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Upgrading HP Procurve firmware via USB flash drive

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on December 14, 2008 · 15 comments

in Networking

It’s been a looooong time since I posted any networking stuff that wasn’t Cisco-centric, but I’m sitting here at home configuring an HP ProCurve 5406zl so I thought I’d take the opportunity.

The ProCurve 5400zl series have a USB port on them that you can use to transfer files, in addition to TFTP and SCP/SFTP. Since I had a few of these to upgrade and they were in a lab environment (e.g. not connected to any “real” networks), I didn’t want to bother with setting up a TFTP server. The upgrade process is pretty straightforward and is similar to doing an upgrade via TFTP.

HP software (“firmware”) updates do not require that you have a valid login or service contract, unlike Cisco. I grabbed the latest version (at the time of writing), which is K.13.45 (be sure to read the Release Notes that accompany each release as well, prior to performing an upgrade). Save the .downloaded file to your USB flash drive and plug the flash drive into the switch.

To check what version of the software is currently running, issue the “show version” command:

SW1# show version
Image stamp:    /sw/code/build/btm(t3a)
                Aug  4 2008 15:08:24
                K.13.25
                93
Boot Image:     Primary

We can see that we’re running version K.13.25 and that we booted from the primary flash. We can see the current contents of flash, as well as our USB drive:

SW1# show flash
Image           Size(Bytes)   Date   Version
-----           ----------  -------- -------
Primary Image   : 7442476   08/04/08 K.13.25
Secondary Image : 6782942   12/07/07 K.12.57
Boot Rom Version: K.12.12
Default Boot    : Primary
SW1# dir

Listing Directory /ufa0:
-rwxrwxAwx  1 0       0          7442476 Nov  3  2008 K_13_25.SWI
-rwxrwxAwx  1 0       0          7494786 Oct 30  2008 K_13_45.SWI
SW1#

Because I’ve been running K.13.25 and it’s been stable, I’m going to copy it to secondary flash and then overwrite the primary with the new software. We’ll then reboot the switch with the new software (keeping the previous version in secondary as a “backup” in case anything goes wrong).

SW1# copy flash flash secondary

This command isn’t real intuitive (and it takes a while as well), but here we’re basically copying from flash, to flash, with the secondary as our destination. In this case, the contents of the primary flash will be copied to the secondary. “copy flash flash primary” would copy the contents of the secondary into the primary. Let’s verify what we have now:

SW1# show flash
Image           Size(Bytes)   Date   Version
-----           ----------  -------- -------
Primary Image   : 7442476   08/04/08 K.13.25
Secondary Image : 7442476   08/04/08 K.13.25
Boot Rom Version: K.12.12
Default Boot    : Primary

We can see that the contents of the primary have now been copied to the secondary as well. Let’s copy the K_13_45.SWI image from the USB drive to primary flash:

SW1# copy usb flash K_13_45.SWI primary
The Primary OS Image will be deleted, continue [y/n]?  y

After a moment, we’ll see this message:

Validating and Writing System Software to the Filesystem ...

When the copy has completed, we need to reload the switch with the new software:

SW1# boot system flash primary
System will be rebooted from primary image. Do you want to continue [y/n]?  y

The switch will take a minute to reboot (I won’t bother pasting the complete bootup process) and then we can, again, use “show version” to verify that we’re now running the latest software:

SW1# show version
Image stamp:    /sw/code/build/btm(t3a)
                Oct 17 2008 20:03:02
                K.13.45
                706
Boot Image:     Primary

See, wasn’t that easy!? We’ve successfully upgraded the firmware, and we’ve also kept a backup copy of the previous software in case things go badly. If that happens, just issue the “boot system flash secondary” command to reload the switch with the previous software.

This “upgrade via USB” method can come in handy at times, e.g. when the switch is in a lab and you don’t have a server handy to load the files from. For the switches in my production network, I would use SFTP to ugprade them instead of having to visit each switch individually to plug in and remove the USB drive. Yes, you can SFTP to the switch and upload a new version of firmware. It rocks. =)

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