Dell Server users:
I just got a Dell 2950 server (I am not sure if it is a "III" or not), but I am going to grab the service tag and run it through Dell's site to get some specs on it and plan to hunt down all the technical docs I can today. The foregoing notwithstanding, here are some of the technical issues I am pondering:
Server purpose: Personal file server and Hypervisor host for testing and development (NOT production level usage).
Has: 32GB RAM, 6 1TB SAS HDs, DRAC5, ESXi 6 installed (though I plan to run ESXi off of a USB device of some sort to boot it)
a) Are the trays I have or what trays must I get to use SATA drives instead of SAS drives in the unit?
b) One of the VMs will run FreeNAS and use ZFS to control the DASDs so I want them to get passed through to that Guest somehow.
c) The processors that are in it right now are fine, but I'd like to figure out what the best processors I can put in it might be (ostensibly to maximize cores and virtualization support not speed per se)
d) To update the BIOSes (for the DRAC5, DASD controllers, main BIOS, video BIOS, etc...) can it be done with a Linux boot USB device or must I use a DOS disk of some sort to accomplish this (I plan no Windows install on it at this time)?
e) I also plan to run BOINC on it to donate CPU cycles to some projects I wish to support. Because everyone in IT knows that BOINCing is always a good idea!
f) If anyone has links for technical docs for a 2950 I'd appreciate them, but I do plan to Google and Dell search for what I can find myself.
g) I haven't look inside the 2950 in great detail (except to notice some eSATA ports), but I would like to have some sort of internal CF Card, SD Card, Micro SD card, USB stick or whatever to have for booting (even a 2.5" SSD would work). But have not yet contemplated how I'd do that, yet I am fine with an external USB to do that too, just thinking out lout right now. Granted, it has a DVD drive in it, and putting a bootable DVD with ESXi on it in there is not really a problem either.
One friend suggested getting a PCi card that can have an SSD on it, but I need to figure out what size PCi cards can fit properly in this server also for now. Thanks in advance to everyone that may ostensibly respond with their expertise and experience.
a. The same tray can be used for SAS or SATA.
b. Can't. None of the controllers validated in the 2950 support passthrough. The closest you can get is to create a single-disk RAID 0 with each disk you want it to see individually. This doesn't always work for applications requiring passthrough, because they still don't have direct access to the bare drive hardware.
c. This will depend on the revision of your particular machine: II - 5300, III - 5400, subject to the bus and cycle specs for the machine (so not all 5400 CPU's will work in a III).
d. Repository Manager will create a bootable Linux disc for updating all the firmware at once. OR you can create your own and use the Linux packages from the Support Site.
f. There is some info out there, but sometimes not all the good info is in official documentation, so for some real-world info, I'd recommend you post what you find or have questions about here for confirmation or possibly additional insight.
g. I believe the III has an internal USB, but otherwise, you'd need to add your own hardware. I can't say off the top of my head, but some systems will not boot drives on the internal SATA ports when there is an "integrated" RAID controller present, but you'd have to play with that setup (or maybe search the forums).
As for the PCIe SSD's ... not all systems can boot to them, so might be another research or experimental topic
Regarding (d.), I just updated a PE2950 with the Dell Server Update Utility DVD media released December 2014. SUU releases in 2015 seem to drop support for PE2950 systems. I used a CentOS 6.5 i386 Live DVD console, though I had to `yum install compat-libstdc++-33.i686 to get the `suu` utility to run properly. Many subsystems were upgraded successfully.
Regarding (g.), I once put a 64GB USB drive in the internal USB port and had CentOS 6.5 installed on it. I didn't leave it that way because I hadn't made the image avoid writes back to the FLASH drive, and I didn't want to ruin it by running the OS as if it was installed on a "real" disk.
I wonder, are there list of modifications one can do or instructions on how to make a bootable CentOS or other Linux distribution that can be booted from USB but will not exact zillions of writes to the USB stick? Although, getting a USB stick with a 10 year warranty or lifetime warranty might be good too!
I did see that there is a bootable ISO image that can be put on a USB stick using rufus too, which may be an option as well. I am planning to fire this system up soon (its been sitting for a while, but I am going to do it).
Thanks for reply.