Dell/Redhat/tg3 problems

Cris Rhea crhea at
Thu Jan 23 11:50:00 CST 2003

> Just to underscore what Amit @ Dell said, these are not official.
> They are unofficial kernels, built by me, which are _based_ on the
> latest Red Hat errata kernel.
> 	Jeff

Yes, you were very clear about these being your own patched kernels that
have not gone through the RedHat QA/Errata process... I understood that 
and thank you for your efforts and help.  

My original question centered around incorrect version numbers if you 
had based your work on the latest errata kernel- you cleared that up 
(and I learned about sub-version numbers from the other folks who 
chimed in).

Now, the bigger question to the group (especially those folks at RedHat 
or Dell):

I have a Dell 2550 running RedHat 8.0 that I'm trying to make into a critical
production server (E-mail server for a large group of Researchers at Mayo).
I have applied all the firmware updates (BIOS/ESM/Backplane) and RH8.0
kernel Errata (and now, Jeff's "aragorn1" custom patched kernel).

On this list, I've seen suggestions all over the board:

   - Switch network drivers to use the Broadcom driver
   - Use the custom-patched TG3 drivers- they'll perform better than bcxxxx
   - Disable the on-board NICs and install Intel cards
   - Upgrade to a kernel several releases beyond RH8.0 (2.4.20-xxx)

I have spent weeks now (since before Christmas) trying to get this system

My team lead made an intersting observation the other day:  

I've had to do all sorts of patching and research into how to make 
this Dell/RedHat system stable. If we had instead purchased a Sun/Solaris 
system, we would have been reliable/stable within a couple days 
(Install the OS then load Sun's Security and Recommended patch set).
We almost never see an OS/hardware combination that makes the base 
system unstable.

While the cost/performance of a Dell/RedHat system is great, if it takes
me a month to get a system to play nice and talk on the Ethernet without
crashing.... makes my upper management question how "ready for prime time"
Linux is.

What's the real answer??

(And for the record, my group has been doing Linux on Dell successfully
for several years- well before all the press hype about Linux in the 
workplace. Also, since a good portion of new code development in the
Genomics arena is done on Linux, we're doing more and more with Linux-
it's quickly becoming our core unix platform.)

--- Cris

 Cristopher J. Rhea                     Mayo Foundation
 Research Computing Facility             Pavilion 2-25
 crhea at Mayo.EDU                        Rochester, MN 55905
 (507) 284-0587                        Fax: (507) 284-5231

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