Dell Server BIOS Upgrade

This is how I went about upgrading the BIOS of a Dell PowerEdge R710 server. The same process should be applicable to at least other Dell servers. There are other ways to do it. You could for instance use firmware-tools or OMSA (or some combination of these) to download and apply BIOS updates in RPM form using yum. If you do this you will need to enable access to a number of Dell repositories.

Firmware-tools is probably worth looking at in more detail, as it claims to be able to keep Dell servers' firmware up to date automatically using yum.

-- ChrisCooke - 16 Sep 2011

Find your BIOS update

  • Visit
  • "Select a product" and choose "Drivers & Downloads" - you can do this in either order.
    • To select a product, either choose your machine's model or enter the machine's service tag.
  • You should now be faced with a list of the most recent downloads. Click "View all".
  • Choose a likely-sounding Operating System from the list. The nearest variety of Redhat Enterprise Linux, for instance.
  • Go down to the "BIOS" section, or set "Category" to BIOS.
  • Unless you are doing this on Windows, do not click "Add to Download List". That uses a Dell Download Manager which only works on Windows. Instead, click "Download".
  • Somewhat unhelpfully, your BIOS updater will download in the browser window - you'll see the beginning of a shell script. This cannot simply be saved to a file because the file also contains a binary payload further down. However, your browser now has the URL for the BIOS updater. Copy that URL.
    • For my recent BIOS update the URL was

Download the BIOS update

  • Switch to a terminal window and type ncftpget then paste your URL after it; press Return.
  • Your BIOS updater should (finally) download.
  • Find your new BIOS update file and do chmod +x to it.

Run the BIOS update

  • Set Nagios downtime for your server and shut down any services it may be running.
  • Login to your chosen server.
  • nsu
  • Dell doesn't provide special BIOS updates for Scientific Linux so you have to make your machine look as if it's running a supported OS. Do that as follows:
    • cp /etc/redhat-release /etc/redhat-release.normal * and one of the following, depending on whether running SL5 or SL6
    • echo "Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5 (Tikanga)" > /etc/redhat-release
    • echo "Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 6.1 (Santiago)" > /etc/redhat-release
  • Now run the update script and follow the prompts.

Remove the Disguise

  • It is most important that you now restore the normal /etc/redhat-release file, since many scripts make decisions on what system is running based on its contents.
  • mv /etc/redhat-release /etc/redhat-release.RHEL
  • mv /etc/redhat-release.normal /etc/redhat-release

Update the BIOS

  • If the script ran to completion, reboot the server. The machine will be flashed with the new BIOS as part of the reboot process.

If something went wrong when running the script

Look for solutions in any of these places:
Topic revision: r3 - 21 Sep 2011 - 08:31:24 - AlastairScobie
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