8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 9, 2009 1:35 AM by adc31

    Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?

    jwilkinson43 Lurker

      I have a couple shiny new 690s with dual E5335 quad-core procs, 16 GB of RAM, and SAS hard drives.  One of these boxes was purchased specifically to run ESX Server without all the noise of a typical server class machine.  Unfortunately, unlike any other machine I've tried to run ESX on, the kernel hangs on boot.  I am specifically targeting ESX 3.0.1, but I have tried other installations as well.  Here are the things I have tried, all of which ended up with ESX hanging at the "OK, booting the kernel" line:

       

      \- Upgraded system BIOS from A04 to A05.

      \- Mucked with pretty much every BIOS setting I could find that might change the machine's behavior.

      \- Disabled the SAS controller, just to see if I could at least get it past the kernel boot.

      \- Took out some of the memory.

      \- Took out add-on network card.

      \- Put my hard drive in an older 690 owned by a coworker (with different 2-way procs and older A03 BIOS), where I was able to successfully install ESX.  Moved the hard drive back to my machine, and the main ESX kernel boot still hangs at the same spot.

      \- Installed some various flavors of Linux, none of which had a problem loading their kernels.

       

      I'm about at the end of my rope with this one.  I can install every OS I've tried except for the one I really want to run, and every other account I've found shows that ESX runs on a 690 just fine, so it seems like there must be something very specific to this configuration and/or BIOS revision A04/A05.  Of course, ESX installs and runs fine on some comparable PowerEdge 2950s that are in our test lab too.

       

      Anyone seen this and/or have an idea what might be going on?  Also, is there a public list of ESX kernel boot options I might try passing to get past this?

       

      thanks!

      James

        • 1. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
          dominic7 Virtuoso

          Boot into the "service console only" option and check the error logs. If I had to guess I would say that you're going to need to disable the onboard nic and use either a broadcom or intel e1000 card. You may also want to pass the noapic option to the kernel to see if you can get it to boot.

          • 2. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
            jwilkinson43 Lurker

            Unfortunately, none of these did it for me.  I tried booting to the service console, but I still can't get past the initial boot step of "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, booting the kernel."  I also tried disabling the onboard nic as well as passing the noapic option to the kernel - same results.

             

            Is there any other way to try to find out what it's hanging on?

             

            thanks

            James

            • 3. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
              Chris_S_UK Expert

              does switching the screen to the debug mode using ALT-F12 show anything?

              • 4. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
                jwilkinson43 Lurker

                No - it doesn't get to the point of having a debug screen.

                • 5. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
                  dominic7 Virtuoso

                  Disable all the onboard stuff that you can. SATA controllers, integrated nic, parallel port, serial ports etc.

                  • 6. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
                    jwilkinson43 Lurker

                    I disabled everything I could (everything but the rear USB controller, so my keyboard would continue to function, but I did unplug the keyboard for the boot attempt) and got the same result.

                     

                    James

                    • 7. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
                      vm_Lloyd Lurker

                       

                      I am not sure that this really helps but...

                       

                       

                      I was trying to install ESX 3.5 u3 on a P690 with 2 Xeon E5320 1.86 processors in out Test Lab. On the install it kept hanging at "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, Booting the Kernel." I tried everything I could from bios settings to any esx text switches that I could find, noapic etc. I had read about installs failing from SATA CD-ROM drives but I had two IDE drives hooked up. I even tried a PXE boot install - it still hung up.

                       

                       

                      ESXi 3.5 u3 would install with no issues.

                       

                       

                      After looking up the processors in the ESX3.5 HCL, I noticed that the E5320 processor only was listed in single socket server configurations. So, I pulled CPU1 out and tried the regular ESX install - it completed and the ESX host also booted.

                       

                       

                      I was hoping that once installed I would be able to add the second processor back in (different kernel for install versus OS boot) but it was not to be. Once two processors were back in, it again hung on "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, Booting the Kernel." Obviously, no one would run it without the second processor just to run it.

                       

                       

                      I don't know that this information fixes anything but it may save somebody a lot of time reconfiguring bios, firmware and other settings trying to do an unsupported install. ESXi is definitly more forgiving.

                       

                       

                      One question I have is does anyone have a list of "switches" that can be passed to the ESX text install? The few that I found were based on google searches.

                       

                       

                      Thanks

                       

                       

                       

                       

                       

                      • 8. Re: Anyone tried ESX Server on a recent Dell Precision 690?
                        adc31 Lurker

                         

                        I confirm...

                         

                         

                        Dell Precision 690 (Xeon Quad E5345, RAM 12 Gb, SATA drives)

                         

                         

                        ESX 3.5 won't run with 2 xeon quad processor, but one is OK

                         

                         

                        ESXi run with 2 xeon quad (like E5345), but...

                         

                         

                        I noticed a lot of problems in both case, and very poor performance on VM (one VM running Geebench2.0 = 2500)...

                         

                         

                        And data transfert always I/O Error

                         

                         

                        I have tried different combinations with onboard SATA connection and LSI1068 but still same problem...

                         

                         

                        May be I should give up running ESX on this cheap motherboard... ?