ipmi and co

Console Management
Ian Durkacz, School of Informatics, April 2007
________________________________________________________________________________
Table of Contents
1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2
1.1 Requirements…………………………………………………………………………………………………………2
1.2 Current approach…………………………………………………………………………………………………….2
2 Possible future options……………………………………………………………………………………………………3
2.1 KVM over IP………………………………………………………………………………………………………….3
2.1.2 KVMoIP ­ AdderLink IP…………………………………………………………………………………..3
2.1.2 KVMoIP – Lantronix SecureLinx Spider……………………………………………………………5
2.2 IPMI – Intelligent Platform Management Interface……………………………………………………..5
2.2.1 IPMI v1.5………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
2.2.2 IPMI v2.0………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7
2.3 Dell DRAC cards……………………………………………………………………………………………………8
2.4 Serial concentrator cards and bespoke configuration…………………………………………………..9
2.5 Commodity solutions…………………………………………………………………………………………….10
3 Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….12
3.1 General conclusions………………………………………………………………………………………………12
3.2 Unresolved questions…………………………………………………………………………………………….13
Appendix A – AdderLink IP configuration………………………………………………………………………..14
Appendix B – Dell naming conventions & IPMI support…………………………………………………….14
Appendix C – Infrastructure servers & IPMI support………………………………………………………….15
Appendix D ­ IPMI v1.5 SOL on a 8th generation Dell ………………………………………………………15
Appendix E ­ IPMI v2.0 SOL on a 9th generation Dell ………………………………………………………17
References……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
________________________________________________________________________________
Remote access to the serial consoles of Informatics servers is currently handled using a combination
of locally­configured software and hardware, some of which is no longer obtainable. This report is
intended to be an overview which summarises the current approach, discusses the pros and cons of
several possible alternative approaches, and makes some suggestions for future provision.
The general conclusion is that, although there is no ‘one­size­fits­all’ solution, it appears viable to
continue the current approach for our existing server hardware, and to move to an IPMI­based
solution as future purchases allow. KVM over IP may have some niche application but does not
appear to be of general use in this context, not least because it is currently too expensive.
1
1 Introduction
1.1 Requirements
The general requirement for a console management scheme here is for a simple and inexpensive
solution (say, < £70 per node, based on the cost of the current set­up) which allows us remotely to:
do machine installations;

look at serial console outputs, even for a dead/locked/unresponsive boxes;

power cycle machines; and

examine and set BIOS/bootprom values.

And we would like to be able to do all this for multiple target machines simultaneously.
Whilst it is not clear exactly how many – and which – Informatics server machines need to be
accessible in this way via a console management scheme (though ideally it might be all such), the
general requirement is, ideally, one console server solution per ‘bank’ of racks. Since it is expected
that each bank will be composed of four or five racks, with a total of perhaps 80 to 90 machines in
each such bank, the ideal outcome would be a console management scheme that could handle 80 to
90 machines ‘per unit’.
1.2 Current approach
Currently, access to the serial consoles1 of various Informatics Linux and Solaris servers is handled
by six console server machines. Each such console server is fitted with either a 16­ or a 32­way
serial card which is used to concentrate the serial ports of up to 32 target machines; each console
server runs the conserver application [1] both to buffer the output of each target’s console, and to
arrange orderly access to these consoles.
Of the 32­way serial cards currently in use, five are Cyclades Cyclom­Y cards, and the other is a
Perle SX card. Cyclades no longer exists as a separate company – it was taken over by Avocent –
and the Cyclom­Y cards themselves are no longer available. Analogous Avocent serial cards are
still produced (see [2]), but are not available in the UK, and are available in the US to OEM
purchasers only. However, Perle multi­port serial cards as currently used here do remain available
for purchase in the UK (see [3]).
The issues therefore are:
Some of the hardware (namely, the Cyclades cards) we are using is no longer available: we

need to ensure that we can support whatever approach we take.
The current approach requires many serial cables to be run around machine rooms: there is a

1 In the case of our Linux servers running on Dell hardware, ‘console access’ also includes access to the BIOS screen
by virtue of suitable console redirection settings in the BIOS.
2
desire to tidy this up if possible.
It may be that approaches other than the current one are simply better and/or cheaper.

2 Possible future options
Considered here are five possible options: KVM over IP; IPMI SOL; Dell DRAC; Serial
concentrator cards (i.e. the current approach); and commodity boxed solutions.
2.1 KVM over IP
KVM over IP allows conventional­style KVM access to server machines over the LAN. In general,
the KVMoIP box itself will have a single network connection, will require the allocation of a single
IP address, and will either be directly connected to a single target machine, or to several such
machines via a separate KVM switch. Initial configuration of the KVMoIP box is done via a
directly­attached keyboard and monitor; thereafter (in particular, after networking has been set up),
configuration of the KVMoIP box proceeds over the LAN.
Where the KVMoIP box is connected to multiple target machines via a KVM switch, only one such
target can usefully be addressed at any one time irrespective of how many remote user sessions the
box might support.
Authentication mechanisms available to KVMoIP units will vary from manufacturer to
manufacturer: a point for us would be the integration of any such device into our authentication
infrastructure.
In the course of this report, only one such box – the AdderLink IP – has actually been tested, but
there will be many similar products available: some notes are given in section 2.2.2 about one such
alternative.
2.1.2 KVMoIP – AdderLink IP
On its own, the AdderLink IP ([4]) provides remote access to one target machine which has been
directly connected to the AdderLink via a KVM cable; linked to a suitable KVM switch (or a
cascade of such switches), it can provide remote access to 128 target machines.
The AdderLink IP box is completely self­contained and is accessed in practice via a Java­enabled
web browser; interaction with it is via a VNC client implemented as a Java applet which is
downloaded from the box on connection. It is possible to configure the unit so that it rejects
incoming connection attempts from IP addresses outside a specified set.
In this evaluation, the AdderLink IP box has only been tested when directly connected to one target
machine – and in this mode it appears to works as advertised, providing full and seamless console
access. It would be useful, however, to test it in conjunction with an appropriate KVM switch, in
order that its usefulness when connected to multiple target machines can be assessed.
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Appendix A contains some configuration notes regarding the AdderLink IP box.
Pros:
Easy to configure; after initial set­up, all configuration can be done remotely.

Appears to work well and provides a fully­functional console.

Requires the allocation of a single IP address only; this could be on a separate management

network.
Cons:
Expensive – £700 if used to target a single server; £100 per target server when used with a

KVM switch.
There is no way to buffer console output – so less ‘post­mortem’ information is available.

The AdderLink IP unit only supports up to four remote connections at any time. (However,

the unit can be configured so that a new remote connection from the ‘admin’ user is always
accepted even if there are four remote connections existing at the time: in such cases, one of
the existing connections is dropped.)
When the AdderLink IP unit is connected to multiple target machines via a KVM switch,

there appears to be no clean way of arbitrating access to these various targets when more
than remote user is connected to the unit.
In other words: despite up to four remote connections being available simultaneously, these
can only usefully be to the same target server.
There appears to be no way of integrating this device into our existing authentication

infrastructure: the usernames and passwords associated with the AdderLink IP unit are
stored within the unit itself in a local database; there is no support for distributed
authentication via RADIUS, Kerberos,  or similar.
Cabling multiple servers to a KVM switch box would create similar (or worse) cabling

problems to the existing serial card solution; in addition, maximum cable lengths need
investigation.
KVM is perhaps overkill anyway if we simply want text consoles.

[Minor issue] Mouse calibration for this unit seems consistently to fail – though this is not

really a problem for a pure text console.
Unit cost:
AdderLink IP unit                                                      ~£700
16­way KVM switch AdderView Matrix MP AVM216MP                         ~£900
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Cost per target server:
~£700 (when used to target a single machine)
~£1600 / 16 = ~£100 (when used with a KVM switch)
2.1.2 KVMoIP – Lantronix SecureLinx Spider
This product (see [5]) has only recently become available and it has not been tested in the course of
this project but, on paper, has several advantages over the AdderLink IP. In particular, it has a small
footprint, it supports RADIUS, and it is easily scalable. The manufacturer’s intention is to deploy
one such KVMoIP box per target server; however one such unit could also service multiple target
servers via a KVM switch in the same way described above for the AdderLink IP unit, and with the
same advantages and disadvantages.
Pros:
Intrinsically scalable.

Does not require a separate power supply.

Supports up to 8 remote connections at any time.

On paper, at least, could be integrated into our existing authentication infrastructure via

RADIUS (but not Kerberos.)
Cons:
Expensive – £270 per target server. (But a single unit could be connected to multiple servers

via a KVM switch.)
There is no way to buffer console output – so less ‘post­mortem’ information is available.

Requires the allocation of an additional IP address per target machine when used as the

manufacturer intends. (All such addresses could be on a separate management network.)
Unit cost:
Lantronix SecureLinx Spider unit       ~£270
Cost per target server:
£270 (but cheaper if used with a KVM switch)
2.2 IPMI – Intelligent Platform Management Interface
The Intelligent Platform Interface (IPMI, [6]) has been developed by Intel, Dell, HP and NEC as a
specification for providing systems management capability in hardware. The Baseboard
Management Controller (BMC) is the heart of an IPMI­based system;  it is responsible for
monitoring, controlling and reporting on all the manageable devices in the system.
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The original version of IPMI – version 1.0 – allowed access to the BMC via system buses only.
IPMI v1.5 added support for accessing the BMC through either a serial port or via the network.
(The physical serial and network connectors used can be either dedicated to the BMC, or
multiplexed with the system’s own connectors.) The network transport employs the Remote
Management Control Protocol (RMCP) running over UDP, and this allows, for example, remote
querying of machine status, and remote power up and/or power down of the machine. Such requests
can be issued using appropriate client software: the ipmitool command [7] which is installed on
DICE machines is one such client, and, for IPMI v1.5, the correct channel to use is lan.
IPMI v2.0 – the current specification – adds, among other things, support for encrypted network
traffic, and formal support for Serial­Over­Lan (SOL) sessions: these allow the input and output of
the serial port of the managed system to be redirected over the network. IPMI v2.0 SOL uses the
RMCP+ protocol (again, this runs over UDP), and its use is directly supported by ipmitool.
RMCP+ uses the lanplus channel.
Note that there is no formal support for SOL sessions in IPMI v1.5: various SOL implementations
for IPMI v1.5 do exist, but these are all necessarily proprietary, and all require the use of additional
proprietary software (the SOL proxy daemon) on the client side.
In the context of this report, the key IPMI feature is SOL: since it allows the redirection of the
target machine’s serial console (including the initial BIOS screen where this has been suitably
enabled) over the network, it implements a remote console.
Despite the fact that the various implementations of IPMI SOL appear to be somewhat immature
(various Usenet and web postings discuss various glitches), it appears that it is now an increasingly
popular approach for console management; in particular, for compute clusters.
2.2.1 IPMI v1.5
IPMI v1.5 is supported by various 8th generation Dell servers: of interest here, it is supported by the
PowerEdge 850, 860, and SC1425. (See Appendices B & C.)
IPMI v1.5 SOL has been successfully used in the course of  this work to remotely access the
consoles of both Dell PowerEdge 860 and SC1425 machines (prague and split respectively) – see
Appendix D for further configuration notes on this.
The exact machine configuration necessary to get IPMI v1.5 and SOL working on any particular
machine will vary depending on the details of that machine, its manufacturer, and its BIOS: Dell’s
Baseboard Management Controller Utilities User’s Guide ([8]) gives details for current Dell
machines.
Pros:
Comes ‘for free’ with suitable servers – no additional cost per machine. (An aggregating

console server machine would still be desirable however; that is, we would still need to
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provide a distinct console server box per bank of racks. See the next point.)
SOL sessions from many target machines should be able to be integrated (via the

conserver application running on a console server host) into a single point­of­contact: this
would allow easy integration with the existing DICE infrastructure (authentication etc.),
provide buffering of the console output, and permit multiple simultaneous reader sessions.
(But note: this has not been tested.)
Cons:
Requires the allocation of an additional IP address per target machine; it is not clear whether

this can be on a different network to that of the machine itself. (Note: VLAN issues need to
be investigated.)
Requires a proprietary SOL proxy daemon program: this is only available as a binary

download, and it cannot be guaranteed to run on any particular version of Linux.
SOL interaction is tediously slow – perhaps unusably slow – owing to the limitations of the

underlying protocol.
It does not seem possible to send a ‘Break’ to the target – presumably the SOL proxy doesn’t

forward this correctly?
Caveat:
The machine/BIOS set­up necessary to support IPMI v1.5 SOL seems highly vendor­ and

machine­specific. Of the two machines accessed in this report, only the SC1425 (split)
was available as a true test machine which could be brought down to the BIOS level,
rebooted, etc., in order to investigate some of these configuration aspects.
Unit cost:
The cost is for the aggregating console server machine only. If an older machine can be redeployed
for this, £0; otherwise, ~£1000.
Cost per target server:
£1000 / 48 = ~£20 (for 48 machines served by each aggregating server)
2.2.2 IPMI v2.0
IPMI v2.0 is supported by various 9th generation Dell servers: of interest here, it is supported by the
PowerEdge 1950 and 2950 machines. (See Appendices B & C.)
IPMI v2.0 SOL has been successfully used in the course of  this work to remotely access the
consoles of both Dell PowerEdge 1950 and 2950 machines (pasta and franklin respectively) –
see Appendix E for further configuration notes.
As for IPMI v1.5, exact configuration details necessary to set up IPMI and SOL v2.0 will vary
7
between machines and manufacturers.
Pros:
Appears to work well and provides a fully­functional console.

Comes ‘for free’ with suitable servers – no additional cost per machine. (An aggregating

console server machine would still be necessary however; that is, we would still need to
provide a distinct console server box per bank of racks. See the next point.)
SOL sessions from many target machines should be able to be integrated (via the

conserver application running on a console server host) into a single point­of­contact: this
would allow easy integration with the existing DICE infrastructure (authentication etc.),
provide buffering of the console output, and permit multiple simultaneous reader sessions.
(But note: this has not been tested.)
Supports encrypted network traffic.

Cons:
Requires the allocation of an additional IP address per target machine; it is not clear whether

this can be on a different network to that of the machine itself. (Note: VLAN issues need to
be investigated.)
Supported by very few of our current machines.

Caveats:
The test machine franklin only became available late in the writing of this report, so the

usability of SOL in all stages of the target machine’s boot cycle has not yet been
exhaustively tested. In addition, some networking issues remain to be fully investigated.2
As for IPMI SOL v1.5, the machine/BIOS set­up necessary to support IPMI v2.0 SOL

seems highly vendor­ and machine­specific.
Unit cost:
The cost is for the aggregating console server machine only. If an older machine can be redeployed
for this, £0; otherwise, ~£1000.
Cost per target server:
£1000 / 48 = ~£20 (for 48 machines served by each aggregating server)
2.3 Dell DRAC cards
Dell manufacture and sell proprietary ‘Dell Remote Assistant Cards’ (DRAC cards): these are add­
2 Specifically, as currently connected to our wires, franklin’s BMC’s NIC does not receive network input unless
configured as tagged­VLAN aware – yet the upstream switch is configured not to send tagged packets. This matter
is under investigation. In any case, the VLAN capabilities of the BMC as a whole need further consideration.
8
on PCI cards implementing proprietary BMC functionality which are intended to be used with Dell­
supplied software in order to provide a remote monitoring capability, including the provision of a
remote console. DRAC cards thus functionally provide a similar facility to that provided by IPMI.
There is a range of such cards, and it is necessary to use the appropriate one with any particular
target Dell server type: the cards are not freely interchangeable between the various Dell servers.
DRAC cards in fact pre­date the IPMI initiative, so should now perhaps be considered overtaken by
events. In any case, their proprietary nature makes them an unattractive proposition, at the least
because they do not offer a solution for anything other than Dell hardware. There is no history of
using them here, and to do so would require retrofitting of all machines. They are mentioned here
only for completeness.
2.4 Serial concentrator cards and bespoke configuration
This is the current approach: a standard DICE server is fitted with a serial port concentrator card,
the serial ports of machines of interest are connected via serial cables, and the whole is managed by
the conserver application.
The current set­up uses serial concentrator cards manufactured by both Cyclades and Perle: the
former are no longer available in the UK, but the latter do remain available here.
To continue using this approach we need to ensure that:
1. Serial port concentrator cards are available, at a reasonable price, and with an interface
(PCI, PCI­X, PCI­Express, 3.3V, 5V, …) that suits our intended console server machine(s).
2. Drivers for such cards are available for the version of Linux we want to run on our console
server machine(s).
Pros:
Requires the allocation of a single IP address only for the console server; this can be on a

separate management network.
Easy to integrate into our existing authentication infrastructure, in the same way as any

other DICE machines.
Cons:
Availability of multi­way serial cards can’t be guaranteed, (although suitable Perle cards do

currently remain available at a reasonable cost.)
The availability of Linux drivers for such cards can’t be guaranteed.

Requires the current extensive serial cabling.

Unit cost:
Perle 32­way serial port concentrator + break­out boxes      £1356
9
A suitable (i.e. one with an appropriate PCI slot, among other things) aggregating console server
machine is also needed. If an older machine can be redeployed for this, £0; otherwise, ~£1000.
Cost per target server:
(£1356 + £1000)/ 32 = ~£73
2.5 Commodity solutions
Several manufacturers produce rackable commodity ‘console server’ boxes. Generally, these boxes
are fitted with serial concentrator cards (up to 48­way), run some version of Linux, and provide
buffering of each serial input – so in practice they provide a very similar, but ‘canned’, solution to
the current Informatics console servers. Avocent – the company which took over Cyclades –
appears to have moved to the supply of such boxes only, rather than the serial concentrator cards
which they use as an internal component.
At least three manufacturers – Avocent, Lantronix, and Perle – produce equipment which is readily
available in the UK.
Pros:
If they work as advertised and can be integrated into our environment, then such boxes offer

an easy (and relatively inexpensive) drop­in solution for our requirements. But no testing of
this has been done in the current project.
Cons:
These boxes appear limited to a maximum of 48 serial ports per unit.

These boxes would be practically identical to the current approach; in particular, they would

have exactly the same serial cabling requirements.
The boxes provide a canned solution which may or may not be easy either to alter or to

update (the latter, for example, in response to security issues) – though  in this regard some
manufacturers do make software development kits available.
The details of integrating such any such device into our existing authentication

infrastructure need investigation. At least one (Lantronix SecureLinx SLC, [9]) claims
support for Kerberos and RADIUS – but no testing of this has been done in the current
project.
Comment:
We would need to obtain one or more of these boxes for testing purposes in order properly

to evaluate their potential use here.
Unit cost:
Lantronix SecureLinx SLC 48­way console server                £2620
10
Cost per target server:
Lantronix:    £2620 / 48  = ~£55
11
3 Summary
3.1 General conclusions
KVM over IP works nicely and provides seamless access to remote consoles, but is

currently expensive, and can’t provide buffering of console output. The AdderLink unit
reviewed cannot be integrated in to our existing authentication infrastructure, does not scale
very well, and does not appear to offer a solution which would allow several users
simultaneous access to distinct remote machines. Units from other manufacturers may be
better in some of these respects.
IPMI v1.5 SOL does not seem a viable option: it is not standardized; it requires additional

software (the telnet proxy) which is only available as a binary download; it is too slow to be
comfortably usable; it doesn’t transmit serial breaks.
IPMI v2.0 SOL is an attractive option: it seems to work well, and is supported for free (and

with no additional software requirements) by conforming machines.  Unfortunately, we
don’t currently have many such machines, but this situation should change as new and
replacement equipment is purchased: any new Dell PowerEdge server should support IPMI
v2.0. The issue of integrating IPMI SOL with a consolidating server in order to provide
console buffering remains to be explored.
The current approach of using serial concentrator cards works well and is – despite initial

impressions – maintainable: the necessary hardware can still be sourced in the UK, and at
similar prices to those we have paid in the past.
The commodity console server boxes appear to offer a drop­in replacement for the current

approach, provided they can be integrated into our infrastructure. They do not, however,
address any of the cable management issues; in this regard they are not an advance on the
current approach.
In summary:
Unless there are alternative approaches which have been completely overlooked in this review, it
would seem reasonable to take the combined approach of continuing (and/or extending as
necessary) the current arrangements, and introducing a solution based on IPMI v2.0 as we acquire
machines that can support it.
The major issue with deploying KVM over IP is the trade­off between cost and convenience: the
approach of using one KVMoIP box per target is attractive, but costly; introducing KVM switches
lessens the cost per target machine but compromises overall usability. KVMoIP may therefore have
use in certain controlled circumstances where we want to provide remote console access either to a
small set of machines, or to a small set of users, but otherwise it does not appear to offer a general
solution for us.
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For reference, the estimated cost­per­target­server figures for the various approaches are repeated
below from section 2:
Option               Type                Approximate Cost per Target Server
KVM over IP                                                   £700
AdderLink IP
(~£100 when used with a 16­way KVM switch)
Lantronix                              £270
(less when used with a KVM switch)
SecureLinx Spider
IPMI SOL                                                     £20
v1.5
v2.0                                 £20
Serial                                                     £73
Perle SX card
32­way
Concentrator
Cards
Lantronix
Commodity                                                      £55
SecureLinx SLC
Solutions
48­way
3.2 Unresolved questions
How many of our machines require remote console access? (That is: what is the size of the

problem we are trying to solve?)
Of these, how many (currently, or will) support IPMI v2.0?

How important is the buffering of console output?

Can we successfully integrate any of the commodity boxes into our existing authentication

infrastructure? (The only way to know for sure will be to test such boxes.)
How successfully can conserver be integrated with IPMI v2.0 SOL?

… etc. …

13
Appendix A – AdderLink IP configuration
The AdderLink IP unit is initially configured via a directly attached keyboard and monitor;
configuration thereafter proceeds via the network – refer to the product manual at
http://www.adder.com/:
1. Allocate an appropriate IP address for the AdderLink. (Here: 129.215.46.132 =
kbadder1.inf.ed.ac.uk.)
2. Set up IP address, netmask, and gateway on the AdderLink via a keyboard and monitor
directly attached to the unit.
(Aside: This unit can use DHCP, but there is a general question of autonomy here: a
‘console server’ should presumably be as independent of the rest of the infrastructure as
possible.)
3. Finalise configuration remotely via the VNC applet embedded on the unit itself: point a web
browser at http://kbadder1/.
Notes:
1. When using the AdderLink in KVM mode via the directly­attached connection, and logged
in (to the AdderLink) as ‘admin’, Ctrl­Alt­C brings up the configuration screen.
2. To hard reset the unit (if ever necessary) :
Power off.

Set DIP switch 1 to ON.

Power on. You should see a maintenance screen: select ‘Reset configuration’.

Power off; return DIP switch 1 to OFF; power on. You should see the initial

configuration screen.
Appendix B – Dell naming conventions & IPMI support
The ‘generation’ of any Dell PowerEdge server is specified by the third digit from the right in the
model number: a PE x9xx is 9th generation (eg PowerEdge 1950, 2950); a PE x8xx is 8th generation
(eg PowerEdge 860);  etc. (Aside: the leading digit in the model number is a key to the physical size
of the server, in U’s.)
Note that Dell ‘SC’ servers follow a different naming convention.
Generally: 9th generation Dell servers support IPMI v2.0; 8th Generation Dell servers support IPMI
v1.5; 7th and 6th generation Dell servers may support IPMI v1.0 if suitably equipped; earlier
generations offer no support for IPMI. Specifically, in our case for the types of machines we
currently have:
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Machine type                  Generation   IPMI version
PowerEdge x9xx                                     9             2.0
SC1435
PowerEdge x8xx                                     8             1.5
PowerEdge 830
PowerEdge 850
SC1425
PowerEdge 750                                      7             1.0
(supports IPMI with optional ERA/O card)
See also http://linux.dell.com/ipmi.shtml
Appendix C – Infrastructure servers & IPMI support
Specifically, IPMI provision on the current principle KB Infrastructure Machines is as follows:
Hostname        Machine type                           IPMI version
berlin           PE850              1.5
boulez           PE750              None (but 1.0 available via DRAC III card – aka ERA/O)
exeter           PE750              None (but 1.0 available via DRAC III card – aka ERA/O)
linnaeus         PE650              None
nautilus         SC1425             1.5
roujan           PE750              None (but 1.0 available via DRAC III card – aka ERA/O)
solti            PE750              None (but 1.0 available via DRAC III card – aka ERA/O)
Appendix D – IPMI v1.5 SOL on a 8th generation Dell
Configure the target machine:
Using ipmitool directly on an installed target machine, configuration of the IPMI LAN channel
proceeds exactly as for a 9th generation machine, so see Appendix E below.
(Comment: Refer to [8] for details on configuring the BMC on a new machine pre­install via the
BIOS, but note in particular that Integrated Devices> Serial Port 1 must be set to BMC NIC in
order for SOL to work correctly. Other settings (e.g. COM1) will result in Error(0xa9) when
attempting to initiate SOL.)
On the target machine, put a serial console on COM1 set to 19200 baud:
#include <dice/options/serialconsole.h>
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!init.entry_gettyS0                mREPLACE(9600, 19200)
(Comments:
A baud rate of 9600 does not work for this version of SOL, even though it is offered as an

option by the SOL proxy. Why?
IPMI v1.5 SOL sessions appear always to be configured on COM1; cf. IPMI v2.0 sessions

which  appear to be configured on COM2 – see Appendix E.)
Configure the client machine:
Alter the LCFG profile of any standard DICE machine thus:
!profile.packages mADD(-OpenIPMI-devel-*-* \
-OpenIPMI-*-*)
!profile.packages mADD(osabmcutil9g-2.0-36/i386)
(Comment: The  osabmcutil9g-2.0-36/i386 package is a download from Dell (go to
http://support.dell.com/; keyword search for ‘linux remote management’) and it is needed to
supply the telnet proxy daemon necessary for IPMI v1.5 SOL. It also installs other binaries,
however, amongst which is /usr/sbin/ipmish. That is not needed here, but it conflicts with the
binary of the same name installed by the OpenIPMI-*-* package – hence the latter’s removal. The
osabmcutil9g-2.0-36/i386 package has been uploaded to the RPM repository in unmodified
form; were it ever to be used seriously here the binary conflict should be resolved.)
Initiate a IPMI SOL session from the client machine:
[sandilands]idurkacz: telnet localhost 623
Trying 127.0.0.1…
Connected to localhost.inf.ed.ac.uk (127.0.0.1).
Escape character is ‘^]’.
…[snip]…
1:Connect to the Remote Server’s BMC
2:Configure the Serial-Over-LAN for the Remote Server
3:Activate Console Redirection
4:Reboot and Activate Console Redirection
5:Help
6:Exit
Please select the item(press 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6):1
split’s BMC’s IP address
1. Server Address:129.215.32.58 ←
Username:root
Password:
Key:
SOLProxy Status:Connected.
…[snip]…
Current connection:129.215.32.58:root
…[snip]…
Please select the item(press 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6):2
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Status: Serial-Over-LAN Enabled.
Current settings:
Baud Rate:19.2K ← must be 19.2K
Minimum required privilege:admin
1.         Disable Serial-Over-LAN.
2.         Change Serial-Over-LAN settings.
3.         Cancel
Please select the item(press 1, 2, 3):3
…[snip]…
Please select the item(press 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6):3
Activating remote console now.
Remote console is now active and ready for user input.
Fedora Core release 5 (Bordeaux)
Kernel 2.6.18-1.2257_FC5_dice_1.2 on an i686
split.inf.ed.ac.uk login: idurkacz
Password:
Last login: Wed Apr 11 12:41:32 from sandilands.inf.ed.ac.uk
[split]idurkacz: exit
logout
Fedora Core release 5 (Bordeaux)
Kernel 2.6.18-1.2257_FC5_dice_1.2 on an i686
split.inf.ed.ac.uk login: ~
Console redirection is deactivated by user.
Deactivating …………
Console deactived.
…[snip]…
Please select the item(press 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6):6
Disconnected from 129.215.32.58:root
Remote console session terminated
Connection closed by foreign host.
[sandilands]idurkacz:
Appendix E – IPMI v2.0 SOL on a 9th generation Dell
Configure the target machine:
pasta is a Dell PowerEdge 1950, already installed and operational. The BMC on a new machine
can be completely configured pre­install via the BIOS (refer to [8] for details); here, the BMC
configuration was done via the command line on the running system.
First allocate a unique IP address to the BMC. (Here: 129.215.32.42 =
pastabmc.inf.ed.ac.uk.) Then configure the BMC so that IPMI is functional over the network:
Load the IPMI kernel modules so that the IPMI open channel can be used:
[pasta]root: /sbin/modprobe ipmi_msghandler
17
[pasta]root: /sbin/modprobe ipmi_devintf
[pasta]root: /sbin/modprobe ipmi_si
[pasta]root: ipmitool -I open bmc info
…[snip]…
IPMI Version                     : 2.0
…[snip]…
Discover the LAN channel:
(Comment: there appears to be no standard number for the IPMI LAN channel – it’s found by
looking at all possible channels – but on all Dell implementations tried here, the LAN channel turns
out to be channel 1.)
[pasta]root: ipmitool channel info 1
Channel 0x1 info:
Channel Medium Type         : 802.3 LAN
…[snip]…
Configure the LAN channel (having previously allocated the BMC a unique IP address):
[pasta]root: ipmitool lan print 1
…[snip]…
MAC Address                    : 00:15:c5:e8:fc:60
…[snip]…
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 ipaddr 129.215.32.42
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 netmask 255.255.255.0
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 auth ADMIN MD5,PASSWORD
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 defgw ipaddr 129.215.32.354
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 arp respond on
[pasta]root:     ipmitool   lan  set   1 access on
Configure the IPMI root user for channel 1:
[pasta]root: ipmitool user list 1
ID Name        Callin     Link Auth      IPMI Msg      Channel Priv Limit
2    root      true       true           true          ADMINISTRATOR
[pasta]root: ipmitool user set password 2 <IPMI root password>
At this stage, normal IPMI commands should be functional over the network, so:
Test IPMI over the LAN from any other machine, logged in as any user:
[sandilands]idurkacz: export IPMI_PASSWORD=<IPMI root password>
[sandilands]idurkacz: ipmitool -I lan -H pastabmc -U root -E chassis status
System Power               : on
Power Overload             : false
…[snip]…
On the target machine, put a serial console on COM2:
/* SOL additions to pasta’s profile */
#include <dice/options/serialconsole.h>
!grub.kernelargs_defaultboot_disk1                  mREPLACEQ(« console=ttyS0,9600 », \
« console=ttyS1,57600 »)
!init.entries                  mADD(gettyS1)
init.entry_gettyS1             T2:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -L 57600 ttyS1 vt100
18
!auth.securetty                mADD(ttyS1)
(Comment: The above assumes that machine has been configured to provide serial console output;
that is , that the BIOS has previously been configured thus:
Set Serial Communication> Serial Communication to On with Console Redirection via
COM2
Set Serial Communication> External Serial Connector to COM2 )
Initiate a IPMI SOL session from any other DICE machine:
[sandilands]idurkacz: export IPMI_PASSWORD=<IPMI root password>
[sandilands]idurkacz: ipmitool -I lanplus -H pastabmc -U root -E sol activate
[SOL Session operational. Use ~? for help]
Fedora Core release 5 (Bordeaux)
Kernel 2.6.17-1.2174_FC5_dice_1.1smp on an i686
pasta.inf.ed.ac.uk login: idurkacz
Password:
Last login: Mon Apr 23 19:01:26 on ttyS1
[pasta]idurkacz: exit
logout
Fedora Core release 5 (Bordeaux)
Kernel 2.6.17-1.2174_FC5_dice_1.1smp on an i686
pasta.inf.ed.ac.uk login: ~. [terminated ipmitool]
[sandilands]idurkacz:
19
References
1. Conserver home page:
http://www.conserver.com/
2. Avocent serial cards:
http://www.connectivity.avocent.com/products/bus-based/
3. Perle serial cards:
http://www.perle.com/products/serial-cards.shtml
4. AdderLink IP KVMoIP:
http://www.adder.com/main.asp?id=508_2074_23622
5. Lantronix SecureLinx Spider KVMoIP:
http://www.lantronix.com/data-center-management/kvm-solutions/securelinx-spider.html
http://www.lantronix.com/pdf/Spider_PB.pdf
6. IPMI specifications:
http://www.intel.com/design/servers/ipmi/
7. ipmitool home page:
http://ipmitool.sourceforge.net/
8. Dell OpenManage Baseboard Manager Controller Utilities User’s Guide:
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/software/smbmcmu/
9. Lantronix SecureLinx SLC Console Server:
http://www.lantronix.com/data-center-management/console-servers/securelinx-slc.html
________________________________________________________________________________
[END]
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