How to update firmware on your Dell Servers

Thursday, November 29, 2018

a row of green circuit board

This article feels like a ThrowBack Thursday post since this topic shouldn’t even really need to be discussed in 2018 but I’m writing it for my own knowledge and keepsake.  If you have worked with HP or mostly any other hardware vendor, you usually can download a nice polished ISO that you can load up on your new server hardware to get it production ready with all the latest firmware.  It’s pretty much standard fare except for Dell hardware apparently.  Dell doesn’t seem to really have anything of the quality that you would expect after using an HP SmartStart CD.

Thankfully after a little Googling around, I was able to track down a Dell article that does point to a SmartStart-like repository for auto updating firmware. 
https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/sln296511/updating-dell-poweredge-servers-via-bootable-media-iso?lang=en

This is a collection of bootable Linux ISOs for each server platform that will analyze the hardware and update appropriate firmware across the system.  To me, this seems more like a side project from the field engineers than a proper solutions offering since the interface and execution are very command line/text.  The ISOs are even hosted on a BOX file share account and owned by various engineers.   <shrug>

image

In any event, the ISOs work as expected (you can ignore most of the errors encountered since it does try to load up firmware for devices that are not present) and you can get your server hardware up to date without much fuss.
Note: I did still have to upgrade the System BIOS by hand though. ;(

Just download the ISO and either boot locally with the CD or run it via the iDRAC the way I did in the screenshot.  Both work fine but I find working in the iDRAC to be a lot easier.

After a couple of runs, the major components will be upgraded. 

Due to the side project nature/feel of the whole thing, I’m not sure how long the link will be there but for now, you can reference this blog post to find it easily. :)

** Here is another update to this:  **

Looks like the iDRAC actually does a pretty good job of running updates (assuming network connectivity)

image

This was actually a really pleasant experience.   When in the iDRAC menu, choose Maintenance, System Update and then FTP.  Use FTP.DELL.COM and iDRAC will get the appropriate updates and queue for install.

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So between the Linux ISO and the iDRAC updates, everything was upgraded nicely.

Happy Server Building!

- CARLO

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