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It is important to understand that Thinkpads from IBM have two separate firmwares: the BIOS, and the Embedded Controller Program (ECP). You can find them at the page BIOS_Upgrade/X_Series. In that case, extract the disk image with cabextract as per instructions above and dd it to an usb stick.
A given BIOS version will require a certain version of the ECP. (This will destroy the data on it, of course.) Acquire a pure DOS boot cd such as Windows 98 recovery CD and boot that.
Also, make sure to do the two updates immediately one after the other. In particular, avoid loading and doskey, as the presence of either program causes Phoenix bios flash tool phlash16to abort.
The EC firmware is usually much better at backwards compatibility than the BIOS. Change to the volume where flash2and other tools are installed, and execute "flash2/u".
Also, it is not possible to install some wireless cards, because only certain models are whitelisted by IBM/Lenovo. See the wikipage Middleton's BIOS for installation instructions, downloads, and more description. If you really want to do it with a floppy, some tips: BIOS, ECP, CD/DVD and Harddisk firmware disks can be booted over the network with PXELINX as part of the SYSLINUX package.Note: If your BIOS-Update tool says that no update is needed, then simply downgrade the Bios first: On Lenovo's drivers download page, the old Bios files are listed at the very bottom of the page. This requires that you have a DHCP and tftp server configured and setup properly on your network, and is probably not for the faint of heart.A list of links to firmware downloads can be found at BIOS Upgrade Downloads for most Thinkpad models. Make sure the firmware bootdisk is in linux 'dd' format, as the self-extracting disks from the IBM website cannot be booted directly as such.For example, if you downloaded Extracting cabinet: 1iuj13extracting 1IUJ13US. Contrary to the name, GRUB for DOS works fine on Linux.
This page is meant to describe ways to update the BIOS on a Think Pad that only runs Linux for users that don't have ready access to Windows. Follow these steps: Use "geteltorito" to extract the update image from ISO image, downloaded from Lenovo's drivers page.