It was me: I admit it! Yesterday evening I endured a long battle with our content management system to remove seven driver disks from the Citrix Knowledge Center for XenServer 5.6 SP2, 6.0, and 6.0.2.

A Little Background

The eagle-eyed amongst you, particularly if you follow the RSS feed for hotfixes to XenServer, will have noticed a driver update (“driver disk”) for Emulex’s be2net (Ethernet) and lpfc (FCoE) drivers appear on our web site on the 24th of July. Because we need to release a version of the driver disk for each kernel update that we make (and also for each version of XenServer), no fewer than seven “flavours” of the driver disk were released at the same time.

The driver updates address several problems that customers have reported to us, and that we’ve worked with Emulex to address.

Great! So Why Are They Gone?

Emulex’s hardware, like many other devices, runs firmware that can be updated by the user. As part of the changes needed to the drivers, firmware changes were also made. Hence, customers need to upgrade both the drivers and re-flash the firmware.

The sticking point was whilst the documentation for the driver disks specified that a firmware version upgrade was required, this version wasn’t yet available from Emulex’s web site.

Thus, we were faced with the situation that we’d either be telling you to upgrade your drivers and firmware (which you wouldn’t be able to do!), or else people might try to upgrade just the drivers on their own (which might well result in compatibility problems: that combination hasn’t, to my knowledge, been tested).

OK… So When Can I Get the Drivers?

The good news is that Emulex are working to release the firmware to their web site as soon as possible. Once that’s done, we’ll update the articles to link to it, and re-post them. I’m hoping that this will be early next week.

I’ve Already Installed These Drivers!

Don’t panic. Contact Citrix Support for help rolling back the installation to the drivers you were previously running: this effectively involves using the rpm utility to uninstall the driver disk RPMs.

The other option is to wait until the compatible firmware is released by Emulex, and then install it too. As noted above, I can’t recommend that, just because it’s not a tested combination. You might choose to run that anyway, if it’s less painful than rolling back to the old drivers on all of your servers.

[N.B. Just for the avoidance of doubt, the documentation is/was clear on the need for a firmware upgrade to use these drivers. I’m providing this section just in case people were overeager in deploying the update ;-). ]

I Think I Have an Emulex Driver-related Problem

Customers who have any issues should raise them to Citrix Support in the usual way. When we (re-)release the driver disks they’ll come with a list of problems that have been fixed.

In Conclusion…

Apologies to everyone for the confusion caused: hopefully you’ll agree that I made the right decision. Given the time it took me to carry out I certainly hope so!

Updates (10th August)

  • I’m in daily contact with Emulex concerning what their expected date to host the firmware is: apologies to everyone who’s waiting for it! I don’t have a guaranteed ETA yet, though.
  • If you’re looking to use these driver updates (when they are published!) with IBM (or other OEMs’) firmware, please ensure that you use the firmware version qualified by your OEM. Any 4.1.x.x variant of the firmware will be supported with the new drivers (but you must upgrade to a 4.1.x.x firmware version).
  • We recently published hotfix XS602E007 for XenServer 6.0.2, and as part of that we re-released some Emulex drivers that we’d previously released for XenServer 6.0.2 back in March. Those drivers are therefore nothing “new”, but if you’re deploying the hotfix you’ll need that driver disk.

Update (15th August)

Emulex have published the firmware update, and Citrix have now (re-)published the driver disks for various versions of XenServer. You can find the Emulex driver disk for XenServer 6.0.2 over on support.citrix.com.

Hopefully, all’s well that ends well, but apologies again for the long wait!