Booting the Unbootable PowerEdge T130

Published by John on June 30, 2023 Under Computer Repair

Recently, I was trying to reprovision a client’s Dell PowerEdge T130 server, so that it could be used as a backup server. The intention was to install Debian on it, but I ran into a bit of a problem.

No matter what I did, including switching to the Bios Boot Method(instead of Secure Boot), it would still not recognize a USB as a boot device. Ultimately, in the interest of time, I ended up just installing Debian via DVD, but I tried a bit of troubleshooting first.

I initially thought this might be a problem with how drive was formatted, so I tried a few different ways and tested it on a different computer. When it was still not working, I plugged in a Windows 10 USB to see if that worked, but has the same issue, USB was not offered as a boot method.

I even tried turning off UEFI boot, but the USB was not recognized in BIOS/Legacy boot mode either.

Since it was not recognizing the Windows USB bootable USB either that was generated with Windows Media Tool, I began doing a bit of digging and I found several reports that the version of the Bios that these servers shipped with did not properly support booting from USB. I found reports that using Rufus, it was possible to get it to recognize a USB, although I tried a couple variations of this and it still did not recognize the USB bootable media.

Given that the BIOS on this server had likely never been updated, I believe it was running the original 2.3.2, I decided to go ahead and update the bios, rather than attempt to format the USB again using different settings.

Because the bios was so out of date, I had to do it in stages in order to avoid getting an error related to the signature:

Unable to verify the digital signature of the Update Package. (SUP0525)

After multiple incremental BIOS updates using older versions, I eventually got to a point where it refused to update further, giving the above error, and I was unable to get the server BIOS current using the Lifecycle Controller Firmware Update process.

At this point, in the interest of time, I went ahead and just used a DVD, although I intend to spend some time in the future troubleshooting this.

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