Dell blade Re: a fun project

Don Wilde dwilde1 at
Sun Mar 30 15:42:31 PDT 2008

On Sun, Mar 30, 2008 at 7:28 AM, Dieter <freebsd at>

> > > If you solve this, be sure to let us know.
> >
> >
> > You make funnee, he he. ME? Let's just say that this'll be my first
> foray
> > into the boot process.
> Okay, let me rephrase that.  If you find a solution (perhaps suggested
> by someone else), let us know.  You're the one with access to the
> hardware, so you're the only one who can test proposed solutions,
> and thus the only one who will know if it works.

Of course. I'm not that bad with code, either, just humble around people I
*know* are better. I like being around FreeBSD people, it does rub off a

> Yeah, I'm having lots of "fun" trying to get 7.0 to boot on my Tyan board,
> which boots 6.2 fine.  Learning lots of stuff about FreeBSD's boot
> process.

Hmmm... I was thinking I have a probing issue, not a kernel code issue. I
still think that's my most likely problem. It did make it pretty far.

> > Capital learning experience. :)))
> "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted."

That plus $0.02  worth of opinions from everybody can be summed up as RTFM.
They just don't tell you HOW MANY M it takes to understand enough. :)

> > > > I was able to get the i386 ISO to complete the probe and move on to
> the
> > > > FreeBSD sysinstall menu, but wasn't able to complete the install due
> to
> > > the
> > > > fact that there are no ATAPI CDROM ports on the blade and it
> couldn't
> > > use
> > > > the USB CD as a source.
> > >
> > > IIRC you can get a sh prompt from the sysinstall menu.
> > > Then you can fdisk, newfs, and mount a hard drive, and if it will let
> you
> > > mount the CD, you can do something like
> > >
> > >        export DESTDIR=/mnt
> > >        cd /cdrom/7.0-RELEASE
> > >        for foo in base doc catpages dict games info manpages proflibs
> > > ports lib32
> > >        do
> > >                cd ${foo}
> > >                ./
> > >                cd ..
> > >        done
> > >        cd kernels
> > >        ./ generic  # or whichever kernel you think will run
> best
> > > on your box
> > >        sync
> >
> >
> > This is good data. Thanks for the details, Dieter. If I can get to the
> > prompt, I can now avoid the USB CD issue, though I may have to make a CD
> > with a kernel that has cam enabled, which I believe is not  in the
> > (?) The BTX loader did identify the USB CD as cd0, so maybe I'm okay
> without
> > atapicam.
> I recently learned that you don't have to build a new kernel to get
> atapicam.
> Try "kldload atapicam".  I need atapicam to write DVDs, but it might read
> CDs
> without?  Seems like it would have to be able to read the CD to install
> from
> the CD.

Yeah, I'm still getting used to the notion that almost everything is

> I'm not sure what you'll be able to get to from the sysinstall shell.
> If it has mounted the cdrom, (which seems likely) you may be able to get
> to the 7.0-RELEASE directory.

Yeah, I found Fixit with the shell, and also the access to the Live FS CD.
Hope that'll work (as you say, sb mounted already).

> > > There is also the build a hard disk on another machine, then move it
> > > to the target machine method.
> >
> > I don't think I have access to a more normal system that utilizes these
> > drives. They're removable 2.5" SAS6 drives. However, it may indeed be
> that
> > one of our earlier Magnum (2S Opteron) blades will work and I can build
> a
> > drive on one of them, as you suggest. Worth a try.
> IIRC you can plug a SATA drive into a SAS controller?

The tiny cables are the issue. Even the pcb finger connector on the drive is
a quarter of the pitch of, say a PCI connector. Tiny! Yes, the drive
controller does both, but it's a fabrication issue. Too much time to make or
chase down such a cable adapter.

> If it will boot from a USB CD, maybe it will boot from a USB hard drive?

I think that's an option on the boot menu, yes, although I don't have such a
drive (other than a USB key formatted as DOS FAT). The firmware has a
separate live boot menu as well as a boot order selection in the Setup. I
think I'm more likely to have luck trying to load a disk on one of our
earlier-generation AMD blades. I can fairly easily switch back and forth to
edit startup files.

> Not everything that should work does work.  I once tried dd-ing an iso
> image
> to a hard drive, but the firmware will not boot an iso from a hard drive,
> only from a cd drive.

Pesky strongly-typed file systems!!! :D

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