Dell PowerEdge 2800

I’ve bought an older Dell PowerEdge 2800 server recently. I bought it because I was sick of messing around with consumer hardware for our home system. A real server system has several advantages, most notably I wanted:

  • easily swappable drive bays
  • many drives bays
  • a possibility to access power status and screen remotely (the real screen, even the BIOS)
  • modularity and easy access
  • PCI-X support for raid controller

An alternative is to buy a NAS, one of these little boxes that are quite common now. But they are quite expensive, and I didn’t want to spend that much money. In the end I decided to buy an older PowerEdge 2800 system that has all these features: 8 hot-swappable SCSI drive bays, PCI-X and PCIe, a BMC/DRAC and a well-designed system in general. Additionally this had the advantage that SCSI systems are really cheap – who wants to have SCSI anyways?

There were only two problems with the system:

  1. it’s noisy like a 747 at take-off
  2. I also don’t want to have SCSI :D

So, obviously I had to hack up the system to support S-ATA and be quiet/silent enough to live, like the previous server, in our stairwell. I succeeded, as you can see here:

This system is running a 8-drive S-ATA RAID5. Note that the drives are only cold-swappable though. It’s even more silent than my desktop!

Main howto posts

All posts related to this project

21 thoughts on “Dell PowerEdge 2800

  1. Pingback: I’ve bought a server | tüfteln

  2. Pingback: Those darn fans! | tüfteln

  3. Pingback: The battle againt the BMC – Part 2 | tüfteln

  4. Pingback: Dell PowerEdge BMC Firmware Fan Thresholds Adjustment | tüfteln

  5. Pingback: How to adjust the fan thresholds of a Dell PowerEdge | tüfteln

  6. Pingback: Converting a PowerEdge SCSI backplane to support SATA | tüfteln

  7. I read you article and wanted to know if its possible to reduce my fan speed on a dell poweredge 2800 that is running on window. I have spent some time now trying to figure out the BMC but to no avail.

    Could you send me some specific instruction on modifying the bios. I am a very new to server management.

    Baller

    • No it’s not possible to reduce the fan speeds by modifying the BMC only.

      You have to replace the stock fans with models that turn slower. My hack only allows to do this, as there’s a threshold in the BMC preventing you from using fans with low RPM.

      Read the two posts related to fans linked above under “Main howto posts” and you’ll understand.

  8. Hi I have a 2800 and a 6650. Is there a way to do what you did on the pe 2800 but this time for the pe 6650? Would really love to know…
    Thanks!

    • You can change the fans, for sure. But if you can adjust the BMC firmware, honestly, I do not know. The 6650 is quite old, 2 generations older than the (already old) 2800.

      I would check the firmware modification before buying fans etc:
      How to adjust the fan thresholds of a Dell PowerEdge
      Just get the latest BMC firmware for your 6650 and try my script on it. If Dell kept the structure and format for the firmware the same, it should detect different models and their fan speeds – in that case, it should work. If not, you’ve lost nothing…

  9. please can u help me flash my dell 2900 gen 2. changed the fans but currently using windows server 2008 and stuck on how to flash firmware… please help!

  10. Hey I was wondering if there was a way to flash the bmc in windows? as I’m running win 7 ultimate on my machine when I have replaced the fans.

    • You can flash the original firmware under Windows, but it’s a one-in-all package that doesn’t allow you to tear it apart and modify the firmware (if I remember correctly). So in summary, no.

  11. I have a 2950 and don’t see the sensor numbers matching up. Should I proceed with attempting to modify the firmware?

    $ ipmi-sensors|grep -i fan
    22 | FAN 1 RPM | Fan | 7725.00 | RPM | ‘OK’
    23 | FAN 2 RPM | Fan | 7575.00 | RPM | ‘OK’
    24 | FAN 3 RPM | Fan | 7575.00 | RPM | ‘OK’
    25 | FAN 4 RPM | Fan | 7425.00 | RPM | ‘OK’
    26 | FAN 5 RPM | Fan | N/A | RPM | N/A
    27 | FAN 6 RPM | Fan | N/A | RPM | N/A
    46 | Fan Redundancy | Fan | N/A | N/A | ‘Fully Redundant’

    However when I run your script I see the following:
    3) PowerEdge 2950
    Number of fans: 6
    Fan names : FAN 1 RPM, FAN 2 RPM, FAN 3 RPM, FAN 4 RPM, FAN 5 RPM, FAN 6 RPM
    Fan speeds : 2025, 2025, 2025, 2025, 2250, 2250
    Sensor numbers: 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53

    • It might be that you have less fans installed than listed in the firmware (for example, only one CPU and not two). Your version of ipmi-sensors does not seem to list the thresholds, only the current RPM values.

      Try impi-sensors -v for a more detailed output. For example, try this to see the fan blocks: ipmi-sensors -v 2>&1 | grep -i fan -A12

      • The –legacy-output option to newer versions of ipmi-sensors gives the old format that includes the low threshhold, or you can use -v which has lots more information.

        I found that with the old BMC installed on a 2970, I had to run ipmi-sensors 30 or 40 times before it successfully wrote the sensor cache and reported sensor data. I also couldn’t get it to update the BMC firmware under Linux; there was a useless warning about “Failed to Load Library” that didn’t say anything about what library it could not load. I ended up booting windows and using the windows update executable to put the latest BMC firmware in place, then went back to Linux and now ipmi-sensors (with no cache) worked the first time.

        I still got the “Failed to Load Library” error trying to update the BMC firmware under Linux, but this time I found a french web site http://www.enrici.com/2013/04/12/flash-bmc-dell-sous-debian-wheezy/ that said that this error was “normal” and to keep re-trying (“Relancer”), and a subsequent try (might have taken more than one re-try) succeeded updating the BMC to the modified version.

        I don’t know which code applied to my 2970; there were two codes that had matching sets of fans and I just updated both and I don’t know which it was. I changed both FT and BULN at the same time and I don’t know which it picked to write. Sorry. For that matter, the 2970 series was long-lived and there might be more than one code within the 2970 series as they added a new motherboard generation that supported new CPUs, I understand, so both codes could conceivably be for different 2970s. Might mean that good advice would be to change all possibly-matching BMC firmware files rather than just one.

        The sensor numbers in the firmware image were definitely different; both of them were 48-51 for the four CPU fans, and additionally 54 and 55 for other fans not installed on my system; ipmi-sensors reported them as 30-35 so the sequence didn’t match either. FT and BULN have identical fan configurations.

        Whichever it picked, ipmi-sensors reported the correctly lowered low critical threshholds after the update, so one of FT and BULN is correct for at least my 2970. YMMV.

  12. Just wanted to say thank you, tremendously. I’m a Windows sysadmin that has had no exposure to linux whatsever and your help got me through this (and gave me some exposure to linux too). Just a couple hiccups along the way (having to learn about how to get dependencies installed, learning how to deal with BMC in ESXi, and a few other things) but all in all your site was phenomenal, and was a huge help to me. Just wanted to give a hearty thank you!

  13. Pingback: Dell PowerEdge Fan Replacement | tüfteln

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