Cатсн²² (in)sесuяitу / ChrisJohnRiley

Because we're damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't!

How to unbrick an EeePC

asus_eee_pc_900_black006Yes you read that right… Before we get to the easy part (I use that term loosely), let me tell you a little story.

There was a guy called Bob (no, not the same Bob from the Pauldotcom show) who had a brand new 1000HG eeepc. It was happy running Ubuntu (and XP, but that’s a problem for another time), but Bob craved for OSX. After spending a few hours fighting to get iDeneb’s version of OSX running on the little machine, he realised that the problem lay with the BIOS. Yes, you can see where this is going. So after looking all over for a modded (OSX ready) BIOS version for the 1000HG, he settled on one for the 1000H. After all the 1000HG is only a 1000H with added 3G support (or so he thought). After following the instructions to reflash the BIOS (renaming the 1000H.rom to 1000HG.rom, putting it on a USB stick, and then booting while pressing fn+F2), the flash program balked and complained about the wrong ROMID. Of course, it’s elementary my dear Bob. ASUS has wisely set the ROMID differently between the versions of BIOS to stop fools from flashing with the wrong version. 5 minutes later and the rom file was open in AMI’s editing tool and the ROMID was changed to the correct number for the 1000HG. If you can’t see where this is going now, then all hope for you is already lost. Anyway, starting up again, the flash utility took the new rom file without so much as a wimper, and flashed without a single complaint. Reboot, and wondrous blackness. No BIOS, no flashing error lights, no error message, no beeps, no power to the USB key I used to flash… OMG Bob you fool, what have you done.

So begins the journey for a fix. Bob tried everything possible. Removing the battery, power cable and pressing the reset point under the eeepc for 30 seconds (and also holding the power for 30 seconds). He tried booting with the correct 1000HG.rom file (from the original CD) on a USB and holding fn+F2 till his fingers bled (ok, maybe not, but you get the idea right). All seemed lost, and the hunt for a fiy seemed to have come up dry. Then, finally in the back of a deep dark eeepc forum he saw a shiny shiny light. FN+CTRL+HOME, Yes, this could be it. After all, 3 buttons are hands down better than 2 (just think of the 3-finger salute, CTRL+ALT+DEL), and FN+F2 wasn’t cutting it as a solution.

There was only one problem with this proposed solution… timing. As they say, timing is everything. So it began. I’ll leave out the part about frustration, having to hold the power down for 3 or 4 seconds to get it to turn off before retrying, and the general annoyance level caused, and move straight to the part involving happy. We rejoin Bob later (about 30 minutes later) having already completed more than 35 nerve racking reboots. However this time around luck was on Bob’s side at last. There was life in the eee pc yet… the flashing tool blinked up onto the previously lifeless screen of eee-death, and as luck would have it (ok it was planned, honest) the USB key with the original BIOS was in the machine’s USB slot. Never before had the text of a BIOS flashing tool shined like the words of *insert name of suitable deity here*. YES, yes, yes… (no not the scene from “when Harry met Sally”) but the sound of eee-resurrection.

One reboot later and Bob had his 1000HG working again. It was then that he swore never to edit BIOS rom files for his systems ever again (until next time) after all, he knew how to unbrick it now 😉

The moral of this story…. always use FN+CTRL+HOME to unbrick your eeepc, because 3 keys are better than 2 any day of the week.

* The names have been changed to protect the innocent (and dumb)
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20 responses to “How to unbrick an EeePC

  1. ChrisJohnRiley February 4, 2009 at 08:50

    There are a couple of sources of eeePC BIOS downloads.

    The official source (direct from ASUS) can be directly accessed at http://update.eeepc.asus.com/bios/

    The other (more interesting source) is http://osrom.net/biosmod/. They have a list of hacked up BIOS for the eeePC to support OSX directly (with fixed DSDT’s). Currently they have the eeePC 901, 1000, 1000H, 1000HD, and the EeeBOX B202 on the list. So if you have the 1000H then you can take a look there for a BIOS. Just note, that they (and I) take no responsibility for your choice of flashing 😉

    Currently they don’t have any upgraded BIOS for the 1000HG… Although if you want to take it further osrom.net seem to offer a way to request a mod to your chosen BIOS. Although take this at face value, as it’s a free service.

  2. Jay May 18, 2009 at 09:27

    Phew! I just had a similar problem while trying to flash the BIOS on my 1000HA. I managed to “force” the patched 1000H Mac BIOS onto the system, but some of the keyboard keys stopped working. When I tried to re-flash the BIOS back to the original version, it froze 30% through the writing process.

    Needless to say, my heart stopped. I quickly did a Google search for “eee pc bricked bios” and found your blog post. After reading your story, I became hopeful that the problem was solvable.

    I downloaded the latest “correct” BIOS firmware from ASUS, and renamed it to 1000H.ROM and stored it on my DOS-Bootable USB thumb drive, then I rebooted the computer.

    I tried the FN+CTRL+HOME method a few times, but nothing came up on the screen. But I did notice that the LED on the thumb drive light flashed for a bit. And then, when I powered off the computer, and turned it back on, I was greeted with the friendly gray “Eee PC” splash screen again!

    Problem Solved!

  3. Bob August 6, 2009 at 01:47

    Hello,

    I don’t know what happened because I didn’t have my eeepc 701 at that time, but now I’m having the same problem. The wifi light up, the one left of wifi (the disk I think) flash one time about a half-second, then the green power light up and the screen stay black and nothing more. I tried connecting an external monitor, reseating the RAM, changing the stick to a PC4200 (all what I had), tried everything to reflash the BIOS (hold power 30 sec with battery/AC out, holding alt-f2 while booting, removing the battery/AC & waiting 5 min & pressing 5 sec the reset button, tried the fn+home+ctrl with the USB stick in). When trying your method, my USB stick light up just when I put it in (before I power up the eeepc it flash one time upon insertion) and not after I power it up. I’ll continue to try this but maybe you could give me more info on the timing. For example, at what interval should I press the key? Fast between each, slowly, do I need to release them just after, etc. I’m kind of out of ideas… Any other ideas besides sending it back to Asus as my warranty is probably over… Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  4. ChrisJohnRiley August 6, 2009 at 15:53

    Sorry to hear about the problems. As you’ve read it took me a long time to get the timing right and I ended up trying everything from holding the key striaght on boot, to waiting a few seconds. The only thing I can suggest is to keep trying using slightly different timing. If you press too soon then it wont take effect (same with too late unfortunately).

  5. rez August 9, 2009 at 15:57

    Big thanks for this post… have a 1000HG and was about to make the same mistake!!! Although I don’t think I would have gone and edited the BIN file directly this guy was asking for trouble!

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