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Can I replace Instant On software with /boot ?

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

Hi,

I have an Asus motherboard with Asus Express Gate. This is an Instant On system with Splashtop software (a Linux distribution). My question is: Can I remove the Express Gate software and use this space to write a /boot partition? In my point of view, if it is possible, the Linux boot and kernel access will be faster. Is it possible?

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

I have ExpressGate on my Asus boards and I do believe it's on CMOS (on a chip embedded in the motherboard). So, no you can not erase it. There might be a BIOS flag where you can turn it off, but, I haven't looked at it, so I can't tell you for sure.

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

that was my impression, too. I looked at something similar for someone in my LUG on an HP netbook of his, and it seems to not be on the disk. I suspect that this is in fact being loaded instead of of an MBR by a custom BIOS. I haven't had much time to tinker, but if there's no CMOS option to by-pass it, then you may have to either live with it, or try something a LOT riskier like rep;lacing the BIOS (like w/ OpenBIOS or u-boot, etc).

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

oh yah, and of course, I meant to say that the latter option is risky because you can turn your PC into a brick and wind up needing a new motherboard, etc.

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

I don’t know if the Instant On space is impossible to rewirte. This article is very interesting: http://www.linux.com/archive/articles/128004, but it was written in March 2008. If Instant On software upgradable, probably we can replace this software and write a /boot.

Link to this post 10 Jul 10

So I just read the article at the link you posted. It more or less confirms my suspiscion about the software.
What you want to do is probably not impossible. However, it will still take a bit of "doing". It will take some reverse engineering of the RTOS that they include as part of the isntant-on software, depending on how it's implemented, and what state the BIOS is leaving the processor and memory in when it starts to load the image from flash.

I would be curious to get my hands on a device w/ that software in it, again.

To satiate my own curiosity, though, if you don't mind, I was wondering if you could attach the output of "sudo lshw" and "sudo dmidecode" for me. I'm wondering if the flash is sitting in a standard bus that is accessible to the kernel.

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