East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2004/11/5

Argh!

Filed under: Technology — Erwin @ 3:47 pm

The frustration!

For work I received a new server yesterday, for me to test and prepare and then to send back to the right state (as I’m tele-working from a few states away) for actual use. Great idea, saves me having to talk someone else through it or having someone else deal with the install after which I reconfigure bits anyway.

Let me just say before anything else that rackable servers are annoyingly loud. Mostly this is because, being hooked up in a server-room where nobody will hear them anyway, they don’t bother trying to use more expensive and quieter fans, but the fact that they are not holding back on the number of fans adds to that, of course.

Upon setting up the server (hooking it into the KVM, getting it a network cable for software installation & upgrades, etc) I find that at first I can’t even boot into the installed OS all the way. A few more test-boots later I conclude that while appears possible, I cannot reliably get there. Hrm. Contacting the supplier about this, I get the (somewhat predictable, no offense to them) suggestions to reseat the parts, like RAM, CPU, extension cards, HD connections. I do this, but no improvement. Another suggestion is to run a memory test. So I initially hook up a CD drive, burn an ISO onto a CD, boot with it… *wham* instant-reboot. Say what? Ok, let’s try that again… yes, repeatable. Hm, that’s no help. I try the same thing by (when I actually manage to get booted all the way into the OS) creating a bootable partition with the software on it. Still no dice.

Not really sure what I might be looking for I decide to go over all the BIOS options. Strolling slowly (because the updates seem to come at serial-console speed) I run across something called Console redirection. This sends the console to the serial port, for easy hooking up in a data-center where you don’t really want to connect every single server to a keyboard, mouse and monitor.
The setting is set to enabled, meaning that it’s always done. I switch it to disabled, which appears to mean that it’ll only do that when there’s no keyboard attached. Seems fair enough, so why not?

Rebooting… hm, things look much faster. Cool. Hm.. things look much more reliable too! Reboot a few more times, boot all the way into the OS a few times… by Jove, I think I’ve found the problem!?

It’s now an hour later and so far I have yet to see a glitch. Crossing my fingers of course, but it looks quite promising.

Oh, did I mention these servers are loud? I did? Oh, well, they are. Ugh. 🙂

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