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Thread: Acer Aspire V5-122p Enable SVM How-To

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Acer Aspire V5-122p Enable SVM How-To

    Hello Folks... "Long time no see"

    It's been a while since I did any heavy bios modding, but for the last couple of hours I've been busy modding my new laptop .

    Anyway, this Acer V5 does not have a whole lot of BIOS options. Especially, people who need virtualization (and for this reason: a unlocked AMD's SVM feature) have a hard time with the original BIOS. Of course, there is a Setting to Enable/Disable SVM, but it's on the "Advanced Tab" which is hidden from view.

    Furthermore, since this cheap ultra-thin laptop is rather new, there's no bios image which can be patched to enable the tab.
    So a "creative" solution is necessary.

    As all recent laptops, this one uses a Insyde Bios (says 3.7). Acer's Laptop Bios itself says it's version v2.02, dated: 2013-04-16. Sooo... what did I do then? Well, UEFI Bioses are storing the Setup Settings within the "efivars".

    Luckily, any recent Linux kernel has already the necessary tools to "edit these variables" from userspace.

    There's no need to for a external flasher, or any RSA shenanigans this time!

    YAY . It's almost as easy as "flipping switch" could be.


    what did I do:
    1. Disable UEFI Secure Boot
      This was necessary because most Linux Distros Bootloaders are not signed with a valid key.
      The Secure Boot Setting is present in the BIOS menu (Hit F2 - while booting or via Windows 8's Enter UEFI Setup). But
      in order to change it, one has to set a "Supervisor Password" in the Security Tab.
    2. Boot into Linux via UEFI
      Booting via UEFI is important because the efi runtime service is not accessible when linux was booted "the old way".
      (Note: It's probably not necessary to install Linux, a live-cd or live-usb should do just as well)
    3. Access UEFI via a console/terminal
      This needs to be done with "root" privilegies. Normally, "sudo bash" or "su" should do the trick.
    4. mount efivars
      First, the "efivars" module needs to be loaded.
      Code:
      # modprobe efivars
      This module exports creates the necessary paths in /sys/firmware/efi. In order to edit the settings, I used the special "pseudo-filesystem" efivarfs (this allows really easy access, just like a "file").
      Code:
      mount none /sys/firmware/efi/efivars -t efivarfs
    5. Find the EFI Variable Storage for the "Setup Utility" (= BIOS)
      On my system it was located in: /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/Setup-a04a27f4-df00-4d42-b552-39411302113d
      As I said, this is a simple file and can be edited with any tools and hexeditors.
      It should look like this:
      Code:
      # hexdump -C /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/Setup-a04a27f4-df00-4d42-b552-39411302113d
      
      00000000  07 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000010  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      00000030  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 02 00 00  |................|
      00000040  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 01 01 01 00 00  |................|
      00000050  00 00 00 00 00 01 01 01  01 01 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000060  00 00 00 00 03 00 02 00  02 01 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000070  00 01 01 01 01 01 00 00  00 01 00 01 00 02 00 01  |................|
      00000080  00 01 00 00 02 00 00 00  00 01 01 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000090  01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 02 01 80 06 07 00  |................|
      000000a0  00 00 00 11 11 01 00 18  14 00 00 00 00 01 01 00  |................|
      000000b0  00 00 00 00 00 01 01 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00  |................|
      000000c0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      000000e0  00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      000000f0  00 01 01 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01  |................|
      00000100  00 00 00 00 01 00 00 01  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000110  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01  |................|
      00000120  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      00000140  01 00 00 00 01 01 01 01  01 01 01 01 01 00 00 00  |................|
      00000150  00 00 00 01 00 02 03 02  03 02 03 02 03 00 00 00  |................|
      00000160  03 02 00 00 04 02 00 00  04 02 00 00 04 02 00 00  |................|
      00000170  04 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01  |................|
      00000180  00 00 01 00 01 01 00 01  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      00000190  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      000001a0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00  |................|
      000001b0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      000001d0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01  01 01 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      000001e0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      00000200  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 01 01  |................|
      00000210  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
      *
      0000027f
      (Note: The 00, 01, 0x pattern is a obvious sign that the SVM Setting is controlled by a single bit in one of the 639 ( = 0x27f) bytes in this file.)
    6. Flipping the SVM Disable Bit.
      Finding which Bit controlled the setting turned out to be the only "major pain". I think I'm going to explain it in a
      different post, since this "should" work for systems as well! But in this case, "You" can save yourself the troubles.
      For the Acer Aspire V5-122p with the Bios v2.02 the Setting (when accessed via efivars/Setup-...) is located at
      offset 0xf4.

      In order to change the bit, a simple hex editor is enough. I used ghex.
      The final "file" should be exactly the same, except this one diff:
      Code:
      [...] (same as above)
      000000f0  00 01 01 00 01 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01  |................|
      [...] (same as above)
      If you are not comfortable with any tools, you can of course copy the file to a different System and edit it there
      and copy it back. If you do that, you'll have to overwrite the efi settings file via:
      Code:
      # cp /path/to/patched/Setup-file /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/Setup-a04a27f4-df00-4d42-b552-39411302113d
    7. Verify
      Take a second look again at /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/Setup-a04a27f4-df00-4d42-b552-39411302113d

    8. Shutdown
      Apparently, in order to get rid of the SVM-Lock, the CPU (and System for that matter) have to be "shutdown". A "reboot" or "reset" is not enough. (=> reach for the power switch)

    9. Turn it on Again
      And enjoy the SVM Feature.



    Note: This how-to is WIP. If you have any suggestions or questions about the procedure or how to enable
    other settings => please let me know. It would be nice, if this "procedure" could also be made done in Windows.
    But for me, this seems to be more complicated?!.

    Note2: This mod isn't permanent and it won't void your warranty. If you won't like it, you can easily restore your system
    back to factory specs by loading the "factory settings" in the bios menu.



    BONUS: (For people who want to replace the wifi card)
    One screw is hidden behind the small, rectangular, black rubber thing on the back (battery port). I have already replaced the 1x1 AR9565 with Intel 6235N (Had to add another antenna). There's no whitelist, but rf-kill switch is enabled. The Intel Advanced-N 6235 works fine in Linux but it doesn't work in Windows 8.
    Last edited by zuvieltext; 20 May 2013 at 10:46.

  2. #2
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    Cool Acer Aspire V5-122p Enable Hidden Pages

    Enable Hidden Pages

    Much in the same way, the hidden pages (Advanced and Power) and a few extra options can be enabled by modifing the efi variables at position 0x21b and 0x21c. Just set them to "0x01" and reboot.
    Code:
    00000210  00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00  00 00 00 01 01 00 00 00  |................|
    If someone is interested, I made this short video which shows which options are available in the "hidden tabs" .

  3. #3
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    Can you post additional information on how you did this. I have tried Fedora 17, 18 , and 19 as well as Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10. I am unable to save edits to /sys/firmware/efi/efivars =( I can copy the file to /root, edit it there, but can not copy back from /root to /sys/firmware/efi/efivars What OS and version / kernel did you use to make these edits ?

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    Debian Jessie/sid. Kernel is 3.10-2.

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    Wow this is great information but seems I cannot get a usb to boot with UEFI set .. if I do legacy it boots but your gems do not.... error mount point not found .... the .../efi/.... is not there. I've been using Unix/Linux for years but not at your level for sure. I rest to defaults and opened the F12 (boot) key but under UEFI only shows Win 8 , as it should.What did this old fart miss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gboswellsac View Post
    Wow this is great information but seems I cannot get a usb to boot with UEFI set .. if I do legacy it boots but your gems do not.... error mount point not found .... the .../efi/.... is not there. I've been using Unix/Linux for years but not at your level for sure. I rest to defaults and opened the F12 (boot) key but under UEFI only shows Win 8 , as it should.What did this old fart miss.
    Ah, Isn't there an option "Secure Boot" in your BIOS? (If there is, but you can't change it: Set a Supervisor Password in the Security Tap). Once "Secure Boot" is disabled you should be able to boot linux via UEFI and get the /sys/firmware/efi directory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zuvieltext View Post
    Ah, Isn't there an option "Secure Boot" in your BIOS? (If there is, but you can't change it: Set a Supervisor Password in the Security Tap). Once "Secure Boot" is disabled you should be able to boot linux via UEFI and get the /sys/firmware/efi directory.
    Thanks, I had already done that as per your original post, which is awesome. I set the USB as first in boot order and when I hit the F12 with usb (bootable) it still only shows the Toshiba HDD as only boot device. Feel real dumb here but have to continue if i ever want the Virtual setting active. BTW I was able to install VMPlayer 4.0 and the virtuals and with the Quad 1450 performs well even without the V4 settings active. You have me hooked on learning how you do all this so I'll wait for a response which I really appreciate knowing the many many more knowlegabe tech seeking your wisdom. Remember doing similar stuff using masm in the OLD DOS days ... probably before you were born, sure shows how much I have fallen behind in being "on top of it" ... Thanks again Boz

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    Quote Originally Posted by gboswellsac View Post
    Thanks, I had already done that as per your original post, which is awesome. I set the USB as first in boot order and when I hit the F12 with usb (bootable) it still only shows the Toshiba HDD as only boot device.
    Which USB-Port are you using? The one on the left (usb 3.0 - might not work), or the one on the right (usb 2.0 - this one should work)? Have you tried both?

    Also how did you make the usb-boot stick? If you have another unix-like pc available, you can follow the instructions
    at 4.3.1. Preparing a USB stick using a hybrid CD or DVD image. (yep, cp debian.iso /dev/sdX or dd if=debian.iso of=/dev/sdX is enough - For windows should be able to use win32-image-writer to write the raw image on a stick)

    Quote Originally Posted by gboswellsac View Post
    Feel real dumb here but have to continue if i ever want the Virtual setting active. BTW I was able to install VMPlayer 4.0 and the virtuals and with the Quad 1450 performs well even without the V4 settings active. You have me hooked on learning how you do all this so I'll wait for a response which I really appreciate knowing the many many more knowledgeable tech seeking your wisdom.


    Quote Originally Posted by gboswellsac View Post
    Remember doing similar stuff using masm in the OLD DOS days ... probably before you were born, sure shows how much I have fallen behind in being "on top of it" ... Thanks again Boz
    Actually... I'm old enough to have played with masm 4.0 and masm 7.0 . That said, I've never mastered the art quite like Hartverdrahtet - Akronyme Analogiker | 4k Revision 2012, elevated by Rgba & TBC | 4k intro (FullHD 1080p demoscene demo), (endless list)... That is simply amazing .

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    Thanks zuvieltext!

    I plan on using this for visualization projects when I receive the laptop.

    Have you noticed any problems with enabling SVM or running virtual machines?

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    I really appreciate this information! I just successfully applied it, after half a day's struggle. Mostly because every Debian ISO I tried had a different problem. Eventually I said, to hell with Debian as a live-usb (Debian is fine on-disk, but the live support is lacking... only stable has livecd builds, and stable has too old of a kernel).

    What worked for me:

    1) Ubuntu 13.10 beta ISO (amd64 is a must) written to USB with win32 disk imager

    2) No hex editor is built in to the live environment, so use "xxd" to convert the binary to "hex-text", edit that in vi, and use "xxd -r" to convert it back. Be careful!

    3) Be sure to use "sudo" when writing the file back to the efivars space

    So simple, yet it took me so much struggle to get there!

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