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

  1. Not in the same league, but I had trouble at the weekend with Grub attempting to load Centos when she was on a partition *after* the one where a 40GB dual-boot Windows partition had been created. I knew there used to be an issue with boot partitions being positioned over the 32GB boundary (details are hazy), but I thought those were behind us. Apparently not, however.

    I know that when confronted with a set of SATA drives, Centos cunning loads the nvidia sata drivers for itself. I’d hope the same sort of thing would be true for you… that is, the installation should spot the need for the drivers and load them accordingly. If you have Grub issues after that, I’d look into where your bootable partition starts, and make it small.

    All a bit vague and probably of no help whatsoever… sorry.

  2. Wrong distro, I realise… and wrong error message, too. Nothing like being relevant, I suppose.

    In fact, it’s nothing like being relevant at all… but they discuss Grub boot problems, and it’s possible it might help:

    http://tinyurl.com/nxwhs

    All the other advice I’ve seen about stage 2 errors with Grub has been along the lines of ‘check your BIOS settings’, too.

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