As lazy as he can be, our tech­ni­cian pre­sented me with new server for my num­ber crunch­ing with a delay of three weeks. He was com­plain­ing to be forced to cut female SAS-​connectors so that they would fit glam­orous SAS-​drive:

This looked awful enough, but things to come exceeded my hum­ble expectations.

There is Russ­ian proverb lit­er­ally say­ing “How do you name the boat, so it will sail”, and I had vari­ety of chances to test it. FreeBSD router named Zaphod was hang­ing twice a day until one cpu was dis­abled along with one of three eth­er­net cards. Will­helmine works with­out prob­lems for three years already. And this one got name Erza. And her char­ac­ter too.

Our Tyta­nia incar­na­tion was build around Super­mi­cro server board X8DT3-​А hold­ing two 4-​core Nehalems and tons of ram. And this dread­ful moth­er­board showed it’s rid­dles. The first one was easy one — Debian lenny netinstall cd ver. 5.03 has ker­nel 2.6.26 which has bro­ken igb mod­ule. No dual-​port ET eth con­troller for you until you either install patched ker­nel replac­ing sta­ble deb, or go to unsta­ble and install 2.6.32 (my choice). Dur­ing instal­la­tion just use any avail­able pce-​e or pci eth­er­net card.

The sec­ond Tytania’s rid­dle was much more tougher. X8-​series moth­er­boards have already become infa­mous for giv­ing you “fuck­ing win­mo­dem” for SAS-​controller (has to be pro­nounced ‘cunt-​roller’). The name of this dis­as­ter is LSI 1068E and it has to be tamed before you will be able to boot off any of your expen­sive SAS hard dri­ves. If you a blond and glam­orous, go and install RHEL (or Win­dows if you pre­fer) and get that “win­mo­dem” dri­ver from LSI site (no link because they are greedy bas­tards!). In every other case you have to change mode of 1068e to IT (that is for “Initiator/​Target”) to make it run like any other JBOD-​host. The JPS2 jumper near SAS con­nec­tors has to be opened (and left in this state for­ever for any­one not to be tempted by pro­pri­etary fakeraids).

After this manip­u­la­tions 1068E will allow linux to rec­og­nize itself via base mpt­sas mod­ule. But unfor­tu­nately there is very lit­tle chance it will allow you to boot off SAS-​drives. Looks like some bug in firmware. The fix is obvi­ous — down­load update, boot dos from flash drive and update the cul­prit. Guys from Super­mi­cro even uploaded update to their ftp-​site: ftp://​ftp​.super​mi​cro​.com/​d​r​i​v​e​r​/​S​A​S​/​L​S​I​/​1​0​6​4​_​1​0​6​8​/​I​T​/​F​i​r​m​w​a​r​e​/​B​3​/​1​.​2​4​.​0​5​/​L​8i/. At this point you will encounter stag­ger­ing third rid­dle: “Where is my SAS address???”. Flash­ing process is com­bined of three steps, two of them being writ­ing images and third is some wiz­ardry, ask­ing you this 64-​bit num­ber. They do not give you any hint — any wrong move and you will lose this piece of expen­sive crap for­ever? If your num­ber is wrong 1068E of course will not boot at all, but will leave you chance to fix this run­ning “mptutil.exe –o –t” from your firmware-​flashing drive. But exactly where you should look for it? You will be engulfed in aston­ish­ment when pointed out that mys­te­ri­ous SAS-​address (when you pro­nounced fast sounds like deriv­a­tive of ‘suck’ in Russ­ian — you’ve got sit­u­a­tion already, haven’t you?) is printed on that white stripe right above JPS2. It should be wise to write it down beforehand.

As farewell gift X8DT3 con­fuses both Grub and Debian installer shuf­fling num­bers of hard dri­ves sev­eral times dur­ing boot. One will never now if his hd3 will become hd0 or even /​dev/​sde? Every­one likes (or hates) Grub error 17… Had to install stage1 from bootcd with NixOS as Debian installer and even chrooted Grub from installed sys­tem were powerless.

You know, this expe­ri­ence is far worse then any hack­in­tosh. You fol­low well used road, but it is strewn with rakes. Major­ity laughs at com­plain­ing suck­ers, but marches through the same rakes…

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