Creating a nifty USB key for HP servers

So if you work with HP servers frequently you’re probably familiar with the Smart Start CD, the firmware CD/DVD and HPSUM. If you’re not, shame on you for not keeping your servers up-to-date. All new servers from the 300 and 500 range are supplied with them but often the shipped disks are not the latest available. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all these in one handy location for ease of use and speedy set up of your server?

You’ll need a couple of things to get started so make sure you have them all:

  • Empty USB key, 4GB or larger. A faster USB key is preferred
  • Both the 32-bit and 64-bit Smart Start CD’s (currently v8.50)
  • HP Smart Update Firmware DVD (currently v9.00)
  • HP USB Key Utility (currently v1.50)
  • Depending on the speed of your USB key, some patience

You can get the HP stuff from the downloads page here (all downloads together are currently a little over 2GB).

If you want to use the USB drive as a source for online updates, also download the required PSP‘s. To not waste space on the drive, make sure you only get the ones suitable for your OS.

Install the HP USB Key Utility once you’ve downloaded all the files. This will allow you to create the bootable USB key. Make sure the USB key is empty, all data WILL be erased! When running it basically has 2 options: one for making the key bootable and installing the first disc, the second option is to add another disc.

Select the option to make a bootable USB key and accept the warning that it’s about to erase the key. Then select the desired ISO image (which you’ve downloaded earlier). I usually start with the firmware DVD since it’s the largest and it will take some time to create. While it’s running, please be patient with HP’s utility. If the USB key is slow, like mine, the program will regularly say it’s not responding. With my cheap-ass TDK 4GB USB key (€5.99) it took almost an hour to create :?, but faster key’s take a lot less. The utility will tell you when it’s done.

After the first disc has been put on your USB key, re-open the HP utility, now select the option to add another disc and add the Smart Start ISO’s one by one.

Optionally you can now add the PSP’s to your key. Extract each downloaded pack to it’s separate temporary folder and copy all of the .xml, .exe, .scexe and .md5 files from your temporary folder to the \HPFWversion\hp\swpackages folder on your USB device. You could also put specific packages for your hardware in this folder, should there be any major updates since the last PSP. But as long as you can connect to the internet, you should probably allow the HPSUM tool to check for newer versions (check the ‘check ftp.hp.com’ box on the startpage).

What I usually do when I’m done is start HPSUM once. It’s in the \HPFWversion\hp\swpackages directory called setup.exe. Contrary to what it sounds like, it won’t actually install anything. If you select the ‘check ftp.hp.com’ check box, the package usually asks to download one or a few packages which it needs for auto detection. Let these download, they are automatically placed on the USB drive for future use. You don’t need to continue with an actual update.

If you need to update your key with future releases simple remove the folders from the key and follow the “add another CD” procedure again or start all over.

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