I spend a lot of my time with HP ProLiant systems and Linux installations. Due to the nature of the business I work in, I don't have the luxury of being able to deploy large numbers of identical systems at the same time. In addition, my systems are spread across multiple locations. Many of my servers are similar, but the installs come in spurts, with just enough time in between to see changes in system configs, processor steppings, firmware revisions and other features. So, even though I have a reasonably-speedy kickstart system in place that takes 5-10 minutes, I spend up to 45 minutes staging the server hardware.

1). Assuming I have the disks and physical components where I want them, I begin installs with a Firmware DVD and/or SmartStart to configure the SmartArray logical drives and controller settings. Depending on the application, I need finer control over the SmartArray than what the BIOS utility will allow. Firmware updates are helpful since the servers may have shipped with older revisions. Sometimes, I'll run firmware updates after the operating system is installed.

2). ILO setup. The ILO parameters need to be set. Administrator password changes, ILO keys installed, SNMP parameters modified... I'll typically do this at the console or find the ILO in the DHCP listing and connect remotely.

3). I need specific BIOS changes to be made on the systems I manage. E.g. turn off hyperthreading, set power profile, get into the advanced BIOS menu to enable low-latency settings, reduce ASR timeout, set the time...

Given the above notes, how can I streamline this process? Are all of these things scriptable? How do engineers in larger headless-install environments do this? Even more, how can you keep track of these parameters or force a certain set of changes en masse?

  • What OS are you deploying? – SpacemanSpiff May 18 '11 at 21:15
  • Almost always CentOS, RHEL or Scientific Linux. So, Linux... – ewwhite May 18 '11 at 21:16

Yes, the entire process can be automated.

(1a) Array config: Assuming you have a stripped down proliant support pack you can do the logical drive config in the %pre section of kickstart with hpacucli.

(1b) Firmware updates: HP supplies all the firmware updates as Linux executables. I wrote a shell script that scans the hardware and updates the firmware. You could do this in the %post section of the kickstart file (though I did it at first boot because I found the chroot'ed environment somewhat wonky).

(2) Once you have installed the PSP you can configure the ilo with hponcfg.

(3) The BIOS can be configured with hp-conrep or g8+ use hp-rcu. (I have not used this.)

HP has a framework for this (though I don't use it): "HP SmartStart Scripting Toolkit Linux Edition", for details have a look at the user guide pdf.

  • Well, I use hpacucli's CLI interface from within the OS, but how can I get that into the installer environment? I need the hpacucli commands to occur prior to the OS installation. I'm also trying to get the ILO config running before the server is built (since the OS installer is sometimes mounted via the ILO virtual media). I'll dig a little more through conrep, though. – ewwhite May 18 '11 at 23:25
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    You install it like so: yum install hpacucli in the %pre section of the kickstart file. I'd use PXE boot rather then ilo virtual media. – Mark Wagner May 19 '11 at 17:57
  • That means you're adding the HP Management Agents packages to your Yum repository, right? – ewwhite May 19 '11 at 18:19
  • Yes the PSP tarball contains the RPMs. You may need to configure yum to see the repo first. I don't know if the repo options in the command section of the kickstart file get applied before the pre section is run. – Mark Wagner May 19 '11 at 18:56
  • FWIW, github.com/russki/hpraid-chroot – jaeheung Sep 16 '14 at 0:47

I managed to get mostly there and then changed jobs. One of the last things I did was to install a linux distro that'll run the HP utilities to an 8GB USB stick. Then boot to the USB stick. The biggest thing this gives me is the full ACU GUI for the fine-grained array set-up I'd need to do, or an execution environment for hpacucli scripts.

The same setup could be used to slip in all the myriad firmware updates that need doing.

  • Which distro did you use for this purpose? You basically tailored it for HP systems deployment, right? – ewwhite May 20 '11 at 19:28
  • @ewwhite I used openSUSE, though CentOS would probably work just as well if not better. And yes, this was tailored for HP deployments (it's all we had). – sysadmin1138 May 20 '11 at 19:51

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