[clug] can upgrading ubuntu kill your bios?

Chris Smart clug at csmart.io
Mon Jan 21 10:56:16 UTC 2019

On Mon, 21 Jan 2019, at 19:13, Andrew Donnellan via linux wrote:
> On Mon, 21 Jan 2019 at 18:53, Bob Edwards via linux <linux at lists.samba.org>
> wrote:
> > I have a colleague who recently upgraded his Dell XPS13 laptop from
> > Ubuntu 18.04 to 18.10 and, as part of the process, it seemed to
> > attempt to update the BIOS.
> >
> > I have never heard of a Linux distro, let alone Ubuntu, wanting to
> > update the BIOS. Further, if this was thing, I would have expected
> > it to ask first, possibly more than once.
> >

These updates come through as a part of the regular software updates in the GNOME Software app (which I believe Ubuntu uses now instead of rolling their own).

> > Something apparently went wrong during the BIOS flashing and now the
> > laptop is a brick.
> >

Bummer :-( Should maybe double check that the exact revision of his XPS 13 is supported[1] (should be, and Dell added official support for the new XPS 13 9380 just a week ago). I have done several of these updates on my XPS 15 9560 without any problems, it seems to me more likely that the laptop powered off during the update (it can take a few minutes and seems plausible that the user panicked not expecting to see strange update screens)...

Not that this is now possible on his machine, but for reference on another machine you can see supported device details with this command (might also include other supported devices):

$ fwupdmgr get-devices

If the machine is definitely supported and definitely wasn't powered off or anything, then prob should reach out to the project...

> > I have looked around on the web, but I can't see any evidence that
> > Ubuntu would pre-emptively update the BIOS during an O/S upgrade.
> >
> > Is this a thing, or has the laptop been infected with some sort of
> > malware?
> >

Automatic UEFI updates as part of the OS are are definitely a real thing. Richard Hughes from Red Hat created it and got pretty good traction with vendors and implemented it in Fedora back in 2015[2]). I highly doubt it's malware...

> BIOS is dead, long live UEFI!
> Possibly something LVFS/fwupd related? https://fwupd.org/



[1] https://fwupd.org/lvfs/search?value=xps+13
[2] https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Changes/SystemFirmwareUpdates

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