I was experiencing some issues with one of my Dell R610 servers. (Fans never spin down.) After doing some research I noticed people suggested it was due to bad firmware of iDRAC Express. So I figured why not update it, should be a simple process and something I should be able to do in a couple of minutes. After scavenging the Dell website for hours I literally found nothing useful. Yes I found a Windows update package but it won’t run, it craps out with an “this update package is not compatible…” error. So I figured why not try to download a bootable ISO that contains all the firmware for a Dell R610…. I was astonished that I couldn’t find it.
After another hour I figured out I needed to download the Dell Server Update Utility. I downloaded that and figured I could just boot it and update the firmware, well not quite yet. It appears you need to also download a Repository Manager. A what? I don’t want to manage a repository, I expect my hardware vendor to manage it and just offer an ISO which contains all firmware I could possibly need. But anyway, I decided to download the repository manager and just see what I could get done. So I created a repository for the R610 and figured it would be nice to have the Server Update Utility combined with the Patches. So I clicked export and figured it would start exporting, well not quite yet… Dell Repository Manager told me I needed to have a plugin, what the heck give me the plugin… 190MB for a plugin to create an ISO? Are you serious?? I needed to upgrade the system so I downloaded it. After waiting for a couple of minutes I finally managed to start exporting the ISO.
While I was waiting I figured I would boot up my second R610 and try to use the Unified Server Configurator that someone pointed out on twitter. This server was experiencing no issues so update would be fairly simple. I needed to enable System Services through iDRAC before I could use USC though, funny as USC doesn’t seem to use the iDrac network configuration etc. Why not make it part of the normal Bios? But anyway, I booted into USC by pressing F10 when the Dell logo popped up and configured the network. (Click Settings on the left and Network Settings on the right) Next go to “Platform Update” and click “Launch Platform Update”, select the FTP option and you are good to go… After a couple of minutes it asks you if you want to apply the updates, so you click “apply” and wait for a while… (progress bar anyone?) after waiting and waiting it came back with a nice error that my selected repository was corrupt. Yes indeed corrupt, but wasn’t I using the Dell ftp server? Same player shoot again, reboot, same procedure, apply, and waiting… waiting… waiting… I don’t know what I am waiting for, no progress bar or status updates it seems to have just frozen up. After 1.5hrs I gave up and pulled the power cable.
Lets get back to the server that had the issues… It didn’t allow me to use USC as iDRAC fails during boot and I need to enter the iDRAC bios to enable it. So as said I exported the ISO and burned it. It took a while but I finally succeeded. Now for some weird reason this DVD is not bootable, no you need to run it within Linux/Windows first. So I decided to install Windows, but only to find out that the iDRAC firmware update was not included. Weird as I did make sure to select every single component out there, but that is not enough apparently or is it because iDRAC is disabled and if that is the case, why not just tell me that?
Anyway, I had enough for today… after some random tweets about upgrading Dell firmware a Dell representative contacted me. Lets hope he can figure out what is happening and why, I will keep you up to date. If not, well then I will need to buy a couple of HP Servers instead I guess, or just use a whitebox as I don’t need all those components like iDRAC anyway. Before anyone asks, yes I was slightly frustrated when I wrote this.