Dell/Redhat/tg3 problems

Heflin, Roger A. Roger.A.Heflin at
Thu Jan 23 16:19:01 CST 2003

I have spent alot of time on a new sun find that the Standard CD won't work
and that you need a special updated version of the cd, and then extra drivers
there too.

In our case, we are doing this with lots of machines, using a Sun solution
would cost us 3x for the required amount of cpu power, and x is a 7 digit
number, so for the 2x increase you can afford to spend alot of time 
engineering things, and alot of what we enginner is streamlining the install
process as installing lots of machines takes lots of time if you don't
do something.

I have also had pretty good luck with using redhat as the base installation,
but almost always upgrading the kernel to the latest production kernel,
while not supported by dell or redhat, we have had alot better luck with
reporting bugs to the kernel developers and driver developers than we 
every had reporting things to redhat or Sun.

I can agree though that Dell should not have sent out the firmware that
they did on the our 2650s, as they all had to be upgraded.   


> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Cris Rhea [SMTP:crhea at]
> Sent:	Thursday, January 23, 2003 11:46 AM
> To:	Jeff Garzik
> Cc:	Rhea, Cristopher J.; linux-poweredge at
> Subject:	Re: Dell/Redhat/tg3 problems
> > 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
> reliable/stable.
> 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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