Information on managing Dell servers using Debian.

Firmware Updates

Dell provides BIOS and other firmware updates for its servers in a variety of formats, including .BIN files (executable shell scripts) for use on Linux. Unfortunately, these are designed for Red Hat Linux, and while some will run without problem on Debian (e.g., the R210-II_BIOS_69VFP_LN_2.10.0.BIN BIOS update for the R210 II), others will not (e.g., the ESM_Firmware_9GJYW_LN32_2.90_A00.BIN iDrac update for the same machine).

iDrac

Dell's out of band management solution, iDrac, provides (in its Enterprise version) a very useful virtual console. In iDrac 6, this is implemented in Java (or ActiveX), while in later versions it is apparently implemented in HTML5.

iDrac 6

When the user requests the launch of the virtual console, iDrac responds by providing a JNLP file. The easiest and simplest way to use this file is the way it is intended to be used, via Java Web Start, provided by icedtea-netx. An alternate, manual method is described here, but it is more complicated, and as described involves using an ancient version of non-free Oracle Java.

Note that as explained here and here, this version of iDrac apparently uses RC4, an obsolete and insecure cipher, which is disabled by default in modern implementations of Java, so the virtual console will not run out of the box (it will report "connection failed"). To enable it to run, edit /etc/java-11-openjdk/security/java.security and remove RC4 from this line

jdk.tls.disabledAlgorithms=SSLv3, RC4, DES, MD5withRSA, DH keySize < 1024, \
    EC keySize < 224, 3DES_EDE_CBC, anon, NULL

i.e., comment out the above line and replace it with:

jdk.tls.disabledAlgorithms=SSLv3, DES, MD5withRSA, DH keySize < 1024, \
    EC keySize < 224, 3DES_EDE_CBC, anon, NULL