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I have a HP 15-g094sa Notebook PC, and have dual booted it with Windows 10 and Debian Stretch. The manufacturer firmware for Windows 10 is on there by default.

Before making a significant change to the firmware by installing firmware-linux-nonfree, I would prefer to keep all of the original firmware in case the new firmware breaks something on my Windows OS.

Is there any way of creating a full firmware backup, so if the change breaks Windows 10, I can easily roll-back?

If a full backup is unreasonable, is there a way to backup everything that firmware-linux-nonfree will affect?

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It seems you are mixing up the concepts of equipment that has its own (E)PROM with equipment that does not have it, and it is loading their own "OS"/"firmware"/"drivers" in the RAM of the machine, or loading it for a cheaper RAM for that effect.

While the former might need "BIOS" updates, the later are just files that are loaded in run time every time you boot with the help of the operating system.

Some of the firmware files that come with the several firmware packages you can install, having you the relevant equipment are loaded at runtime and installed in the main RAM, and do not break nor upgrade anything.

They also won't surely after the inner working of your Windows OS. Think just of it as another program, or better "firmware" drivers that you are loading, and it will vanish after rebooting/turning off the equipment.

What happens here is that nowadays you have some cheap equipment or devices, that to save on costs, and/or for making easy upgrades of firmware, load it or even run it from RAM at runtime every single time they boot.

So in reality, you do not need to be worried of making backups.

Example of hardware doing this (certain models, not all):

  • Realtek wifi chipsets;
  • Broadcom wifi chipsets;
  • Broadcom switches on SoCs;
  • AMD graphic cards;
  • more....

As for firmware-linux-nonfree, it is just a stub and does not come with useful firmware. You have to install additional firmware packages if you have equipment that needs a firmware file to be used.

From https://packages.debian.org/stretch/all/firmware-linux-nonfree/filelist, the file list of files installed by firmware-linux-nonfree is just the Changelog of the project and a copyright notice:

/usr/share/doc/firmware-linux-nonfree/changelog.Debian.gz
/usr/share/doc/firmware-linux-nonfree/copyright

So if I want to be pedantic/ironic, as firmware-linux-nonfree is not installing any firmware file, you really do not have to be worried at all.

However, there are packages that are dependent on this one:

  • firmware-amd-graphics - Binary firmware for AMD/ATI graphics chips
  • firmware-misc-nonfree - Binary firmware for various drivers in the Linux kernel
  • amd64-microcode - Processor microcode firmware for AMD CPUs
  • intel-microcode - Processor microcode firmware for Intel CPUs

So if you really have hardware which needs firmware files to work in Linux (you might not have) and consequently need to load some runtime firmware, you will have to install one (or more) of those extra packages.

Obviously, when I was talking about firmware files, I was in fact talking of all those Debian packages.

See related questions Debian Firmware from cdimage.debian.org vs from manufacturer and Installing firmware blob for Intel Wifi USB pen

  • What about graphics cards and display firmware? How do I reverse any change? – wizzwizz2 Feb 11 '18 at 14:33
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    Same applies to firmware loaded in runtime. I just gave a few examples. – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 11 '18 at 14:36
  • Oh. Guess it was silly of me to think that there might be some kind of firmware war between Windows and Debian, overwriting each other's firmware... – wizzwizz2 Feb 11 '18 at 14:44
  • Just to check, will adding firmware-amd-graphics make no change to anything Windows 10 needs or messes with? – wizzwizz2 Feb 11 '18 at 14:47
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    They are all firmware drivers to be loaded at runtime and do not survive a reboot. – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 11 '18 at 14:48

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