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More DroboPro FS fun

I’ve been playing around with my old DroboPro and in the process managed to frag the uBoot config rendering the unit basically useless as the vxWorks side didn’t boot the special disk applications required for correction function.  Fortunately I have another Drobo, in this case a Drobo FS.  I was able to disassemble that (I didn’t even break the waranty void sticker) and gain access to the serial ports on the main board.  From there I was able to read the Drobo FS uBoot config and use that to guess what the values needed to be for the DroboPro.  After doing this the vxWorks side started working again 🙂

I also figured out what is up with the Drobo dashboard app.  It definitely uses the serial number reported by the Drobo to determine the type unit it is talking to.  It turns out the device type is the 5th from last digit, so if your serial number is TDBxxx7xxxx you have a Drobo FS for example.

0 = "Drobo"
1 = "Drobo S"
2 = "Drobo 5D"
3 = "Drobo Mini"
4 = "DroboPro"
5 = "B800i"
6 = "DroboElite"
7 = "Drobo FS"
8 = "Drobo 5N"
9 = "B800fs"
A = "DroboPro FS"
B = "B1200i"

So, how do I go about changing the serial number reported by the firmware?  After a bit of messing around in the uBoot environment I discovered the printenv command.  This shows all the environment variables.  It is then possible to track down the variable containing the serial number and change it to the desired value.  Using the saveenv command is not enough however, it is necessary to call another custom command updateFlashToken to have the vxWorks side of things take notice of the new value.

The thing I did wrong was try out another of the custom commands tdsetup.  Don’t make the same mistake I made as it will frag all of the custom set up and leave you with a boat anchor.  I was just lucky enough to have another one to examine to get the config back 🙂  I think I need to see if I can find a way to reload the firmware again as it appears I may have damaged something else as it is still not showing up quite right in the Drobo dashboard, but at least it is back to running the file server and so on 🙂

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12 comments for “More DroboPro FS fun

  1. dendad51
    November 21, 2014 at 1:56 am

    It looks like you have been having lots of fun with that device. Another case maybe of, like the Rigol oscilloscopes, you can get the same hardware and change a file then you have the next model.

  2. August 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Would you consider helping me my Drobo Pro? I don’t have the skill set to make the changes you did.


  3. August 26, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Jim,
    what sort of help do you need with your Drobo?

  4. October 13, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I’m very sorry for very late response. I would like to convert my DroboPro (DBP) to DroboFS (I Think) I’m a hardware guy I think my dyslexia (not joking) makes programing more difficult. so what help am I looking for…
    1) How to change the SN of my DBP
    2) I have stupid problems with the dashboard. Example when creating a volume the the field looses focus and whatever I type doesn’t show up unless I type one letter maybe two at a time then re-click on the text box to gain focus, and of course if I forget to click again or hit the right arrow first it over writes what I already typed…..SO did you decide to write your own dashboard and if so who do I have to @#%$^%^& to get a copy?
    3) I have a second DBP that was non-functional when I bought it I’m going to try the dual serial connection fix I read somewhere to try and get it working again. If I do I’m going to solder another RJ45 port on the M/B just to see if this can truly be made to function as a full blown DBF. I post results to you. Feel free to send an email directly to me.


  5. Jon Anderson
    October 17, 2016 at 12:10 pm


    I am also wondering if you could offer some help. I have a DroboPro FS that obtains an IP address but the dashboard won’t see it. How did you get new firmware over to the device? Only the VXWorks side seems to have flash commands, but the network interfaces that obtain an address are on the Linux side.


  6. October 19, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    John I may be able to help you here, because you did not mention what steps you took I may be repeating what you already have done so in advance I apologize I’m just trying to be thorough. I also suffer from Diarrhea mouth which means I talk and write too much so again I’m sorry. Last check and used DROBO “pest practices”.

    The end GOAL is to be able to perform a Drobo reset from the Dashboard
    If this https://goo.gl/xGNfPC does not work try the following.

    Read through this at least once before starting particularly the “DATA SAFETY” section.

    Conventions used

    DroboPro FS = DF
    DROBO Management System = DMS

    1) DROBO MUST BE POWERED OFF!!! Anytime any physical connection is made or removed such as patch cables power cord etc.

    2) Read through this at least once before starting particularly the “DATA SAFETY” section.

    Are you able to connect to your DF via the dash board in any way? If so skip to “Data Safety” below.

    > Now safely shutdown your DF see “Safe Shutdown” below
    > Get latest Dashboard software see “Get Latest Dashboard software” below
    > Next Reconnect to only to DMS see “Reconnect only to DMS” and “Data Safety”) below.
    > Reset DF see “Reset” below
    > Reconnect DF to network switch see “Reconnect network hub/switch” below
    > Confirm DMS connects to DF and other systems can connect to DF
    > Copy any data previously on DF back enjoy!

    Are you re-purposing your DF from a previous setup/or bought this unit used from someone?
    If re-purposing and you care about the data on the unit.
    > Do you remember the I.P. address that the DF used, if so set your DMS to a fixed I.P. on the same subnet reset your DNS cache and shunt down your DMS.
    > Now safely shutdown your DF see “Safe Shutdown” below
    > Next Reconnect to only to DMS see “Reconnect only to DMS” then “Data Safety”) below.
    > Reset DF see “Reset” below
    > Reconnect DF to network switch see “Reconnect network hub/switch” below
    > Confirm DMS connects to DF and other systems can connect to DF
    > Copy any data previously on DF back enjoy!

    If acquired used OR you don’t care about the data on the unit.
    If re-purposing and you DON’T care about the data on the unit.
    Virtually the same as above except skip the “data Safety” steps.
    If I.P. address of DF is unknown.
    In this case I’m making the assumption you’re going to put drives not used in a Drobo before.
    > Once you make sure the conditions are safe to shut down the DF (See https://goo.gl/1XJ5wY) Then just shut down the DF by clicking the power button “ONCE”
    > Set your DMS to DHCP reset your DNS cache and shunt down your DMS.
    > Next reconnect to only to DMS see “Reconnect only to DMS” below.
    > Reset DF see “Reset” below
    > Reconnect DF to network switch see “Reconnect network hub/switch” below
    > Confirm DMS connects to DF and other systems can connect to DF
    > Enjoy!

    “Safe Shutdown”: (See https://goo.gl/1XJ5wY) of the DF give it a min or so (I have no documented reason for this, it just seems like the right thing to do).

    “Reconnect only to DMS”: Make sure only one Ethernet port is used on DF, Disconnect the DF from you network hub/switch then reconnect directly to your (preferably windows based) DMS via a standalone hub (Safest way) or your system NIC assuming your system will auto negotiate crossover. Power on DF first (Wait until it’s fully booted) then DMS Now continue with “Data Safety”) below

    “Data Safety”: Do you have any data on the DF? If so get your data off as soon as you can confirm your data is intact and safe.

    “Get Latest Dashboard software”: Download the latest version of “Dash Board” DMS disregard the info on the legacy download page for which version of dashboard to use, and get the latest version from the current products page, I’m using V2.8.3 [83912] If you want to stay with V2.4.X keep in mind because the Drobo software is too stupid to understand that V 2.6.10 is newer than 2.6.4 if you stay with 2.4.X you’ll need to uninstall your old version first or the upgrade will halt stating that you already have a newer version installed (this is what happens when you don’t use at least two digits in your version numbers) link Software V 2.8.3 http://files.drobo.com/webrelease/dashboard/Drobo-Dashboard-2.8.3.exe V 2.6.10 http://files.drobo.co/webrelease/dashboard/Drobo-Dashboard-2.6.10.exe, Doc’s/Release notes V2.8.3 http://files.drobo.com/webrelease/dashboard/Release-Notes-dashboard-2.8.3.pdf V2.6.10 http://files.drobo.com/webrelease/dashboard/Release-Notes-dashboard-2.6.10.pdf. (My rational for making this decision is owners of multi units with mixed products (legacy and current) still need to manage both so the dashboard needs to work with both) and it does.

    “Reset”: Open dashboard and confirm it connects to DF, if all is good PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR DATA IS SAFE, FROM HERE ON OUT IT’S GONE FOREVER IF YOU DID NOT if you’re not sure PLEASE check again now. Next click on Tools> /!\ (caution sign) Drobo Reset >Confirm action by typing “Erase” in dialog box and click on the “Confirm” box. This will wipe all settings on the Drobo data everything did I mention as well as your DATA. The DPFS will Shut down/Reboot, I’ve had mixed results with the DMS detecting a reconnect in theory the DF is now set to DHCP and it should reconnect automatically. If after a while it has not go look at the DF front panel we are looking for the same conditions for performing a safe shutdown of the DF, if all is not perfect WAIT. If all is good restart the dashboard you’ll get a message that there is an activity running but force it to stop you may need to task manager or even reboot your DMS. Once DMS and dashboard are reconnected and If all went well you have a clean DF Set I.P. address whatever way you prefer I use DHCP via mac address on my router you do what you like. Now recreate volumes keep in mind you can make them as big as you like but Drobo Corp. strongly suggests keeping them <2TB I tend to follow that one rule. Adjust any settings you want like name etc. check the startup guide for details see (https://goo.gl/LSNs22) I think it’s good practice to confirm all volumes are completely finished building before proceeding. Now do a safe shutdown of the DF then Go to “Reconnect network hub/switch”

    Confirm your system NIC is set to DHCP. Disconnect the DF from you network hub/switch then reconnect directly to your preferably windows based management system via a standalone hub (Safest way) or your system NIC assuming your system will auto negotiate crossover. Turn your DF on first then your system. Go to

    “Reconnect DF to network hub/switch”: Has DF been shut down safely? Now Disconnect DF from standalone switch or your system and connect only one Ethernet cable to your network hub/switch, start DF and please wait until all lights are green and ready. Connect your DMS to same network hub/switch (being overly cautious I suggest powering down your DMS fist.)

  7. January 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I got the firmware onto the device using the Linux tools over a USB connection. Since the DroboPro FS doesn’t have a USB port on it you wont be able to use the same technique I used to upgrade mine.

  8. James
    February 8, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Daniel, I know this is an old thread. OH! I just noticed you posted this year, I don’t feel as bad now! But can you please post more photos of the inside of the drobo pro.. Mine is in use and I don’t really want to take it apart, but I want to know whats inside… Maybe post the lithium battery model, and power supply manufacturer and model so i can order a spare? Lol Thanks in advance! MOre pictures! 🙂

  9. Jon Anderson
    March 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Actually the FS does a USB port for management. Could I use that? Did you use the Drobo Linux tools or something else?

  10. May 2, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Yes I used the Linux USB tools to load the firmware.

  11. Jonathan E
    May 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Daniel, i was wondering if you could assist me in reviving my drobopro? everything powers on but the dashboard is unable to detect it, what can i do? deeply appreciate any effort.

  12. Joel
    June 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Any chance you would know how to change a Drobo Elite (iSCSI) to a non-scsi model? I am happy to connect a TTL cable etc, but the engineer brain needs some clearer steps before attempting the magic, and avoid bricking it.

    My model has 8 Drives, a USB port and two ethernet ports. I dont Mind ISCSI, but what I wanted to do was to use it via FreeNAS (BSD based) – and there is a known bug where connecting to the Drobo Elite via FreeBSD’s ISCSI initiator will cause the Drobo to reboot.. constantly.

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