Poweredge 6400 — the Great o/s Debate

First, some boring details.

The service tag for this machine is H6MGN01, and the recorded configuration seems to be pretty accurate. The critical part is this: “ASSEMBLY, CARD (CIRCUIT), POWEREDGE EXPANDABLE RAID CONTROLLER NUMBER, 3-DC, 128″

Maybe it’s a truism that the tricky part of working with these systems is getting the drivers for the array loaded before the install, but I seem to have worked that out. There was a nervous moment of array errors before I realized that the controller card was slightly unseated during shipping, but that seems to be a non-issue now.

Dell appear to have pretty good support for Linux, on the whole. I’ve been through the information at http://linux.dell.com/storage.shtml and deduced the following.

  1. The PERC 3/DC requires a MegaRAID driver “megaraid_mbox”
  2. The required driver is present in RHEL4 kernel 2.6.9-5.EL and higher — sounds good for a Whitbox or Centos install!
  3. SLES9 ought to work, but has not been tested on the PERC3 series by Dell
  4. The PERC3/DC firmware update must be extracted to floppy on a Windows machine
  5. There are Solaris drivers for the Adaptec card, but not for the PERC3. Boooh.

Point 1: no problem. Actually SuSE 8 appears to have the right drivers also. I tried a quick install yesterday evening but it choked on reboot with a “GRUB loading stage2Read error” — maybe something needs tweaking there.

Point 3: Rats. I’m going to have to get creative there, with some major surgery to move a floppy over to my Windows machine.

Anyway, I’m downloading Centos ISO’s right now, so we’ll see how they perform. Do you think that driver has to be specifically loaded before the install? I guess we’ll find out …

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3 thoughts on “Poweredge 6400 — the Great o/s Debate

  1. This may not apply to your setup, but I had a nightmare trying to get my server to boot from the RAID controller. In the end I surrendered and abandoned the controller to one boot disk and a 4-disk software RAID, but I plan to revisit it because there are solutions

  2. I’m not personally familiar with your specific hardware, but the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University http://osuosl.org/ is reputed to have a lot of experience with Linux on Dell, so you may find some good information there.

    -james.

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