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I am looking into installing Linux on a test XServe machine and see how it goes overall. We have our entire infrastructure on OSX and would like to move to Linux servers.

Is there any distribution which has good support for XServe? Google search yielded nothing conclusive. I don't mind hacking around for personal use (compiling kernel, tweaking packages and configurations) but when running in production it's good to be cautious.

Paying for commercial support is definitely an option.

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Any distribution that can boot on EFI hardware should be able to boot on the XServe, however it is very likely that the only OS you will find with commercial support for an XServe is OS X. As the XServe is a dead platform you may want to consider moving to different hardware anyway... – voretaq7 Nov 28 '11 at 19:59
@voretaq7: Should be easy. That's what I thought. For whatever reason, it was not at all. geoaxis appears to be working at an university, like me, and just buying new servers isn't an option, unfortunately. – Sven Nov 29 '11 at 7:08
Oh well my profile is not updated, but I work in a commercial setting. Buying new hardware is an added expense but I guess a necessary one. In my case I need to use the VTrak-SAN on Linux instead of Mac (cause that's the expensive stuff we cannot buy more of) – geoaxis Nov 29 '11 at 8:58
@SvenW The booting part is "easy" (relatively speaking) -- The "supports my hardware and lets me actually use the machine" part is where I've always had problems. Of course without that the booting part isn't particularly useful :) – voretaq7 Nov 29 '11 at 15:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I spent countless hours trying to get to run

  • Debian
  • CentOS 6.0 (6.1?)
  • SLES 11
  • Ubuntu
  • FreeBSD 8.2 & 9 Beta

to run on an XServe, but most attempts failed miserably. While I managed to get some distributions to run with a lot of tricks I wouldn't want to use on a production system, even those had diverse problems due to not entirely supported hardware. All in all, this was a thoroughly frustrating and disappointing experience.

In the end, I decided to use the free VMWare ESXi 5, which suppports our XServes, and run Linux on virtual machines, which I would have likely done anyway with KVM as base. This took about 20 minutes :)

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SvenW, I know an answer to a question isn't the right way to do this, but did you happen to have RAID or FC HBAs in your XServes you needed to change out to compatible cards? – al3xnull May 30 '12 at 20:24
@al3xnull: Yes, the Apple FC-HBAs where scheduled to be replaced by QLogic or something else with VMWare support. I initially used the onboard disks for VM storage, which where sufficient for the light load of the machine, but I left this job before I could do any more with this setup. – Sven May 30 '12 at 21:51

According to this post it should be able to run Debian. I havent' tried yet though

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Welcome to Server Fault. Answers on this site are expected to be more than just a link elsewhere. Please consider updating your answer with enough information so that it can stand on its own, or it may be removed. – voretaq7 Jun 4 '13 at 20:18

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