Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quick XSCF Setup Walk-through For The Sun M4000 Server

Hey there,

You may have noticed (sometime in the last year or so ;) that I like to write about Sun computers and Solaris almost as much as I like to write about the many variants of Linux out there, without which I might not even have gotten interested in computing in the first place. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Sun still doesn't pay me residuals to write about their stuff. Admittedly I haven't, yet, screwed up the nerve to attempt brokering a pay-per-post deal with them (or anyone, for that matter). The end result would, of course, be the sound of a closing door, at best. Perhaps I underestimate the kindness of multi-million dollar corporations. One day, I'll do it, just for kicks (the worst that could possibly happen is that they'd crush me under their platinum boot-heels ;). You'll be the first to know the degree to which I'm ignored :)

In any event, since I use their products so often in my work, writing up how-to and tips-type posts regarding the use of them just makes sense. I think of myself as fairly creative (evidenced by the fact that I still exist, in spite of all the stupid, and hazardous, things I did in my youth ;), but every once in a while I have to defer some of the solid tech stuff to get it out of my system and give my noggin a break. By "solid tech stuff" I mean step-by-step walk-throughs of processes and practices, etc. Things that you can read in a manual that differ very little from what I've actually done. The facts (unlike the methods) can't be disputed. I'll admit that, for me, sometimes writing these kinds of posts is a bit mentally-boring but, if I started writing posts about all the goofy sh## I think about every day, this blog would quickly lose focus. I'd have to rename it "The Mongolian Cluster Fugg Menagerie" or something equally descriptive of what you could expect to not rely on reading every day ;) But, enough about my trivial problems. Life is generally good. My main gripe is that I have to work in order to be able to afford to feed my family. Crocodile tears ;)

This link will take you to a walk-through of the basic setup of the XSCF controller (Comparable to ALOM on some Sun systems, and the Service Controller on some others) on the new(ish) M4000 servers. Believe it or not, the hardest part was figuring out how to get started, even though I've worked on them, replacing system boards before. How embarrassing ;) These few pointers might be helpful to you (and, in the process, expose the possibly entertaining inner workings of a sleep-deprived mind ;)

1. Rather than a straight Ethernet connection, like on some of Sun's servers, the M4000 XSCF controller needs to be connected to with a serial cable (they include one with your purchase as a way of saying "Thank You" for spending 10's of thousands of dollars ;)

2. The correct port is not identified, typically, as a serial port. For ease of location, it's the second port (RJ45) in from the right, if you are looking at the server from the back.

3. Even though the XSCF has power running to it, you actually need to turn on the M4000 in order to do the initial setup through the M4000's serial connection to the XSCF (This one had me stumped for about a half an hour while I tried different cables and setups in HyperTerminal. There's just no substitute for reading the manuals that it takes forever to locate online ;) They didn't come with the physical product this time, so I just assumed a few things that ended up making my day go by much faster :)

4. For some reason, I couldn't get these basic manuals without a login to Sunsolve, although they're probably available on somewhere. If you need to do any hardware work on M4000 or M5000 servers, I put up two essential guides (in PDF format) on one of my web hosting providers. These are worth their weight in paper ;)

The M4000/5000 Server Information Guide

The M4000/5000 Server Service Manual

Hope you can get some use out of those. My wife is obsessed with painting the kitchen - which is why I'm reasonably sure she won't ever read this - and I'm stuck with putting the kids to bed, which means an early night for me and more hallucinogenic dreams about Sponge Bob ;)

To leave you with another quick tip (if you need to install and get the Hell outta there ;), during our initial configuration, we intentionally opted not to set up the DSCP (Domain To Service Processor) protocol during our setup of the XSCF (Extended Control Facility). Once you have the basic networking set up, you can ssh in and set that up later. The DSCP is "important" because it's the protocol XSCF uses to communicate with your server (i.e. if it's not running, you can connect to your domain or console, but good luck getting it to manipulate your M4000 ;)

Hope you're having a peaceful evening, and that the official Sun XSCF Setup Documentation helps you some :)


, Mike

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