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I have a blade server that was imaged prior to me getting my hands on it. It's a hot swap four drive RAID, no CD.

I'm trying to load Linux onto it (Ubuntu if it matters), but the BIOS doesn't allow for usb boot, which I always use, and it doesn't have a CD drive...

My main thought it I should grab one of the hot swap drives, plug it into another linux box, save an image onto it, and plug it back in to the server, however, I know a lot of hardware issues could arise since the servers aren't the same model.

Suggestions and insight are very much appreciated.

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There shouldn't be many hardware problems. As long as you make sure that you have the RAID driver and the NIC driver (in case it is a somewhat exotic NIC) in the kernel you should be fine. –  Hennes Jul 21 '12 at 1:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've run into the exact situation and used an external DVD drive, which shows up differently to the BIOS even when plugged into USB. When one wasn't available, I managed to plug a regular one directly into the motherboard and an external molex power supply, but that's a pain in the ass and you'll hate the damn thing before you even start the install. (Plenty of time for that later!) They had no PXE set up back then.

PXE is really just tftp and dhcp, all you need is a client, so even if all you have is Windows you can still use tftpd32. If you can't configure your DHCP server for the proxy requests, you should temporarily turn it off and use tftpd32's.

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If the on-board NIC supports PXE then netbooting to install would be the easiest way to go, and would allow for quick deployment of additional blades in the future. You don't mention which distribution you're using, but both the Debian and RH-flavored variants have guides available to walk through the process of setting up DHCP, tftp, etc.

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Due to metadata on the RAID card, your best bet is to throw it into another device that uses the same RAID card (or same RAID family if you don't have it). Throw all the drives in that other device, since that way you can get the RAID all set up and then transplant it into the blade. Chances are real good that the one-drive thing you're thinking of won't work and the new, freshly imaged drive will get wiped out with the rest of the array. This is why you want to bring all the drives to that other device.

Or hunt up a USB-floppy and a GRUB disk. I know both are still out there!

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