IPMI on HP Proliant ML115 G5

I bought an HP Proliant ML115 G5 server recently, it was a bargain for a good amount of processing power, albeit in an entry level tower server. It will live at my house and I’ve already supplemented it with 4 GB RAM and will dropping in a pair of 1 TB disks on a 3Ware RAID controller, so I’m not troubled by the form-factor and otherwise low specs.

At the time of purchase though, I didn’t realise you could buy HP’s Lights Out remote management card and have HP refund you the cost. They won’t do this if you retrospectively buy the card though, they have to be on the same invoice, so I will have to make do with the onboard IPMI controller, which would have been fine as I’m pretty familiar with IPMI, if only I could get it to work on this machine.

As far as I’m aware, the HP LO card is similar in principle to IPMI, but a bit more intelligent. On every other IPMI controller I’ve used, there are a number of ‘channels’ with which you can communicate, one of which is a LAN channel to which you can assign an IP address. That way you can send IPMI commands over the network and remotely power on, power off, reboot and get hardware information whether the operating system is running or not. With some versions of IPMI, you can configure the BIOS, the bootloader and the Linux kernel to give you a serial console over the network so you can see remotely what you would see if you were standing in front of the machine in all cases.

However, with this IPMI controller there doesn’t seem to be a LAN channel which means I can’t do any of those things, at least in the range of channels I tried which was between 0 and 10, only channels 1 and 2 existed. Normally, channel 1 would have been the LAN channel.

It has to be said that HP don’t list this system as supported by Debian or Ubuntu, however it works fine under Debian Etch and Ubuntu 8.10 in every other way and I’ve yet to come across a hardware vendor which actually says it supports Linux across its hardware range, even when it works fine. They normally support a subset of hardware, which they have certified, created a knowledge base for and have provided support training for. My Dell XPS 1710 laptop for example works perfectly, but Dell don’t support Linux on it.

In fact, despite saying they do not support Debian on the ML115 G5, this page appears to show they do support Red Hat and SUSE. If they support Red Hat and SUSE, I  hope this may change once Debian Lenny is released and has been through their QA process. However the Debian Proliant Wiki is confident that the Debian will install successfully on this machine, as I can of course confirm, though no mention is made of the IPMI controller, as you would expect for a wiki about installer compatibility. I may try CentOS to see if it can see a LAN channel on the IPMI controller, just to set the address and then replace it with Debian afterwards. I’m not a fan of Red Hat/CentOS servers, I prefer that it’s reasonably easy to upgrade between Debian release. I don’t see that it’s that easy between Red Hat and CentOS releases. (UPDATE: CentOS can’t see a LAN channel on the IPMI controller either.)

HP do supply a bunch of Debian packages for Proliant hardware management, such as the HP Proliant Value Add Software which contains an HP version of ipmitool, the tool used to manage an IPMI controller from inside the OS. On Dell hardware there is a BIOS level tool to set the IP address on an IPMI controller, on Supermicro servers there was a bootable FreeDOS CD for uploading the firmware and then setting the IP address. In either case, you can also set the IP address of the LAN channel using ipmitool. Sadly, as I said the stock version if ipmitool in Debian Etch and Ubuntu 8.10 doesn’t seem to be able to see a LAN channel. The HP version of ipmitool shipped in the HP Proliant Value Add Software has to be compiled at installation time by debconf and it bails out with a bunch of compiler errors about missing files even though I have the kernel sources and headers installed for my kernel version.

I called HP’s Unix/Linux Proliant support line and explained the problem to the guy, asking if he either knows what the LAN channel is supposed to be, whether the IPMI controller some how relies on the LO card for remote access or whether there are known issues. Unfortunately, he didn’t really seem to know what I was on about and after putting me on hold for several minutes, offered me a Windows Server 2003 null management controller driver. When I reminded him that I had called the Unix/Linux Proliant support line because I use Linux, not Windows, he told me that Linux isn’t supported on this server even though Red Hat and SUSE are as noted above. At this point I explained that the controller is independant of the operating system, it is used for out of band management, ie whether the system is powered on or not, you communicate with the IPMI controller over the network. I forger what my man said to that but it implied that he couldn’t help me and feeling my irritation rise I decided to tell him not to worry about it and ended the call.

It strikes me sometimes that vendor support use their list of supported hardware/operating system/web browser/whatever as a get out clause when they don’t understand your problem. It’s an easy cut off when they encounter something they don’t know how to answer, even though the problem is not related to their hardware/operating system/web browser/whatever support list. That said, I appreciate that this was a quite a specific technical issue and the problem is not necessarily to do with the support guy I called, but in his training and the resources available to him. If he could search for the specs of the IPMI controller in my server or cross-reference my server model, operating system and the IPMI controller, I’m sure he would have been able to be more helpful. I feel bad for call centre support people, they get a shit deal from management and customers alike.

Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, this post is me purely taking the opportunity to complain bitterly about unhelpful support and lack of vendor documentation, to create a central list of all the links I came across navigating the HP’s seemingly spaghetti linked website and to ask you if you have any ideas. Do you have any ideas where I’m going wrong? Will the IPMI controller ever work? Do you know how I can set an IP address on it under Linux?

Other Links:

HP for Proliant

HP Proliant Debian home page

Debian on HP Proliant PDF

Debian Linux on HP website and forum

14 thoughts on “IPMI on HP Proliant ML115 G5

  1. I got one of these to use as a desktop to replace an old dell unit.. I put 4GB of ram in it and a graphics/sound card and it works a treat with ubuntu. They are stunning value, to buy the processor on its own is almost the price of the machine. It has been running almost constantly for a couple of months, and has never skipped a beat. Feels fast too.

  2. Adam,

    Cheers for the input about the ML115. I have purchased/adapted one and talk about it on my own blog.

  3. You might not have the proper card – they seem to be an option on ML115s.
    This is the iLO card you would need:
    http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/management/remotemgmt/lightsout100/index.html
    Usually with iLOs you should see a message during boot saying “Integrated Lights-Out press [F8] to configure” – this takes you into a menu which lets you configure an IP and username/password for the iLO.
    You would have an extra ethernet port if you had the card, so it should be easy to spot!
    I’ve never looked at getting the settings done from inside the OS, but I’ll have a look at ipmitool now.

  4. I’ve gotten this to work on DL185’s without an extra card. Feel free to email me if you haven’t figured it out yet and I can send you some information.

  5. Hi Adam,

    I have purchased an HP ML115 server for use as a powerfull desktop pc, I’m not sure which memory to install in this as I would like to upgrade it.
    Can you shed some light on the memory that you have installed in yours? Memory is quite cheap now & there are some good deals to be had on Play, eBuyer, Novatech etc.. I think it needs to be ECC memory but most seem to be Non-ECC?? Please excuse my ignorance.

    Regards

    Steven

  6. Did you ever get this working without the 100c ILO Card. I really want to leverage this within vmware, but don’t want to spend over 300 notes to purchase 2 if i can achieve remote power on/off remotely without it

  7. No I didn’t I’m afraid. I tried on Centos 5.x and Debian 5. I might have tried the version of Ubuntu that was current at the time too. The issue seemed to be that the IPMI card didn’t present a network interface, which is counter to all of the other IPMI cards I’ve used, which were on Dell and Supermicro servers.

    As you can see in the article, I called HP and they didn’t understand what I was on about.

  8. Dear Adam,

    there is issue on linux hp proliant server, it says

    while booting:

    it was saying
    Slot3 Drive Array. Proliant Storage Enclosue not Responding
    Slot 3 Drive Array not configured

    after that………..>

    pivotroot: pivot_root (/sysroot, /sysroot/initrd) failed : 2
    – umount /initrd/proc failed : 2
    – Freeing unused kernel memory: 212k freed
    – Kernel panic: No init found. Try passing init= option to kernel

    Can u please have look on this

  9. :) It is the same on Sunfire x2100 only Vxxx series allows you to connect to SMDC card by ssh; same on IBM servers, same on Tyan servers same same… the fact is that Intel says “hardware independent” but these remote management boards ARE NOT Intel standard compliant !! That is the fact! by the way Dell and Supermicro servers are better at this chapter. If that SMDC card needs for a OS specific tool to access it this is not hardware independent platform but if it allows a ssh connection that is hardware independent or if that embedded Linux-on SMDC card has a web server to connect to like Dell or Supermicro servers have ..that is ok no need for a tool which is OS dependent

  10. Adam,

    I have a ML115 G1. The integrated IPMI/BMC controller (not the optional LO card) is actually functional. I was able to get a login prompt and browse what I believe is the IPMI “structure”. I’m not very familiar with IPMI commands yet…

    The first thing you need to do is check in the BIOS and make sure that the IPMI/BMC is enabled and assigned to the serial port. You will then be able to get to the IPMI/BMC CLI from the serial port. Once you have some sort of terminal connected to the serial port, you use “ESC (” (without the quotes) to assign the serial port to the IPMI/BMC controller and “ESC Q” to give the serial port back to the system.
    Once you have done ESC (, hit enter a few times and you should get a login prompt. I use admin as the user name and password. You will then get a /./-> prompt. From there you use the show command to list “targets”, “properties” and “verbs” possible for the targets.

    I was able to cd into map1 then nic1 and see a bunch of properties that you can assign values to (ie: network address/mask/gateway/dhcp enable, etc.
    I believe this may be what you are looking for.

    For my use, I just want to be able to reboot this server remotely when the OS becomes unresponsive. So I have connected the ML115 serial port into a serial console server (DECServer 700) which is accessible from the network. Then it’s just a matter of telneting into the DECServer, connect a session to the serial port of the ML115 and issue IPMI commands from there to reset the server. Now I just need to find out what that IPMI command is!

    Sylvain

  11. Thanks Sylvain

    That’s a pretty useful comment. For my purposes, I was hoping to access the BMC over the network without any extra equipment, as I have been able to do with Dell and Supermicro servers. However your comment is helpful in pointing out a solution for accessing the BMC on this machine without the iLO card and useful for people who don’t know how to talk to the BMC at all.

    For your own purposes, there is some discussion on IPMI commands here:

    http://wiki.adamsweet.org/doku.php?id=ipmi_on_linux

    …though I’m not certain what program you’re using to talk to the BMC, they should still work.

    Thanks again for a great comment.

  12. Hi Adam,

    Did you ever get ipmi over LAN working on the server?
    Or at least WOL?

  13. No I’m afraid not. I hit a dead end and I don’t think the IPMI controller supports network access. I didn’t set up WOL.

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