Aptiva BIOS Updates


While most 2134/2176/2159 users had no problems with IBM's 1/22/99 release of COUFLASH (BST_4H/BFL_4M) a number of users (particularly those who have hard drives larger than 4.2GB) reported some serious issues with the update. The problems reported commonly were:

  • Drive geometry changes effecting drive partitions
  • An inability to access drives in extended partitions
  • Difficulty booting ("non-system disk" errors)
After a number of similar reports were brought to IBM's attention by a fellow Aptiva owner early on, IBM acknowledged that there was a problem by pulling the update file from their FTP on 2/5/99. To their credit they recognized and addressed this issue in a speedy fashion and within a week have re-released a new and (hopefully!) fixed version, which installs BST_4I (BSTUS4I on US systems) on 2134/2176/2159 Aptivas with ATI graphics and BFL_4N (BFLUS4N on US systems) on 2134/2176/2159 Aptivas with SiS graphics.

The only difference that IBM has noted to date is that the "I/N" build of COUFLASH does not include the "Fixed translation for disks > 4GB" update that was included in the 1/22/99 "H/M" build. It's not clear why this "fix" was even attempted --- prior to the new BIOS release with the 2/97 BST_4G/BST_4L BIOS these models seem to support up to 8.4GB hard drives --- however clearly this "fix" did not work out as intended and was dropped.

Fortunately most users who were effected by the problems presented by the 1/22 release were able to resolve them by re-flashing with the 2/97 BIOS update BST_4G/BFL_4L. While IBM had pulled the "G/L" build of COUFLASH upon uploading the 1/22 updates for most Aptiva models making it unavailable I'm in possession of a copy and have it uploaded to my X-Drive account online. Anyone needing a copy can request it via the following form and send a link to the file via email ASAP.


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Installation details are the same as found here.

As far as the 2/11/99 release of builds BST_4I/BFL_4N in the more than a year since it was released few if any users have reported problems so for those who have a strong need for it I see no reason not to give it a conditional "clean bill of health".

Other than that for those users who are using versions older than 1/97 (BST_4G/BFL_4L) my advice remains the same...if you plan no upgrades (adding a large hard drive, 24x or faster CD-ROM, CD-RW drive or upgrading to Windows 98) the old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it" should be your guide as with all major upgrades. As far as those who are running the January, 1997 builds BST_4G/BFL_4L I would only suggest this update if you have added a 24x or faster ATAPI drive (CD-ROM, CR-R, CD-RW) and are currently receiving POST errors as a result, no others need apply.

User feedback welcomed as always.

Best wishes for a problem-free update!


© Don Schneider, 2001
DON5408's Unofficial Aptiva Support Site