This page is meant to describe ways to update the BIOS on a Think Pad that only runs Linux for users that don't have ready access to Windows. Contrary to the name, GRUB for DOS works fine on Linux.
If you have Windows on your Think Pad you can just boot into it and follow instructions on the Lenovo website. Follow these steps: Use "geteltorito" to extract the update image from ISO image, downloaded from Lenovo's drivers page.
Updating the BIOS in Linux (with few exceptions) is not officially supported by Lenovo. By following any of the instructions here you are accepting the very real risk of turning your Think Pad into a big expensive paper weight, as a firmware update gone wrong can create unfix-able problems. A user on Notebook Review named 'Middleton' made these alternative BIOSes to enable SATA2 on certain Thinkpad models (X61/T61/R61/X300). Write the extracted image to a USB Flash drive using dd.
This is a huge drawback for anyone wanting to use SSDs, because it is so much slower. So, even though Lenovo is now offering "Linux diskette" updaters, that will create a bootable floppy under Linux, using a floppy is still not recommended.Also, it is not possible to install some wireless cards, because only certain models are whitelisted by IBM/Lenovo. See the wikipage Middleton's BIOS for installation instructions, downloads, and more description. Besides, many people don't even have a floppy drive on their Think Pad.Note: If your BIOS-Update tool says that no update is needed, then simply downgrade the Bios first: On Lenovo's drivers download page, the old Bios files are listed at the very bottom of the page. If you really want to do it with a floppy, some tips: BIOS, ECP, CD/DVD and Harddisk firmware disks can be booted over the network with PXELINX as part of the SYSLINUX package.A list of links to firmware downloads can be found at BIOS Upgrade Downloads for most Thinkpad models. This requires that you have a DHCP and tftp server configured and setup properly on your network, and is probably not for the faint of heart.You can also check the Lenovo Support website's driver matrix. Make sure the firmware bootdisk is in linux 'dd' format, as the self-extracting disks from the IBM website cannot be booted directly as such.
Lenovo/IBM provides firmware upgrades in a variety of packages: The Linux diskette is just the Diskette package that runs on Linux instead of Windows/DOS. This worked on the R31, X22, T21, T30 and T41p with various firmware updates.It's unknown if a boot image can be extracted from it. On the X22, it worked with ECP 1.30 but not with BIOS 1.32 Lenovo recommends reseting your BIOS settings to their factory defaults after a firmware update.You may need to try different packages to find the one from which you can extract a boot image. Also, please consider updating the List of DMI IDs after updating your BIOS.It is important to understand that Thinkpads from IBM have two separate firmwares: the BIOS, and the Embedded Controller Program (ECP). The special update instructions for X1, X1 Carbon, X1 Carbon 2nd, X1 Hybrid, X20, X21, X22, X23, X24, X30, X31, X32, X40, X41, X41 Tablet, X60, X60s, X60 Tablet, X61, X61s, X61 Tablet, X100e, X120e, X121e, X130e, X131e, X140e, X200, X200 Tablet, X200s, X201, X201i, X201s, X201 Tablet, X220, X230, X230i, X230s, X230 Tablet, X230i Tablet, X240, X240s, X300, X301 Thinkpads are quite long. The BIOS updater may refuse to update a BIOS without a battery, or if the battery charge is too low.A given BIOS version will require a certain version of the ECP. You can find them at the page BIOS_Upgrade/X_Series. In that case, extract the disk image with cabextract as per instructions above and dd it to an usb stick.You must read the Lenovo website and/or files to confirm which BIOS is compatible with which ECP, and the order in which to update them. (This will destroy the data on it, of course.) Acquire a pure DOS boot cd such as Windows 98 recovery CD and boot that.