Sorry, I went OT with this, should have waited until you'd reinstalled before suggesting it.
If you had foonas-em you'd have been able to fix your current problem without removing hdd or using firmware updater etc...
foonas-em page wrote:
foonas-em is a small embedded Linux distribution that replaces existing firmware in flash memory on network attached storage devices (although on most platforms it may also be TFTP booted). foonas-em provides a separate operating system and utilities to the main Linux distribution on the hard disk that provide repair, maintenance and operating system installation & upgrade capabilities above and beyond existing manufacturer and third party distributions. foonas-em contains the following features:
* Assorted filesystem repair utilities - ext2, ext3, JFS, ReiserFS and more (depending on platform and flash space)
* Full ftp daemon available at boot
* Full root account telnet access
* A selection of Busybox utilities
* Simple installation of supported OS via web browser using inbuilt web server
* LVM and RAID utilities (depending on platform and flash space)
* U-Boot environment modification utilities (depending on platform bootloader)
* USB Storage support (depending on platform and flash space)
* Localised into English, Spanish and German (online web installer content will be localised in next version)
* ipv6 support (auto-configuration via ipv6 router only)
It's something you should consider after reinstalling freelink, sorry if I've confused matters. Have you tried from XP, or you going to hook hdd up to PC and untar freelink on hda1?