Dell DRAC Questions

Alex Zbyslaw xfb52 at
Tue Jan 24 03:24:58 PST 2006

David Dean wrote:

>As I understand it, the DRAC has a seperate IP, which you can connect
>to and issue commands through some kind of web interface - is that
>entirely wrong?
>I'm wondering if you can shed some light on what you actually GET out
>of a DRAC card in terms of functionality on FreeBSD?
>It seems like your post suggets it binds as the main terminal on the
>machine - if so, I'll get one on the next box we order!
I help run two Dell 2850s, both several hundred miles from me, both with 

The DRACs do indeed have a separate IP and you can connect to them 
either through a Web interface or via SSH (but you might need to upgrade 
the firmware - for whatever reason Dell doesn't necessarily do this when 
they build your machine).

The main thing we get out of it, is that the DRAC is capable of being a 
virtual "serial console".  There's a java app on the Web interface that 
allows a console window to pop up.  This works all the time - whether 
the machine is running FreeBSD, booting, in the BIOS, or even powered 
down (but not unplugged!).  It's pretty much like being sat at a console 
without actually having to b anywhere near the machine.

The DRAC also has a "virtual CD" which allows you to use the CD drive on 
your (Windows) PC as if it were on the Dell.  Just for the heck of it, I 
actually installed FreeBSD on one of these machines from the virtual CD 
-- I had the CD in my local PC and was able to install 5.4 on the Dell 
just as if the CD were in the Dell.  (I'll admit that at the time the 
machines were three feet apart and connected by a Gigabit network, but 
in principle they could have been hundreds or thousands of miles apart).

The DRAC does have other features.  In theory it can do notifications of 
various events, and can be used to check the state of the machine and 
reboot it or power it off.  But for the latter to work you need to be 
running Dell's OpenManage software, which isn't open at all and doesn't, 
as far as I can find out, stand a hope of running on FreeBSD.

However, just for the remote console, it is great.  The only gotcha we 
have found, is that if the Dell (and the DRAC) are hidden on a NATed 
network, then you have to VNC or PPP in to the local network before the 
console app will work.  I.e. you need your web browser to be able to 
connect directly to the DRAC -- we have had no success trying to tunnel 
through a firewall to it for reasons whose exact details now escape me.

Hope that helps,


PS CCed to freebsd-questions, since the message which spawned this 
question appeared there, and it's the kind of info I was looking for 
when we were thinking of getting Dells.

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