Stable on Blade server

Alex Hayward xelah-freebsd at
Sat Feb 24 20:33:52 UTC 2007

On Fri, 23 Feb 2007, John Nielsen wrote:

> On Friday 23 February 2007 07:12, Marian Hettwer wrote:
> > Hi there,
> >
> > On Fri, 23 Feb 2007 11:06:54 +0100, Martin <list at> wrote:
> > > Hi,
> > >
> > > I work for a little web agency/isp and we are going to buy new hw to
> > > sustain the growinng demand of our customers.
> > >
> > > We're 100% FreeBSD-only and i was looking to buy IBM blade servers: can
> > > anyone reccomend any of them? models? particular hw/firmware/misc
> >
> > we have several blade centers in our datacenters. None of them were able to
> > boot up 6.1-RELEASE (which was the last one I tried). In general, the IBM
> > blade center is crap IMO. The management capabilites (some java / vnc
> > applet speak KVM over IP) is completely borked. Debian Linux runs, but
> > FreeBSD seems to have problems with the way those IBM blades are handling
> > the keyboard. Dunno any details, though :) Maybe you'd like to take a look
> > at HP's blades. I recall that the FreeBSD project got a HP blade donation
> > and is using a fully equipped HP Bladecenter. Maybe HP is your way to go if
> > you want to use FReeBSD on blades :)
> >
> > HTH,
> > Marian
> >
> > PS.: If I'll find the time to do so, I'll try a pxeboot of 6.2-RELEASE on
> > some different blades of us. Although this won't happen before end of next
> > week (to busy right now).
> I can also recommend HP blades in general. I haven't had a chance to play with
> FreeBSD on one, but the hardware is solid and the management interface is
> good. There's a JVM-based remote console that works on most platforms I've
> tried as well as the IE-only one. The IE-only one has built-in floppy/CD
> support and a couple other tricks, but there's also a standalone JVM-based
> media applet.
> I'm 99% sure that the built-in SAS controller is supported by ciss(4), and 90%
> sure that the built-in ethernet controller is supported, probably by bge(4).
> I'm not sure about the fibre controllers.

The ethernet controllers in BL35ps and BL45ps are supported by bge. The
fibre channel mezzanine card is supported by isp, and works fine. You've
got to watch out if you want to use the half-height blades with FC,
though. Firstly you need the 'enhanced' backplane. Secondly, there are
only two connectors for each slot (for two ports on each card) so for half
height blades the two blades in the slot are connected in to two
arbitrated loops. You need to plug them in to a switch that supports this.

In any case, FC seems to be a very expensive way to get a limited
bandwidth (200MB/s) link to a storage array (the SAS didn't exist when we
got our blades). You need to really need the extra features and really not
need the bandwidth for it to be worthwhile.

We don't have any of the new style blades, so all of this is probably not
very useful to someone buying a new enclosure :-)

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