In the realm of homelabbing, managing and maintaining legacy hardware can often turn into an adventurous challenge. Such was my recent experience with a Dell PowerEdge R410 server. The task at hand was updating its firmware, a task that became an odyssey, especially as Dell had discontinued support and removed update packages for the server. Here is a detailed account of the journey.
The Challenge: iDRAC, TLS Protocols, and Browser Compatibility
Our adventure begins with iDRAC (Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller), an integral tool for remote server management. The stumbling block: the iDRAC firmware on the R410 does not support modern Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. The workaround: using Mozilla Firefox with TLS1 enabled.
Despite modern browsers shunning TLS1 due to known security vulnerabilities, the legacy iDRAC firmware necessitated its usage.
The Roadblock: “Non-Dell Authorized” Updates
After navigating through the quagmire of outdated security protocols, I hit a roadblock during the firmware update installation. Each attempt was met with the message, “The updates you are trying to install are not Dell authorized,” due to expired Dell certificates. Dell’s decision not to renew these certificates for legacy systems meant the only path forward was patient experimentation, made arduous due to the server’s slow boot times.
The Silver Lining: Self-Updating iDRAC and Lifecycle Controller
As I ventured deeper into the server’s firmware labyrinth, a pivotal revelation surfaced: the iDRAC could update itself and the Lifecycle Controller. These self-updates included new certificates, indispensable for the proper functioning of the Unified Server Configurator (USC), thereby laying the groundwork for the remaining firmware updates.
Achieving this required a detailed sequence of steps:
- Download the iDRAC6 Image Executable: The first order of business was to download the iDRAC6 image executable. This executable, named “iDRAC6_1.92_A00_FW_IMG.exe“, is crucial for the update and could be downloaded from the official Dell support website.
- Extract the iDRAC6 Executable: After obtaining the executable, the next step was to extract its contents. Operating within a Linux environment, I used the ‘unzip’ command. This action produced a file named “firmimg.d6”. The extraction process may differ depending on your operating system.
- Log into the iDRAC Firmware Update Tool: Armed with the “firmimg.d6” file, I logged into the iDRAC Firmware Update tool. This web-based interface manages iDRAC settings and updates.
- Initiate the iDRAC Update: Inside the Firmware Update tool, I navigated to the update section and uploaded the “firmimg.d6” file. Confirming the update initiated the process. This stage required patience as the iDRAC system updated itself and rebooted.
- Download and Unpack the “BDF_1.5.5_BIN-12.usc” file: While the iDRAC was updating, I concurrently downloaded another key file, “BDF_1.5.5_BIN-12.usc”, from the Dell support website. After downloading, I unpacked this file in preparation for the subsequent update.
- Run the Firmware Update: Once the iDRAC update completed, I returned to the Firmware Update tool and input the unpacked .usc file. This action updated the Lifecycle Controller and installed the new certificates, rendering the USC functional once more.
- Reboot the Server: The final step was to reboot the Dell PowerEdge R410 server. This reboot enabled the server to integrate the updates properly, and subsequently, I gained access to a fully functional USC.
The realisation that iDRAC could self-update and update the Lifecycle Controller marked a vital breakthrough amidst the challenges. This experience reaffirmed that in the world of homelabbing, there’s always a way to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The Home Stretch: Updating the Remaining Firmware
With the USC operational again, it was time to update the remaining firmware. Since Dell had removed the update packages from its repositories, I turned to ‘updateyodell.net‘, a reliable third-party firmware repository for Dell’s legacy systems. Here’s the streamlined process:
- Boot the Dell PowerEdge R410 server and press F10 to access the Unified Server Configurator (USC).
- Within the USC, navigate to Platform Update.
- Choose ‘FTP Server’ as your repository location.
- When asked for the FTP Server details, enter the ones on ‘updateyodell.net‘.
- Proceed with the connection. The USC will now connect to the third-party repository and identify all applicable updates for your Dell R410 server.
- Once the updates are listed, select all that apply, and initiate the download and installation process.
- Reboot the server after the updates have been installed.
Following these steps, your legacy Dell PowerEdge R410 server should be fully updated, humming along smoothly in your homelab setup.
While firmware updates on legacy systems can feel like a Homeric odyssey, perseverance, patience, and a bit of ingenuity can lead to success. As we navigate our individual tech journeys, let’s remember to share our experiences and learnings along the way.
- “The updates you are trying to apply are not Dell-authorized updates.” Frednotes. https://frednotes.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/the-updates-you-are-trying-to-apply-are-not-dell-authorized-updates/
- “iDRAC6 1.92 A00 Firmware Image.” Dell. https://www.dell.com/support/home/pt-pt/drivers/driversdetails?driverid=kg43r
- “BDF 1.5.5 BIN-12 USC File.” Dell. https://www.dell.com/support/home/pt-pt/drivers/driversdetails?driverid=g3g5f
- “Dell R410 BIOS Update.” Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab/comments/yh75bk/dell_r410_bios_update/
- “Dell Firmware and BIOS Update Repository.” UpdateYoDell. https://updateyodell.net/