Another Poweredge Firmware Update Nightmare: 2nd Time Disappointment

By admin, December 23, 2010 13:11

Dell has a new “Build-in OS” called System Service (USC) that you can simple update firmware and deploy different OS using the simple GUI. I like it a lot for OS deployment as it indeed saved me a lot of time in finding different drivers, but until recently, I found the specific USC module that is the Platform (Firmware) update feature isn’t very stable and may cause various system problems.

The following is what I’ve encountered:

I press F10 during boot time and enter USC and select Platform Update for firmware update process, configure IP for USC and then next connect to to check a list of update firmware, after 5 minutes, as usual, USC found a list of outdated firmware (about 15 of them) and asked me if I would like to continue to update those. Great! then click apply, “Please Wait” is what I get on screen and wait, and wait and wait, I waited for more than 2 hours and definitely sensed some kind of strangeness as my last update using USC for BIOS and IDRAC only took 15 mins.

Immediately I called Dell Pro-Support regarding this issue, they suggested me to wait and they ensure me everything should be ok, as even bad thing happens, I can still use Firmware Roll Back under USC, and if a particular firmware download process isn’t completed then the update won’t carry on.

O.K., then I went to sleep, after 12 hours, I checked the server, it is still showing the annoying “Please Wait”, NOTE there is NO WAY for me to know the status of the update progress as it won’t tell me which module/firmware it has finished downloading or completed the upgrade process for a particular firmware.

I have no choice but to reboot the server, luckily, the server (OS is Windows Server 2008 R2) came back ok, and I checked the firmware information in OpenManage, NOTHING HAS BEEN UPDATED, and worst some of the sensors in OpenManage are gone such as temperature/voltage/fan, etc. Right away I KNEW iDRAC Must Have Been Damaged during the firmware update under USC, so I connected to R610 iDRAC and indeed found all of the sensors showing reading errors. Huh???

Then I thought by updating the iDRAC firmware may help, so I tried to update iDRAC6 to latest 1.5.4 using the standard windows firmware file, immediately error shows “This update package is not compatible with your system configuration”, thank you very much!

After searching Google with no solution found, I suddenly thought of a way to update it by downloading the raw iDRAC6 firmware update file and using iDRAC’s own update feature from Remote Access > Update and I have successfully updated it! Yeah! Then I reboot the server, and checked OpenMange again, thank god, everything is back to normal this time!

Finally, I simply go back to the traditional way of updating firmware on Poweredge which I have been doing for the past 10+ years, that is download the firmware one by one and update my Poweredge R610 BIOS/Network/Raid etc one by one.

So my conclusion is:

1. Platform Update utility under USC is NOT A MATURED PRODUCT!

2. Probably USC FTP process hanged, network issue, but USC won’t alert at all, just showing “Please Wait” that really DOESN’T HELP AT ALL!

3. You NEED TO UPDATE iDRAC first (probably using the above method) before using USC, as USC uses iDRAC to facilitate the rest firmware upgrade process. I remembered ont time USC warned me it will upgrade iDRAC first before anything else, but it didn’t warm me this time.

Dell please correct this bug ASAP in USC Platform Update, at least show us the update process bar or some useful detail information!


If you want to read about my first disappointment regarding firmware update, please refer to Do not update firmware/BIOS from within ESX console.



Just received an update from Virtualization Buster, which is the proper way to update firmware using an USB method via F10 Unified Server Configuration (USC).

Updating Dell R-Series aka 11-th Generation Servers via USB and Repository Manager

Finally, since there is no way to attach an USB via iDRAC6, so if you need to update Driver thru USC, you can use Dell Repository Manager, export the drivers to an ISO. (Tips from Dell Pro-Support)

One Response to “Another Poweredge Firmware Update Nightmare: 2nd Time Disappointment”

  1. nbctcp says:

    After reading your blog, I successfully upgrading my OpenFiler on PE2950. Openfiler using RedHat 4.x, and doesn’t have rpm. Its unsupported OS by Dell Update Utility.
    I am using Repository Manager as suggested in your blog.
    Thank you for sharing

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