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I recently purchased a used BladeCenter E chassis and I have two HS21, one HS20, and seven QS20 blades. As you are likely aware, used hardware means I get to figure it out myself (and that's part of the fun!).

I've figured out how to update the firmware for the blades and the chassis, but I still have a bunch of questions.

For example, what's the right way to shut down the chassis? So far I just shutdown the blades and then cut power to the chassis, but the management module sends out panicky log messages when I do that. Is there a better/right way?

I've found documentation that's specific to operating the server connectivity module, the management module and more, but is there a general overall introduction to operating a bladeserver that would answer questions like "What's the right way to shutdown?"

I'd also like to see a list of common problems and their solutions, and the IBM BladeCenter forum isn't particularly active.

I've installed Ubuntu server on one of my HS21s, but I wonder what sort of kernel modules I could modprobe to get more integration with the blades or chassis?

I also have specific problems like: "the Advanced Management Module remote control function only works with VGA modes, is there some way to get it to display a text-based linux 80x25 console?"

Thanks,

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

We have IBM blades. Is your chassis the newer 'H' type? It will say "Bladecenter H" on the front if it is. It's also 9u high instead of 7u like the older chassis.

Anyway, as regards power to the chassis - yep there is no power button or software control. You just cut the power to the chassis. Sounds brutal, but you would only do this after powering down all the blades anyway. We've done it several times with no issues.

As for docs, you'll want to peruse the IBM BladeCenter Redbook site. This will have all the info you need.

New blades come with the IBM ServerGuide setup CD which lets you install an OS with all the correct drivers. Did you not get this CD? If not you can download the latest for the appropriate hardware from here.

Good luck with the blades! Make sure you do upgrade all the firmware, we had plenty of issues with old firmware.

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I got a BladeCenter E chassis, because I want to run QS20 blades, thanks for the link! –  shapr May 20 '09 at 15:01
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+1 for redbook site. Redbooks provide a lot of help. –  NYSystemsAnalyst May 20 '09 at 17:57

It's been a while since I worked with a Bladecenter, but if I recall, there was a great "Getting Started" guide on one of the CDs that came with it. Since you say you got it used, you may not have gotten this CD.

Did you get any IBM support with the purchase? If you did, you might want to call them and ask about if there are any CDs or downloads available. If you didn't purchase support, you may want to consider it.

Bladecenters are beefy, but in my time admining one (less than a year), I had to call support at least 4 times for various hardware and firmware issues.

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Nah, I got this off of ebay, zero support included. It was very cheap though. –  shapr May 20 '09 at 14:52

For documentation, you might want to look at Tim Barron's IBM Resources as it provides a comprehensive list to IBM and some non-IBM documentation about IBM's BladeCenter and System x servers.

As for your specific questions, I would recommend creating separate questions here at serverfault and see what answers you get. I too have recently purchased an IBM BladeCenter E Chassis (MTM 8677-2XX) and three HS20 Blade Servers (MTM 8843-25U), so I'm interested in seeing the bladecenter tag increase in usage.

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If turning the power off by unplugging the cable sounds a bit "blunt" and the AMMs get screamy, don't worry.. this is not the kind of hardware that usually gets shut down, so anytime the power goes off, it's usually a Bad Thing(tm). :)

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