Upgrade Dell PE2650 BIOS On A Server Running CentOS Linux

The other day I had attempted to use the Dell Linux BIOS upgrade utility on a Dell Poweredge 650 server however it wouldn’t run properly under CentOS Linux but I decided to give it another shot on a Dell Poweredge 2650 and this time it worked without issue. Below there are steps on how to upgrade the BIOS on a Dell PE2650 using the Linux BIOS .bin upgrade application from Dell.

The PE2650 we use as a development server was running BIOS version A20 and the latest BIOS version from Dell is A21. You can obtain your BIOS version on CentOS Linux using the dmidecode application as shown below.

Obtain Dell PE2650 BIOS Version Using dmidecode:

[root@cent2 ~]# dmidecode -s bios-version
A20

Upgrade Dell PE2650 BIOS On A CentOS Linux Server:

  1. Download BIOS Upgrade App: First open the Dell BIOS FTP site in your browser by clicking here. Do a search for “PE2650″ which will display the PE2650 BIOS upgrade utilities available from Dell. In this case we are wanting to upgrade the BIOS to version 21 so the file we want to download is PE2650_BIOS_LX_A21.BIN. Use the syntax below from the CLI of the PE2650.
    cd /usr/local/src
    wget http://ftp1.us.dell.com/bios/PE2650_BIOS_LX_A21.BIN
    
  2. Modify Utility Permissions: After downloading the BIOS upgrade utility you will probably need to modify the permissions which can be done using chmod as shown below.
    chmod 755 PE2650_BIOS_LX_A21.BIN
    
  3. Run BIOS Upgrade Utility: Use the below syntax to launch the Dell Linux BIOS upgrade utility from the CLI on your CentOS Linux server.
    [root@cent2 src]# ./PE2650_BIOS_LX_A21.BIN
    

    The above will launch a screen displaying the changelog and other information about the BIOS version you are upgrading to as shown below.

    Dell Update Package 5.5 (BLD_17)
    Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Dell, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Release Title:
    Dell Server System BIOS, A21
    
    Release Date:
    November 20, 2006
    
    Default Log File Name:
    R136685
    
    Supported System(s):
    PowerEdge 2650
    
    Description:
    PowerEdge 2650, A21
    
    Supported Device(s):
    Server System BIOS
    
    Fixes / Enhancements:
    * Added a workaround to prevent a potential data integrity issue caused by Serverworks 533MHz FSB (Front-Side-Bus) chipset
    in a specific system configuration scenario.
    
    Important Device Information:
    * Do not run other applications while executing Dell Update Packages.
    
    * The software contained in a Dell Update Package for Linux is an aggregate of third party programs as well as Dell programs.
    Use of the software is subject to designated license terms.  All Software that is designated as "under the terms of the GNU
    GPL" may be copied, distributed and/or modified in accordance with the terms and conditions of the GNU General Public License,
    Version 2, June 1991.  All software that is designated as "under the terms of the GNU LGPL" (or "Lesser GPL") may be copied,
    distributed and/or modified in accordance with the terms and conditions of the GNU Lesser General Public License, Version
    2.1, February 1999.  Under these GNU licenses, you are also entitled to obtain the corresponding source files by contacting
    Dell at 1-800-WWW-DELL.  Please refer to the Open Manage Open Source DVD.  There may be a nominal fee charged to you for the
    physical act of transferring a copy.
    
    * If the following error occurs, "Error while loading shared libraries: libstdc++.so.5: cannot open shared object file:
    No such file or directory", you must install the compatibility libraries from "www.redhat.com" or from the Red Hat CD. To
    install the compatibility libraries, use the following command: "RPM -ih compat-libstdc++-33-3.2.3-47.3.i386.rpm"
    
    * When Update Packages stop abruptly due to a power outage or abnormal termination, perform the following steps:
    - Remove the lock file.
    Type the following command: rm -f /var/lock/.spsetup
    - Run the Update Package again to reapply the update.
    
    * A BIOS update requires enough free physical memory to load the entire BIOS image into physical memory. If there is insufficient
    free physical memory available on the system to load the BIOS image, the Dell Update Package for BIOS may fail. In this
    instance, you may attempt running the Dell Update Package immediately after reboot or after adding more memory. If this does
    not resolve the issue, update the BIOS using the diskette method.
    
    * If you run into the above memory limitation on VMWare ESX, the problem is because the console OS available memory is only
    272M by default. Please increase the console OS memory to 800M temporarily and perform the FW update. During ESX server boot
    up please perform the below steps to increase the memory available.
    1. While booting, press 'e' on the VMware ESX line (Grub option display screen).
    2. Press 'e' again on the 'uppermem=' line and edit uppermem=819200. Press Enter.
    3. Press 'e' on the kernel line (Just below the uppermem line). Edit the kernel line with mem=800M and press Enter.
    4. Press 'b' to boot with these options.
    5. Perform the FW update.
    
    * BIOS update may issue the following kernel messages on the console and in "/var/log/messages":
    dcd***: disagrees about version of symbol struct_module
    dcd***: Unknown symbol get_user_size
    dcd***: Unknown symbol put_user_size
    Ignore these messages because they do not refer to errors in BIOS update.
    
    Page notes with 'less', press 'q' to continue DUP exec; lines 20-67/67 (END)
    

    Press the “q” key to continue.

  4. Verify BIOS Upgrade: After hitting the “q” key above you the application will list the current BIOS version and the BIOS version you are able to upgrade to. Click the “Y” key followed by enter to proceed with the BIOS upgrade on your Poweredge 2650.
    Collecting inventory...
    ............
    Running validation...
    
    BIOS
    
    The version of this Update Package is newer than the currently installed version.
    Software application name: BIOS
    Package version: A21
    Installed version: A20
    
    Continue? Y/N:
    
  5. Reboot PE2650 Server: After clicking the “Y” key above the BIOS upgrade will begin. After a short amount of time the application will ask if you want to reboot the server as shown in the below example. Click the “Y” key followed by enter again to reboot the server and complete the BIOS upgrade.
    Continue? Y/N:Y
    Executing update...
    WARNING: DO NOT STOP THIS PROCESS OR INSTALL OTHER DELL PRODUCTS WHILE UPDATE IS IN PROGRESS.
    THESE ACTIONS MAY CAUSE YOUR SYSTEM TO BECOME UNSTABLE!
    .........
    The BIOS image file is successfully loaded. Reboot your system to complete the update. Do not shutdown, reset, power cycle or switch off your system before it has restarted.
    Would you like to reboot your system now?
    Continue? Y/N:Y
    
  6. Verify BIOS Version: After the server reboots your server should be running the new BIOS version which can be verified using the dmidecode command from the CentOS Linux command line as shown below.
    [root@cent2 ~]# dmidecode -s bios-version
    A21
    

The BIOS upgrade utility provided by Dell for the PE2650 makes upgrading the BIOS on a Dell PE2650 really easy. The entire process takes about 5 minutes depending on how long it takes your server to reboot.

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