Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flashing BIOS in Ubuntu Linux without floppy

I was trying to update the flash BIOS of an old ECS K7SOM+, a 1 Ghz-era AMD Athlon motherboard. The problem is that most older motherboard flash upgrades are designed with a DOS bootable floppy in mind. I have no DOS, no Windows, no floppy drive, and no floppy disks. Fortunately, there's UNetbootin, a tool design specifically to make bootable USB flash drives from Linux. Here are the general instructions for Ubuntu Linux users:
  1. Use gparted to create a single FAT16 formatted partition on the flash drive.
    • You can install gparted using apt-get install gparted
    • You may need to first umount the USB flash drive before you can partition and format it.
    1. Use unetbootin to install a bootable FreeDOS onto the flash drive.
      • Install unetbootin using apt-get install unetbootin or read WestCoastSuccess' comment.
      • Run unetbootin and:
        • Select the distribution FreeDOS.
        • Select your USB flash drive
        • Click OK. This will download FreeDOS to create a DOS bootable flash drive.
    2. Copy your motherboard's BIOS update and flashing utility files into the root of flash drive. These files will be located in B: or C: drive when you boot into FreeDOS.
    That's it. Boot off your flash drive -- you may need to configure your CMOS setup to do so.

    Update 2010/01/02: Updated instruction as per WestCoastSuccess.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Maven database migration plugin

    I finally got around to testing c5-db-migration -- a database migration plugin for Maven. Essentially, it's tool for managing your database changes. The plugin is very straightforward to use:
    1. Copy and paste the plugin configuration to your pom.xml.
    2. Add a couple of SQL scripts into your src/main/db/migrations in the format of yyyyMMddHHmmss_some_description.sql
    3. And run mvn db-migration:migrate to run the SQL scripts against your database.
    The plugin tracks your migration in a table called schema_version. It's not as comprehensive as Rail's database migration tool (e.g., it doesn't support downward migrations). Nevertheless, it's simple and unobtrusive.

    If you're managing database changes manually through collections of SQL scripts, there's no reason why you shouldn't give this plugin a try.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    SpringSource tc Server Developers Edition

    At the risk of becoming a SpringSource shrill, check out the video on Spring's Tomcat server for developers.

    It's basically a modified version of Tomcat that makes it very easy to profile web applications. It's free but NOT open source.