[flashrom] [RFC] Online firmware upgrade in non-embedded systems

Ben Hutchings bhutchings at solarflare.com
Wed Sep 29 14:35:00 CEST 2010

On Wed, 2010-09-29 at 00:41 +0200, Carl-Daniel Hailfinger wrote:
> [adding flashrom at flashrom.org to CC, senders will be whitelisted after a
> short delay]
> On 28.09.2010 19:59, Ben Hutchings wrote:
> > Network and disk controllers normally have at least some firmware in
> > flash to support their use as boot devices. [...]
> >
> > Currently the sfc network driver is optionally combined with an MTD
> > driver (CONFIG_SFC_MTD) which exposes all upgradable firmware and
> > configuration partitions in flash.  This works nicely in kernels with
> > MTD enabled, but since MTD is mainly used in embedded systems with
> > on-board flash it is often disabled in distribution kernels and custom
> > kernels alike.  This leaves users of sfc unable to upgrade firmware
> > without rebuilding the kernel or booting some other distribution.  The
> > lack of widespread MTD support is a regular cause of support requests.
> >
> > There are two main alternatives I'm aware of:
> >
> > - Use the ethtool ETHTOOL_SEEPROM [...]
> >
> > - Use the ethtool ETHTOOL_FLASHDEV command [..]
> >
> > Of course these are both specific to network devices; it seems deisrable
> > to have a more general convention for online firmware upgrades.  MTDs
> > clearly are more generally applicable, and pretty much every computer
> > does have flash storage for firmware and boot configuration, so perhaps
> > it should be treated as more of a standard feature?
> >   
> Given that the flashrom utility <http://www.flashrom.org/> (GPLv2)
> supports flashing many network cards, SATA/PATA controllers, graphics
> cards, and of course the main system firmware/BIOS/EFI, and it does that
> from userspace without any kernel support,

I'm looking for a clean solution, not a hack.


Ben Hutchings, Senior Software Engineer, Solarflare Communications
Not speaking for my employer; that's the marketing department's job.
They asked us to note that Solarflare product names are trademarked.

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