DELL Server Firmware Upgrade by Utilizing DELL Repository Manager

DELL Repository Manager

There are multiple ways to upgrade DELL Server firmware. However, frankly speaking, DELL server upgrade is not easy enough comparing with HP or Cisco Servers. HP provides SPP and Cisco provide HUU/firmware pack for UCS system, which consolidate and align all the driver/firmware to be at the same level to make the upgrade workflow easier. In general, the recommended DELL upgrade workflow and available methods are detailed in the below document.

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/extras/m/white_papers/20408841/download.aspx

In this post, we will utilize the DELL Repository Manager to upgrade the Dell Servers.

 

  1. What DELL Repository Manager could help us?

If you try to find the DELL server firmware from DELL support website, they are individual firmware for each of the components under support page. Basically, you need to download each of them manually. The good thing is, DELL has Repository Manager (and some other tools of course), which could help us to collect the latest firmware and bundle them together for upgrade.

 

  1. Where to download DELL Repository Manager?

DELL Repository Manager could be downloaded under any DELL server product driver/firmware page.  It would be installed in Windows or Linux up to your choice.

DELL Repository Manager installation procedure is detailed as per the below DELL KB article.

http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/sln283421/how-to-install-dell-repository-manager?lang=en

 

  1. How to use Repository Manager?

After a simple installation through the Wizard, there will be two version of Repository Manager available for the user: Data Center version (For PowerEdge server/Storage and other DELL data centre devices) or Business Client Version (For laptop/Desktop users).

The GUI for the Data Center version is shown as below. (Version 2.2.0)DRM_GUI

Simply follow the wizard could help to build the repository for the desired server model.

  • STEP-1 : Sync the database.
  • STEP-2:  Build the repository for your own server environment.

DRM_Wizard

Another useful way to create the repository is to navigate to “My Repositories” and click “New”, there will be additional options to choose to build a more specific repository. For Example, you can export an server iDRAC inventory and the repository will be built based on the components listed in the iDRAC inventory.

DRM_New

Follow the wizard to build the repository, After that you should see the firmware components has been gathered in the repository as below:

DRM_Repo_Components

 

  1. How to upgrade DELL Server by bootable ISO Image?

It is easier to use a bootable ISO file to boot up server and perform the firmware upgrade. Creating a bootable ISO image requires and Repository Manager Plug-in to be installed. Navigate to Application -> Setting -> Plug-In Update to upgrade the plug-in.

DRM_Plug-in_Download

If failed to upgrade plug-in to generate ISO Image, navigate to Application -> Setting -> Network Settings and select https, which might be un-selected.

 

To create the bootable image, it is simple to select the bundles you would like to add into the bootable image and click “Create Deployment Tools”.

DRM_Create_Deployment_Tool

A wizard will pop up after that. Select “Create bootable ISO(Linux only)” to continue. (You need to select Linux packages when creating repository if you would like to create bootable ISO)

DRM_Create_ISO

Follow the wizard and you will get the bootable ISO generated.

DRM_Export_ISO

Once you boot the server by the ISO generated from above steps, you should boot into a mini OS and select the option to upgrade the firmware.

DRM_Boot

 

  1. General upgrade sequence for DELL PowerEdge Server.

At the end of this post. I listed the DELL recommended upgrade sequence for PowerEdge servers for a quick reference. From my own understanding, you can group them into two phrases to make it easier.

Phrase 1:

  1. iDRAC
  2. Lifecycle Controller

Phrase 2:

  1. BIOS
  2. Diagnostics
  3. OS Driver Pack
  4. RAID
  5. NIC
  6. PSU
  7. CPLD
  8. Other update

 

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