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Can I replace Instant On software with /boot ?


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?


  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    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.
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    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).
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    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.
  • PlugPlug Posts: 3
    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.
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    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.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I just checked, and there is an enable/disable for ExpressGate. Adam, I'm curious what you will come up with, so, attached are copies of lshw and dmidecode from my box. [file name=lshw.txt size=22335]http://www.linux.com/media/kunena/attachments/legacy/files/lshw.txt[/file]
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Ok, it didn't attach both files, here's dmidecode. [file name=dmidecode.txt size=20495]http://www.linux.com/media/kunena/attachments/legacy/files/dmidecode.txt[/file]
  • PlugPlug Posts: 3
    Hi! I’m travelling this week, but I’ll execute the commands indicated by Adan and post here when I arrive at home.

    For a while, I’m looking for documentation about Instant On technology and trying to discover if is possible to replace an Instant On software. I read in Brazilian Express Gate web site that is possible to upgrade or replace a failed installation with the new version of Express Gate software. This web site informs that Express Gate is recorded into an Onboard Flash. The file used to install Express Gate software is a package in .DFI (DeviceVM File Image) format. (source: http://www.expressgate.com.br/help/helpcg.html in Brazilian Portuguese ).

    I found a nice article about Express Gate:
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    By the way, nice machine. I'm a little jealous.

    so, it seems that it's not on any of the standard busses that are available to your kernel. But I did notice that there are 2 DMI entries that are type 126. 126 is reserved for disabled features. I'm wondering if you have ExpressGate disabled on your machine or not. I could be barking up the wrong tree, though.

    Express Gate should be living in a separate flash device on the motherboard that is separate from the BIOS, because I don't think there's enough room in the chip that holds the BIOS to hold expressgate and all it's "VMs". I'm just not sure what bus that flash is on.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    ExpressGate is enabled, although I'll have to admit, I've never played with it, and, was glad to see it could be disabled, so it wouldn't add time to my boot up. Just for the heck of it, when I get home, I might try it.
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