One of the last things I wanted to look into after setting up my new VSAN 6.2 home lab on the new 6th Gen Intel NUC was to add a custom BIOS splash screen giving my system a personal touch. Updating the BIOS splash screen would require flashing the BIOS itself which gave me some concerns after hearing about the BIOS v33 issue in which the M.2 slot would no longer be detected after the update. Although there was a simple workaround after the update, I still wanted to be cautious. Over the weekend I had noticed that Intel had released BIOS v36 for the Intel NUC which resolved the M.2 issue among a few others. I decided to give it a shot and hope that I that I do not brick my NUC.
I am happy to say that I was successful in updating to the latest Intel NUC BIOS and as you can see from the screenshot below, I was also able to replace the default Intel BIOS splash screen with a Captain VSAN BIOS splash screen (TV is 46" for those wondering) 🙂
The process for building and customizing your Intel NUC BIOS is relatively straight forward but because I waited until after I had everything installed, it ended up being a bit more work than I had hoped. To customize your BIOS, Intel provides a Microsoft Windows only utility called Intel Integrator Toolkit. The easiest way to build and update your BIOS is to initially start off by installing Microsoft Windows on the Intel NUC itself which then allows you to easily flash the BIOS using the executable that is generated from the toolkit. Since I had already consumed both of my SSDs for VMware VSAN and Microsoft Windows does not allow you to install its OS directly onto a USB device, I had to use this method here to install a bootable version of Microsoft Windows onto the USB device since I did not want to blow away my VSAN setup.
OK, so now onto the cool stuff. Below are the instructions on how to build and customize your BIOS for the Intel NUC. If you would like to use the exact same BIOS splash screen as well as update to the latest BIOS v36 and do not want to go through the hassle, I have made my custom VSAN BIOS image available here. You just need to download the executable and run it on the Intel NUC itself which must be running Microsoft Windows (I used 8.1) and then follow the screens on flashing your BIOS.
Step 1 - Download the following two packages and transfer them to Microsoft Windows image running on your NUC:
Step 2 - Install the Intel Integrator Toolkit and then start the program
Step 3 - Select the "Customize a BIOS file" option and load either the custom VSAN BIOS image which I have made available here OR load the NUC BIOS v36 file you had downloaded earlier.
Step 4 - In the lower left hand corner, browse for the graphic image that you wish to use for your BIOS splash screen (images with black background works the best). For those interested, you can find the Captain VSAN image that I had used here. The tool actually supports several image formats in addition to the default BMP such as JPEG and PNG, you just need to change the extension type. There is a size limitation, but the nice thing about the tool is that there is an option to compress the image when it detects it is too large. Make sure to change the image for the four different options by clicking on the drop down wizard. I thought I only had to replace the first image but it looks like other versions of the splash screen is also used and it is best to just replace them all. You also have the option of changing other default settings in the BIOS, feel free to click on the tooltip for details on each of the options.
Step 5 - Once you are done customizing your BIOS, you will then save your changes and the tool will produce a single Windows executable (SY0036.exe) which you will run on the NUC itself to flash the BIOS. You will be prompted with a couple of questions and once the process begins, it will restart and you will need to confirm one more time before the imaging process starts. If everything was successful, you should now see a new BIOS splash screen replacing the default Intel image. There is a good chance you may go through this process a few times depending if you are happy with the splash screen display. I think it took me about three tries. Hope this helps anyone looking to add that personal touch to their home lab!