Articles from The Mac Elite, CubeOwner & more

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Retro-fitting old FirmWare and re-installing the newer

Searching through my CD archive I've found two different versions of the firmware updaters for the PowerMac G4 and the Cube (as well as the iMac, iBook, PowerBook and even a G3) on Mac OS install CDs:

Mac OSPowerMacCube
(both are still current)

Using them I successfully downgraded the firmware of a Sawtooth from the current 4.2.8 to the older 4.1.8 and back to 4.2.8 again. Further analysis of the code shows that it will only flash a firmware with the same major version as in the ROM (or upgrade from 3 to 4 as a special case). Even the firmware from another model would be accepted — Never ever try such a crossflash as it will most likely leave the motherboard completely dead and therefore without a possibility to correct the flash !

The firmware NVRAM variables will survive the flash, including any NVRAMRC patches (as the lba-48 property), but do NOT flash a plain firmware with a (7447 or 7448 based) CPU upgrade that requires its own patches.

While at it I also tested manually booting the flasher from the Open Firmware command prompt. With one of the CDs from the table above (or a CD-R with just the "Firmware" file) it is possible to upgrade or reflash the firmware without any Mac OS on the system !

No Macintosh was harmed during the making of this post.

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