The Caboteria / Tech Web / TechNotes > HardwareTips / CompaqDl380Tips (31 Jan 2007, TobyCabot)
One of the companies I worked for shut down quickly and gave some of their hardware to the staff. I ended up with a Compaq DL380 server, which is a 3U rackmount machine with 2 1GHz PIII CPU's, 4GB of memory and 4 18GB SCSI disks (Ultra3 15000RPM!) on a hardware array controller.

http://starbreeze.knoware.nl/~spark/compaq/ - tools to report array controller status

http://www.cpqlinux.com/ - a site about linux on Compaq hardware.

Linux for Proliant documentation - http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/servers/linux/documentation.html

info on Red Hat 7.2 for Proliant - http://h18023.www1.hp.com/support/files/server/us/locate/70_1122.html

Storage

I'm using the machine for my LaborIntensiveTv so I want to store a large quantity of data that I don't care much about (i.e. TV shows) so I really want to put a big disk drive in there. SCSI drives are very expensive, even on Ebay, for example an 18GB drive seems to go for around $100 (in the hot-swap cartridge that you need for the array controller) whereas you can get a brand-new 200GB IDE drive for that money. So high-performance SCSI is roughly 10 times more expensive than commodity IDE. Unfortunately HPQ makes installing additional IDE drives very very hard to do. There's an IDE CDROM but the cable has a non-standard connector so you can't just swap it for a hard drive. There's a second IDE connector on the motherboard but I couldn't make it work for the life of me and the folks on the Compaq/Linux mailing list weren't able to either. One guy I emailed was very helpful and indicated that he had been able to fabricate a custom cable that allowed him to put a hard drive on the CDROM cable but that's more aggressive than I'm willing to be.

Luckily I ended up with a SIIG 2410 2-channel IDE card. It uses the aec62xx kernel driver and seems to work fine. The trick is to configure it at boot-time to disable its BIOS so it doesn't try to boot from the IDE hard drive. Also, since it's a card you need to load the card driver and ide-detect at boot time. My /etc/modules file looks like:

# This file should contain the names of kernel modules that are
# to be loaded at boot time, one per line.  Comments begin with
# a "#", and everything on the line after them are ignored.

aec62xx
ide-detect

Fans

The DL380 is a nice machine but it's LOUD since the fans run by default at full blast, and the proprietary software to control the speed only works with a few distributions of GNU/Linux (but not Debian). I tried unplugging one of the fans and it worked fine until the machine rebooted at which point the BIOS noticed that the fan was gone and refused to run. I also tried removing the wire grills in front and behind which helped a little but not much.

http://www.sk-tech.net/support/cpqhealth.html - scripts and tips on how to make the Compaq Health utilities run on a Debian machine.

This script works OK, with one problem: the obnoxious proprietary drivers need to be compiled specifically for the kernel that you're running. One of the Compaq makefiles looks for the /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build/include/ directory, but if you're running a Debian kernel then you don't have that directory. You need to build a kernel (I didn't install it) and then softlink /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build to your kernel's source directory. Then the compaq stuff should build and run. But of course it's a proprietary module so your kernel is now tainted. Grrr...

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