Firmware updates from the Lifecycle Controller

WARNING (23 January 2018)

The Lifecycle Controller's firmware update facility is offering an unsafe BIOS update. Do not update a server's BIOS using the Lifecycle Controller.

Introduction

The Lifecycle Controller can be used to update a Dell server's firmware. This has worked in MPU tests, so it seems a viable alternative to using dsu.

In particular, DRAC or iDRAC firmware should be updated from the Lifecycle Controller (instead of with dsu). You should also use a direct console, and ensure that nobody is connected to the serial console. This ensures that the DRAC is not in use serving serial consoles during the update - thus avoiding the risk of hanging the DRAC.

Here's what to do

The machine in these pictures is a Dell PowerEdge R230. Other models' Lifecycle Controllers may behave differently. Get in touch if you can't figure it out for your machine, and we'll try to document that one too.

Enter the Lifecycle Controller

Start with a Dell server which has a Lifecycle Controller and a functioning network connection. Power on the machine and press F10 to select the Lifecycle Controller:
Press F10
IMG_3157.JPG

Initial configuration

The first time you enter the Lifecycle Controller, an Initial Setup Wizard will start. You will use this to configure the Lifecycle Controller's networking. This only needs to be done once.

Click through the obvious defaults:
Or use Catalan if you'd rather

Set the networking to IPv4 and DHCP, and apply your settings:
select and apply IPV4 DHCP

select and apply IPV4 DHCP

select and apply IPV4 DHCP

select and apply IPV4 DHCP

Update the firmware

From the main screen of the Lifecycle Controller, select Firmware Update, then Launch Firmware Update:
Firmware Update

Launch Firmware Update

Choose FTP Server as the download method for the firmware updates:
FTP Server

Accept ftp.dell.com as the FTP server:
ftp.dell.com

Wait while the FTP server is checked, and the catalogue of updates is downloaded:
checking ftp and downloading the catalogue, 1 of 3

checking ftp and downloading the catalogue, 2 of 3

checking ftp and downloading the catalogue, 3 of 3

After a short while you will see the list of possible updates. Select those you'd like to install. The ones which are more recent than what's on your machine will normally be automatically selected from the list. Be careful to scroll down to check the entire list.
list of available updates

When you're happy with your selection, click Apply, then stand well back:
click Apply

The updates should then download from the FTP server one at a time:
downloading update 1 of 2

downloading update 2 of 2

After all updates have been downloaded, they should start to install one by one:

installing update 1 of 2

installing update 2 of 2

Once the last update has finished installing, the server should reboot.

If something goes wrong

In one of our tests the process failed while trying to download the updates. Perhaps there was a network glitch, or the download timed out, or there was a problem with the FTP server. We don't know. All we know is that this screen appeared, and when we tried again to use the Lifecycle Controller, we found that it was frozen:
Uh oh. The firmware update failed.

We could have tried following the advice on the screen, but instead we disconnected the machine from the power and tried again the next day. On that attempt the firmware update ran to completion.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
jpgJPG IMG_3156.JPG manage 121.4 K 30 Mar 2017 - 11:00 ChrisCooke LC firmware update - press F10
jpgJPG IMG_3157.JPG manage 81.8 K 30 Mar 2017 - 11:05 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - entering Lifecycle Controller
jpgJPG IMG_3158.JPG manage 86.1 K 30 Mar 2017 - 11:10 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - Initial Setup Wizard 1 of 5
jpgJPG IMG_3159.JPG manage 105.8 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:33 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - network settings
jpgJPG IMG_3160.JPG manage 109.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:35 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - Network settings in progress
jpgJPG IMG_3161.JPG manage 101.6 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:37 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - network settings successfully applied
jpgJPG IMG_3163.JPG manage 93.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:38 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - network settings set
jpgJPG IMG_3164.JPG manage 89.0 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:39 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - start screen
jpgJPG IMG_3165.JPG manage 95.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:40 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - select Firmware Update
jpgJPG IMG_3166.JPG manage 111.5 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:42 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - select FTP
jpgJPG IMG_3167.JPG manage 95.8 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:45 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - use ftp.dell.com
jpgJPG IMG_3168.JPG manage 107.5 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:47 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - ftp progress 1
jpgJPG IMG_3169.JPG manage 115.0 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:48 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - ftp progress 2
jpgJPG IMG_3170.JPG manage 107.5 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:48 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - ftp progress 3
jpgJPG IMG_3171.JPG manage 117.9 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:50 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - list of updates
jpgJPG IMG_3172.JPG manage 61.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:55 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - click Apply
jpgJPG IMG_3173.JPG manage 111.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:56 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - downloading 1 of 2
jpgJPG IMG_3174.JPG manage 114.8 K 30 Mar 2017 - 12:57 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - downloading 2 of 2
jpgJPG IMG_3175.JPG manage 102.0 K 30 Mar 2017 - 13:02 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - uh oh
jpgJPG IMG_3183.JPG manage 69.7 K 30 Mar 2017 - 13:09 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - applying 1 of 2
jpgJPG IMG_3184.JPG manage 72.2 K 30 Mar 2017 - 13:09 ChrisCooke Lifecycle Controller firmware update - applying 2 of 2
Topic revision: r8 - 31 May 2018 - 08:56:50 - ChrisCooke
 
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