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I recently acquired a used Dell PowerEdge 1655mc blade server with 6 functioning blade units. I need to wipe each of the blade units, reinstall them with fresh copies of Linux, and otherwise get this beast set up.

This is my first experience with this kind of server, so I feel like I'm flying blind right now. I figure the first step is to get into the System Management Module, but I'm not clear on how to go about doing that. Do I need to get a null modem cable or will the ethernet management port work as well?

This machine looks like it was pulled and then not wiped clean, so whatever settings were in place before are probably there now.

Any help on getting into this machine so I can get it configured would be great. The Dell docs are helpful to a degree, but they seem to assume some knowledge of which I'm not quite familiar with.

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I've got a couple 1955 blade enclosures, which are not too dissimilar from your 1655s.

Essentially, the blade enclosure allows for centralized power and managability. There should be a KVM on the back of the enclosure which allows you to manage all of the machines, and I believe yours also includes a DRAC (Dell Remote Access Card), which will allow you to administer the chassis and individual servers (to monitor the hardware, and remotely reboot, etc).

In my enclosure, there's an avocent IP KVM, but I'm not sure the model on yours. I hit print screen twice (or scroll lock, maybe?) to activate the menu of servers from the KVM console.

If you can connect to the local serial port, you should be able to log in (default username / password is root / calvin) and configure the IP for the network card in the DRAC. According to this page, there should be some jumpers on the back of the DRAC if you pull it out, one of which is the password reset jumper. I can't speak to that, as I don't remember seeing it in mine. It would be interesting to know if those jumpers exist on yours.

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Thanks for the help. I suppose I'm going to have to dig out a serial cable. Fun! –  Adam Sep 28 '10 at 18:17
    
Good luck! I hope your DRAC functions better than mine does! :-) –  Matt Simmons Sep 28 '10 at 22:06
    
Once I get my hands on a serial cable I'll post an update. –  Adam Sep 29 '10 at 14:04
    
So, I've got a serial cable plugged into the thing now. However, I don't seem to get any response. I've tried Serial <-> Serial and also through a USB->Serial adapter. Is there a change I have the wrong kind of serial cable? –  Adam Oct 5 '10 at 19:46
    
Assuming it's just a normal serial cable that you're using, it's probably the port speed. Make sure you're set to data bits 8, Parity None, Stop Bits 1 (8N1) and try different speeds. You may have a DRAC3, which I believe was 9600bps, but start there and work your way up. I think the 5s are 57600. –  Matt Simmons Oct 5 '10 at 22:06
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