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Soekris 6501 comBIOS update

Posted by Daniel Rauer on Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Soekris net6501 series is on the market for several months now, and in the meantime several updates of its comBIOS have been released. Some with minor tweaks and fixes, some with larger improvements like being able to boot from USB devices.

This latest release brings a major improvement for all owners of -50 and -70 boards: The CPU clock was not programmed correctly when speedstep was enabled. As a result these devices are running at 600 MHz only, although the device itself states a higher frequency. Soren Kristensen, CEO & Chief Engineer of Soekris Engineering, has published a statement about this flaw on the Soekris mailing list.

As this update has such an major impact we will assure that every board you order at our shop for Soekris equipment will be flashed with this new comBIOS version.

And as some people are having troubles flashing the comBIOS on their boxes we wrote a small How-To: Using this we successfully updated about 15 boards of all 6501 series to the new 1.41c comBIOS, no matter which version (1.40h, 1.41a, 1.41b) previously was installed.

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Prerequisites:
    • Debian/Ubuntu: packages cu and lrzsz have to be installed
    • OpenBSD: lrzsz has to be installed from ports: comms/lrzsz
  • power on your Soekris 6501
  • connect using cu: cu -l /dev/ttyXXX -s 19200
  • power down the board by holding reset button for 4 seconds
  • enter uManager by typing +++ and wait a second
  • type download
  • Paste the following line into the terminal. Ignore the repeating "C" characters coming up, paste the line and hit Enter. Afterwards press the reset button for 2 seconds, the board will power on and the download starts immediately.
    On Linux:
    ~+sz -X /b6501_141c.bin
    On OpenBSD:
    ~C lsz -X /b6501_141c.bin
  • type power off
  • type power on
  • after this reboot the comBIOS should state that you are running 1.41c:
    comBIOS ver. 1.41c 20121115 Copyright (C) 2000-2011 Soekris Engineering.

At some comBIOS versions you do not have to use the uManager, and updating can be done simply by download and flashupdate. But as this might fail with previous comBIOS versions we recommend to always use the uManager to flash a comBIOS.

Download the new comBIOS version 1.41c from the Soekris website: comBIOS 1.41c

Update: On OpenBSD the command to download the comBIOS is slightly different than the Linux command, please see the above instructions for details.