Installing Debian Lenny on ML370 G3 with RAID Controller.

Whilst Debian Lenny is compatible with the Compaq/HP ML370 G3 with RAID Controller on-board, it took me a little work to get it installed and I wanted to document my efforts for myself and others!  This was a painful process to get it working, and perhaps isn’t for the weak of heart or those early in their Linux-ninja training, but hopefully this will guide you to the path of enlightenment and joy!

An ML370 G3 with sufficient hardware to boot/install e.t.c.
A copy of HP SmartStart (I used 7.20, others may work).
A copy of Windows 2003 (2000 may also work).
Debian Lenny NetInst CD
USB Stick formatted as FAT with ‘non-free’ Array Controller Driver saved to it (ql2300_fw.bin in my case).

How I did it:-

  1. Connect up the machine, power on and insert the HP SmartStart CD
  2. Once the SmartStart has booted, configure your array(s) as per your requirement.  In my case, I used 2x147GB drives in a RAID1 and 4x72GB drives in a RAID5.
  3. Do an operating system install, choose to install Windows and let it do its own partitioning.
  4. Let Windows install, don’t bother doing any major configuratoring as you’re going to wipe the server again shortly…
  5. Once Windows is installed and on the desktop, insert the Debian CD and Reboot.
  6. Boot to the Lenny Installer, and choose a ‘Standard Install’.
  7. Configure as normal.
  8. When you get to the bit about partitioning, choose the Manual Option.
  9. Goto the NTFS partition that the Windows install created, change it to an Ext3 format, ensure it is set to be bootable, and set the mount point to be /.
  10. Id leave other partition configuration until the point that you can boot Linux.
  11. Carry on and install whatever packages/components you require as standard.
  12. When you’re prompted to install the GRUB bootloader into the MBR – SAY NO
  13. You’ll be asked where you want to install the bootloader.  My partition was /dev/cciss/c0d0p1.
  14. Finish off the Installer, remove the CD and Reboot.
  15. Fingers x’d, you’ll get GRUB boot menu.  Mine then refused to boot the OS saying that the Operating System wasn’t found.   I edited the initial boot menu because it was referring to HD (1,0).  I changed this to HD (0,0) and it booted.
  16. Login to the console.
  17. If the GRUB editing worked, make sure to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and permanently change the setting to HD (0,0) for each of the menu items.

Cool Runnings:-
This server when running at full tilt with the fans is a noisy noisy beasty! However, you can control those fans to make them run at a dull roar rather than full hurricane force chat.  Follow the instructions from Jonas Bjork related to Ubuntu. Debian works exactly the same way, but you’ll need to install SNMPD and libstdc++2.10-glibc2.2 (the latter you’ll have to manually download the .deb from the Etch repository).  Once its all installed, run the ‘hpasm activate’ command and follow the on-screen instructions.


NVidia Cards on Debian (specifically Lenny)

Anyone running Debian Xorg will know that getting accelerated Graphics drivers working (beyond using the nv driver) is more complicated than achieving world piece. I tried the official nvidia drivers, I tried the packages within the repositories, all to no effect.  However, has perfect instructions which worked first time.

Just a bit of detail around my card for reference:

  • Nvidia GeForce 6200 128mb AGP.
  • Debian Lenny (v 2.6.26-1-686)
  • Intel Desktop Mobo (An 82865 IIRC).
  • Gnome Desktop

I hope this is of use to someone, as I lost many an hour trying to get all other instructions working.  Also, for reference,  I gave up trying to get an ancient  Riva TNT2 working, but the 6200 is an excellent upgrade, and pretty cheap too.   It also means I’m able to decommission a PC from the living room, and hopefully I’ll be able to get XBMC compiled and working on it too.

Today’s Compilation Pop Pickers.

One thing I really hate about Linux – non-packaged applications which must be self compiled.

I have been coming up against this a lot over the last few weeks, trying to build newer software versions than are found in the repositories.  Unlike Windows, where you can just download and run an executable file with no hassle,  with Linux, you’re expected to do some of the hard work yourself.  This has its benefits in that the software is customised and optimised for the specific distribution and libraries that you’re using, but has the disadvantages that often, the compilation tool is looking for and expecting certain components, calls or versions.   If your ‘make’ fails, you have to read through the errors, fix whatever’s broken, then try again.  Which is fine if its just one module that needs updating, but more often than not, that module requires a dependency issue resolved, and then the next one has issues and so on and so forth,  ad infinitum it seems.

All this is the reason why I choose distro’s with decent package support – Debian based Distro’s simply use ‘aptitude install packagename‘ and RedHat Style Distro’s use ‘yum install packagename‘.  Aptitude seems to be a little better at resolving dependencies than Yum, but both seem to do a similar thing.   However,  the issue with the package repositories is that it relies on someone compiling an application for your distribution and confirming that it works, and then submitting it to the repository.  This can lead to significant or non-existent delays between software updates, meaning that for a lot of ‘bleeding edge’ applications,  a certain amount of hacking, head bashing, blood, sweat and tears is required to get the Penguin to do what you want.

Anyway, Back to trying to work out why ntop 3.3.9 won’t recognise lib_pcap properly.  Grrr.  Any idea’s anyone?