Recently, I had to flash my laptop BIOS. It had a very old version, A13 and the latest version is A34. But my laptop is running ubuntu 14.04 and the dell site provides a windows exe, E6400A34.EXE. So, this is what I did:
1. I used a small usb drive I have, formatted it fat32
2. went to the DELL site, found the latest bios for my E6400 laptop and saved that file to the usb drive.
3. I d/l the sysresccd iso (about 435MB) from sysresccd.org and burnt it to a CD.
I put the CD in my laptop, and reboot. Assuming the boot sequence is correct, it should boot off the CD and give you the sysresccd menu. There is an option on floppy images, select that, and then select freedos. Before you click enter, plug in the usb drive with the bios file to your laptop.
After freedos loads, the prompt will be A:\ Type C:\ then dir and that should list the contents of the usbdrive (one file, E6400A34.EXE) Execute that file and the process will start to update the bios. It will take time, it verifies the image and other things, so be patient. After the process completes, reboot and your bios version is A34 now.
There are many ways to do this, which you can find on the web, e.g. instead of the sysresccd you can use a floppy disk image containing DOS (from fdos.org). You can also bypass the whole freedos thing and do the flash with just Linux.
But that's for a future article ...