Updating Firmware on Dell PowerEdge Servers

So you want to roll up your sleeves and maintain your own Dell PowerEdge server(s)? Well, you’re not alone – I had to do it and I made this post in hopes that someone will benefit from it too 🙂

Below are the details of the server and the firmware version that I used:

  • Target Server: Dell PowerEdge R720 (PowerEdge Server Generation 12)
  • Operating System: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5
  • Firmware Upgrade Package: 2016-11-01_11-43-39 (contains 127 firmware packages)
  • Firmware Upgrade Package Release Date: Nov 1, 2016

Theoretically, the steps mentioned here should work across the different models of the PowerEdge series – the only difference is the version of the Dell Lifecycle Controller (LCC) and firmware to be used.

In a nutshell, what I did was to update the Dell Lifecycle Controller, download an ISO that contains the complete set of firmware packages for the server model, and use it as a bootable medium to update the firmware. After it has finished, perform a warm reboot to complete any outstanding dependencies – and you’re done!

Nitty gritty details below. First section is a list of the steps to be done,  second section comprises of troubleshooting steps I took for errors encountered, and the last section shows the command line output of the each step

List of Steps

Step 1: Read the instructions listed on Dell’s website

Step 2: Download the Update Repository that suits your target server, from the link given in previous step

Step 3: Make a bootable medium (i.e. DVD or USB) with the Update Repository ISO downloaded in previous step

Step 4: If your server is later than Generation 11 (inclusive), update the LCC by:

  • Finding the LCC software package by going to http://www.dell.com/support/
  • Navigate to the correct Dell PowerEdge server model page
    • In my case, the navigation was “Select a product > Servers, Storage, & Networking > PowerEdge > PowerEdge R720”
  • Select “Drivers & downloads” and change the operating system to suit your target server (option is located right under the right header) to “Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6”
  • Navigate to “iDRAC with Lifecycle controller (1 file)” and download the latest software package
    • At time of post, it was “iDRAC-with-LifecycleController_Firmware_XTPX4_LN_2.41.40.40_A00.BIN”
  • On the target server, open a terminal and navigate to the folder with the .BIN file
  • Run the .BIN as an executable with root privileges (you will be prompted for password)
    • $ su -c ./iDRAC-with-…A00.BIN, or
    • $ su
      $ ./iDRAC-with-…A00.BIN
  • Read and understand the instructions that appear on the screen, and accept it by pressing “q”
  • The software will inventorize the server and show you the version of the iDRAC and LCC, and prompt you to continue with the installation
    • Continue the upgrade if your version is outdated

Step 5: Reboot your server, and boot from bootable medium made in step 3

  • Restart server
  • Insert bootable medium
  • Press F11 to enter boot menu, select BIOS Boot Menu
  • Choose the appropriate bootable medium from the list

Step 6: Let the firmware upgrade complete

  • For each firmware in the Update Repository, it will inventorize the system and check if an upgrade is needed.
  • The firmware is upgraded if the version installed is outdated
  • Time taken will depend on server hardware specifications (Dell recommends to give it 1 hour to complete)

Step 7: Perform a warm reboot to allow any outstanding dependencies complete

Step 8: You’re done! 🙂

 

Troubleshooting Errors Encountered

Upgrading the iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller Firmware Fails

  • Error Message
    • “This Update Package is not compatible with your system configuration”, or
    • “Firmware update in progress, please wait 30 minutes before attempting to an update again.”
  • Solution
    • Shutdown server
    • Remove flea current
    • Restart server and try again (server may take longer to initialize the iDRAC software during boot)

 

Command Line Output

Installing the iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller in Host OS

# ./iDRAC-with-Lifecycle-Controller_firmware_XTFx4_LN_2.41.40.40_A00.BIN
Collecting inventory…
……………………………………..
Running validation

iDRAC

The version of this Update Package is newer than the currently installed version.
Software application name: iDRAC
Package version: 2.41.40.40
Installed version: 1.56.55.00

Continue? Y/N: Y
Executing update…
WARNING: DO NOT STOP THIS PROCESS OR INSTALL OTHER DELL PRODUCTS WHILE UPDATE IS IN PROGRESS.
THESE ACTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR SYSTEM TO BECOME UNSTABLE!
……………………………………………………………………..
Device: iDRAC
Application: iDRAC
Update Successful.

The update completed successfully.

$ _

Successful Firmware Upgrade 

[76/127] Executing R720_Drivers-for-OS-Deploymen_Application_TD96J_LN_15.07.07_A00.BIN
Collecting inventory…
…………………………………………
Running validation…

OS Drivers Pack, 7.4.1.11, A00

The version of this Update Package is newer than the currently installed version.
Software application name: OS Drivers Pack, 7.4.1.11, A00
Package version: 15.07.07
Installed version: 7.4.1.11

Executing update…
WARNING: DO NOT STOP THIS PROCESS OR INSTALL OTHER DELL PRODUCTS WHILE UPDATE IS IN PROGRESS.
THESE ACTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR SYSTEM TO BECOME UNSTABLE!
…………………………………………………
The update completed successfully.

Two types of Error Messages Seen During Firmware Upgrade
(Firmware not compatible with server, e.g. no relevant hardware installed. “Errors” are just like debug messages ) 

[34/127] – Executing SAS-Drive_Firmware_7TN7R_LN_S22F_A02.BIN
Collecting inventory…
……..
Inventory collection failed.

[35/127] – Executing Express_Flash_PCIe-SSD_FRMW_94M7Y_A06_B1491508.BIN
Collecting inventory…
Running validation…
This Update Package is not compatible with your system configuration.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s