Here are two ways to update the firmware on Dell iDRAC6 remote access cards.

Both methods require downloading the BIOS from Dell and extracting it from the bundle. For example, this is the 1.70.21 firmware:

mkdir /tmp/dell
cd /tmp/dell

Grab this and extract like this:

cd /tmp/dell
sh IDRAC6_FRMW_LX_R299265.BIN --extract ./idrac6-1.70.21

The firmware image is now in /tmp/dell/idrac6-1.70.21/payload/firmimg.d6

If you are just updating one machine, then the simplest way to perform the update is to use the Dell bmcfwul tool locally. This is supplied in the dell_ie_nitrogen package, and is installed to /usr/libexec/dell_dup/dell_ie_nitrogen/bmcfwul

Install the new firmware like this:

/usr/libexec/dell_dup/dell_ie_nitrogen/bmcfwul -input=/tmp/dell/idrac6-1.70.21/payload/firmimg.d6

If you have several machines to update, the most convenient way to perform the update is with tftp.

First, copy the firmware image to the tftp server, and put it in /tftproot, or wherever the root of your tftp server is located:

scp /tmp/dell/idrac6-1.70.21/payload/firmimg.d6 $ip_of_tftp_server:/tftproot

Then, trigger a firmware upgrade on the machines remotely using either racadm or ssh:

racadm -r -u root -p calvin fwupdate -g -u -a $ip_of_tftp_server


ssh racadm fwupdate -g -u -a $ip_of_tftp_server

perl hash slices are a way to access several elements of a hash simultaneously using a list of subscripts. It's more convenient than writing out the individual elements as a list of separate scalar values.

I recently needed to create a slice of a hash rather than a hash slice, ie. I wanted to create a hash with a subset of the key/value pairs from another hash.

Here's how I did it:

my %orginal = (foo => 'something', bar => 42, baz => 'king');
my %subset = map {$_ => $original{$_}} qw(foo bar));
# %subset is now: ( foo => 'something',  bar => 42 )

I've recently been looking at reporting in OpenNMS and it seems that some of the reports require date ranges to be specified in unix time. Now, I don't know about you, but my mental ability to translate "April 26, 2011 15:00 UTC" to 1303830000 is sadly lacking. So, here are some useful commands to convert from unix time to date and vice versa:

Date to Unix time:

# current timestamp
date +%s

# specific timestamp
date -d '2011-04-26 15:00:00' +%s

# same thing but UTC
date -u +%s
date -u -d '2011-04-26 15:00:00' +%s

Unix time to date:

date -d @1303826400

# same thing but UTC
date -u -d @1303826400

I  ran into an odd issue today – my firewall build script was failing on our account master node.

It turns out that I was trying to use a chain name in iptables that exceeded the maximum length allowed. I wanted to use "REMOTE_ACCOUNT_SLAV ES_ASHEVILLE" (31 chars) and the limit is 30 chars.

You can see this in /usr/include/linux/netfilter_ipv4/ip_tables.h and /usr/include/linux/netfilter/x_tables.h:



This was on CentOS 5.6.

Having grown up with CVS then moved on to svn, I find git amazingly powerful. However, I don't use it enough to learn some of the more powerful features. This is just a post to document a couple of useful things I learned recently.

I was working on a project on github, adding a missing command-line option. But, while editing, I got carried away and made a load of additional trivial changes, cleaning up the man page text, making capitalisation consistent, etc. All good stuff, but I didn't want to commit both sets of changes in the same commit.

What I needed to do was to select which changes to commit. The command to do that is:

git add --patch

To show the changes that have been added to the staging area, ie. those that will be commited:

git diff --cached

If you mistakenly add a change and want to remove it from the staging area:

git reset --patch

Finally, commit the change:

git commit

Optionally, push the change back to github:

git push origin master

Nifty stuff.

We sometimes see problems updating our Dell machines to the latest firmware, ie. update_firmware -y fails:

Running updates...
-	Installing dell_dup_componentid_00159 - 1.4.7Installation failed for
package: dell_dup_componentid_00159 - 1.4.7
aborting update...

The error message from the low-level command was:

Could not parse output, bad xml for package: dell_dup_componentid_00159

Dell have been unable to tell me why this is, or provide a fix or workaround.

Here's what I did to get the firmware installed:

Continue reading

I have a NexentaStor-based NAS device on my home network. It has 10 x 500GB SATA Drives in a raidz2 configuration giving me approx 4TB of usable storage.

I don't have many users at home (basically, just me!) so I don't bother with any central authentication mechanism – I simply make sure that use I the same login (robin) across all servers, and on unix/linux servers I make sure the UID is the same (10000).

When a user is added to NexentaStor, it is allocated the next available UID beginning at 1001 (1000 is allocated to the admin user). For the robin login, I need this to be 10000.

Not a problem – simply drop to a bash shell on the NAS and use vipw to change the UID of the login.

The bit I *always* forget is that the CIFS server uses a different passwd file (/var/smb/smbpasswd) and it is necessary to change the UID in that file too.

We currently deploy our app code to around 50 nodes using capistrano. We use the "copy" deployment method, ie. the code is checked out of svn onto the local deployment node, rolled into a tarball, then copied out to each target node where it is unrolled into a release dir before the final symlink is put in place.

As you might imagine, copying to 50 nodes generates quite a bit of traffic, and it takes ~5 mins to do a full deploy.

I was reading this interesting link today; one bullet in particular jumped out at me:

  • "… the few hundred MB binary gets rapidly pushed bia [sic] bit torrent."

Now that's an interesting idea – I wonder if I can knock up something in capistrano that deploys using bittorrent?

Dell distributes its OMSA software in RPM packages and even has a yum repo available so you'd think that updating to the next version would be as simple as yum update, right? Wrong!

You have to remove the old version first, and then install the new version. Oh, and you also need to stop the Dell services, restart ipmi, then restart the Dell services.

Something like this:

yum -y remove srvadmin-* \
  && rm -Rf /opt/dell \
  && yum -y install srvadmin-all dell_ft_install \
  && stop \
  && service ipmi restart \
  && start