Step-by-step guide to IBM Power Systems firmware update
License Internal Code (LIC) upgrade process
Overview of IBM Power Systems servers
- Hardware Management Console can be a desktop or a rack-mounted appliance that manages the servers, and is used for partitioning and as a service tool.
- A managed system is a single physical server. It can have I/O expansion units, towers, drawers, and storage area network (SAN) resources.
- HMC communicates to the managed system through the service processor.
- The service processor is an embedded controller that monitors and controls the entire system and is running the bare metal Linux.
The IBM POWER Hypervisor™is a layer of system firmware that supports virtualization technologies, logical partitioning (LPAR), and dynamic resource movement across multiple operating system environments.
The flexible service processor (FSP) firmware provides diagnostics, initialization, configuration, run-time error detection, and correction. It is required to periodically update the firmware on the Power Systems server. Keeping the firmware up-to-date can help in attaining the maximum reliability and functionality from your systems.
Firmware releases enable new function and might also contain fixes or enhancements.
Firmware service packs provide fixes and enhancements within a specific release.
This tutorial provides the following information:
- Current firmware details
- Different kinds of code download and update methods
- Steps to obtain the relevant firmware code updates or releases from the IBM FixCentral website
- Steps to update the firmware concurrently using DVD media, that is, the fixes that can be deployed on a running system without rebooting partitions or performing an initial program load (IPL) within a specific release
- Steps to update the firmware disruptively, that is, update requiring the system IPL within a specific release
- Advanced code update options from the Change Licensed Internal Code wizard
- Steps to upgrade to recent firmware releases disruptively using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) method
- Steps to upgrade the firmware disruptively through the IBM Service website to a required level
In the following sections, let’s go through in detail covering all the topics highlighted above.
Section 1. View system information
We will use the View system information option to get the current system firmware information.
We will be using this information in IBM Fix Central to obtain information on the latest firmware updates or upgrades available for the system and proceed with the firmware update or upgrade to newer release using the instructions described in the following sections.
Select the system under test, click Updates, and then click View system information to check the currently installed, activated, and accepted levels.
Figure 2. Figure 1.1
The following figure shows the currently installed firmware levels on the system.
Figure 3. Figure 1.2
Fields in figure 1.2 are described below:
This displays the numerical identifier of the engineering change (EC) that shows the system and GA level. It has the format of PPNNSSS, where:
- PP is the two-character package identifier.
- NN is the two-character name that identifies a set of platforms. This is the model-unique code for the type of system.
- SSS is the three-character service pack code stream identifier.
This displays the LIC types associated with the selected target.
Machine Type/Model/Serial Number
This displays the corresponding machine type, model number, and serial number.
This displays the LIC level that will be activated and loaded into memory at the next system restart.
This displays the LIC level that is activated and loaded into memory (for example, from a level 5 to level 7).
This displays the LIC level that was committed. This refers to the updates selected on the system.
This is the backup level of code that you can return to, if necessary. Generally, this is the level of code on the permanent side (p-side).
Unactivated Deferred Level
This displays the latest or highest LIC level that contains unactivated deferred updates. This refers to the updates selected on the system.
A deferred update requires a system restart to activate.
Platform IPL Level
This displays the LIC level on which the hypervisor and partition firmware were last restarted. When concurrent LIC updates are performed, the activated level will change, but the platform IPL level will remain unchanged.
This displays the current owner of LIC update control. It can be either HMC or operating system.
Section 2. Different kinds of “Code download and update” methods
Having known the current firmware levels on the system as described in Section 1 and in order to move up to the necessary latest update that is available, we have various firmware update and upgrade methods as mentioned below. Select the one that is appropriate to your requirement.
- DVD method
We can get the latest firmware code information from Fix Central. You need to download the code (as described in Section 3). You will be able to download the file in the ISO format. Then, you need to burn it to a DVD media to perform the update/upgrade using the obtained DVD (and this is described in Section 4).
Section 4 describes the concurrent firmware update procedure. We can also use the DVD method to perform code upgrades (to a new release). This can be used when the HMC cannot access Internet due to firewall.
- FTP method
Download the required code levels using bulk FTP from Fix Central to a remote FTP-enabled system (also described in Section 3) Then, perform the code update/upgrade procedures using the FTP method, providing the login credentials and location of the update/upgrade code on your remote FTP-enabled repository system ( as described for firmware upgrade in Section 7.
Section 7 describes the disruptive upgrade procedure using the FTP method. Similarly, the FTP procedure can also be used for concurrent code updates (within the same release).
- IBM service website method We can perform the Power Systems firmware update/upgrade through the IBM service website to a required level (as described in Section 8).
Section 8 describes the code upgrade procedure disruptively using the IBM website. A similar procedure can be used for performing concurrent code updates as well.
After selecting the required system from the HMC, ensure to select Change Licensed Internal Code in order to perform code updates (any updates within the same release) and select Upgrade Licensed Internal Code in order to perform code upgrades (by installing the different release).
Section 3. Power Systems firmware code location and download from Fix Central
You can obtain the Power Systems firmware fix packs or firmware releases from the IBM Fix Central website.
Select the following categories for Power Systems firmware update and choose the appropriate machine type and model of your system to be updated.
As per the example shown in Figure 3.0, the machine type and model used is: 8203-E4A. Select the appropriate machine type of your choice and continue.
Figure 4. Figure 3.0
The example in Figure 3.1 shows all available options to select the fix. Users can choose the required Power option for system firmware. Similarly, users can explore other options too.
Figure 5. Figure 3.1
If users are aware of the specific firmware level, then they can select the necessary option directly or select the latest. Choose specific firmware level option as shown in Figure 3.2.
Figure 6. Figure 3.2
After selecting the respected firmware level, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue, as shown in Figure 3.3.
Figure 7. Figure 3.3
You might be prompted to log in with your IBM ID as shown in Figure 3.4.
Figure 8. Figure 3.4
After logging in, you can choose the download options (as shown in Figure 3.5) and click Continue.
Figure 9. Figure 3.5
On the page as shown in Figure 3.6, specify the machine serial number and click Continue.
Figure 10. Figure 3.6
Review and accept the terms as shown in Figure 3.7 and proceed to download.
Figure 11. Figure 3.7
Figure 12. Figure 3.8
Section 4. Power Systems firmware concurrent update procedure using the DVD method
You can update the firmware concurrently (that is, the fixes that can be deployed on a running system without rebooting partitions or performing an IPL) within a specific release. Select the Change Licensed Internal Code option for the current release.
Figure 13. Figure 4.0
Figure 14. Figure 4.1
In the Specify LIC Repository section (as shown in Figure 4.2), select the location of the LIC update repository.
Figure 15. Figure 4.2
Figure 16. Figure 4.3
Select the DVD-RAM drive option,where you have the DVD placed and proceed with code update concurrently, as shown in Figure 4.3.
Note: Place the DVD in the HMC’s DVD drive (and not in the system’s DVD drive).
Figure 17. Figure 4.4
Click OK to proceed further to the subsequent steps to perform code update. It verifies whether the system is ready for code update by performing the health check and if everything fine, we can proceed further.
The following screen captures show the step-by-step procedure to perform concurrent code update.
Figure 18. Figure 4.5
Figure 19. Figure 4.6
Figure 20. Figure 4.7
Figure 21. Figure 4.8
Figure 22. Figure 4.9
Figure 23. Figure 4.10
Section 5. Steps to update the firmware disruptively (that is, update requiring the system IPL within a specific release)
Firmware updates are usually concurrent. Disruptive update service packs are very rare. The procedure to perform disruptive update is quite similar to concurrent update (explained in Section 4) but this process will prompt for system power cycle during the operation.
Section 6. Advanced code update options from Change Licensed Internal Code wizard
We use the Select advanced features option to perform advanced operations, such as Remove and activate and Reject fix.
Remove and activate option
The Remove and activate option brings the system back to the update level that is on the permanent side. You can use this option to back off an update level.
Figure 24. Figure 6.0
Figure 25. Figure 6.1
Figure 26. Figure 6.2
Figure 27. Figure 6.3
Click OK and then Close to remove and activate the permanent side update level.
Figure 28. Figure 6.4
Reject Fix operation
Boot the system in the Permanent Side mode (from ASMI -> Power/Restart Control -> Power On/Off System, and make sure that the Current firmware boot side option is displayed as Permanent) and only then the Reject Fix option gets enabled and the operation can be performed. This operation copies the currently running level (permanent side) to the temporary side. This can be used to reject a fix that has been applied.
Figure 29. Figure 6.5
Figure 30. Figure 6.6
Figure 31. Figure 6.7
Click OK to start this operation.
Section 7. Upgrade to newer firmware releases disruptively using the FTP method
Installing a release or a disruptive fix pack causes system IPL. All release upgrades are disruptive.
We can obtain the upgrade code, that is, the disruptive fix pack from Fix Central and burn it to a media drive and proceed with the upgrade process, which is quite similar to the concurrent update process explained in the earlier sections (except that this operation is disruptive).
In this section, let us learn how to use the FTP method to upgrade the system using the firmware code stored in a remote repository.
The following screen captures shows the steps to upgrade to newer firmware releases disruptively using the FTP method.
Figure 32. Figure 7.0
Figure 33. Figure 7.1
Figure 34. Figure 7.2
Figure 35. Figure 7.3
Figure 36. Figure 7.4
Figure 37. Figure 7.5
Figure 38. Figure 7.6
Figure 39. Figure 7.8
Figure 40. Figure 7.9
Clicking OK starts the disruptive upgrade. System will be on the applied release level after the upgrade operation completes.
Section 8. Steps to upgrade the firmware disruptively using the IBM service website to the required level
After logging in to the HMC, click System Management > Servers > Target Server on the left pane. Instead, you can also click the Updates icon on the same pane. All the available servers will be displayed in the right pane. In the following figure, the red highlight in the right pane shows the current level installed.
Figure 41. Figure 8.0
Make sure that your target server is in the shutdown mode, and if not, switch off the server.
Now, click the Upgrade Licensed Internal Code to a new release link at the bottom of the page as shown in the following figure.
Figure 42. Figure 8.1
After clicking the link, you will be directed to the web page which will show information about the readiness check. If there is no errors found, you can click OK and proceed further, as shown in the following figure.
Figure 43. Figure 8.2
After clicking OK, you will be directed to the Specify LIC Repository page. Here, you need to select the location of the code. The options shown in the following figure are available.
Figure 44. Figure 8.3
If you are setting a new server configuration, the best practice at this prompt is always to select the IBM service web site option and you need not worry about the need to power off and power on the managed systems in this method.
After selecting the IBM Service web site option, you will have a new web page opened, which will show you the available LIC level details. Here, the best practice is to select the latest available code (that is, the latest available version). Most of the fixes are added by IBM and your Power Systems server will be upgraded to the latest level. Then, select the best as per your requirement, or the latest supported.
Be patient here and follow the prompts to complete the upgrade. The firmware upgrade activity will need time depending on your Internet bandwidth speed. Do not forget to switch on the server, so that the latest firmware gets activated and reflected in the navigation pane, as shown in the following figure.
Figure 45. Figure 8.4
Now you are done with the upgrade. Remember if you select multiple systems, you can upgrade them as well.