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Paolo Iannelli

Sr. Software Engineer / Software Architect at LeaseWeb

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Senior Software Engineer and Architect with more than 8 years experience.
Strong in critical thinking, problem solving and high performance architectures.
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Enable PXE FLASH on Intel server’s NIC cards Intel PRO 100 / 1000 MT and others with IBAUTIL and BOOTUTIL

Posted on : 19-05-2011 | By : Paolo Iannelli | In : Hardware Upgrade, System Administration

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9

Do you have an Intel NIC card (single, dual or quad) that doesn’t show any PXE ROM during server’s startup, therefore being unable to boot your server from PXE?
I have the solution for you.

From Intel’s website, looking at the page about “Intel Boot Agent” we can read :

Intel Boot Agent: When enabled, the computer can initiate PXE/RPL boot if a valid flash image is present on the NIC.

NOTE:

  • Desktop adapters are normally shipped with both WOL and the Boot Agent (for PXE) enabled.
  • Server adapters are normally shipped with both WOL and the Boot Agent (for PXE) disabled.

To enable or disable these features you MUST use IBAUTIL.

So, if also you thought “WTF? Shouldn’t be the other way round?”, then we are on same wavelength.

Preparing boot disk

In order to solve the problem, you need to use the IBAUTIL / BOOTUTIL utility and this must be run only under a DOS environment.
To make things easier, I prepared a DR-DOS boot image that you can use to boot from USB or, if you have a DRAC/ILO/IPMI interface, to mount it directly as virtual floppy.
BOOTUTIL is actually a newer version of IBAUTIL and I recommend you to use it on newer and old adapters. For old adapters like Intel Pro/100 BOOTUTIL should work fine, but if it doesn’t, use IBAUTIL ;)

If you have a USB stick, you may use the ZIP version, unpack it and prepare the stick with HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Once the USB drive is formatted with a bootable boot sector, you will only need to copy the ZIP content to the drive. The ISO CD is tested and works well also on old HP iLO100 controllers

Flashing your devices

After your server started in DR-DOS environment, you should be able to type

and the result will be something like this :

The example you see above is one of the worse one : when you get the message “FLASH Not Present”, it can means 2 things : either the FLASH ROM is disabled or the FLASH is physically missing from the device, therefore you won’t be able to flash any PXE ROM to it.

Here there is a list of most commonly used commands (replace ibautil with bootutil if you want to use that) :

Enable FLASH ROM on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -flashenable
Disable FLASH ROM on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -flashdisable
Enable Setup Menu on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -setupenable
Disable Setup Menu on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -setupdisable
Enable WOL on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -wolenable
Disable WOL on all adapters
  • ibautil -all -woldisable
Install a new PXE FLASH in all adapters
  • ibautil -all -install pxe
Upgrade FLASH in all adapters
  • ibautil -all -upgrade
Upgrade FLASH in all adapters with PXE and iSCSI support
  • bootutil -all -up=combo
Upgrade FLASH in all adapters with only PXE support
  • bootutil -all -up=pxe

To work only on a specific nic, you may use the parameter -nic=X instead of -all, where X is the NIC number.

In the image I included also latest flash versions so you can flash almost any Intel Card.

If you wonder what is the Setup Menu, I can tell you that is something like the following that you can trigger on boot :

After a successful flashing, you will get something like this :

I hope this was informative for you and if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below !