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My office is looking to upgrade the OS on some of our small servers from RHEL 6 to RHEL 8. We're a pretty small operation and we have a few RHEL servers running on some older bare metal hardware that we use for our file server and a handful of other tasks. We decided to test things out with one of our older development servers by attempting a fresh install of RHEL 8. Unfortunately we immediately ran into problems.

Using the RHEL 8.2 boot ISO (burned to a CD) we attempted to boot into the installation environment, and it doesn't even get into the installation GUI. It seems to start out ok, but eventually devolves into the error below:

dracut-initqueue: Warning: dracut-initqueue timeout - starting timeout scripts

It then dumps to emergency mode. From what I can tell, I think the issue is that it cannot find any hard drives for installation purposes. The system has two SATA hard drives attached to the motherboard's onboard controller -- one is blank, and the other has an ext4 file system and contains a copy of the full RHEL 8.2 binary DVD ISO. Everything works just fine under RHEL 6, and I'm able to use a Knoppix 7.6 live CD as well (this is how I created the ext4 partition on one of the drives and copied over the ISO).

The workstation in question has an Asus P5N-D motherboard. It's an older board that uses Intel Core 2 Quad processors, and it has an nVidia nForce 750i chipset. Some googling indicates that, for some strange reason, Red Hat dropped support for several significant SATA and SAS drive controllers. Is it possible that the installation issues are related? Does RHEL 8 not support on-board SATA controllers? Or perhaps not the ones on this motherboard? I am further concerned that our office file server may not be compatible either -- it uses an LSI SAS 3801E SAS host bus adapter attached to a 12-bay JBOD. We were planning to upgrade this controller to the newer LSI SAS 9200-8e HBA, which I believe uses the LSI SAS 2008 controller chip. But it sounds like this controller isn't supported either?

I'm at a bit of a loss -- if we can't install RHEL 8 on computers that use hard drives, I'm not sure what we're supposed to use it for, and it might mean we will have to move to a different OS. I'm hoping I'm just doing something really stupid, or that there's an easy way to enable support for some of the hardware noted above. Any insight would be much appreciated.

Quick update: I was able to find an extra SATA controller, so I installed it in the workstation and connected the hard drives to it. RHEL now appears to see the drives -- I can see it identify them as sda and sdb devices during boot -- but I still get the same errors noted above. It is never able to boot into the installer GUI.

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RHEL 8 dropped support for a lot of ancient hardware. Since ancient hardware is what you are using, you should not be too surprised that it doesn't work. Your computer is from 2008 and even the "newer" SAS adapter you propose to use is so old its manufacturer (or rather, Broadcom, who bought out LSI a few years ago) no longer even hosts documents about it on its web site.

You could run RHEL 7 on that ancient PC, and then run RHEL 8 in virtual machines. This will work fine, but RHEL 7 is past its full support phase and will only get security and critical bug fix updates for the rest of its lifecycle. That'll at least give you until 2024 to buy a more modern computer.

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  • Unfortunately, with capital budgets what they are, it's unlikely we'll be able to get hardware that's much newer. So we may ultimately need to go with RHEL 7 and hope that things improve over the next few years. Interestingly, we have a much more "ancient" workstation -- I think it's actually a 64-bit Pentium 4 -- and we were actually able to get RHEL 8 to install on that one. It doesn't run well, but it was able to see drives connected to the onboard controller.
    – ngrusz1
    Jun 17, 2020 at 20:54
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    Unfortunately your antique is only going to keep getting older. Time runs in only one direction. But if there is so little money that you can't buy a modern computer, your business is probably in trouble. Hopefully it survives that long! Jun 17, 2020 at 20:56

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