The DL385 G1 is one of the first dual-processor dual-core rack servers shipped by HP around 2006. Equipped with Opterons 260 to 285 they are reasonably powerful beasts. Refurbished machines go for about $150 at ebay – this includes the legendary HP SmartArray RAID controller and 10k rpm UltraSCSI disks, dual GiGE ports, Integrated Lights Out (an embedded tcp/ip server for offline diagnostics) – probably the cheapest quad core machine your money can buy, great for your home lab. Power consumption measured at ~300 watts on a multi-threaded test pegging all the CPUs for > 15 minutes. (However, the eight internal fans were running at a mere 20% when I measured this.)
The install can be a hassle because your machine probably will not have an optical drive, doesn’t have enough on-board video ram for recent e.g. Ubuntu 11 installs screens to handle, and since this hardware has been spinning in a datacenter for 6 years something might be broken. Hopefully these notes will save you some time.
1.Workaround for low video ram for install: you can run the centos6 installer in text mode (with some loss of install features) by dropping to the boot: prompt and pass the ‘text’ parameter to the installer kernel as described here.
Get CentOS 5.7 iso images – all 8 (Do not get the latest CentOS)
Get unetbootin from sourceforge
Get the firmware CD iso from the
Get the smartstart CD iso from the HP Insight Foundation website // note: get v 8.40 for your G1
- Update the firmware
Use unbootin to write the firmware iso to the usb drive
Boot with this, update everything.
- Check if your hardware is okay
Use unetbootin to create a bootable usb out of the smartstart iso
Run all the diagnostic tests, and make sure all the tests pass.
- Install CentOS 5.7
Get the driver disk images for your box.e.g. for RHEL 5 (These are the drivers for the proliant RAID controller)
Use unetbootin to burn disc 1 as bootable onto the USB drive.
Copy accross all the iso files to the usb drive (with mv not unetbootin)
Download the driver disk from hp, rename it to *.iso copy it to the usb drive.
CentOS should install and install GRUB, but it will not boot yet.
Once grub has installed it sets the USB drive as the boot device. You need to fix this to be /dev/cciss/c0d0 instead.
Get a CentOS LiveCD iso, or a CentOS minimal install iso (6.2 has one)
Boot it from USB, enter rescue mode for the minimal install.
It drops you to a shell eventually.
Configure grub.conf and device.map, as explained here.
Note that the menu should have kernel parameter: root=/dev/VolGroup01/LogVol00