Workaround for Dell OpenManage Server Administrator installation fails prerequisite checks


When trying to install Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA) on a PowerEdge R610 server running Windows Server 2003 R2,  I received the following error from the prerequisite checker:

 “This is not a supported server. Server Administrator software can only be installed on supported servers.”

I recevied this error when trying to install OMSA 5.4, 5.5, and 6.0.1. To get around the error you can run the installer with the option to bypass the prerequsite checker. To do so, from command prompt, run the following:

C:\OpenManage\windows\SystemsManagement\msiexec /i SysMgmt.msi SYSTEMCHECK=NO

Dell’s official documentation says version 5.4 and 5.5 of OMSA are not supported on the R610, but it runs great on many systems in my environment.

Howto: Change the IP address of a Dell 4/P DRAC from the command line without rebooting the server


Normally you configure a Dell Remote Access Card (DRAC) when a server is initially commissioned. Once the card is set, administrators rarely if ever need to modify the settings. If you do need to change the settings, the server needs to be restarted so the DRAC BIOS can be modified, which obviously results in system downtime and requires a physical presence at the server console.

I had Dell onsite at one of my remote offices 150 miles away from me today. The tech replaced the DRAC, and once he verified the RAC service started on the Windows 2003 server he was out of there. No one onsite was technical enough to change the DRAC’s default IP address of 192.168.0.120 to a real IP on our subnet, so I had to change in via the Dell racadm command line tool.

Here’s how I changed the DRAC’s IP address:

The DRAC 4/P software is installed into the C:\Program Files\Dell\SysMgt\RAC4 directory by default, so I changed to this directory from a command prompt.

Next I used the racadm.exe utility to configure the DRAC’s TCP/IP settings:

racadm setniccfg -s 172.27.116.24 255.255.255.0 172.27.116.1

where
172.27.116.24 is the ip address I want assigned to the DRAC
255.255.255.0 is the DRAC’s subnet mask
172.27.116.1 is the default gateway used by the DRAC

That’s it! I was immediately able to browse to https://172.27.116.24 and login to the DRAC with the default account root and default password calvin. No server restart is required.

Dell Dset utility default password


I always forget this, so I’m posting this here for the next time I need to review a Dell Dset report, that the default password is ‘dell’.

If you are not familiar with Dset, you can download it from http://ftp.us.dell.com/sysman/Dell_DSET_1.5.0.120.exe

It’s a nifty utility that provides configuration and diagnostic information for Dell’s technical support staff. I like it because I can have someone run it on a remote server and email me the report. It’s very helpful when trying to determine if a hardware failure has occurred (or is occurring).

The Dset readme describes the product in the following manner:

Dell Server E-Support Tool (DSET) provides the ability to collect hardware, storage and operating system information of a Dell PowerEdge or PowerVault server. This information is consolidated into a single “System Configuration Report” that can be useful for troubleshooting or inventory collection of a system. The browser user interface provides a convenient means to view specific data through hierarchical menu trees.

DSET is intended to be a small, non-intrusive tool that does not require a reboot of the system to provide full functionality. DSET can collect information about Linux modules, services, network settings, etc. as well as system logs. DSET will also collect extended hardware information such as processors, memory, PCI cards, ESM log, BIOS/firmware versions and system health (fan/voltage levels) as well as storage configuration information (RAID controllers, hard drives).

Dell PowerEdge 1950 NIC teaming test results


I’ve completed testing of the NIC teaming on our new Dell PowerEdge 1950 servers.  I’m more than a little bit surprised by the results, which I’ll get to in a moment.  My initial assumptions were that the network adapters would perform in the following order, from best to worst performing: 

1)  Teamed Intel NICs
2)  Teamed Broadcom NICs
3)  Single Intel NIC
4)  Single Broadcom NIC
 
I tested each configuration by copying a large file or directory of files from server PO1 to server PO2.  Both servers booted from SAN, ran Windows 2003 with the latest Windows patches and updates from our Patchlink server. PO2 was cloned from PO1 after being sysprep’d.  The servers were configured identically, each plugged into the same module on the same HP Procurve 5304xl switch.  The switch was configured with 802.3ad link aggregation.
 
The NICs that were tested were:
 
1 quad port Intel VT 1000 gigabit NIC PCI-X
2 integrated Broadcom Netxtreme II BCM5708C gigabit NICs
 
The files I used to test were:
  • OM_5.4.1_SUU_A00.iso, a 1.85 GB ISO image file
  • gw700.iso, a 689MB ISO image file
  • A 2.23 GB directory of 509 text files, each averaging 5MB in size
The methodology I used to test with was:
  • Install the NIC drivers and configure team’s static IP, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS on each server.  Default team settings were used, including TCP Offload Engine (TOE), Large Send Offload (LSO), and Checksum Offload (CO)
  • Disable all unused NICs
  • Restart both servers
  • Copied the first test file from PO1 to PO2 using the following syntax:
  copy filename \\po2\c$\temp\test\
  • Timed how many seconds it took to copy the file from PO1 to PO2
  • Deleted the copied file from PO2
  • Copied the test file again from PO1 to PO2 until 5 passes were completed
  • Repeated the process for the next test file(s)
The following configurations were tested:
 
1) Single Intel NIC to Single Intel NIC using driver dated 6/13/08
 
2) Single Broadcom NIC to Single Broadcom NIC using driver dated 2/21/08
 
3) Single Intel NIC using driver dated 6/13/08 to Single Broadcom NIC using driver dated 2/21/08
 
4) Teamed Intel NIC to Teamed Intel NIC using driver dated 6/13/08
 
5) Teamed Intel NIC using driver dated 8/23/07 to Teamed Intel NIC using driver dated 6/13/08
 
6) Teamed Intel NIC to Teamed Intel NIC using driver dated 8/23/07
 
7) Teamed Broadcom NIC to Teamed Broadcom NIC using driver dated 2/21/08
 
You can see the test results in the attached document, but to summarize:
 
1)  The teamed Intel NICs performed the worst – even worse than using single Intel NICs
2)  The single Broadcom NIC outperformed the single Intel NIC
3)  The teamed Broadcom NICs were the highest performing
 
I have no clue why the results are what they are.  In the past, I’ve experienced horrendous performance with the Broadcoms, and great performance from the Intels.  Does anyone have any idea as to why the teamed Intel NICs would perform so poorly?
 
The only real difference I could see was that when copying files, Windows Task Manager showed Network Utilization at ~51-56% for the Broadcom tests, and ~16-17% for the Intel tests.  Why, I’m not sure.
 
The data in the spreadsheet shows actual averages, which was the average number of seconds it took to copy a file over five tries, and what is called adjusted average.  Adjusted average is something I learned about long ago in a stats class I had that said it’s a best practice to disregard the lowest and highest value in your sample.  Either way you look at it, the findings are the same:  The Intel performance is horrible while the Broadcoms perform great.
 
Based upon these tests I’m going to recommend going with the teamed Broadcom NICs in the new server deployment.

Fix for Windows Server 2003 Setup error: “Setup could not find a floppy drive on your machine to load OEM driver from floppy disk”


Windows Server 2003 R2 32-bit setup error when specifying additional storage drivers:  

“Setup could not find a floppy drive on your machine to load OEM driver from floppy disk
 
Press ESC to Cancel loading OEM Drivers
Press F3 to quit setup”
 
This error occured when trying to install Windows Server 2003 R2 onto a Dell PowerEdge 830 server with a Dell CERC SATA 1.5/6ch RAID controller card.
 
 
1) Download the Dell USB Key F6 Driver Utility from
 
2) Extract the Dell USB Key F6 Driver Utility to a temporary location on a Windows workstation
 
3) Copy your server’s RAID controller storage drivers to /files subdirectory where the Dell USB Key F6 Driver Utility was extracted
 
4) Run USBKeyPrepF6.exe – your USB drive will be reformatted!
 
5) Press F2 to access Dell BIOS on the server
Under USB Flash Drive Emulation Type, change from auto to Floppy
Save changes and exit
 
6) If you have a Dell Remote Access Card:
CTRL+D to access DRAC settings (some systems may be CTRL+E)
Under Virtual Media Configuration Options, change Virtual Media is Enabled to Virtual Media is Disabled.  R to save changes and reboot.
 
7) Insert the USB drive configured with the Dell USB Key F6 Driver Utility into the server.
 
8) Boot from the Windows Server 2003 CD/DVD.  Press F6 when prompted to install the storage drivers.  Windows setup should now see the USB drive’s storage drivers

Free Dell Server and Storage Stencils, including EMC


I’m working on a Visio drawing of our proposed Groupwise upgrade environment, and needed some better stencils to represents servers and SAN storage than the ones that come with Visio 2003.

I found some very nice stencils at visiocafe.com for Dell servers and storage and EMC storage, including Dell branded EMC storage and EqualLogic.

I can use these along with my eDirectory, clustering and Groupwise stencils to detail everything the administrators will need to know to build my design.