Updates using USB with lifecycle controller

Updates using USB with lifecycle controller

Systems Management - Wiki

The Dell Lifecycle Controller embedded technology on Dell PowerEdge 11G servers gives administrators and managers the ability to easily update the system from within the system. Pressing F10 during the boot process opens System Services, which includes Platform Updates, and the first option is to connect through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to ftp.dell.com and download the latest updates. For connections in a secure area, there is a second option to perform the update process through a USB-connected storage device.

View these demos of the Lifecycle Controller to become more familiar with the interface. This page provides information on the process used for USB updates and helps with building a USB update device that can be used inside a secure facility.

USB Updates Using Repository Manager with Lifecycle Controller

The process for using a USB device to update system drivers via Lifecycle controller used to be a more complicated, manual process, but Dell Repository Manager has simplified the steps compared the old process.

The following video outlines the steps involved in exporting Dell Update Packages from within Repository Manager to a USB key and then installing those updates via Dell Lifecycle Controller 1.4. The video assumes that you are already somewhat familiar with Repository Manager and Lifecycle controller. For an introduction to both of those tools, please visit the Lifecycle Controller Demo and Repository Manager Demo pages on Dell TechCenter.

Youtube Video: USB Updates Using Repository Manager with Lifecycle Controller

Basically the process involves using Repository Manager to export a Server Update Utility (SUU) Bundle to the root directory of a USB key. That USB key is then inserted into the server that will be updated. In this case, we used a PowerEdge R710 and we exported the entire Windows System bundle for that system.


Figure 1: Repository Manager

We then boot to the United Server Configurator (USC) interface of Lifecycle Controller by pressing F10 during boot, and select the Platform Update option from the USC interface. We then select the USB drive as the location of the update packages.


Figure 2: Platform Update

At that point, USC displays which drivers are on the USB key and which ones are currently installed. In this demo, we update the Dell OS Drivers Pack and the Broadcom NIC drivers. After the updates are applied, the system reboots and automatically returns to USC.


Figure 3: Platform Update

After the updates are applied, we can compare the versions of the update packages on the USB stick we created earlier in the process with the currently installed updates on our system. The image below shows that all of the installs have been applied and that our currently installed updates are up to date.


Figure 4: Platform Update

Depricated Lifecycle Controller USB Update Install Process

The following describes the old method of creating a USB key for updates via LifeCycle Controller.

The Legacy USB Update Process

The update process begins by first looking for the existence of two files in the \catalog directory of the root of the USB key:

  • catalog.xml.gz
  • catalog.xml.gz.sign

If they don't exist, or have been changed in any way, the update process will exit with an error.

After the files have passed verification, the catalog.xml.gz is decompressed and the catalog is parsed. Then a screen shows the current version of existing updates and any applicable newer versions. It will automatically select updates that are newer and provide the choice of deselecting to apply an update at a later time. The update packages will then be installed from their respective locations off the root of the USB key.

Creating the USB Key via the Legacy Process

At first glance one might think, "Hmmm, easy enough; I'll just replicate what I need from ftp.dell.com to the USB key." The problem is that the files are not separated by machine types. Drill down through the \BIOS folder alone and there are more than 5,000 files and more than 8 GB of data. Trying to replicate the entire ftp.dell.com site would require replicating more than 40 GB of data, which isn't the best use of Internet bandwidth to go that route.

Luckily, it is possible to reuse a recommended tool, Content Manager, which provides the ability to create a custom repository. Using this feature helps replicate the updates specific to the servers in a data center environment. Copying the files to the USB key and copying the catalog.xml.gz and catalog.xml.gz.sign files creates a working USB key.

Here are step-by-step instructions:

content manager

Figure 5: Content Manager

content manager

Figure 6: Content Manager

content manager

Figure 7: Content Manager

content manager

Figure 8: Content Manager

Command prompt

Figure 9: Command Prompt

After creating a custom USB key for updates with the Lifecycle Controller, the contents should look similar to the following:

Command promp

Figure 10: Command Prompt


Figure 11: IDRAC KVM


Figure 12: IDRAC KVM

  1. Install Content Manager from the Systems Management Tools and Documentation DVD. The current version as of this writing is 6.0.1.
  2. Run Content Manager and select Create Custom Server Update Utility.
  3. Select a destination—in this example, C:\USB_Updates.
  4. Use the Shift or Ctrl key to select the servers to update. Important: Make sure to select the Linux packages.
  5. Wait for the files to download.
  6. Locate the files just downloaded. They will be in \CustomRepository\repository under the directory just created. In the example shown here they are located in C:\USB_Updates\CustomRepository\repository.
  7. Copy all these directories and files to the root of the USB key, with the exception of the Catalog.xml file—this is not the correct file for the Lifecycle Controller.
  8. Create a catalog directory off the root of the USB key.
  9. Download catalog.xml.gz and catalog.xml.gz.sign from ftp.dell.com, and copy these files to the \catalog directory on the USB key.
  10. Reboot the server, select F10 for System Services, select Platform Updates...USB Device, and then select the updates to apply.

Article ID: SLN312622

Last Date Modified: 08/14/2018 04:41 AM

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