6.0 on Dell 1850 with DRAC4 management card?

Scott Mitchell scott+lists.freebsd at fishballoon.org
Thu Mar 23 18:36:27 UTC 2006

On Fri, Jan 06, 2006 at 01:57:17PM +0000, Scott Mitchell wrote:
> Hi all,
> On to my next question about running 6.0 on a Dell PE1850, since it seems
> that the RAID card will work just fine...
> I'm thinking about getting the machine with a DRAC4 remote management card.
> This looks to be OS-independent (you can configure through the BIOS) so I
> expect it will just work.  I've seen various posts talking about how it
> tends to take over the keyboard and render the real console inaccessible,
> but there are workarounds for that.
> Does anyone have the console redirection working?  I'd like to leave the
> 'real' console (actually a USB keyboard attached to a KVM) active so the
> machine is accessible to someone actually in the server room, but still be
> able to get to the console remotely when necessary.  The Dell docs imply
> that you can just point a browser at the DRAC and fire up a new console,
> but I'd like to hear from someone who's done this with FreeBSD!
> Apologies for all the dumb questions... I'd try all this stuff myself but
> the hardware isn't here yet and has to go into production pretty quickly
> once it arrives.  All the similar machines in the building are already
> running Windows and someone would object if I 'liberated' any of them :)

Following up to myself for the benefit of the archives - I can confirm that
the DRAC4 works very well with FreeBSD, and turns out to be quite a useful
piece of kit.

The DRAC attaches itself as a USB keyboard which on this system at least
was probed as ukbd0, so I was able to install using the remote console (a
Java applet downloaded from the DRAC's web server).  The _really_ cool
feature is the remote CD/floppy support - I was able to boot the 1850 off
a 6.0 CD *in my local workstation* and do the entire install without ever
going near it, so it could have been on the other side of the planet, not
just in the next room.  Pretty neat IMHO.

After a bit of fiddling with kbdmux(4) and devd.conf I was able to get a
second UDB keyboard on a KVM working as well.  There are a few magic runes
needed to boot single-user, but I expect all that to become a lot easier
with the kbdmux(4) changes coming in 6.1.

The DRAC can be configured to send out email alerts when interesting events
happen - it will tell you when eg. RAID drives die and come back online,
and I expect also when temperature limits etc. are reached.

It also has console redirection to the serial ports, which I *believe* can
also be reached via the telnet or SSH interface, but I haven't got around
to setting that up yet (and rebooting the machine to tweak the BIOS now
it's live would make me unpopular)

Anyway, if you're buying a Dell server of any kind I can highly recommend
getting one of these cards with it.



Scott Mitchell           | PGP Key ID | "Eagles may soar, but weasels
Cambridge, England       | 0x54B171B9 |  don't get sucked into jet engines"
scott at fishballoon.org | 0xAA775B8B |      -- Anon

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