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ML370 G3 Booting in Debian

ElNumbre
Occasional Visitor

ML370 G3 Booting in Debian

Hi All,

I'm having great difficulty getting Debian Lenny to boot reliably and consistently on an ML370 G3.

The server has a 6 drive array, two drives arrayed as RAID1, the others arrayed as RAID0. These are connected to a 6402 controller with a 6402'EM' also reporting. The EM part is reporting no drives/arrays in use during POST.

I've managed to install Lenny and get it booting once, but as soon as I added a 3rd party PCI SATA controller, this messed up the boot process and seems to be trying to boot the SATA linux software array (no boot partition exists within that drive/ software array).

I've configured in the F9 menu to boot order CD, Floppy, Harddrive C:. Then the Harddrive boot order controller is configured for 6402, IDE (can't change this), the two built in Ultra320 controllers then what I presume to be the 3rd party SATA array. However, this doesn't seem to be taken account of during boot, and it seems the 6402 doesn't seem to 'see' the boot area on the array.

For note, when I installed Debian, I DIDNT install the boot code to MBR, I chose the first partition of the first array.

The only way I got it working the first time was to install Windows 2003, then install Debian over the top without changing any of the partitions. However, the SATA controller also breaks this.

I should also note is that I do not have the 'F10' drive software installed - I've yet to discover how to do this, despite using the SmartStart CD to configure the arrays/Windows OS e.t.c.

I've tried adding a small IDE harddrive to use as boot (both holding the boot marker and the /boot area) and I can't get this working at all!

At this stage, I think I'm stuck with booting GRUB from floppy then trying to chainload it into the boot/grub area on the SCSI array, or a USB keyfob - will a ML370 G3 boot from USB with Grub installed?

Failing that, any other ideas? I think I've got all the latest firmware for the 6402 and the BIOS but it seems like this machine just doesn't like Debian Linux.
Embrace the Penguin
3 REPLIES
Matti_Kurkela
Honored Contributor

Re: ML370 G3 Booting in Debian

Sounds like it isn't so much a Debian problem as a BIOS problem: as the BIOS of the 3rd-party SATA controller attempts to wedge itself into the boot process, it messes up other things.

Does the 3rd-party SATA controller have its own BIOS menu? If it has, access it and turn off anything that seems to be related to booting. You can even switch the entire SATA BIOS off: as you aren't using the SATA array for booting, there is no reason for it to participate in the BIOS-level action at all.

After Linux has booted up, the SATA drivers will detect the presence of the SATA controller even if the SATA BIOS is off.

MK
MK
ElNumbre
Occasional Visitor

Re: ML370 G3 Booting in Debian

I suspect you may be right, but unfortunately the El cheapo SATA adapter doesn't have a BIOS menu - it just detects the drives you install but doesn't give you any config options. I've seen a proper HP SAS adapter at a reasonable price so I may just get that instead.

However, it doesn't explain to me with only the 6402 adapter and the IDE drive installed, why I can't boot from the IDE drive.
Embrace the Penguin
Matti_Kurkela
Honored Contributor

Re: ML370 G3 Booting in Debian

With multiple controllers, it's easy to get confused about disk identifiers in the boot loader configuration.

The BIOS has actually just one "de facto standard" way of selecting the disk to boot from: it must manipulate the list of disks detected so that the boot disk will be the first one. At the programming level, that means the disk selected for booting will always be identified by BIOS disk number #80h; this translates to (hda) in GRUB. In other words, whatever disk you select in BIOS to boot from will always be (hda) for GRUB, no matter what the order is when you boot from some other media. This is _extremely_ counter-intuitive if you are not aware of it.

When GRUB is not installed to the MBR, you need to make sure that the MBR contains some boot code that can read the partition table and execute the bootloader in the boot block of the active partition. The MBR created on an empty disk by the Linux fdisk does not contain any boot code by default.

I like to use the "ms-sys" tool to install boot code to the MBR if necessary. It can create a boot code that exactly matches what Microsoft products use: this is useful if the BIOS has quirks that prevent non-standard boot codes from working.

http://ms-sys.sourceforge.net/

MK
MK