Configuring Your Dell BIOS Remotely9 April, 2011 filed under bios, remote, windows
This past weekend I wanted to experiment with setting up Team Foundation Build on a VM, and I figured I’d do it at my leisure from the comfort of my home.
After connecting via RDP to my office computer, I realized that I had forgotten to turn on
Hardware-Assisted Virtualization (HAV) before leaving on Friday. Not a big deal, but annoying to think that my VM could be working 10-30% faster, and that all I’d had to do was change a setting in the BIOS.
I started to wonder if there was some way I could configure my office computer’s BIOS remotely. I looked into a variety of tools, all claiming to give you hundreds of configuration/management options (hardly any of them free, of course). I just wanted a simple tool to do one thing and do it well.
Then I stumbled across the Dell Client Configuration Utility:
Dell® Client Configuration Utility lets you create a stand-alone package that you can manually run on a Dell client computer to configure a BIOS, update a BIOS, or capture BIOS settings inventory data.
Granted, it didn’t let me configure the BIOS remotely, but I could certainly use this tool via RDP.
- The website lists compatibility as Vista x32 and x64, Server 2003, XP x32 and x64. My office computer is running Windows 7 Pro x64, and I encountered no issues, but YMMV.
- The DCCU webpage lists the Dell models that are compatible with this tool. My model was not on this list, but I took a risk. Again, YMMV.
After installation, it seems that the utility is basically a local ASP.NET website running on port 1000. The interface is completely web-based, and didn’t work properly for me in Google Chrome, so I switched to Internet Explorer:
The steps to configure your BIOS are rather simple:
- Click the Create BIOS Inventory Package button.
- A file named inventory.exe will be generated. Run this file. (You may need to run it as an administrator)
- A file named TaskResult.xml will be created in the same directory as the inventory.exe. This is your computer’s BIOS configuration, in XML format.
- Now, back in the web interface, under the BIOS Settings heading, browse for the TaskResult.xml file and then click the import button to import the settings.
- Now the settings should all load in the grid below. Go ahead and scroll or search for the setting you wanted to change (so in my case, Virtualization).
- Make the change(s), and then click Create BIOS Settings Package at the very bottom of the screen.
- A file named settings.exe will be generated. Run this file. (You may need to run it as an administrator)
- Restart your computer.
- Your BIOS settings should now be configured appropriately!
Running the HAV Detection Tool, I was able to confirm the change:
I just thought this was awesome; I was able to reconfigure my BIOS completely through remote desktop! You can even use this tool to configure a bunch of BIOS settings on several client machines — of course, they should probably all be running the same BIOS version, and you’ll have to run the settings.exe file manually on each machine (perhaps through a logon script).
I doubt I’ll ever need to use this tool again, but I think it is handy to know that it exists. I wonder if other computer manufacturers offer similar utilities?