.

    When I choose the flash drive from the list of disks at boot, the screen flashes and returns to the menu of devices.

    Ideas?

    Reply
    • 2017-12-02 at 20:47
      Permalink

      Problem resolved: In Fedora, geteltorito does not come as part of the genisoimage package. Had to install it separately, and the .img was created correctly and written to the USB disk.

      Reply
  • 2017-12-22 at 12:19
    Permalink

    After a lot of trial and error, I managed to perform a successful BIOS update on my Thinkpad T470.

    A lot of time was wasted initially because I probably had a bad USB thumb drive or something. I used another thumb drive and used the Thinkpad to create a bootable USB disk.

    Then, I performed the following steps in the BIOS:

    * USB UEFI support = enabled
    * OS optimized defaults = disabled
    * secure rollback = disabled
    * secure boot = disabled
    * UEFI / Legacy = both
    * Priority = Legacy First
    * CSM = yes

    From then on, it was easy.

    Reply
  • 2017-12-25 at 13:37
    Permalink

    Lenovo B490 Bios update failed.but,black screen using instruction please sir.flash drive

    Reply
  • 2018-01-04 at 20:16
    Permalink

    Hello,
    works fine on a Thinkpad x230 (was time to upgrade !!)
    Thanks a lot.

    Denis

    Reply
  • 2018-01-05 at 15:56
    Permalink

    Great description and I’d been meaning to do this but CVE-2017-5715 forced me to do it. Easy to use apt-get install genisoimage then etcher app image to burn the iso to a img. Worked flawlessly.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • 2018-01-10 at 15:56
    Permalink

    My T460s wouldn’t initially boot to the USB drive when I chose it from the boot menu (after hitting F12) it just looped back to the menu after a few seconds. After un-plugging the USB stick and plugging back in it did boot to it successfully and I was able to update the BIOS. Just something to try if you get stuck like I did.

    Reply
  • 2018-01-15 at 16:06
    Permalink

    This instruction is great, It make release my headache!
    Every single step is necessary!
    My carbon x1 gen 3 work great!!

    Reply
  • 2018-02-06 at 01:55
    Permalink

    Works great on the X260. One question though;

    Is it possible to change the bios boot splash logo this way? In Windows you drop your logo.gif image in the same folder as the winuptp executable. When you run winuptp it’ll inform you that a new logo image is available and if you want to flash it. You also need to disable secure rollback if you have the current bios for your machine installed and just want to overwrite the bios splash image.

    Can you drop the logo image on the linux USB stick somewhere and have it flashed?

    Reply
    • 2018-02-06 at 02:16
      Permalink

      Answered my own question. It works. Though did throw out an error the first time I tried to flash it. I simply tried again and it worked. Place your custom boot logo image in /ISO/FLASH folder, like in the screenshot I have provided. Next time you boot your machine, rather than the “LENOVO” red and white splash image, will be your custom image.

      https://i.imgur.com/hvZTSO9.png

      This was done on an X260. Customising the bios boot splash image will only work on machines with a BIOS that supports it. DO NOT attempt this before determining whether or not your machine bios supports it. Also learn about what you can and cannot use for bios boot splash images.

      For anyone that wants a Fedora logo: https://i.imgur.com/4IxXCuj.gif

      Make sure the file is named “logo.gif” when it’s placed in the /ISO/FLASH folder. I do not know if the flash tool will detect any image, regardless of what it is named, but it’s better to be safe.

      Reply
  • 2018-02-16 at 14:21
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    Cannot get into bios as keyboard does not work any ideas thanks

    Reply
  • 2018-03-19 at 11:17
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    Thanks a lot! Worked flawlessly on my X220!

    Reply
  • 2018-03-23 at 18:04
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    How to do it on windows?

    Reply
  • 2018-05-29 at 20:56
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    Perfect! This information worked for both my ThinkPads X270 and P51.

    Had to turn off Security > Secure Boot. And switch boot mode to both (legacy and UEFI). Enabled boot menu F12 to select prepared USB drive.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • 2018-06-17 at 15:44
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    Worked perfectly on my T480, thanks!

    Reply
  • 2018-06-22 at 19:24
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    Running Lubuntu on a *pretty old* Lenovo IdeaPad P580… no luck with getting an .iso file. The only file available for download is a windows .exe. Not sure if I can use FreeDOS to run it either. Lenovo doesn’t say anything about that. (We are talking 5 years ago for the last BIOS update though, this is a throwaway pretty much lol)

    Reply
  • 2018-06-26 at 20:40
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    I was able to use isoHunter to extract the .img file which was able to be turned into a bootable USB.

    Reply
  • 2018-07-09 at 20:03
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    This works to update BIOS for T470s, after many trials with FreeDOS, UNetbootin, and none of these worked.

    Your tutorial was my savior, thanks a lot!

    Reply
  • 2018-07-09 at 21:17
    Permalink

    Thank you so much for this. I successfully converted the *.iso file to *.img and dd’d it to a USB drive. I used Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to make the conversion.

    This helped me update the BIOS on my Lenovo x220 to the latest and greatest BIOS version 1.46 from 2018-06-26.

    Thanks again for this guide!

    Reply
  • 2018-07-23 at 18:49
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    Thank you! Worked like a charm on my W541 thinkpad πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 2018-08-14 at 11:11
    Permalink

    Lenovo is one of the leading independent technical support service for Lenovo Support . You may contact our specialized team at Lenovo Tech Support toll free which is available 24/7 as per your convenience. Visit here : https://lenovosupport.org/lenovo-customer-support/

    Reply
  • 2018-08-16 at 07:35
    Permalink

    I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. If you are facing any kind of glitches concerned with any of the lenovo product then feel free to drop a call at Lenovo support number. In case, if you need any kind of further help then get in touch with our lenovo support team .Visit Here : https://lenovosupport.org/lenovo-customer-support/

    Reply

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