Just like to add the results of my endeavours here.
I needed to upgrade the BIOS of a Dell Precision 340. I opted for the CD method. First of all, I downloaded the latest BIOS from the Dell website. It was called WS340A07.EXE.
This was the 'non-packaged' version, which means it is not an archive, so no need to extract anything. The file is in fact the BIOS flash program together with the BIOS. In a DOS system, all you need to do is execute the file to flash the BIOS.
As I don't have DOS, I built a bootable DOS CD using the instructions of this thread and with help from:
In my home directory I did:
There no need to do a 'modprobe loop' when using Jaunty (and if you do, you will get an error). Next:
copy FDOEM.144.gz to this directory
This will have created the file bootcd.iso in ~/bios, with the BIOS executable WS240A07.EXE on it.
sudo mkdir /tmp/floppy
sudo mount -t vfat -o loop FDOEM.144 /tmp/floppy
sudo cp WS340A07.EXE /tmp/floppy
sudo umount /tmp/floppy
sudo mkisofs -o bootcd.iso -b FDOEM.144 FDOEM.144
I burnt it to a cd, rebooted using the CD and from the DOS prompt A:\ ran the WS340A07.EXE.
Probably could avoid all those sudo's by doing a 'sudo su', but I wasn't sure if that would land me in a different directory. The commands I used are safe and worked perfectly.
PS. I think for older motherboards like mine, the DOS method is the safest. I was thinking of using the dellBiosUpdate utility which requires 'rbu' to be supported by the motherboard. When I looked at the ini file that came with the BIOS hdr file for this method, I saw it was blacklisted - meaning unreliable for my brand of motherboard.
Thanks for this thread - very helpful and I have learned more about Linux!