So, I obtained a semi-functioning Mirra Personal Server from someone and decided it would make a great little Linux Box. But, upon entering the BIOS setup, I discovered that it was locked with a password that could not be cleared. It has a custom BIOS from the vendor, so resetting the jumper or pulling the battery out for days will never get rid of it. Better yet, it is programed to only boot from the primary master hard drive (not even a cd rom) and of course you're locked out of Debian (that is the OS Mirra uses on the server) with a password as well. It seemed hopeless, and in the end it was more work than I wanted, but mostly because of the dearth of information out there about it, so I'm here to fix that.
First of all, you do not need a USB keyboard (my first hurdle). There are 2 perfectly good PS/2 ports hiding behind a layer of plastic above the VGA port.
Secondly, after much research I discovered that my Mirra (newer ones might be different) has the regular EPIA motherboard, no revision number that I could tell. The best info I could find is that it's an EPIA5000, with a 500mhz processor. If you're on this forum, you probably already know this.
To flash the BIOS and install a new OS, you will need a spare desktop computer (or a laptop and a hd in an external USB enclosure) and a spare CD ROM drive.
First, put your spare hd in the spare computer and boot it up. Download FreeDOS (www.freedos.org
) and burn it to a CD. Then download the award BIOS flash utility (called awdflash.exe or something like that) as well as the BIOS image from VIA. For me, the regular "epia0207.bin" file worked fine. Put the last 2 files on a floppy or CD. Install FreeDOS on the spare hd and put the flash utility and BIOS image on the drive when finished.
Remove the drive and install it in the Mirra (making sure it's the primary master drive). Turning it on, it should boot into FreeDOS. From the command line, you can run the flash utility to backup the existing BIOS, and to (hopefully) flash it with the epia0207.bin image.
Rebooting at this point, the BIOS still asked for a password... DAMN! So, I shutdown, reset the BIOS jumper and boot up again.. success! finally, no password! Now you can tell it to boot from a CDROM, USB Floppy, and a bunch of other things (but not a USB CD ROM drive unfortunately).
Save your settings, shutdown, and now you can install a CD ROM on the secondary IDE channel. You should now be able to boot with Knoppix or any Linux install CD.
*A note for Ubuntu Server* - After installing Ubuntu Server, the computer would continuously restart after the GRUB menu. This is due to the default kernel that Ubuntu server uses not liking the VIA processor. To fix it, boot from the install CD again and enter Rescue Mode. Get to the point when you can launch a shell on the primary partition. Then you simply do:
apt-get remove linux-server
apt-get install linux-386
and make sure GRUB has been updated as well (it should do it automatically). You can see this solution here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=2371357
That's it! Hopefully you have a fully-functioning little linux box now. If you have any successes or failures, please post. I am also curious if the newer models use similar hardware, as mine is pretty old.
Hope this helps some people out there!
P.S. there were a couple other threads in viaarena that were helpful, including this one: http://forums.viaarena.com/mes...readid=77301&forumid=1