Most might not think working with servers is fun. Most might not even list “I like long walks on the beach and Dell PowerEdge R730s with Intel X710 10Gb NICs” on their Tinder profile. But then again, you might be a homelabber who’s stoked to have scored one of those PowerEdge R710s on eBay for ridiculously cheap or you’re a SysAdmin whose proposal for one of those badass new four-socket PowerEdge servers got surprisingly approved. If you’re closer to the latter, then you agree that servers can actually be pretty fun.
You’ll also probably agree that updating all of the firmware/drivers/etc. on a server can be very tedious and boring. Even more so if it’s been neglected and everything is severely in need of an update. If the process isn’t automated in some way, it can also take a lot of your time and a lot of downtime for that server.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to automatically update all of the firmware, drivers, and BIOS on your Dell PowerEdge server via a bootable Linux ISO image. You can either create your own image using the Dell Repository Manager or you can take the easy way out and just download a pre-made image for your server from Dell’s official ISO repository (which also has a very brief tutorial on the update process). My tutorial below is from when I updated one of my PowerEdge R520s using the “easy way”.
UPDATE: The following method will only update firmware and the BIOS. To update any OS drivers, you will have to use other methods like the Dell Repository Manager or the Lifecycle Controller.
Easily update all firmware and the BIOS on your Dell PowerEdge server
What you’ll need:
- A USB flash drive (at least 8GB).
- Download & install Rufus, an awesome little tool for creating bootable USB drives.
1. Go to http://www.dell.com/Support/Article/us/en/04/SLN296511 and click on “List of Update Repositories”. Choose your server.
2. Click on the folder that says “BootableISO_YEAR-MONTH-DAY_##-##-##””, then click Download in the “linuxIso.iso” section.
3. Open Rufus and then select your USB drive under Device. Choose ISO Image from the dropdown next to “Create a bootable disk using”, then click the disc icon and choose the ISO image you just downloaded. The settings should look similar to mine below. Click Start when finished and OK to continue.
4. Once finished, plug the bootable USB drive you created into any of your server’s USB ports. Reboot the server.
5. As the server is booting up, boot into the BIOS Boot Manager (press F11) and click on “BIOS Boot Menu”. After some initializing, you should be able to choose what device to boot into. Select your USB drive.
6. You’ll eventually see the screen below. You can either press 1 to start the auto-updating process or just wait 10 seconds for it to do it on it’s own.
7. Now the fun part! It’ll take about 60 minutes (depending on how many updates it needs) to automatically update everything. You’ll see below that it skips over firmwares that are not applicable to my server and then update my PERC H710 Mini Controller firmware. It’ll continue to do this till the end. Once it’s finished, you’ll need to press Enter to restart.
NOTE: If your BIOS needed an update, you’ll probably come across a similar screen below once your server is back up after restarting. It’ll restart on it’s own once finished.
That’s it! Now go have fun updating your PowerEdge servers. You should also thank Dell for not locking these ISOs down to just customers with active warranties & support (looking at you, HP).