Firmware Upgrade on DELL PowerEdge Servers with Linux

We have several Dell PowerEdge (1950 / 2950 / R900) running. As twice per year, it was time to do some Firmware / Bios Upgrades.

Unfortunately, some Firmware upgrades were not applied using Dell’s IT Assistant or using Dell’s Software Update CD (OM_SUU_XXX.iso).

In most cases the Operating Systems were not supported properly by the OM SUU CD, i.e a VMware ESX 3.02 , (although Version 3.5 is supported).

For example, BIOS and Broadcom updates were not applied on an ESX 3.02, as this is based on a heavily modified Red Hat Linux, running on a 2.4er Kernel, and other systems are running OpenBSD.

Fortunately, with the power and flexibility of Linux, we managed to find a workaround.

What you will need :

  • Internet Connectivity
  • A bootable rpm based Live CD (we used a Fedora 10 )
  • Dell’s OM Suu CD (Latest version at time of writing (5.5.2) :
  • Dell’s Online Diagnostics Tools for Power Edge Servers (Latest version at time of writing (2.12.0.71) :

(http://ftp.us.dell.com/diags/dell-onlinediags-linux-2.12.0.71.tar.gz ~ 12MB)

This update procedure will not affect the Operating System installed on your Server. No files or directories will be harmed during the process ! We will be using a “virtual” system, booted from a live CD.

If you have several Servers to do (in our case, we had to do 9..), I suggest to put the extracted OM SUU CD somewhere on a network share.

Boot LIVE CD FEDORA 10 (this can also be done via DRAC, it works very well)
Open up a terminal.
Bring up Networking :

ifconfig ethx “IP of your server” netmask 255.255.255.0

//replace ethx with corresponding interface name (i.e. eth0)

Test Network

ping "IP of Router"

//Should reply

Tell the System which way to connect to Internet :

route add default gw “IP of Router”

Configure DNS

add following line

nameserver "IP of your DNS Server"

in /etc/resolv.conf (nano /etc/resolv.conf , save and quit with CTRL+X)

Configure Proxy, if needed

export http_proxy=http://IP-of-Proxy:8080

Install software needed by the DELL Update Process

yum install samba-client compat-libstdc++-33 wget xterm

//rem : xterm is only needed if you want to do the updates with a graphical interface

Access Network Share (if needed, I shared a folder containing the extracted Suu CD called “share” on a server)

Create Mountpoint :

mkdir /media/lan

Mount Share :

mount -t cifs //path-to-server/share /media/lan

(Enter password for share)

 Navigate to the DELL OM Suu CD

cd /media/lan/

In order for Bios Updates to apply properly, you need to install some DELL Diagnostic tool’s :

Download the Diagnostic Tools and unzip (if your Dell Suu CD is on a network share, this needs only to be done once)

wget http://ftp.us.dell.com/diags/dell-onlinediags-linux-2.12.0.71.tar.gz

Unpack the downloaded file :

tar xvf dell-onlinediags-linux-2.12.0.71.tar.gz

Navigate to the extracted folder

cd onlinediags

Install Dell Diagnostic Tools

rpm -ivh *.rpm

Return to Dell Suu root Folder

cd ..

Launch the Suu Update Process :

./autorun.sh //for graphical interface

or

./suu -c //for text mode , generates comparison report)

or

./suu -u //for text mode, applies automatically all applicable updates.

When finished, reboot your server to it’s normal state /OS :

reboot

Troubleshooting :

Cannot install software :

  • Check your network settings, try to ping the Gateway and DNS Servers.

Update Process fails, with an Error Message stating that the DELL HAPI System is not installed :

  • Be sure to install Dell Online Diagnostic Tools (c.f. 11 & 12)

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