Upgrading firmware

Revision as of 21:31, 17 November 2015 by Quozl (talk | contribs) (Troubleshooting)
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How to upgrade only the firmware on an XO laptop.


To upgrade your firmware automatically, please upgrade the operating system.

However, some older firmware may need to be upgraded manually. You should only need to do this if a problem in the firmware affects you.



  • a USB drive with at least 4 MB free space,
  • an internet connection,
  • a charged battery in the XO laptop,
  • external power for the XO laptop,
  • about ten minutes.


  • create a new folder named boot on your USB drive,
  • in the table below, select your XO laptop model and download the corresponding bootfw.zip file; these are the latest signed firmware files from OLPC OS 13.2.5-17:
model version download
XO-1 q2f20 bootfw.zip
XO-1.5 q3c17 bootfw.zip
XO-1.75 q4d38 bootfw.zip
XO-4 q7c05 bootfw.zip
  • save the file to your USB drive in the folder named boot, (do not expand the file, it must remain as bootfw.zip),
  • safely remove the USB drive,
  • shutdown and turn off your XO laptop,
  • make sure the battery is in place and locked,
  • make sure the power cord and adapter are plugged in, the battery indicator must be on,
  • insert the USB drive into the XO laptop,
  • hold down the X game key while pressing and releasing the power button,
  • wait for the message asking you to release the game keys, and then release the X game key,
  • wait for update messages to be displayed,
  • wait for the XO laptop to reboot.


If a USB drive is ignored by the XO:

  • check that the USB drive has a folder named boot,
  • check that the boot folder has a file bootfw.zip,
  • check that the USB drive has a partition table type of "DOS MBR" rather than "GPT", see also supported combinations,
  • try a different USB drive,
  • try a different USB port,
  • check that the firmware actually needs upgrading; the USB drive will seem to be ignored if the version on the drive is equal to or earlier than the version on the laptop.

If the XO is faulty, firmware upgrade may not begin:

  • if the display does not light up, or the XO icon does not appear, see fix clock for upgrading firmware using a serial adapter.

How it Works

The firmware on the XO runs when the power is turned on. It plays a startup sound. If the laptop is secured, or if the X game key is held down, it looks for boot/bootfw.zip on all available storage devices; internal storage, SD card, and USB drives. If a bootfw.zip is found, the firmware checks to see if the cryptographic signature of the file matches the OLPC keys, and if the version is later than itself. If both checks pass, the firmware checks for external power and a reasonably charged battery. If these are present, then the firmware updates itself from the file, writing to the internal SPI flash chip. Then it reboots, thus running the new firmware version.


If your laptop is locked, and you cannot unlock it, you must use the signed firmware method above. If your laptop is unlocked, see Firmware for upgrade instructions.