Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

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Mark Travis
Frequent Advisor

Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

Hi. I don't know the best way to ask this, but here goes.

Does anybody here have first-hand accounts of managing DL360s as well as Dell PE1750's on Linux and can share opinions with me?

My department is deciding to purchase a few of either one or the other. And I have experience with neither.

According to the folks on the dell power-edge mailing list (,
drivers for the integrated broadcom NICs on the PE1750 and other systems are ghastly -- and tend to cause system instability even with the latest drivers.

But when I look at the specs for the DL360g3 it appears as though the HP server also uses broadcom NICs on board.

Are these NICs that bad?

Also, there seem to be a lot of gripes about the integrated PERC RAID hardware. I'm wondering how reliable the equivalent HP Smart Array 5i+ unit is. Does this thing tend to cause a lot of system crashes?

I'm not trying to start a war here, and obviously open support forums will tend to enhance problems rather than show how well things work. I don't expect linux on Intel hardware to be as stable as UNIX on RISC. However, I don't want to be having to mess with kernels indefinitely because the systems crash every week or so.

I'm hoping that people can share honest thoughts about the DL360 (and PE1750 if you have experience) in this forum.

Thanks much for your time.

Steven E. Protter
Exalted Contributor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

Later versions of Linux will pick up these cards and configure them. Dell 600SE's are available with integrated Intel NIC cards.

That is preferable.

On broadcom Dell boxes, I install Intel add in cards. You apparently can not do that on 1u boxes.

Broadcom has a lot of market share and will probably come into mainstream Linux support.

Dell servers are reasonably well built and will hold up pretty well.

I have had several quality control issues on Dell Servers, one of which was critical, but they were resolved quickly.

As far as the Compaq/HP servers, these are also pretty good. I've worked with them and they are pretty reliable and driver support is also good.

You make a good point to yourself. Intel boxes Willnot be as stable as PA-RISC or Itanium boxes made my HP. HP builds those servers better and it costs.

How about Red Hat AS Linux on Itanium? Not enough money? Too bad. I'd love to try that.

Steven E Protter
Owner of ISN Corporation
dirk dierickx
Honored Contributor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

We have both HP and Dell here at work, and i can tell you already that the HP hardware is far more reliable.

I always use the default kernel included with RHES (2.1) and it works without any problems with these NICs and RAID controllers. Sometimes the NICs get initialised wrong, but there is nothing ethtool or miitool can't fix in that case.
Olivier Drouin
Trusted Contributor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

I cant speak for DELL boxes cause I dont manage any...

I have about 75 DL (360, 380) & ML (500 series ) servers.

THe only hardware issues I had with HP/compaq servers are with the dl360 G1. I had to replace every power supplies. Compaq ( at that time ) was very quick to resolve the issues.

The drivers for broadcom nic for linux is bcm5700 which I never had any problem with.

These servers are very stable. Almost as much as HP9000 servers which cost alot more.

A couple years ago it is true that UNIX on RISC ( sun, hp) was much more stable but I dont think it is that true anymore.

The hardware RAID on proliant server is *GREAT*. It is very simple to use and rock-solid.

I used to have solaris-intel-8 on these boxes and I had some problem with this OS. I think linux is way better now.
Mark Travis
Frequent Advisor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

Thanks, folks, for your feedback. This is the kind of stuff that doesn't show up on marketing brochures, and sure doesn't show up as a line item on a vendor quote.

So thanks for your candid responses.
dan dobbs
Frequent Advisor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

One 'gotcha' that I will share about the HP DL series is this: I suggest using the LILO kernel when installing AS 2.1.

It took me several days and calls to Red Hat support (who blamed the RAID card) to figure out that the DL380's just don't dig the GRUB loader.

Once that was done, everything installed like a dream. We're running our Oracle middle tier on it.
Hey, that's not a spoon.
Mark Travis
Frequent Advisor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

Well I dislike grub as well... :-)

Thanks for the heads-up though.
Paul Cross_1
Respected Contributor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

I will second the kudos for the DL360's raid controller, very simple to use, very reliable, and seamless with linux. I have found the Broadcom driver quite stable, although it can be a problem if you intend to kickstart these machines as the driver is not yet included. My suggestion is: burn yourself a CD with the driver installed.
James A. Donovan
Honored Contributor

Re: Seeking Advice From Other Sysadmins

I've got three Dell PE1750's and last week I was ready to chuck them into the ocean.

One box has had to have the motherboard replaced twice, and another system had it's motherboard replaced once.

I've had all sorts of issues getting the integrated Broadcom ethernet controllers working correctly, and have ordered some Intel cards to plug into these systems.

They are currently running RH AS2.1 2.4.9-e3smp. I've tried updating the kernels via Redhat's up2date utility, but when the system reboots to the new kernel, it seems the megaraid driver isn't compiled in, so it can't find the initrd and crashes. I'm currently working out the details on building a new kernel manually.....

In contrast, we also have a PE6650 which has yet, knock on wood, to have a problem....

Remember, wherever you go, there you are...