Monday
Oct292012

Nexenta 3.1.3 on a DELL R720

I’ve been a happy Nexenta user for quite some time, but there are a few use cases where the default tool kit has some issues. The biggest issue is that the core customer base is people that are building their own storage servers with COTS equipment (lots of SuperMicro) rather than branded stuff from the major vendors like DELL & HP.

As such you can run into problems where the HBAs use custom firmwares designed by the vendor rather than just the original stock LSI firmware which tends to get support very quickly. Unfortunately, in my current environment, the purchasing process precludes the white box approach and I’m limited to the branded solutions.

I’ve been fighting with getting the 3.1.3 release installed because the standard internal SAS card supplied by DELL (PERC H710) isn’t recognized. There is an updated mr_sas driver available, but the problem I ran into was just how to get the card recognized by the installer. There is a document referenced during the install process, but it’s awfully long and involved when the actual steps required are fairly simple.

Prerequisites

  • updated mr_sas driver on a usb key

Then it’s just a matter of running the following commands (modified for the name of your key):

cp /media/LEXAR4G/mr_sas /
hwdisco -d '"pciex1000,5d" "pciex1000,5b"' /mr_sas /mr_sas

This will inject the new version of the driver into the install process but it’s still not available to the currently running environment so the disk won’t be visible yet. To get around this I did the following:

cp /media/LEXAR4G/mr_sas /kernel/drv/amd64/
update_drv -f mr_sas

This will reload the driver and should attach the card so whatever virtual disks you have created will now be visible to the installer. F1 to get back to the installer and you’re good to go.

Side topic (the US is not the world)

The default installer, like many, makes the very annoying assumption that the entire world uses QWERTY keyboards. There is no option to select your keyboard during the boot process, and the international layouts aren’t even installed on the installer CD.

But it turns out that you can force load your local keyboard map manually and fortunately the Nexenta Installer CD does automount USB devices.

So I did took a spare USB key, connected it to a test Solaris VM, and did a quick rsync of /usr/share/lib/keytables over to the key.

Once you’ve booted the Nexenta Installer, connected the key, hitting F2 will put you at a console. From there the command :

loadkeys /media/LEXAR4G/keytables/type_6/france

will load up the standard fr keymap. Depending on your keyboard you might need to use the type_101 keymaps.

Note that once the install is complete, Nexenta does offer the possibility of choosing the console keyboard layout, it’s only during the install phase that this is an issue.

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