Many of the links on this page are now defunct and/or outdated.
I'd suggest you either check if they're cached at http://web.archive.org, or take a look at Borg Number One's much more comprehensive site, http://bnobtc.pix-art.com/en/.
One important link is to the website of Anton Borisov, whose old companies/sites ("Linkit Productions", "Nexus Developments", "SurfLabs", http://linkIt.Euro.Ru/) are long dead - so instead please go to his new location : http://biosgfx.narod.ru
|Changing the EPA logo in Award BIOS - updated guide|
The information I present here is intended for power users - and any attempt to follow it is your own responsibility.
In no way will I be held responsible for what may happen if anyone attempts to do something even vaguely relating to what I tell about. I will merely just tell what *I* have done,my results,my comments and notes and what I think might be possible if my attempts are done by someone else following these guidelines.
I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to do this customization also searches for more sites with information I might have missed - but you will still be on your own if you attempt to do it.
The dangerous thing is not modifying the logo as such, but rather the usual dangers of flashing your BIOS. A bad logo will either simply not show up at all,or it might be distorted. The real danger is if anything goes wrong during the flash - a corrupted file,wrong BIOS version,power outtage or similar.
I have done it successfully on quite a few computers so far, specifically these motherboards:
Asus TX97-E, Asus P5A, EPoX MVP3G-M, EPoX MVP3G2, Gigabyte 7IX, Abit KA-7, Abit KT7A-RAID, EPoX 8KTA3+ and Shuttle AK35GTR, so I know that it works on those.
Disclaimer II:(IANAL,but it'll hopefully cover my butt from lawsuits)
If Award/Phoenix,who are the manufacturer of the BIOS and several of the programs described here (or other companies mentioned here) deems anything to be in violation of copyrights belonging to them, then contact me at "dthought" plus "@" plus "yahoo.com" so I can remove any offending material.
It is a little-known fact that it is possible to change the EPA logo shown during POST in most modern Award BIOS versions. Some motherboard makers do this with the standard BIOS they have bought, to include their own logo, but doing it yourself is not supported by neither motherboard manufacturers nor Award Software.
Also,the utilities for modifying the bios are not downloadable from them, but a thorough search of the Internet will locate the necessary files - apparantly some nice guy/girl has leaked them.
Unless I get problems because of doing so, I will naturally also provide links for the files needed.
There are many reasons for doing this customization yourself. What seems to be the most common reason is to really get a customized computer - after all, changing the background and the sounds that plays while you wait for Windows to crash does become a bit boring, and you'll probably find your preferred settings pretty quickly. Also, it's something new to try for the hardcore tweakers when you've custompainted your custom-made case,installed 5 fans,a digital temperature monitor and two neon lights,overclocked everything but the floppydrive and you're out of new customization ideas.
The most common ideas for a new logo I've seen are either small Tux images (Tux is the Linux penguin mascot, dummy), or images that brags about one's Pentium II/III/Celeron CPU(of course,if the image was depicting an Athlon or K6 it would not be bragging but simply a show of one's pride and intelligence :)).
Finally,a very sensible but quite boring thing could be to simply put your name and address in the logo.
The EPA logo that is shown when you boot your computer is a special type of image known as an .EPA-file. It is not in a format that any common programs can handle. Actually,it appears that there are two different ways of encoding this images - I will refer to the most common standard as " EPA", whereas the other one will be called "AWBM" - but more on this later. Changing this logo requires you to either make a copy of your current BIOS and then modify it, or preferably to go to homepage of the manufacturer of your motherboard and get the newest version there. If you don't know how to flash your BIOS,or even what motherboard you have,then I'd really suggest you back off now - flashing the BIOS *can* destroy your motherboard if anything goes wrong,as stated above.
There are very strict limits for how big these images can be, how the layout can be, how many colors you can use and so on - so you can forget putting in a 32 bit color full-size logo showing Pamela Anderson's boobs (Full-size would probably also require having a 24" monitor,anyway :P)
Well,to be exact,some motherboards/BIOS's does support large fullscreen boot logo images - 640x464x16 colors - but the only one I've yet tested it on, my DT5 (Epox MVP3G-2),didn't,so I haven't messed with it. A full screen logo would also be a bit overkill,anyway - personally I prefer a little subtle logo while I still get to see all the POST messages.A friend's QDI board had a full-screen bootup logo, and it was really annoying not to see the familiar POST messages - or perhaps it's just me...
Anyone who wants to know more should look at http://velociraptor.mni.fh-giessen.de/Bootlogo/ It's in German,though,so good luck trying to read it;)
Now,the actual instructions,finally:
Start by getting the newest BIOS from your motherboard manufacturer,and the flash program and version they recommend for this particular BIOS and motherboard.(Or use your flash program to make a copy of your current BIOS.)
I'll use my 7IX version 4A as an example,with the filename 7IX.F4A
Binary BIOS files are apparantly compressed files,using a variant of LZH encoding to include various parts. To modify this file you'll need the "leaked" program called CBROM.EXE.
You can display the contents of your BIOS file by typing
CBROM biosfilename.ext /D (In my case : CBROM6 7IX.F4A /D)
From this BIOS file,you need to extract the original EPA logo,by typing:
CBROM biosfilename.ext /EPA extract (In my case : CBROM6 7IX.F4A /EPA extract)
and then enter the name you want to give the extracted file when prompted - or just hit enter to use the original name.
The name of this "EPA-logo" file was AwardBmp.bmp - and this hints that this bios is using the "EPA version 2" image type,called AWBM - supposedly meaning AWard BitMap.Disregard the .BMP extension,it means nothing.
When the "old" EPA format is used,the extension is usually .EPA instead of .BMP,but this is not a golden rule.
As said earlier,these EPA/AWBM images are in special format that cannot be opened with regular graphics apps. Fortunately,"Linkit Productions", http://linkIt.Euro.Ru/ has "hacked" this EPA/AWBM format and released some shareware products that can read and convert it. To make sure what type of image it is,download their "AWBMREAD" program(a DOS program,works fine in Windows console) and load up the extracted EPA logo - it will then tell you its characteristics and display the logo.Rename it to .EPA first if needed,though - the AWBM reader (stupidly) won't accept a .BMP extension...
RENAME awardbmp.bmp awardbmp.epa
and hit "enter" a few times to go through the steps,noting what kind of EPA logo it is,and the size of it.
Making a new logo:|
The version 1 "EPA" format is very restrictive.
The logo can only be 136x126 or 136x84 - this seems to depend on the BIOS,so the safest way to go on is to make your new logo the same size as the original logo.
Also,the EPA version 1 logo is displayed on a "text mode" screen (the screen is in textmode when booting your PC)- so the logo can only have one color (apart from the background black) in each "character cell",8 pixels wide,14 high - and you only have a 16 color palette to work with(15 colors and black background). It *might* be possible to change the black background color,but I have not tested this - and I'd expect very weird colors to show up.
Furthermore I've read (but I haven't been able to verify this), a maximum of 905 pixels can be coloured. As far as I can understand the AWBM specs(from Linkit Productions), the only image size limit for the version 2 AWBM-type logo is how much free space there is in the BIOS file.However, it is very possible that an image which size differs from the original will be misplaced or distorted when shown, so using the original size is advisable.
The version 2 AWBM logos should support all 16 colors in the palette in each character cell,and not just 1 color plus background per cell.
Your next step depends on whether you have a BIOS with a version 1 or version 2 logo - unfortunately it does not seem like you can use a version 1 logo in a version 2 BIOS or vice versa. Also, the Award BIOS mainly exist in versions 4.50, 4.51 and 4.60 - and there doesn't seem to be any connection between which can handle version 1 or version 2 logos.
Creating a new logo - EPA version 1:
If you have the version 1 logo,load up a new image in Paint Shop Pro like this:(136x126 or 136x84),4 bit color,black background,white foreground color:
To figure out where the "character cells" are,and therefore the limits for color changes,use a "grid" :
File->Preferences->General Program Preferences : tab "Rulers and Units"
Activate the grid under "View->Grid" or hit CTRL-ALT-G
Now get creative and make a logo that looks useable despite the limitations.
An example,making the logo using the grid to help:
However, you must be aware that you cannot go on with this colored logo - you need another program to fill out the cells with colors. Also,you cannot choose the colors yourself.
The available colors are:
Download a Paint Shop Pro palette file here
So this is strictly for experimenting until you've found something that looks cool to you.
When this is done,you need to copy/convert the result into a black and white bitmap for further processing :
and save it as a standard Windows bitmap file(remember to decrease the color depth to 1 bit/2 colors first).
Load it up again,this time with Award's BMP2EPA.EXE (DOS,works fine in Windows console) program :
BMP2EPA logoname.BMP logoname.EPA
and then colorize it:
BMP2EPA.EXE is fairly straightforward to use - load up the bitmap,click the color you want to fill in the cells(the palette in the lower left corner),click the cells to fill with color,and finally save the image.
Note however,that if you cancel your artwork instead of saving and exiting "nicely",the program seems to have a tendency to mess up the files - so please exit properly.
There is also a shareware Windows program (BMPtoEPA) from http://www.flazh.de to create EPA's and colorize bitmaps - but when unregistrered it will add a Watermark to the .EPA,and personally I don't want to spend 10 $ on a "nicer" Windows program when I have a fully working DOS program that does the same thing.
Creating a new logo - EPA version 2:
If you have a version 2 (AWBM) logo,you can just go ahead and make your logo with the desired colors in Paint Shop Pro like above - (FILE->NEW, 136x126 or 136x84 to be safe,16 colors,black background),and save the coloured logo as a standard Windows bitmap file.Then get the AWBMMAKE program from Linkit Productions,and convert your bitmap to an AWBM-file:
Pretty easy,simply type:
and hit Return a couple of times to go through the steps.
Be sure to read their instructions,though - it seems like Asus and QDI boards requires special attention.
Unfortunately it seems like Linkit's website has died, however, some very bright programmers named Sergey Nikolayev and Artur Prokopiuk have created EPACoder, a FREE WIN32 program that can do everything the Linkit-programs could, but even better, and using a GUI so you don't have to mess with command line parameters anymore. As seen in the screenshot, it can convert from EPA to BMP and back, and also between version 1 and version 2 logos, so now you just need to create the bitmap-image in an editor and this brillant program handles all the conversions.
You still need to use CBROM to add the EPA to the BIOS file, though.
At last,when you've made your logo and converted it to EPA/AWBM format,comes the time to flash the BIOS.
First,however,you need to get the logo into the BIOS file - which is again achieved using the CBROM.EXE program:
CBROM biosfilename.ext /EPA logoname.ext (In my case : CBROM6 7IX.F4A /EPA dt616.epa)
Make sure to read any error messages and do NOT attempt to flash if anything seems wrong.
Further customization - and a possible safeguard before flashing:
Another tool exists that can be used for really low-level messing with (or messing up :P) the BIOS,namely a program called Modbin. I have no idea how to properly use it for its intended purpose,which seems to be adjusting bit-level timing and which settings you can adjust in the BIOS,but I can see that it can be used to change the message showing the BIOS version and date,which is also cool.I just use it to to change the BIOS ID string to show the name of that particular PC.
What makes it more interesting is that it seems like if you load up your BIOS file with Modbin after adding your new logo,it will do a check of the data integrity of the file - at least,it cannot hurt to try.
Time to flash:
After you've said a few prayers, backed up all data, bought a new motherboard in case anything goes wrong(for "hotflashing"...),and mentally prepared by studying Zen Buddhism or similar for a few years you can now flash your BIOS:
Make a few bootable floppies with a known well-working BIOS and flash program on,and store them safely somewhere - while hoping that your PC can actually boot from floppy if anything goes wrong.
Also find a guide to "recovery after a bad flash" and print it - a good place to start would be Wim's Bios Page.
I can also highly recommend the RD1 BIOS Savior! from IOSS/Vicstech - it can be a real (motherboard)-lifesaver in case anything goes wrong - or in the future if you get hit by a CIH-like virus, it can save your behind.
I tried flashing a modified BIOS on an Shuttle/Spacewalker AK35GTR, and something went wrong. I didn't get any errors from neither CBROM or Modbin, so I happily flashed the new BIOS.
However, on reboot the screen stayed black, and the speaker emitted a single painfull beep, and nothing else happened. Fortunately, using the following information from Tekram I was able to recover the system:
If something should go wrong during FLASH PROGRAMMING - the system is powered down too soon, etc. - the system will not show video when it is rebooted. If this happens, listen to see if any beeps occur when the system is powered on. If beeping is heard, the system should be recoverable, if no beeping is heard - assuming the speaker is working correctly - the system is probably not recoverable. To recover the system:
1. Create a bootable floppy
2. Create an AUTOEXEC.BAT on the floppy with a line such as the following:
AWDFLASH P5T30B4109.BIN (Substitute the correct BIOS or "bin" file for the mainboard you are using.)
3. Reboot the system. The system should read the floppy and reboot automatically after it has recovered the BIOS.
In the event that recovery procedures are not successful, a new BIOS chip will be required.
So be warned, things CAN go wrong...
It is usually recommended that you boot from a (bootable) floppy containing just the flash program and the bios - with no memory manager or anything loaded that might interfere with the flash.However,I personally don't trust the data "integrity" on floppies so I prefer to boot from HD - in safe mode,command prompt and flash from that instead.
Be aware that various settings in the BIOS setup can interfere with the flash - usually those are "Shadow BIOS" and system/memory caching, so mess around with these settings in case the flash program complains.Also make sure that you do not load any memory managers,CD-ROM drivers,mouse drivers or anything(PURE DOS!) - the flash program will get very upset.
Read any instructions your motherboard supplier might have for how to flash your bios, and when ready, load the flash program and go flash.
In order to FORCE any readers of this to actually read the flash instructions from your motherboard manufacturer I will not link to any flash programs ;)
After a -hopefully- successfull flash,hit F1 as the flash program recommends,for a hard reset - or simply hit the reset button.
When the computer -hopefully- boots showing your great new logo,hit delete to enter BIOS/CMOS setup and load defaults if you're also upgrading the bios version - or if your new bios version is similar to the current simply exit while saving.
If the logo does NOT show up,or the colors/layout are wrong,it's time to figure out what went wrong - but this "only" seems to occur if you've messed with the palette, are using a strange image size,or try to use an EPA format logo in an AWBM-BIOS or vice versa,so start by using the exact same settings as in the original logo.
I have a hunch that a BIOS can handle at least 1000 reflashes,so you should have ample time to experiment.
I hope this long-winded blabber can prove interesting for someone.
|Links and files :|
|The most important companies/websites :|
|http://www.award.com/ - the manufacturers of our beloved Award BIOS|
|http://www.jasc.com/ - creators of Paint Shop Pro|
|http://bios.help.pl/tools/epacoder.php3#English - homepage of the brillant EPACoder utility.|
|http://www.ioss.com.tw/index.shtml - homepage of the RD1 BIOS Savior!|
|http://LinkIt.Euro.Ru/ - makers of the AWBM-related shareware programs. Apparantly dead...|
|Modbin and CBROM|
|The flashable Award BIOS generally exists in two versions,the older version 4.50 and the new version 6.
Here are the four versions of the necessary CBROM program I've been able to find,use the one that fits your BIOS:
|cbrom.exe (v2.01A), CBROM1~1.EXE (v1.30C), cbrom132.exe (v1.32) and CBROM6.EXE (v6.06).|
|And the three versions I've found of the MODBIN program:|
|MODBIN.EXE (v4.50.60), MODBIN6.EXE (v6 1.00.12) and MODBIN77.EXE (v4.50.77).|
|I thought that the older versions where only for Award BIOS 4.50,but apparantly DT7's (Abit KA7) Award BIOS version 6 does not work with the newest,but only with the old version.Go figure.|
|A color palette for Paint Shop Pro and version 1 EPA's : epa_palette.zip|
|The AWBMREAD and the BMP2EPA program program can be downloaded at http://linkIt.Euro.Ru/|
|Flash program : Get the correct version flash program from your own motherboard manufacturer - to find their homepage if you don't know it,try these sites : http://www.windrivers.com/ or http://www.drivershq.com/.
(However, if you're such a newbie I'll recommend you DON'T try to flash unless you can get support from the local geek.)
|BIOS Tweak sites:|
|http://bios.help.pl/start.php3||Various EPA Logo related Sites:|
|http://www.xbitlabs.com/mainboards/award-bios-update/ - A great page about flashing your BIOS, and also a "Bad Flash" recovery guide.|
Probably the most well-known BIOS logo modification article. It's very good, but not as indepth as my own article, though.
A site to provide Abit KT7 users with premodified BIOS'es - with new features and EPA logos embedded.
|http://www.flazh.de - home of the shareware Windows BMPtoEPA program.|
|http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Chip/4378/ - a good but somewhat short logo-replacement walkthrough.|
|http://baykut.homepage.com/ - home of a BMP to EPA Converter.(I think,it's in Turkish...)|
|http://www.kaotica.com/epa/ - another EPA logo site|
|http://www.open.hr/~sbrbot/hardware/bios/ins.htm - yet another EPA logo site|
|http://velociraptor.mni.fh-giessen.de/Bootlogo/ - a German page with some notes on Full Screen logos.|
|http://www.gameover.dk/software/anmeldelser/EPA.htm - a logo replacement walkthrough in Danish|
|http://geggus.net/sven/linux-bootlogo.html - A good page about putting Tux into your BIOS|
|http://www.juggernaut.de/seiten/pcfun/bios/epadownload.htm - Lots of EPA examples|
|http://www.ruian.com/hotitle/bios/ - a BIOS related site in Russian.|
|Another somewhat BIOS related site:|
|Take me to Deep Thought's homepage|