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Community Member

Linux + KVM on UCS C220

Hello!

     I am trying to use a UCS C220 M3L that we just purchased as a host for Virtual Machines. Here are the hardware specs of the server:

UCSC-C220-M3LUCS C220 M3 LFF w/o CPU mem   HDD PCIe PSU   w/ rail kit
UCSC-PSU-650W650W power supply for C-series   rack servers
UCS-CPU-E5-26652.40 GHz E5-2665/115W 8C/20MB   Cache/DDR3 1600MHz
UCS-MR-1X162RY-A16GB DDR3-1600-MHz   RDIMM/PC3-12800/dual rank/1.35v
UCS-HDD500GI1F211500GB SATA 7.2K RPM 3.5 inch   HDD/hot plug/drive sled mounted
CAB-9K12A-NAPower Cord 125VAC 13A NEMA 5-15   Plug North America
UCSC-PCIE-CSC-02Cisco VIC 1225 Dual Port 10Gb   SFP+ CNA
UCSC-BBLKD-L3.5-inch HDD Blanking Panel
UCSC-HS-C220M3Heat Sink for UCS C220 M3 Rack   Server
UCSC-PCIF-01HHalf height PCIe filler for UCS
UCSC-RAIL1Rail Kit for C220 C22 C24 rack   servers
SFP-10G-SR=10GBASE-SR SFP Module

I had orignally thought of using Ubuntu 12.0.4 LTS as the OS and KVM for virtualization. As I read through the supplied docs and attempt to do just that I have some concerns. First is the Embedded RAID controller. According the quick start guide:

"VMware ESX/ESXi or any other virtualized environments are not supported for use with the embedded MegaRAID controller. Hypervisors such as Hyper-V, Xen, or KVM are also not supported for use with the embedded MegaRAID controller. "

I went into BIOS and checked the settings for the Embedded RAID controller and saw that there were two options: MegaRAID and Intel RSTe.  I could not find any thing in the documentation about the difference between these two settings and what would happen if I selected one over the other. I tried both controllers with the two installed drives as a RAID 1 pair and as non-RAID disks with the same results.

The second issue I ran into was that the Ubuntu installer did not recognize either of these two controllers and failed to install. Based on the published documentation, I saw that RHEL 6.4 was supported, so I downloaded and installed CENTOS 6.4 . The installer did detect the Intel RSTe controller as a "Firmware RAID" and installed what I believe is OS level RAID configuration. I say that because when I check the Intel RSTe bios, is still shows two non-raid disks.

So with this background, I am re-grouping to see what is the best way to proceed and have the following questions:

1) Will I be able to run a virtualized environment at all with my current hardware config?

2) What is the difference between the embedded RAID options: MegaRAID and Intel RSTe?

3) Can I just ran both my drives as bare drives without any RAID? Will that deal with the virtualization issue of not being supported with the embedded MegaRAID controller?

4) Do I have to order hardware RAID controller?

5) I have read about the Flexi-Flash disks having the ability to slip-stream Linux drivers during the install but no procedures on how to do that. Where can I find them?

6) Has anyone had any luck installing Ubuntu with this hardware configuration? Is it supported? Or should I just press on with CENTOS?

7) Related to CENTOS, I installed the basic server option and added GNOME desktop with X-Windows to get some GUI Admin tools. When I trying using startx to initiate a session, it appears that the X-Windows server attempts to start, the screen goes black into Graphical mode and drops back to the CLI with a message that server terminated successfully. Anyone know what is going on here?

Sorry for the long message and I appreciate any help that you can provide!

Thanks!

Dave

4 REPLIES
Community Member

Linux + KVM on UCS C220

Community Member

Linux + KVM on UCS C220

Difference between the embedded RAID options: MegaRAID and Intel RSTe.

IntelRSTe(also known as Intel Rapid Storage Technology-Enterprise) is an  embedded software RAID solution based on the Intel Chipset RAID Stack  for on-server board SAS and SATA ports. It provides pass-through drive  support as well as host based RAID 0/1/10 support and RAID 5 support for  the SATA ports.

The Embedded MegaRAID Software supports up to eight SAS or SATA ports, depending on the  hardware platform. This provides a cost-effective way to achieve higher  transfer rates and reliability.

Hope this will help

Regards,

Shahzad

Community Member

Linux + KVM on UCS C220

Hello David,

If you're going to load ESXi on these servers, there are a few things you need to consider when  ordering them. For instance, you cannot boot from ESXi using a software  RAID controller. So, even if you have some local/internal hard drives  and even if you can install the ESXi OS on those hard drives, you will  not be able to boot from them if you have the software RAID controller.  "VMware ESX/ESXi or any other virtualized environments are not supported  for use with the embedded MegaRAID controller. Hypervisors such as  Hyper-V, Xen, or KVM are also not supported for use with the embedded  MegaRAID controller" (source: Cisco USC C220 Server Installation and Service Guide).  If you're going to use a SAN and you don't even need the internal hard  drives, I recommend using what Cisco calls the Flexible Flash Card. This  card is basically an SD card that comes pre-configured with four  virtual drives. The first drive is the Cisco UCS Server Configuration  Utility, the second is the HV or Hypervisor, the third contains the  Cisco Drivers, and the fourth is the Cisco Host Upgrade Utility. The HV  drive is where you can install your ESXi server and can be made bootable  from within the CIMC. This is much easier than worrying about which  kind of RAID controller to get, and I believe it is a little less  expensive than getting local drives with a hardware RAID controller.

Here is a high level  overview of the steps to follow from racking to booting ESXi.

To configure the CIMC:

  1. Install the Flexible Flash Card in the server.
  2. Rack the UCS server and plug a network cable into the management port.
  3. Power it on.
  4. Press F8 to configure the CIMC information (IP address, password, etc.).
  5. From a computer on the same network, open a browser and connect to the CIMC using the IP address assigned in step 3.
  6. Go to Servers | Inventor | Storage to see the Flex Flash Storage Adapters.
  7. Click Configure Operational Profile and then put a check next to the virtual drives you'd like to enable (i.e., the HV drive).

To install ESXi:

  1. Click Launch The KVM from the CIMC.
  2. In the KVM window, click Virtual Media.
  3. Click Add and browse to where you've downloaded your Cisco Custom  ESXi .iso file and then put a checkmark next to it so it's mapped as the  Virtual CD/DVD.
  4. Click back to the Monitor tab and then click Macros. Select the Ctrl-Alt-Del macro to reboot the server.
  5. Press F6 as the server is rebooting to change the boot device to the Virtual CD/DVD.
  6. Install ESXi as you normally would, but make sure to install it to the HV drive (not to the local drives).
  7. When the install is complete, unmap the Virtual CD/DVD and reboot the server using the macro again.
  8. Press F6 to change the boot device to the HV drive, and it should now boot to the familiar yellow and gray ESXi screen.

Regards,

Shahzad

Community Member

Linux + KVM on UCS C220

Hello David,

Check following link for RAID Controller Considerations.

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/unified_computing/ucs/c/hw/C220/install/raid.html

Regards,

Shahzad

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