I have the pleasure of configuring some Dell kit without the use of a pre-execution environment. This presents quite a challenge as many of the management tools are designed to run within such an environment or an installed operating system which means that my options for configuring these serves is somewhat limited. Thankfully for most of the critical stuff Dell’s RACADM tool is more than capable of managing the server remotely however it unfortunately doesn’t have any access to the system BIOS where some critical changes need to be made. Thus I was in need of finding a solution to this problem and it seems that my saviour comes in the form of a protocol called Web Services Management (WSMAN).
WSMAN is an open protocol for server management which provides a rather feature rich interface to your hardware for getting, setting and enumerating the various features and settings on your hardware. Of course since its so powerful it’s also rather complex in nature and you won’t really be able to stumble your way through it without the help of a vendor specific guide. For Dell servers the appropriate guide is the Lifecycle Controller Web Services Interface Guide (there’s an equivalent available for Linux) which gives you a breakdown of the commands that are available and what they can accomplish.
They’re not fully documented however so I thought I’d show you a couple commands I’ve used in order to configure some BIOS settings on one of the M910 blades I’m currently working on. The first requirement was to disable all the on board NICs as we want to use the Qlogic QME8262-k 10GB NICs instead. In order to do this however we first need to get some information out of the WSMAN interface in order to know which variables to change. The first command you’ll want to run is the following:
winrm e http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/root/dcim/DCIM_BIOSEnumeration -u:root -p:calvin -r:https://[iDRACIP]/wsman -SkipCNcheck -SkipCAcheck -encoding:utf-8 -a:basic
Which will give you a whole bunch of output along these lines:
DCIM_BIOSEnumeration AttributeName = EmbNic1Nic2 Caption CurrentValue = Enabled DefaultValue Description ElementName FQDD = BIOS.Setup.1-1 InstanceID = BIOS.Setup.1-1:EmbNic1Nic2 IsOrderedList IsReadOnly = FALSE PendingValue PossibleValues = Disabled, Enabled DCIM_BIOSEnumeration AttributeName = EmbNic1 Caption CurrentValue = EnabledPxe DefaultValue Description ElementName FQDD = BIOS.Setup.1-1 InstanceID = BIOS.Setup.1-1:EmbNic1 IsOrderedList IsReadOnly = FALSE PendingValue PossibleValues = Disabled, EnablediScsi, EnabledPxe, Enabled
Of note in the output are the AttributeName and PossibleValues variables. In essence these represent the current and possible states of the BIOS variables and all of them can be modified through the appropriate WSMAN command. The Dell guide I referenced earlier though doesn’t exactly tell you how to do this and the only example that appears to be close is one for modifying the BIOS boot mode setting. However as it turns out this same command can be used to modify any variable that is output by the previous command so long as you create the appropriate XML file. Shown below is the command and XML file to disable the first 2 embedded NICs:
Code: winrm i SetAttribute http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/root/dcim/DCIM_BIOSService?SystemCreationClassName=DCIM_ComputerSystem +CreationClassName=DCIM_BIOSService +SystemName=DCIM:ComputerSystem+Name=DCIM:BIOSService -u:root -p:calvin -r:https://[iDRACIP]/wsman -SkipCNcheck -SkipCAcheck -encoding:utf-8 -a:basic -file:SetAttribute_BIOS.xml SetAttribute_BIOS.xml: <p:SetAttribute_INPUT xmlns:p="http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/root/dcim/DCIM_BIOSService"> <p:Target>BIOS.Setup.1-1</p:Target> <p:AttributeName>EmbNic3Nic4</p:AttributeName> <p:AttributeValue>Disabled</p:AttributeValue> </p:SetAttribute_INPUT>
This appears to work quite well for individual attributes but I’ve encountered errors when trying to set more than one BIOS variable at a time. This could easily be due to me fat fingering the input file (I didn’t really check it before troubleshooting it further) but it could also be a limitation of the WSMAN implementation on the Dell servers. Either way once you’ve run that command you’ll notice the response from the server states that the values are pending and the server requires a reboot. Now I’m not 100% sure if you can get away with just rebooting it through the iDRAC or physically rebooting it but there is a WSMAN command which I can guarantee will apply the setting whilst also rebooting the server for you. Again this one relies on an XML file for it to succeed:
Code: winrm i CreateTargetedConfigJob http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/root/dcim/DCIM_BIOSService?SystemCreationClassName=DCIM_ComputerSystem +CreationClassName=DCIM_BIOSService +SystemName=DCIM:ComputerSystem +Name=DCIM:BIOSService -u:root -p:calvin -r:https://[iDRACIP]/wsman -SkipCNcheck -SkipCAcheck -encoding:utf-8 -a:basic -file:CreateTargetedConfigJob_BIOS.xml CreateTargetedConfigJob_BIOS.xml: <p:CreateTargetedConfigJob_INPUT xmlns:p="http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/root/dcim/DCIM_BIOSService"> <p:Target>BIOS.Setup.1-1</p:Target> <p:RebootJobType>2</p:RebootJobType> <p:ScheduledStartTime>TIME_NOW</p:ScheduledStartTime> <p:UntilTime>20131111111111</p:UntilTime> </p:CreateTargetedConfigJob_INPUT>
Upon executing this command the server will reboot and then load into the Lifecycle Controller where it will apply the desired settings. After which it will reboot again and you’ll be able to view the settings inside the BIOS proper. It appears that this command can be used for any variable that appears within the initial BIOS enumeration so using this it is quite possible to fully configure the BIOS remotely. You can also access quite a lot of things within the iDRAC itself however I’ve found that RACADM is a much easier way to go about this, especially if you simply dump the entire config, edit it, then reupload it. Still the option is there if you want to use the single tool but unless you’re something of a masochist I wouldn’t recommend doing everything through WSMAN.
All that being said however the WSMAN API appears to cover pretty much everything in the server so if you need to do something remotely to it (hardware wise) and you don’t have the luxury of a PXE or installed operating system than its definitely something to look into. Hopefully the above commands will get you started and then the rest of the Dell integration guide will make a little more sense. If you’ve got any questions about a particular command hit me up in the comments, on Twitter or on my Facebook fan page and I’ll help you out as much as I can.