Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Updating BIOS or firmware on Dell server running VMware

I tried using the OMSA liveCD from Dell, but it locked me out of the network preferences and wouldn't pull DHCP, so I had to come up with my own workaround. They failed to mention the need to install a package in order for the updates to run too, so I decided I'd put together a quick walkthrough for anyone else with the same problem, and for me to refer back to the next time I need to remember which package it is that I need.

First, you'll need a bootable live disk of an OS. If you want to make a Windows version for yourself, feel free, and I'm going to imagine you wouldn't be reading this if you already knew how to do that. Otherwise, I've used CentOS. You can check it out at, and visit their downloads section to find a mirror to download an .iso file to burn to disc. I'm currently using v6, and it has worked well on the machines I've needed to update. If you're not familiar with Linux, it's ok, I'm not that great with it myself. There's nothing too technical to these updates though.

If you want to download the updates directly on the server, reboot your server and boot from the CD to load up CentOS. If you have to download the updates onto a USB flash drive, make sure you plug the flash drive into the server before booting from your LiveCD. If you plan to download the updates directly the system should pull in an IP address via DHCP. If you don't have DHCP configured on the network the server is connected to, go to System->Preferences->Network Connections, select the Ethernet card you want to configure, and then change the IP settings to what you need them to be.

Now you can open up Firefox to get to the Dell website to download the updates. Make sure you download the .BIN files that are for updating in Red Hat. You may have to use the "Other download formats" link on each to get to the .BIN option, but they're there. Skip to the next step if you're using a flash drive.

Open up the Terminal (Applications->System Tools->Terminal) and navigate to where your files are using cd /path/to/files/. If you have a USB device plugged in, you should be able to open it on the desktop to see the path (probably /dev/something).

Once you're in the folder the updates are in, run sudo chmod +x *. This will make all the .BIN files executable. After you've done that, you need to make sure one of the dependencies is loaded. I suppose this means you'll need a network connection, unless you can load this onto your USB device and pull it from there as well. To install the required dependency from over the network, use sudo yum install compat-libstdc++-33*. Then follow the prompts to install the latest version of that program on the machine.

Once you have the dependency installed, now you can start installing the updates. To do that use the command sudo ./updateFileName and press Enter. If you want to verify the update first, add a -c at the end. The regular update runs the same thing though and gives you a chance to cancel, so the -c is a little overkill in my opinion. Follow the prompts to get your updates installed, then reboot and get your VMs back up and running.

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