Debian 7.0.0 on HP ML 350 G5 server

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Occasional Collector

Debian 7.0.0 on HP ML 350 G5 server

I recently acquired a used HP ProLiant ML 350 G5 system. I'm totally new to server hardwares.

Here are a few questions.

1. How do I make use of smart array hardware? It currently have 6 x 36 GB SAS drives and 2 x 72 GB SAS drives. If I were to use RAID array, do I use LVM option on Debian 7 installer rather than whole drive option which shows I have 8 separate drives?


2. If I were to use RAID, what is the best RAID setup to use for a web server which I plan to test various web sites with database backend? Space is not my most concern since it will only be test server and not actual production server.

3. How do I connect to iLO? Does a NIC cable need to connect to a switch and then access it via that way?



Honored Contributor

Re: Debian 7.0.0 on HP ML 350 G5 server

1.) You probably should configure the SmartArray (press F8 at boot when you see the SmartArray start-up message) to give you a suitable RAID set. Whether you use LVM or not is your choice - but in server use, I strongly recommend using it.

Once the array is configured, the OS installer should show you only the RAID sets you configure at the SmartArray level, not the actual individual disk drives.


2.) The ML350 G5 has a SmartArray E200i controller, which supports RAID 5 only if you have the optional Battery-Backed Write Cache module installed.


Normally I would avoid using dissimilar disks in the same RAID set, so I would configure the 2x 72 GB drives as a RAID1 set, and the 6x 36 GB as a single RAID5 set if space is the primary requirement. This would give you a total of 72 GB (RAID1) + 180 GB (RAID5) of storage.


After configuring the RAID at the SmartArray level, you should see two disks: /dev/cciss/c0d0 and /dev/cciss/c0d1.

Because of BIOS restrictions, you need at least one traditional PC-style partition: /boot. The rest can be LVM-based.

A nice size for /boot is something between 100 - 500 MB: more than 500 MB is overkill for /boot.

When you partition e.g. /dev/cciss/c0d0, the partitions will be named /dev/cciss/c0d0p1 for the first partition (typically /boot), /dev/cciss/c0d0p2 for the second partition, etc.


If you follow my recommendation, your partitioning can be as follows:

  • /dev/cciss/c0d0p1 = /boot
  • /dev/cciss/c0d0p2 = LVM physical volume
  • /dev/cciss/c0d1 = entire RAID set as a single LVM physical volume.

With LVM, you can join the LVM physical volumes together as a single volume group, which you can then allocate into one or more LVM logical volumes without restrictions. A single logical volume can span multiple physical volumes, but all those physical volumes must belong to the same volume group.


The really cool thing about LVM is that you can extend logical volumes while they're mounted and in use, as long as you still have unallocated space in your volume group - and if you get more disks later, you can add them as extra physical volumes into the same volume group and then keep expanding your LVs as needed, all without neither unmounting filesystems nor rebooting.

3.) When the system is booting, you can press F8 when iLO is showing its initialization message, to access the iLO configuration menu. From there, you can set up iLO usernames & passwords, and configure iLO IP address or set iLO to use DHCP. Once you've done that, you can plug in a network cable to the iLO network interface and access the iLO with a web browser. From the web GUI, you can then enable telnet and possibly SSH access to iLO, if you want.


SSH access may require a iLO Advanced license; the Licensing page of the web GUI will tell you whether the Advanced license is already installed or not.


Through the web GUI, you can find Java and ActiveX-based varieties of a remote console. Since the remote console apparently works by converting the ASCII characters you type into your browser back to keyboard scan-codes and feeding them into the PS2 keyboard controller, you must make sure that the keyboard layout selections on the web console and the server OS are in agreement, otherwise the conversion to scan-codes will fail and your keyboard layout may seem rather strange.


For SSH/telnet access, you might want to set up an "agetty" process for the iLO virtual serial port in the Linux OS. This bypasses the scan-code conversion issues, and actually feels snappier to use than the iLO remote console functionality. (For some iLO versions without the iLO Advanced license, the virtual serial port access is the only way to access Linux console with SSH or telnet).



Occasional Collector

Re: Debian 7.0.0 on HP ML 350 G5 server

Wow .. you know, I wasn't expecting that much of a complete reply in as short time. I can't thank you enough for your complete and detailed reply. Thank you !!!! . Continue on to learn more. Thanks again.
Occasional Collector

Re: Debian 7.0.0 on HP ML 350 G5 server


2.) The ML350 G5 has a SmartArray E200i controller, which supports RAID 5 only if you have the optional Battery-Backed Write Cache module installed.



I was just wonder what's that thing with a battery on the card is being used for and was going to investigate it later. Thanks for answering that too.


I DO have that modules in the system. Right now, the physical HDDs are grouped in this order in the slots from left to right.


1. 36 GB

2. 72 GB

3. 36

4. 36

5. 36

6. 72

7. 36

8. 36


So, is the physical drive order have to be changed if I'm to follow your recommended drive scheme? I'm heavily leaning to that option.


Should I put two 72s in the first two slots, set them as RAID 1 and put /boot and / in there?

And then put the rest of the 6 x 36es together and set them RAID 5 and put /var since this server will mainly be web server with MySQL on it, most of the data will go to /var , right?


Thanks for your time and patiently answering my questions.