Friday, April 07, 2006

Converted FreeBSD SMP System to Debian

I decided my Dell PowerEdge 2300 needed to switch from FreeBSD to Debian. I wanted to try using this SMP system to run VMware Server Beta, which runs on Windows or Linux. I'd like to record two notes about how I got this system running Debian with the 2.4 kernel.

First, the Dell PowerEdge 2300 uses a Megaraid RAID system that is not supported by the 2.6 kernel that ships with Debian. I couldn't get the 2.4 version of the installation process to recognize the RAID either, meaning Debian didn't see a hard drive on which to install itself. I found sites like Debian on Dell Servers and considered using custom .iso's for installation. Luckily I found a much simpler solution.

During the installation, after the hardware check failed to find my hard drive, I ran the following commands.

cd /lib/modules/2.4.27-2-386/kernel/drivers/scsi
insmod megaraid.o

That allowed the Megaraid to be recognized, after which a hardware re-check found the RAID and permitted installing the OS.

I had to re-run the install several times. At one point I was getting coredumps during package installation. I originally made progress using the 'expert' installation, which allowed me to select a SMP kernel. At my last reboot I didn't select that option and instead used the standard 'linux' install. That put a non-SMP kernel on my system. I was able to apt-get my way to a SMP kernel, so that didn't cause much trouble.

Second, as far as installing VMware Server Beta went, I used the newest 22874 version and followed my own instructions. (That is why I blog.) I tested the new VMware Server using my latest Sguil VM. After running bunzip2 and tar, I remembered to 'chmod 777 *.vmx' to allow the VM to run in the VMware Server Console. I can report that the Sguil VM runs fine in this new setup.


Paul Schmehl said...

Richard, what made you decide to install Debian instead of FreeBSD with an SMP kernel?

Richard Bejtlich said...


"I wanted to try using this SMP system to run VMware Server Beta, which runs on Windows or Linux."

VMware Server does not run on FreeBSD.