Suggestion for IBM make an UpdateXpress that supports PXE boot!

Downloading firmware for  Intel Servers is a bear.  IBM has tried to make it easier by providing an update CD that has all the various subsystems in it.  This is a pretty good idea.  But the problem is, in my world, I need to PXE boot all the servers to an image or run a package on the individual machines.

For example, if you have an HS21 xM server, you can go to this page and you are shown all the different subsystems that you can update.  My goodness!  That is a lot of work.  Not to mention that you may not know what a lot of them are.

IBM is doing two things right:

1.  They let you update packages right on the command line if you’re running Linux.  This is great if I want to update the BIOS on my machines.  I just scp the binary to all the machines and run the update and reboot.  Boom!  Just like that the BIOS is updated.   Nice job IBM.  In fact, they even let you change BIOS/CMOS settings from the command line.  Much easier than waiting for the boot up screen and pressing F2.

2.  They have a tool UpdateXpress System pack that has all the updates in it.  This tool is basically a bootable CD that has all the updates.  You stick the CD in the system then reboot the system and it updates ALL of the system components.

So that’s what they’re doing right.  And the thing is, IBM is soooo close to getting it perfect.  What do they need to do?

Well, I need the functionality of #2 in a PXE boot environment.  Turns out you can’t network boot that UpdateXpress CD that you created.  If you could then think how great it would be?  You could just take that and put into xCAT and boot all nodes to this PXE boot environment.  But they don’t.

I for one, can not afford to take a CD to every machine in my server farm and watch it boot up and do it.  I need a PXE boot environment.  On the other hand, it takes me a good 2 hours to go through IBM’s website and get all the binary updates that run on the Linux command line.  Once I have them all I had to create my own PXE boot environment that would run under xCAT.

I took about 3 days of work to make such an environment work under xCAT’s service kernel.  So when I want to update HS22s or LS22s I do:

nodeset compute runimage=http://mgmt/install/updates/hs22v.tgz

You can get my images for HS22′s and LS22′s here

I’ve been creating images like this since 2003 for IBM hardware.  I hope that soon I won’t have to anymore.  Before I was making DOS images and PXE booting those with memdisk.  It’s great that I can now do everything with Linux.  IBM is almost there.  Once they get the Update Xpress to PXE boot, we’re golden.

  • John McCulloch

    Your link to HS22 and LS22 images isn’t working. I’m trying to find IMM YUOO24I for HS22 to meet a customer requirement.

  • John McCulloch

    I’ve gotten closer to the YU0024i update.

    Would you happen to know someone who can decipher this ftp directory tree naming scheme to find stuff?

  • Vallard

    Updated the link: as far as the ftp directory stuff, I’ve had problems in the past. The YU0024i update I tried last week and the link was dead from IBM.

  • Jim

    IBM offers the BOMC – Bootable Media Creator Utility. With this you can create a set of files to use in a PXE boot environment with little effort. (It also supports bootable CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives.)

    You can define whether to grab the updates to match the latest UXSP, or to grab the “latest/newest” updates, save those settings, and use them again to create a new update package.

    We have used this utility here at work to create several “update packages” for specific models and have them all available from our PXE boot menu.

    • Vallard

      Does BOMC work in a standard PXE boot? (normal pxelinux.0 setup?) or does it require its own pxelinux.0 file? I had heard that it was non-standard, but need to check on this. Thanks for the insight Jim :-)

  • Cory

    It requires its own pxelinux.0 file

  • Rwebb

    I like the ideas you have and have never seen the xcat before. But when I try and go to your link for the images, it is wanting a xcat login. How do I obtain one of those?