This is the continuation of my tribulations putting together a home grown data centre. The first part of the saga can be found here.

After the initial shock of carrying around the house two very heavy rack servers just to have them not even POST on me I nearly quit on the whole thing and drove them to the nearest recycling centre. But at the last minute I decided to write down the actual errors and do some more googling and forum spelunking. At this point the servers were in a tight space in storage so I just turned the Quad Intel on without bothering to connect the keyboard… and the error was gone! The machine POSted, scanned all the SCSI channels, reported a missing keyboard and showed a bunch of OS options to boot. I chose Red Hat and it loaded the OS until the login screen. I was ecstatic. As it happens this server didn’t like the Logitech USB wireless keyboard which interfered with the SCSI controller. I promptly wiped out the hard drives and installed Windows Server 2003 for Itanium and SQL Server 2005. Now this machine rocks, it is very different from my previous database server, a Packard Bell desktop with a dual core AMD and 4Gb of RAM. Raw processing is slower in the Intel but database operations are many times faster. One of the databases we use for tests has a couple of hundred million records using up 12 Gb of disk space and queries that used to take several minutes now run in 30 seconds or less. I guess that the combination of faster hard drives, more processors with larger caches and a newer architecture conspire to make it so fast. And as it is a 64 bit machine then it will also be useful to test our future versions of GeneXproTools. One problem though, if you are looking for a server to run virtual machines then this is the wrong choice. It is not supported either by VMWare or by Microsoft.

One down, one to go. After the first success I tried my luck with the DL760 which, if you haven’t read the first post, is a Compaq with 8 PIII Xeons with 2 Mb cache each, 10 Gb of RAM and a four hard drive RAID. But no luck. I turned it on and it had no video and the keyboard was dead. These models have an LCD which thankfully worked and was asking me to insert a ROMPACK diskette. Well, I can’t remember the last time I bought diskettes; it was quite a throwback to the nineties and I don’t have any ROMPACK whatever that is. I started by searching the exact message, no luck, then just ROMPACK, no luck too, then searching the server model I ended up finding HPs support forums. In there I found many messages about ROMPACKs and I also found several user guides with the exact word. I guess that Google is losing its mojo.

So, if you also have a DL760 and are looking for docs and drivers have a look at the links at the end of this article. I downloaded the user guide and for the first time in my life I sat down to actually read a computer manual. And it was rather interesting. Unlike desktop manuals, this one explains how to take apart and put back together the server. Just like those army routines of taking apart a machine gun for cleaning. Unfortunately the troubleshooting section was very confusing and did not list my exact problem. I went back to the forums and the general consensus was that you have to take the machine apart, remove as many processors, memory and disks as possible and try again. I also found a ROMPACK download (links at the end) and got a couple of diskettes from the attic. I also had to dig out my very old laptop which is the only machine I have with a floppy drive, booted into Windows 98 and wrote the ROMPACK firmware to disk. I felt ten years younger.

Back at the server I put the diskette in the drive, restarted the now lean server and… it started flashing the ROM. Unfortunately it stopped reading the diskette after 20 or 30 seconds and the LCD message did not change. I was back to square one. Well, maybe one and a half. I posted my problem in the forums and waited for a response but it appears that the DL760 is either too old or the turnover in HP is so high that nobody answered my question. Or maybe they think I should buy a new server.

I took me a long time of research and I did not find a document describing this procedure for this server. My first error was downloading the wrong ROMPACK. You see, there are two DL760s that look exactly the same. Mine is the original DL760 but there is also the DL760 G2 (generation 2, a widely used server nomenclature). With that corrected then I gleaned from a different user manual that I had to put the server in maintenance mode. This involves opening the server and changing line of dip switches. There are three legal combinations: Enable, Disable and Default. Default is the combination for normal server operation, Enabled is the maintenance mode and I have no idea what the Disable is for. So, after changing the I/O Board Switches as they are called in the user guide to the enabled position the server started and flashed to the very end and it POSTed! I went out to celebrate.

DL 760 links:

Proliant Servers Forum
Drivers and downloads

These links are for the first generation DL760. There is also a DL760 G2 which I chose first by mistake. There is also an Compaq 8500R which is, I think the predecessor of the DL760.