Dell are releasing BIOS upgrades for their laptops to cope with the Nvidia weak component problem (basically the fan will spin up sooner). This includes the laptop models that come with Linux preinstalled. Except there's no BIOS updater that will run under Linux; they're all Windows based (although if you have a DOS floppy knocking around you can use that)
Umm...Dell has a Linux BIOS updater in its SMBIOS library. The only downside is that you might have to install wine for the image extraction (though it says it is still doable without).
The UNIX philosophy basically involves giving you enough rope to hang yourself. And then a couple of feet more, just to be sure.