I literally had to install XP to update my old R40's BIOS and "Embedded Controller." I have no USB floppy drive or SuperBay floppy drive and I was not about to pay a dime for the either one. I would argue that floppy disks and drives are not reliable enough for operations like this. IBM's standard method is to run the update software from Windoze so to be safe, that's what I did. Well, you start the updater from Windows but the updater immediately shuts down Windows to do its work. Brilliant! I guess a bootable ISO image would be too simple.
So I backed up my Ubuntu install using g4u and installed XP. The CMOS and EPC updates worked fine. My 2003 firmware and CMOS are now updated to the June 2006 versions; the last such update this old tank will ever see. Hopefully the battery runtime will be better than one hour from now on. Doing a slurpdisk of my Ubuntu install back onto the hard drive now.
Update: My Ubuntu install is restored and works fine but the battery runtime still sucks. I guess it was worth a try though.