Archive for the ‘General Hardware’ Category

Dell Server admin tools (srvadmin) on Centos 5/XenServer

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Recently, with the release of a new 8.x version of Dell SrvAdmin tools, the Centos/RHEL5 (and XenServer, by the way) repositories disappeared. It appears that Dell will not support the RHEL5.x brands anymore.

The proper solution is to install the last 7 SrvAdmin tools, as can be shown in this site.

This solves the problem for XenServer as well.

Connecting EMC/NetApp shelves as JBOD to a Linux machine

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Let’s say you have old shelves of either EMC or NetApp with SAS or SATA disks in them. And let’s say you want to connect them via FC to a Linux machine and have some nice ZFS machine/cluster, or whatever else. There are few things to know, and to attend in order for it to work.

The first one is the sector size. For NetApp – this applies only to non SATA disks (I don’t know about SSDs, though), and for EMC this could apply, as far as I noticed, to all disks – sector size is not 512 bytes, but 520 – the additional 8 bytes are used for block checksum. Linux does not handle well 520 blocks – the following error message will appear in the logs:

Unsupported sector size 520.

To solve it, we will need to identify the disks – using sg3_utils (in Centos-like – yum install sg3_utils) and then modify them to block size of 512 bytes. To identify the disks, run:

sg_scan -i
/dev/sg0: scsi0 channel=3 id=0 lun=0
HP P410i 3.66 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0xc]
/dev/sg1: scsi0 channel=0 id=0 lun=0
HP LOGICAL VOLUME 3.66 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg2: scsi3 channel=0 id=0 lun=0 [em]
hp DVD A DS8A5LH 1HE3 [rmb=1 cmdq=0 pqual=0 pdev=0x5]
/dev/sg3: scsi1 channel=0 id=0 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg4: scsi1 channel=0 id=1 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg5: scsi1 channel=0 id=2 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg6: scsi1 channel=0 id=3 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg7: scsi1 channel=0 id=4 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg8: scsi1 channel=0 id=5 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg9: scsi1 channel=0 id=6 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg10: scsi1 channel=0 id=7 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3500071FC DA04 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg11: scsi1 channel=0 id=8 lun=0
FUJITSU MXW3300FE 0906 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg12: scsi1 channel=0 id=9 lun=0
FUJITSU MXW3300FE 0906 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg13: scsi1 channel=0 id=10 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3300007FC D41B [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg14: scsi1 channel=0 id=11 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3300007FC D41B [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg15: scsi1 channel=0 id=12 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3300007FC D41B [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg16: scsi1 channel=0 id=13 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3300007FC D41B [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg17: scsi1 channel=0 id=14 lun=0
SEAGATE SX3300007FC D41B [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]

So, for each sg device (member of our batch of disks) we need to modify the sector size.

Two ways to do so – the first suggested by this post here, is by using sg_format in the following manner:

sg_format –format –size=512 /dev/sg2

Another post suggested using a dedicated program called ‘setblocksize’. I followed this one, and it worked fine. I had to power cycle the disks before the Linux could use them.

I did notice that disk performance were not bright. I got about 45MB/s write, and about 65-70 MB/s read for large sequential operations, using something like:

dd bs=1M if=/dev/sdf of=/dev/null bs=1M count=10000
dd bs=1M if=/dev/null of=/dev/sdf oflag=direct count=10000 # WARNING – this writes on the disk. Do not use for disks with data!

Fairly disappointing. Also, using multipath, when the shelf is connected to one FC port, and then back to another, showed me that with the setting:

path_grouping_policy multibus

I got about 10MB/s less compared to using “failover” flag (the default for Centos 6). Whatever modification I did to the multipathd.conf, I was unable to exceed this number when using multiple access. These results were consistent when using multibus or group_by_serial, however, when a single path was active and the other was passive, It clearly showed better. I did modify rr_min_io and rr_min_io_rq, but with no effect.

The low disk performance could suggest I need to flush the original disk firmware, however, I am not sure I will do so. If anyone is reading this and had different results – I would love to hear about it.

XenServer 6.5 PCI-Passthrough

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

While searching the web for how to perform PCI-Passthrough on XenServers, we mostly get info about previous versions. Since I have just completed setting up PCI-Passthrough on XenServer version 6. 5 (with recent update 8, just to give you some notion of the exact time frame), I am sharing it here.

Hardware: Cisco UCS blades, with fNIC. I wish to pass through two FC HBAs into a VM (it is going to act as a backup server, and I need it accessing the FC tape). While all my XenServers in this pool have four (4) FC HBAs, this particular XenServer node has six (6). I am intending the first four for SR communication and the remaining two for the PCI Passthrough process.

This is the output of ‘lspci | grep Fibre’:

0b:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0c:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0d:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0e:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
0f:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)
10:00.0 Fibre Channel: Cisco Systems Inc VIC FCoE HBA (rev a2)

So, I want to pass through 0f:00.0 and 10:00.0. I had to add to /boot/extlinux.conf the following two entries after the word ‘splash’ and before the three dashes:

pciback.hide=(0f:00.0)(10:00.0) xen-pciback.hide=(0f:00.0)(10:00.0)

Initially, and contrary to the documentation, the parameter pciback.hide had no effect. As soon as the VM started, the command ‘multipath -l‘ would hang forever (or until hard reset to the host).

To apply the settings above, run (for a good measure. Don’t think we need it, but did not read anything about it): ‘extlinux -i /boot‘ and then reboot.

Now, when the host is back, we need to add the devices to the VM. Make sure that the VM is in ‘off’ state before doing that. Your command would look like this:

xe vm-param-set uuid=<VM UUID> other-config:pci=0/0000:0f:00.0,0/0000:10:00.0

The expression ‘0/0000’ is required. You can search for its purpose, however, in most cases, your value would look exactly like mine – ‘0/0000’

Since my VM is Windows, here it almost ends: Start the VM, and if it boots correctly, Install Cisco VIC into it, as if it were a physical host. You’re done.

Recycling old and terrible

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

I find it that identifying a missing something in the fridge, and adding it to a list does not work well for me. It’s either that I take a mental note of the missing groceries, and then, almost immediately, forget them until the unpacking of the just-purchased groceries, back home, several days later, or that I actually move myself into writing it down on a note, placed on the fridge, and then, of course, forget to take the note with me to the supermarket. Not working.

I have had an old tablet I purchased as my first Android device (and I’m not quite sure why I stayed liking Android in general after the experience I have had with the device). This tablet was very weak when purchased (didn’t get better since), and very cheap (that’s why I purchased it). It’s called ‘Eken M001’ and you can read a review of it here.

This tablet was horrible when purchased. You can hardly do anything with it. However, I came up with an idea – why not use it to hold a grocery purchase list on the fridge and sync this list to my Android cell phone? Wow! A silly, and very cool idea, at the same time.

So, today I have (re)installed the device, configured it to support Hebrew (not that simple on Android 1.6, a breeze on Android 4 and above. Guess what version I have there…) and added that nice list application “OurGroceries”. The result is in the following pictures:

The fridge is hardly visible, acting as our white background. To prevent the device from falling, I have attached it to the sides of the fridge, and not to the door.

I hope it actually will save my problem there. Could be nice 🙂

Getting rid of some junk…

Monday, November 21st, 2011

It wasn’t junk once…

This stuff used to be useful, but it has been laying around for a long while now, doing nothing but collect some dust. I have ‘donated’ some stuff to someone who actually wanted it, but neither him nor me can find a use, nowadays, to a monochrome display card with an ISA 8bit connector, or about 20 56k ISA and PCI modems, or all kind of other old, and once useful junk. So I have let go, and the picture you see is of most of the stuff I have taken to the electronics recycle facility nearby. That was a hack of a work.

Remaining: Some desktops (maybe I will throw away some more, donno yet), Sun Ultra 80 (Since you can never get a SPARC platform when you need it), an IBM FastT200 (one day I will do something with it. Donate it to a better cause than to the junk yard), and, well, that’s all actually.

BTW – not in the picture – two IBM servers and two Dell servers, and many hard drives, which were given to the helpful man who assisted me with carrying this all to the recycle center.