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Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

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Sandshark
Occasional Visitor

Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

I have recently acquired a 3COM Baseline 2920-SFP Plus switch that appears to have the original firmware (Software Version 5.20 Release 1101P02 and Bootrom Version 113).  So, I went to update it, seeing that the firmware for the HP 1910-16G - JE005A (V1910-CMW520-R1519P03) is the right one for it.  But the release notes are mighty confusing.  The hardware is definately listed as compatible.  It goes downhill from there.

The first confusion is that in Table 3 (Hardware and Software Compatibility), it lists "Boot ROM Version 180." and even goes on to tell me how to find out the version.  OK, so how to I find boot ROM version 180 to load it first?  Or is it not really a prerequisite?  I think that maybe what this is trying (poorly) to say is that the system software requires boot ROM 120, not the entire update.  And I have to completely assume that that's what is included in the update package, though it says that nowhere.  Is there a minimum version of the current boot ROM or system software I need to load this update?  If so, where do i find it?

In fact, it tells me several ways I can update multiple files (Boot ROM, Extended Boot ROM, and System) as if they were separate files when there is only one.  Yet in a note (not in the step-by-step instructions), it states "The switch automatically updates Boot ROM when loading system software."  So do i need to separately load the Boot ROM or not?  If not, why do the release notes make a big deal of it?

And lastly, the entire thing completely ignores the fact that there is a "Software Update" section in the Maintenance menu of the web interface that certainly looks like it should be the easiest place to do this.  Even the latest HP manual I could find for the device has this listed, so I assume it is functional, not just for show,  Has it been depreciated?  I doubt it, since even the earliest 3COM release I found ignored it.  It looks more like a total oversight.  If it can't be used, then I would expect a warning that it won't work.

Has nobody at HP ever noticed these issues?  Do you just blindly add the latest update to the list of updates and accept the remainder of the document as golden?

If anyone has some insight into this mess, I'd appreciate some illumination.

5 REPLIES
parnassus
Honored Contributor

Re: Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

I give you a Kudo since I'm an avid reader...and I really like questioning about how documentation's semantic and logic hit our knowledge processes.

I like especially your final question: "Do you just blindly add the latest update to the list of updates and accept the remainder of the document as golden?" as if nobody responsible for good documentation (in this case Release Notes) cares about improving what is already written (as is, more or less, since the 3Com era...passing through the H3C era too <-- check yourself by reading old 3Com RN about your 3Com Baseline Plus Switch 2920...and look for differences with more recent RNs...you will not be surprised to see how little changed over the years WTR).

By the way...IMHO Release Notes document primarily fails [*] to state that that system image bin file (in your case the 1910-CMW520-R1519P03.bin file) embeds the correct necessary BootROM so by updating your Switch with that file the Switch will automatically check and eventually will update the flashed BootROM to cope with the required version (180) for the particular system image you are updating to.

Other Switch series provide separated BootROM (btm) files and the process of BootROM update should be carried on manually concurrently with the system/boot image(s) update.

Some other (Comware 7) use a ipe file which is a (sort of) black box archive which embeds all necessary files (again BootROM as btm file, boot and system images as bin files) and is used by the Switch to decompress its contents before the real update process takes place.

Probably would be useful to see another table in which each System Image has its corresponding BootROM version listed - never see something like that - with some statements describing (reassuring users) about how and why BootROM is updated along with (if necessary) a normal system image update process performed via CLI or via Web Page.

[*] and this is not uncommon, read here for "bigger irons".

Edit: 8 years ago, on 3Com S2900-CMW520-R1101P05 Relese Notes, there were these illuminating statements:

  • Boot ROM image file is the bootstrap file used at startup of your switch. It comprises two segments: basic and extended.
  • As the Boot ROM image is upgraded automatically together with the application image (the host software), you do not need to upgrade it separately (I add: even if, having the btm file, will let you to update it separately through Boot ROM menù at startup, if necessary).
  • Before upgrading the software, make sure that you are using the correct application and BootROM versions.
VoIP-Buddy
Trusted Contributor

Re: Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

Sandshark,

It's hard at times for us too.  This is one of those times.  Can you tell me the actual part number from the switch?  I'd need the 3C number or if there is a J number that's good too.

Some of the old baseline switches were "lumped" in with the 1910's but they all do not run 1910 Comware code. 

For most of the Comware line, although there are exceptions, the bootrom code is lumped in with the operational code.  When you boot it up with a new version, if the installed bootrom version is different than what the operational image is looking for it will automatically upgrade it during the bootup process.  There are some switches that do have the separate btm file but for the 1910, for example, that are Web GUI managed, it should get taken care of during startup.

All that said, my peer just said to me that 3Com may never had a 2920.  We really need the part number to know for sure.  If it is an Aruba 2920, that is newer and not a Comware switch.

The key is to check the release notes BEFORE you upgrade.  The compatibility matrix is really good.  If you don't see your product in the list, don't upgrade to that version.

David

parnassus
Honored Contributor

Re: Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

It should be a 3Com Baseline Plus Switch 2920 (3Com SKU: 3CRBSG2093) equivalent to a HP 1910-16G Switch (HP SKU: JE005A), definitely Comware 5 based.

Sandshark
Occasional Visitor

Re: Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

VoIP-Buddy wrote:

There are some switches that do have the separate btm file but for the 1910, for example, that are Web GUI managed, it should get taken care of during startup.

All that said, my peer just said to me that 3Com may never had a 2920.  We really need the part number to know for sure.  If it is an Aruba 2920, that is newer and not a Comware switch.

The key is to check the release notes BEFORE you upgrade.  The compatibility matrix is really good.  If you don't see your product in the list, don't upgrade to that version.

David


The part number is 3CRBSG2093..  The release notes definately list the "3Com Baseline Plus Switch 2920" as being equivalent to the HP 1910-16G : JE005A and compatible with the update.  I believe that to be true from other sources as well (which is how I found the update in the first place).

Does your statement about a web-managed switch being taken care of at start-up mean that i can use the Web Management GUI to do the update?  That would be great, and what I expected.  But why, oh why would the most simple way to perform it be left out of the release notes?

parnassus
Honored Contributor

Re: Confusing release notes for updating 3COM Baseline 2900 series

Sometime documentation (or, just part of it), as you found, just sucks...because authors start from the assumption that readers know the history, evolution and basic configuration methods related to a product they are trying to describe...and, often, this is a wrong assumption. Sorry for the unusual unpolite slang.

If the equation is 3Com Baseline Plus 2920 (3CRBSG2093) equals to HPE OfficeConnect 1910 (JE005A) then, since the HPE OfficeConnect 1910 and HPE OfficeConnect 1920 are very similar (both are Comware 5 based, slightly "stripped-down" WRT full-featured Comware 5), the HPE 1910 will act as the 1920 performs WRT software update procedure(s)...so the single step System Image update from Web GUI will update, if necessary, the BootROM Image automatically without user intervention.

The HPE OfficeConnect 1920's update process started from Switch Web GUI updates automatically the BootROM version once you upload the system image (clearly, it updates the BootROM version *if* that is really required)...as @VoIP-Buddy wrote above, other Comware 5 operating system based series (mid/higher end) show different behaviours and require to manage the whole Switch update manually into separate update steps through CLI (generally 1st step is update the BootROM and 2nd step involves the update - or simple the upload - of the System Image, others include a Boot Image that embeds the BootROM and updating the Boot Image updates also the BootROM...documentation is not always clear on what is the basic approaches/concepts behind all these different methods) and, for those series, a separate BootROM (btm file) is generally provided as a separate file along with the System Image (bin file) instead of being "embedded" into the System image file.