Thanks to the attractiveness of old Dell R610 servers on eBay, I recently acquired one for homelab purposes. The first thing I wanted to do with this used server is upgrade all of the device firmware, but I had some major aggravation trying to update iDRAC6 version 1.2 to the most recent, 2.85. I tried to enter the Server Configurator by pressing F10 during boot hoping I could pull the firmware from ftp.dell.com, but the loading screen would hang forever and never show up. I’d have to do it the old fashioned way!
Prepare your R610 for the update
- Downloaded the iDRAC6 firmware update from https://support.dell.com
- Extracted the firmimg.d6 file in the ./payload folder using 7-Zip
- Since this was a used server, I had to reset the DRAC password and network settings. To do so, enter the Remote Access configuration mode (press Ctrl-E right after the PERC controller boots)
At the time of this writing, I could only successfully login to the iDRAC6 web interface with the most recent version of Google Chrome (53.0.2785.116). Firefox 49 or IE11 would not go past the login screen. Even when I was able to get to the firmware update screen with Chrome, the file uploader would either pause at 95% and eventually stop, or it would just spin forever until I was brought back to the login screen. I figured this was an compatibility problem with modern browsers so I busted out an old XP laptop with IE8 on it, but it would still fail on upgrade.
Command line to the rescue.
- Copy firmimg.d6 to a TFTP server on your network. I used tftpd32.
- Make sure SSH is enabled in iDRAC. I was at least able to change this setting once logged in with Chrome.
- ssh to the iDRAC using the same credentials for the web gui.
- racadm fwupdate -g -u -a <ip of your TFTP server>
- Sit back and watch it actually upgrade.
If the upgrade keeps failing at 30%, disconnect power from the server altogether for 5 minutes. Don’t ask me why that’s a thing, but I remembered working with Dell support late at night them asking me to do silly stuff like that, so I tried it and sure enough it worked.
The iDRAC will reboot so you’ll hear the fans kick up. Enjoy your fancy new web interface that actually works for the rest of us in 2016.