The Dell PowerEdge C6100 is a great cloud platform that can be picked up on eBay very affordably. It consists of four dual socket SuperMicro nodes in a high-density 2U chassis with 24 x 2.5" or 12 x 3.5" disks. The C6100 platform is widely used by commercial cloud providers and has excellent hardware support on everything from ESX to XenServer to SmartOS.
But one of the challenges when sourcing this hardware from eBay is you generally get some pretty old firmware. Some of the implications of this are the BMC is very unreliable, the LSI RAID card isn't SSD aware, and the BIOS can't handle newer CPU's.
If you have the Dell consumer version of the C6100 then all you need to do is download the various update files from Dell support. But the problem with eBay sourced C6100's is the majority of them are the DSC (Dell Solution Centers) version. The DSC C6100 uses custom firmware spec'd for specific cloud providers like Yahoo and they can't be updated using the files from Dell support.
It took me a while to source all the right files to update the BIOS, RAID and BMC so I thought I would share my update bundle to save others the trial and error. I present this update process with the usual disclaimer that if you brick your node I am not responsible. I have used this procedure many dozens of times without issue, but it's entirely possible there are versions of the C6100 that this process will not work for. Use at your own risk 😛
You'll need the following:
- Dell PowerEdge C6100 (DSC Version).
- Bootable USB Flash Drive.
- BIOS, RAID & BMC Update Files.
- Utility to Create Bootable USB Flash Drive.
You can download the update files and Rufus USB utility here: https://files.cloud.la
Once you have everything we can get started:
- On your PC, use Rufus or another utility to format your USB drive and install DOS.
- Place the contents of the c6100.zip file on your USB drive so the root looks like this.
- Plug your USB drive into one of the C6100 nodes, and boot from the USB drive.
(this may require changing the boot order in the node's BIOS).
- Once booted to a DOS prompt, change directory to C6100/BIOS and run “FLASH.bat”.
(Flashing will take a few minutes. Once it is done, reboot the node from the USB drive again).
- Once booted to the DOS prompt again, change directory to C6100/BMC and run “FLASH.bat”.
(Flashing will take a few minutes. Once it is done, reboot the node from USB drive again. You can flash the BIOS and RAID from a remote BMC session but flashing the BMC remotely will disconnect you, but you should be able to reconnect without a reboot).
- Once booted to the DOS prompt again, change directory to C6100/SAS and run “FLASHIR.bat” or "FLASHIT.bat".
(FLASHIR.bat will install the RAID enabled firmware, FLASHIT.bat will install the non-RAID firmware. If you intend to run SmartOS or any software based RAID then you'll want to use the non-RAID firmware, this will reduce storage latency and improve compatibility and reliability).
- Remove your USB drive and reboot the node. You should now have your BIOS on version 1.71, your RAID card on 1.33, and your BMC on 1.33.
Now when you login to the BMC you'll have a nice new Dell branded DRAC, your BMC will now reliably pickup and maintain DHCP addresses and you won't get persistent Java issues. Please note: if you're sharing your BMC NIC with the host, the BMC is now on NIC1 (eth0) instead of NIC2 (eth1).