cli methods for recreating dell utility partition on poweredge servers running linux?

Michael E Brown michael_e_brown at
Sun Jun 8 23:11:01 CDT 2003

Ok, everybody else who responded to you missed a couple of key point, so 
here is what I saw missing, in no particular order:

	-- Master boot record must be an MSDOS-type boot record that 
understands 'active' partitions. If you use grub/lilo in your MBR, this 
will not work. (grub/lilo in the partition work ok.)

	-- Parition must be type "DE". Fdisk can be scripted to do this.

	-- Partition must be FAT16. "mkdosfs -F16 /dev/Xda1" works.

	-- And now the hard part: you have to twiddle the _partition_ boot
record. If you 'dd' the whole thing from another machine, likely the
geometry will not match and it will not boot. Below are the things you
have to do.

		-- copy byte offsets 0-11, and 62-512 from your working 
image. (dd) (in the partition, '/dev/Xda1', not the whole drive)
		-- set offset 0x24 == 0x80
		-- set offset 0x1c equal to the sector # of start of 

	This should make your UP bootable, and will work on any dell 
server system. (Hopefully I didn't miss anything). Hope this helps.


On Fri, 6 Jun 2003, Chris Dagdigian wrote:

> Hello,
> I use SystemImager ( on several clusters of dell
> poweredge servers. One thing I love about Dell BIOS is the 'F12' key for
> initiating a PXE-boot -- this allows me to press a single key and then
> sit back and watch as my node bootstraps itself off the network,
> partitions its disk and then loads up the operating system. About 5
> minutes after hitting 'F12' I have a newly provisioned cluster node.
> Simply beautiful. Especially as I can do this remotely over a serial
> console as well.
> One problem that I'm having is that although systemimager recognizes and
>    recreates the Dell Utility partition itself when bootstrapping a node
> it is not able to populate the partition with the actual files. SI
> simply does not understand MSDOS filesystems.
> Thus I can't actually do a utility boot anymore on the servers. Normally
> this would be fine but not being able to do a utility boot tends to
> upset the Dell hardware support folks when we call. heh.
> I have one machine that does have a working utility partition. I've
> tried to copy the utility partition to different disks using 'dd' as
> well as just mounting the filesystem, creating a tarball and then
> unpacking it on a different node.
> No luck.
> I have a feeling that it should be possible to rip the utility partition
> off a known good poweredge via 'dd' and put it onto a different machine.
> Has anyone done this? Can anyone share a command-line recipe for
> archiving and restoring the Dell utility partition?
> Regards,
> Chris
> --
> Chris Dagdigian, <dag at>
> BioTeam Inc. - Independent Bio-IT & Informatics consulting
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