Dell Lifecycle Manager….Sucks!


Dell Lifecyle Manager……… does a few different things but the most important thing I use it for?  A nice one stop shop for updating all of the various Dell fimware in one go.  It’s a lot faster than the silly ISO’s that take an hour or two to run and contain every firmware for every model from the past billion years or so.  And lifecycle manager should be a lot better than manually tracking down the firmware dates for your OS of choice and manually installing them.  Unfortunately for me (and any other fellow admins), it’s a massive pain in the butt to deal with.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work for mysterious reasons.  Sometimes it throws scary error messages in the middle of updating firmware on a spinning SAS disk.  And sometimes it downloads and installs firmware just fine, only for you to find out the new firmware is buggy and downgrading is not an option (luckily, in that case Dell was already working on the next version……and it was less buggy the second time around).

It’s been a long time since I last used Lifecycle manager.  Virtualization has done away with a lot of the fiddly stuff I used to deal with back when everything ran on bare metal.  But here I was, with fairly fast R910 that was getting flattened and repurposed.  Seemed like a great time to update all the firmware bits.  So I loaded up Lifecycle Manager, assigned an IP address, and clicked on the “Test” button.  It failed to ping itself, it failed to ping the DNS server, and it failed to ping the gateway.  But it was able to resolve via that same DNS setting.  And it was able to download new firmware just fine.  I have no idea what the error messages were for.  There’s zero reason it would’t have been able to ping its own gateway (or any of the other items).  But hey, all this from a hardware company widely known for their less than stellar track record with firmware and drivers.  I guess I was expecting too much, right?

OK, so that’s awesome.  It fails to connect to much of anything but can still access the ‘Net and download updates.  Whatever.

Partway though installing the firmware updates, I get this jewel:


I believe that error indicates I had a corrupt download (or someone at Dell fat fingered something in the system that says update X is for component X and it’s really for component 42, but whatever).  But great, there’s nothing like failed firmware updates to give you warm and fuzzy feelings.  At the end of the day, the system rebooted back into Lifecycle Manager, re-downloaded the failed update, and successfully installed it.  But dammit, it shouldn’t be such a bag of crap to do something “as simple” as apply a few firmware updates.  Get it together Dell, you need to be setting a better example now that you’re a parent company.


Note:  No hardware was harmed in the writing of this article 🙂