We have taken delivery of a bunch off Dell Poweredge Rack servers. Unfortunately when ordering it was neglegted to ask for dhcp to be enabled in the built in iDRAC controlers... So they are all stuck on the same IP address. Which means that I'll have to go to each of them individually and configure a new IP in the console...

In the future I want to avoid that. Now Dell proposes to deliver the next batch with auto discovery enabled. As I understand this means that when the machine wakes up for the first time the iDRAC will request a DHCP address. The DHCP server then supposedly also provides a "provisioning" server, that provides it with a username and password, and a configuration to be applied. This would allow us to for example configure things like RAID automatically.

However, I can't seem to find a way to set up such a provisioning server that does not involve setting up a windows machine. I want to use Linux tools exclusively.

Is there a way to do this? I want to just rack servers, switch them on, and then do everything remotely. And that using only linux tools?

  • How many is "a bunch"? DHCP is usually enabled on those controllers, no?
    – ewwhite
    Feb 14 '14 at 14:49
  • 48 at the moment. And we will get more. And the issue is that DHCP has not been enable. I could have the next batch delivered with autoconfig, but for this apparently a Dell Lifecycle management server is needed, which requires a Windows machine which is not an option. I was hoping that there was a way to duplciate some of the functionality using DHCP and TFTP. Mar 3 '14 at 13:54
  • You just need a Linux DHCPd or DNS Server which directy to a https server (which needs to speak some WS-MAN (SOAP)), see the spec: en.community.dell.com/techcenter/extras/m/white_papers/20178466
    – eckes
    Feb 16 '15 at 21:39

Why start with the DRACs at all? Dell can ship servers with a preconfigured RAID setup, so all you need is autodeploy an OS on all of them (kickstart/pxe/foreman/whatever you prefer), and then configure the DRACs locally using racadm when you have an OS already running on the hosts. That, in turn, can also be automated using Puppet/Chef/Ansible/Salt/etc

  • In order to autodeploy an OS I need to power the servers on. For that I need the DRAC... Mar 3 '14 at 13:52
  • 2
    @KristvanBesien Couldn't the person racking the servers just well...hit the power button?
    – Nathan C
    Mar 3 '14 at 14:14
  • Don't want to send that person several times. I need to first install one machine, so I have somewhere I can install my bootstrapping environment, then want to install the other machines in an ordered manner (not all at the same time...) Mar 3 '14 at 14:43
  • 1
    Then just do one machine manually, and autodeploy the rest. You are overcomplicating this issue
    – dyasny
    Mar 3 '14 at 15:01

Here is a great guide for setting up an OS using Linux tools: Kickstart Guide

Regardless of whether the servers have DHCP or not, you should still be able to PXE boot them... Usually, if you press F12 when the machine starts up, you can choose to boot via Network Card.

If you configure your kickstart server on the same network, you can image a Dell blade/server in less than 5 mins.

You might want to look at the BIOS options as well, to enable PXE booting as a default option, but ensure that you have an option in your PXE config (on the kickstart server) to boot from local disk after initial setup, otherwise it will keep reinstalling every time you reboot.

  • 1
    I've successfully used this method in various production environments. You can even build a MAC -> kickstart database in MySQL and have PHP serve unique kickstart files to each server, dependent on their MAC address. The possibilities are wonderful!
    – Smoothie
    Feb 14 '14 at 14:55
  • One of the things I want to achieve is not having to get near the servers at all, so "pressing F12" is not an option. Thus I need access to the DRACs to power them on at a distance. How to proceed from there (PXE boot etc.) I have already quite a bit of experience with. Mar 3 '14 at 13:51

If all you want is DHCP you can order you servers that way. When you customize your order:

Under "Systems Management Upgrades"

select "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Enabled"

If you want to try auto-discovery refer to my answer here: How to use auto-discovery with iDRAC Enterprise?

you can use you can use "Dell Management Plug-In for VMware vCenter". The piece that handles auto discovery run in a standalone VM. I would re-enable auto-discovery on a server that you have and play with it before you order allot of them configured that way.

For more information about Auto-Discovery: http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/b/techcenter/archive/2012/09/14/auto-discovery-network-setup-specification.aspx

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