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HOWTO Modify VMWare BIOS With SLIC 2.1

by mickrussom
I wondered how to do this, saw bad files being passed around to be used with bios440.filename, and I answered my own question (in italics) by trying to do this right.

This will take the bois440.rom out, integrate a SLIC2.1 BIN, (optionally bios440.rom can be-reintegrated into ESX/ESXi but Ill pass, and use the VMX parameter file), and activate Windows 2008 R2 in a VM. This allows for 100% unmolested bits in ESX (just a paramter and a file in the VM's dir) and 100% unmolested Windows bits.


I need a hand here. I have ESXi 4.0U1 (b 244038). I would like a Dell ROM for ESX/ESXi 4 that has the Dell SLIC (the rom that you can specify with bios440.filename = fn).

Instead of getting a rom from someone if you could point out the following:

1) How to dump the rom from within a VM.
2) How to modify the ROM dumped to add SLIC 2.1 that will work for Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition.

I think I found out how to do this.

Its better to extract your own bios440.rom file from VMWare as I found the ones being passed around were ancient ((C) 2006)

Things needed:
SLIC ToolKit V3.2 (3.2 latest version as of May 17 10)
http://www.bios.net.cn/Files/soft/biosfile/qt/SLIC_ToolKit_V3.2.rar

I used the HP SLIC route because there is a 2.1 table and certificate available.

(1) First I got ESX BIOS tools (1.0.1 is the latest ver, previous was 1.0.0.6) to extract the bios from ESX(i) 4.0U1

http://forums.mydigitallife.info/archive/index.php/t-12982.html
http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/12982-ESX-ESXi-Bios-Tools
http://rapidshare.com/files/329036460/EsxBiosTools.v1.0.1.rar

This with the service console trivially extracts bios440.rom via SCP.

(2) Add SLIC with this tool
http://slics.myftp.org/Tools/Phoenix_SLICTool/phoenixtool133.zip

http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/13194-Tool-to-Insert-Replace-SLIC-in-Phoenix-Insyde-Dell-EFI-BIOSes

(3) This tool needs a dump of the ACPI tables (DSDT de-compiled)
The Tool to use from within a VM on the ESX(i) is:
http://forums.mydigitallife.info/announcement.php?f=33
RW (aka RW Everything) (v1.4)

This tool, run form within the VM, and click on the ACPI button, it will do some work.

The click on SAVE ALL, or "CTRL+F2" and you have the everything report you need for Phoenix Tool. (report name defaults to AcpiTbls.rw)

I got the latest two certificates from here:

http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/5952-Win-7-amp-Server-08-R2-SLIC-2.1-Bin-Collection
http://forums.mydigitallife.info/attachment.php?attachmentid=6182&d=1273695934
SLIC 2.1 BINS 5-12-10.7z

I used the BIN and the certificate from here rather than what was with phoenixbiostool133

Anyways, the new bios440.rom was then loaded into esx using the paramter in VMX :

bios440.filename = bios440_HP_SLIC.rom

Where bios440_HP_SLIC.rom was placed into the VMs directory and the parameter was inserted into the VM via the VMX file. Or with Edit Settings, Options, advanced, general, Configuration Parameters while the VM is off.

(4) Loaded up the VM, used SLIC ToolKit V3.2 and the certificate file from SLIC 2.1 BINS 5-12-10.7z (HP's) to verify against the BIN file now integrated in bios440.rom. Works per SLIC toolkit.

(5) Used:
slmgr -ilc <HP certificate name> to load up the certificate for HP into Windows 2008 R2 Ent.
slmgr -ipk <Dell's 2008r2 BKCJJ key>

Dell's Enterprise key worked on the HP BIN in the VMWare bios with HP's cert. Dont worry about not matching that.

Rebooted VM, when booted back up, everything was activated and nominal.

I tried the WGA validation tool and this passed muster.

This website rules.

  • Sorry mick but there's a patch allready bout this so u won't bother to add slics cuz the programs will automatically patch that, see this http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/11152-VMware-Workstation-%28Multi-Brand%29-Bios-Installer. Now my question how to change vendor bios in vmware? As we can see it always phoenix or intel but how do we change to Insyde or else???
    - ar_seven_am, 4 years ago
  • Didn't see ESX/ESXi listed in there. This information is highly useful due to distance between "all in one" programs which if they don't work for you you are out of luck to various pieces to put it all together. Judging from all the ancient VMWare ROMS (circa 2006) being handed out all ver the net with SLIC21 hacked in, I'd say there is a community-wide disconnect on how to mode VMWare ESX bioses.
    - mickrussom, 4 years ago
  • Did not know that phoenixtool133 can actually handle Vmware Phoenix BIOS. Nice to know...

    But with external BIOS in ESX you can not ie vmotion VMs (so it is not a very good solution)
    It is better to inject the BIOS back into executable

    sebus
    - sebus, 4 years ago
  • yes mick, i've seen the thread in other forums but I thought u know it so u can explain to us, but that's ok, thx!
    - ar_seven_am, 4 years ago
  • Nice stuff. I am appreciated of your way for explanation for modification of VMWare BIOS with SLIC 2.1. I often used VMWare and to start the virtual machine I have suffered from lot of problems. But due to your knowledgeable stuff most of problems are solved.
    - smithshn, 4 years ago
  • http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/12982-ESX-ESXi-Bios-Tools

    That tool is 100% automated and worked great for me a few months ago. This actually injects the SLIC 2.1 table into the ESXi host, so no ESX features are limited like when you edit the VMX file parms to point to a BIOS file.
    - yngdiego, 4 years ago
  • yup gr88!! tool fully automated
    - simz_xpc, 4 years ago
  • So I think I did something wrong here....


    I loaded 2008R2 on ESXi 4.1 server.
    I RAN RW Everything, selected the ACPI tab, saved the ACPItbls.rw file
    I used ESXi BIOS tools to extract the BIOS440.ROM file from my ESXi 4.1 server
    I loaded PheonixTool 1.65, Original BIOS: bios440.rom file
    Manufacturer: Other
    SLIC file: Dell[DELL-PE_SC3-DELL]2.1
    RW file: ACPItbls.rw
    Verified the certificate
    method: SSV2

    Clicked GO, and got a BIOS440_SLIC.rom file.

    Put that back into ESXi with BiosTool. Restarted 2008R2 but when I run SlicTool Kit, it says it can not find a SLIC table.

    Where'd I go wrong?

    Edit: **DOH**

    Forgot to reboot the Hypervisor. I did, and SlicToolkit worked great!

    Thanks for the guide OP!
    - VirtualNobody, 3 years ago
  • Nice that you answered yourself!

    sebus
    - sebus, 3 years ago
  • My goal is to use ESXi/vSphere v5.0 update 1 (VMKernel Release Build 623860) and get an updated Dell BIOS in there. I'm having a difficult time deciphering all of the available information so I'm using this post as I work things out; hopefully it'll help some others. Primary source of information is xxxx://neowongch.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/esxi-4-1-0-slic-bios-modify/

    ESX tools isn't currently updated for v5.0 to automatically do all of the work, but it can be used in something of a manual procedure that I'm going to try:

    forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/12982-ESX-ESXi-Bios-Tools/page19?p=482469&viewfull=1#post482469

    Right now I'm assuming the ESX tools can be used to at least extract and inject the BIOS.

    AFAIK, I'm best to use the Phoenix SLIC tool from forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/13194-Tool-to-Insert-Replace-SLIC-in-Phoenix-Insyde-Dell-EFI-BIOSes to actually modify the BIOS. Verified using cert from xxxx://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/5952-Win-7-amp-Server-08-R2-SLIC-2-1-Bin-Collection/page105?p=514521&viewfull=1#post514521 but I'm not sure if that is needed.

    As for Windows, it seems I can install any official edition (except the N editions which don't seem to work for me) (I used an ISO from MSDN), leave the product key as NULL during install, then run Opatool (latest version right now is 0.8) after the install. It would be nice to have a copy of Windows that already has the product key/cert for Dell (maybe this is easy to find and download?) but opatool is so easy to run that it probably doesn't make sense for me to bother with all of that. Update: Around the time I originally wrote this I actually made a Windows ISO that is automatically activated after installation but I can't remember how I made it. I think I used some sort of package that did OEM branding+activation certs/keys+eicfg_removal_utility but I'm not sure where I got it from or how I used it. I do remember that I used the OEM branding on my first try and I really disliked it so I took that out.

    Steps I've taken:


    Installed vSphere/ESXi v5.0 update 1 (VMware-VIMSetup-all-5.0.0-639890.iso) (I installed under VMWare 8 as I'm just testing this right now)
    The console showed me a URL to download the vSphere client to manage the host. Downloaded, connected. Configuration->Licensed Features to add my license and Configuration->Security Profile->Properties (the one under Services) to enable SSHD.
    cd /bootbank
    mkdir /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp
    cp s.v00 /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp/s.v00.gz
    cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp
    gunzip s.v00.gz
    vmtar -x s.v00 -o s.v00.tar
    tar xf s.v00.tar
    From your windows box, get /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp/bin/vmx using ssh.
    Open EsxBiosTools (v1.1.4 is the latest right now). Click 'Extract bios440.rom' (leave 'remote mode' unchecked). Select 'vmx' file. Ensure that bios440.rom is extracted without any error messages.
    It appears that I need to bring up a Windows VM under ESXi to simply run RW-Everything and get a report file that PhonixBiosTools needs. I'm surprised there isn't a more direct route; how does VMware Workstation Bios Installer do it? Well, I'll at least post the resulting file online somewhere so that others don't have to do all of this. this is what I'm working on now (below is what I think I need to do):
    -Get a Windows VM running under ESXi
    -Get RW-Everything from xxxx://rweverything.myweb.hinet.net/
    -Open RW-Everything
    -Click ACPI Table
    -save all (ctrl+F2) and save as any given filename (eg acpitbls.rw)
    Open Phoenix Bios Tools, give it the info it needs (I need to go back and get these details and update this) and it'll spit out BIOS440_SLIC.ROM or something like that.
    Open EsxBiosTools. Click 'Inject bios440.rom' (leave 'remote mode' unchecked). Select 'vmx' file and the new ROM file. Ensure that bios440.rom is injected without any error messages.
    mkdir /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/s.original
    mkdir /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/s.new
    cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp
    cp -rp bin/vmx ../s.original/
    #sftp the vmx produced by esxbiostools on top of /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp/bin/vmx
    cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/tmp
    mv s.* ../s.original/
    tar cf ../s.new/s.v00.tar *
    cd ../s.new
    vmtar -c s.v00.tar -o s.v00.vtar
    chmod 700 s.v00.vtar
    chown 201.201 s.v00.vtar
    mv /bootbank/s.v00 /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/s.new/s.v00.original
    gzip s.v00.vtar
    mv s.v00.vtar.gz /bootbank/s.v00
    Reboot ESXi




    Notes somehow related:




    The VMware video driver doesn't automatically install into Windows Server 2008 R2 for some reason...it keeps the default SVGA driver...maybe for stability reasons? The VMware driver can be found at c:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\wddm_video
    - mranak, 2 years ago
  • While the above (modification of files of any kind) causes no problem in a single ESXi 5 environment, when one uses vCenter to manage cluster(s) it stops vMotion working after few migrations
    You can read more about the issue here (http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=267296&view=findpost&p=1821784)

    Upto vSphere 4 this was NOT an issue

    Also, there is NO need to re-create s.v00 file, it is much nicer (http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/12982-ESX-ESXi-Bios-Tools/page20?p=494900&viewfull=1#post494900) to just add the overlay filesystem (as the whole ESXi is done that way)

    edit: BIOS mod are not cause of the above problems. The "problem" was using Donk's Unlocker. Bios mod are "safe"!

    sebus
    - sebus, 2 years ago
  • Reboot ESXi



    I did this today to my ESXi v5.0 (not update 1) on a T110 that has it's own SLIC 2.1 installed and the Dell WinXP SP3 didn't activate after the injection. After running RW again, it showed a SLIC installed so I was a little confused. I figured I'd try a fresh install in the VM and put on Server 2008 R2 x64 (Dell disk) and it showed a Dell self activation fine. So I tried to install another VM using the original Dell WinXP SP3 disk and again, it needed activation. I used the method and same .bin file and procedure as "virtualnobody" on the previous page.

    I'll reload the T110 and try the above method again using my own SLIC 2.1 from my Vostro 430, which lists itself as a "MI09" and that has three different values than the "DELL[MI09]2.1-21D8A2FB.BIN" that is included in the "OEMCERT_AND_SLICS_2012-08-01" file I downloaded.

    I'll post my results after a complete reload and run through of the above method.

    All the people who made this happen are awesome and my hat is off to everyone!
    - meister_sd, 2 years ago
  • Come on man, SLIC 2.1 is for Vista/7/Server 2008/R2
    SLP is for XP/Server 2003/R2

    So modding with Slic only will NOT give you SLP (that has to be done by hand in addition)

    sebus
    - sebus, 2 years ago
  • Come on man

    Excuse me.


    SLIC 2.1 is for Vista/7/Server 2008/R2
    SLP is for XP/Server 2003/R2

    I was under the impression that these were progressive, kind of "grandfathered" types of checks but I guess I'm wrong.



    So modding with Slic only will NOT give you SLP (that has to be done by hand in addition)

    sebus

    Thanks! I'll look for that thread and add it to my box.
    - meister_sd, 2 years ago
  • I tried with my ESXI 5.0.0.474610. First use EsxBiosTools.1.1.5 extract the bios440.rom successfully, then use PhoenixTool 2.11 to add SLIC to the rom file. after that update virtual machine config file with "bios440.filename = romfile".
    But the virtual machine cannot stop. It stuck at the BIOS POST screen.
    I tried DELL and HP SLIC. But the same results. What can be the reason?
    I verified the extracted rom file by using the bios440.filename=unmodified file. It's no problem.
    - enjoywithme, 2 years ago
  • . What can be the reason?


    I've done this a few times now and ran into that problem twice. The first was these instructions:

    chmod 700 s.v00.vtar
    chown 201.201 s.v00.vtar

    I forgot one of them. The other was using the file created from:

    vmtar -c s.v00.tar -o s.v00.vtar

    twice into another server thinking it would work because they were both the same. I used a Dell T110 with a SLIC 2.1 BIOS that had 2008 natively installed to get the SLIC info then used the rest of the conversion on a laptop and put back onto a T110 that had ESXi 5.0 on it. After my last post I did the same on 5.0 U1. I'm about to do it on 5.1. What server do you have and where did you get your SLIC and cert?
    - meister_sd, 2 years ago
  • I've done this a few times now and ran into that problem twice. The first was these instructions:

    I used a Dell T110 with a SLIC 2.1 BIOS that had 2008 natively installed to get the SLIC info then used the rest of the conversion on a laptop and put back onto a T110 that had ESXi 5.0 on it. After my last post I did the same on 5.0 U1. I'm about to do it on 5.1. What server do you have and where did you get your SLIC and cert?

    I used SLIC and cert from this package "2012.10.10 slic 2.1 + oem key.rar". i cannot remember where I downloaded it. I tried to post the file here as attachment. But it exceeds the size limitation. My server is "IBM x3650 M4". I used "phoenix bios editor" to compose a BOM manually. It runs on my server without problem now. The selection of SLIC bin is also important. The first time i use "Dell[DELL-QA09-NVDA]2.1.BIN". The virtual machine was still not able to boot. Later I used "Dell[DELL-WN09-AMI]2.1.BIN". This time OK.
    - enjoywithme, 2 years ago
  • Anyone get this working under 5.1? I've tried two different Dell servers and I get an error on startup of the VMs.
    - meister_sd, a year ago
  • I've done this a few times now and ran into that problem twice. The first was these instructions:

    chmod 700 s.v00.vtar
    chown 201.201 s.v00.vtar

    I forgot one of them. The other was using the file created from:

    vmtar -c s.v00.tar -o s.v00.vtar

    twice into another server thinking it would work because they were both the same. I used a Dell T110 with a SLIC 2.1 BIOS that had 2008 natively installed to get the SLIC info then used the rest of the conversion on a laptop and put back onto a T110 that had ESXi 5.0 on it. After my last post I did the same on 5.0 U1. I'm about to do it on 5.1. What server do you have and where did you get your SLIC and cert?

    I'm having a hard time understanding the second part of your post about s.v00.tar and s.v00.vtar. Are my instructions incorrect? If so then I'd like to correct them.

    I'm also curious about your experience doing this for ESXi 5.1. I found it tedious figuring out this process for 5.0 and I documented it here for my own benefit as much as any else's. I'm definitely curious to know what this process is for 5.1, although I probably won't bother unless my hard drive in the ESXi server crashes or whatever.

    Thanks.
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