A real server!

IT stuff Nov 16, 2018

After trying to work with the two rather overbundered self built servers with for way too long, replacement had to come.
Ideally one physical machine to replace the two current ones.
After some searching, I saw a pretty nice offer for a rackserver, a Dell PowerEdge R710.  
I talked a bit with the owner, and it all seemed okay, so I went there and checked it out.  

The rackserver with two extra SAS cables in the boot of the car
The rackserver with two extra SAS cables in the boot of the car

Needless to say, everything was fine and I took it home with me.

The server came with following "extra" items:

  • Two Intel E5620 processors with 4 cores, 8 threads.
    Both run on a base clock of 2,40 GHz, and boost to a maximum of 2,66 GHz
  • 72GB DDR3 RAM, mixed sizes.
  • Quad port Broadcom NetXtreme II gigabit ethernet, onboard
  • Dell Perc 6/i hardware RAID controller, rather useless for my application, but nice to have anyways.
  • iDRAC 6 with the Enterprise add-on
  • Two PSUs (Power supply units), both 870w. Rather overkill, but both work fine.  
  • A front bezel
  • Two SAS cables

Some extra explanation and why I chose this server:

Upsides

  • Two CPUs, upgrading to power saving CPUs will be easy.
  • iDRAC 6 with the Enterprise add-on, so it's possible to install an operating system from across the globe if needed.
  • Four network ports without extra PCIe cards, due the onboard network card.
  • Two PSUs, so a known-good as a spare
  • A front bezel, because well, it looks nice. This one did not cost anything extra, are usually a ~€25 option.
  • Two SAS (hard disk cables) cables, because the Perc 6/i uses internal SAS cables, the replacement card will not.

But the server also came with some downsides:

  • The Perc 6/i hardware raid controller, because I want to use ZFS as a filesystem, this does not like anything in between ZFS itself and the actual disks.
  • No hard drive caddies, "holders" for the disks. Very expensive for what it is.  
  • No ready to use internal storage options, except for a USB stick. Not suitable for what I have planned to do.  

But overall it's a very good deal. The server is loaded, has almost everything I wanted it to have.  
There are a few things I have to fix and improve over time, but I've got some workaround for that until I can organise the proper parts for it.  

For now I'll just make the machine work good enough so that I can use it.  

That means flashing the newest firmware on all components, wohoo!

Firmware upgrade on the R710
Firmware upgrade on the R710

It's a tad messy, but it works.  

Computer says no.
Computer says no.

BIOS could not be installed. Hm.
After a few hours of figuring stuff out, trying the online update as well, I ended up with the Windows firmware upgrade utility.

Windows installation, just to upgrade the firmware
Windows installation, just to upgrade the firmware

That worked fine. So everything is on the newest version.

After that, I installed Proxmox, which probably deserves it's own post. So I'll skip that part.

Not a screenshot from 2018, but the current version looks almost the same.
Not a screenshot from 2018, but the current version looks almost the same.

After the installation, I put the server on the attic. Looks odd, but the server didn't mind.  

Rackserver on the "rack"
Rackserver on the "rack"

As you can see on the picture, one of the two self-built machines was still running. This was the NAS, which could not be integrated into the rack server due a missing RAID card capable of being "dumb".

Soon I'll make some more posts, where I'll modify and replace stuff on the server. This is it for now!

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