Dell PowerEdge R310 + external USB CDROM installation possible!



  • Hello,

    R310 specs:

    • PowerEdge R310 1U Chassis

    • Redundant Power Supply (2 PSU) 400W

    • 2GB Memory, DDR3, 1333MHz (2x1GB Single Ranked UDIMMs)

    • Intel® Xeon® L3426, 4C, 1.86GHz, 8M Cache, 45W TDP, Turbo, HT, Memory runs at 1333MHz Max

    • Two 160GB, SATA, 3.5-in, 7.2K RPM Hard Drive

    • Intel® Gigabit ET Quad Port Server Adapter, x4 PCIe

    • D-Link DWA556 PCIe wireless card

    • No Internal Optical Drive

    • C1 cabled MST No Raid with On-board SATA Controller, Min. 1 Max. 4 SATA Only Cabled Drives

    • iDRAC6 Express

    All I had to do was burn the latest AMD64 ISO image to a CD and the pfSense 2.0 installation went pretty much without a hitch. I did have to set my external CDROM as the first booting device in the BIOS, but that was it.

    Hitch: The install prompted me early on for the pfSense root install directory. If I remember, the message before the prompt made sense and I typed the first proposed option, something like usb:/dev/iso9660/pfSense (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    After that, everything went smoothly, even building a mirrored drive across the two 160GB SATA drives (one of the install options).

    Reboot, and I was up and running.

    I took pictures along the way, but could not reproduce the prompt message I got, as pfSense was already installed on the drives. I'll see if I can format the drives to start a fresh install.

    Configuration is going to take me a lot longer, but if I notice anything unusual on the R310 platform, I'll update the thread.

    Cheers,
    John

    [update 1] added the machine specs



  • I've successfully booted pfSense from a USB CD-ROM as well, though technically just an ordinary CD-ROM connected by an IDE to USB adapter.  In my case, it booted normally without what you described.  Whether it works probably depends on how the USB device presents the drive to the system and also how the BIOS on the computer handles it.



  • A very timely thread!

    I'm considering using a pair of Dell R310s running pfSense as firewall and load balancer in a high traffic, high availability web server setup within a new co-lo provider.

    Two questions:

    Is this a good choice of hardware? We have a preference for Dell to keep aligned with the other server infrastructure, but are there Dell 1U alternatives which are better suited to pfSense … or perhaps not use pfSense or Dell at all and opt for other firewall/load balancer solutions?

    If this is a good choice are there any best options with respect to processor, network cards etc.

    Config I was considering:

    Intel Core i3-540, 2x1GB 1333 single ranked DDR3, Intel Gigabit ET Dual Port Server Adapter (assume this will give 4 1G interfaces in total), 2nd R1 raid disk (does pfSense support this), 2nd power supply, dvdrom.

    ... or perhaps Intel Xeon X3440 in place of the i3-540 if that is a better option.

    I notice this thread mentions running pfSense version 2. Presumably I would be better to keep to the stable 1.2.3 until 2.0 is fully released?

    Any advice much appreciated. Feel free to redirect me to a more appropriate forum or support channel if this is off-topic.



  • Hello,

    Two questions:

    Is this a good choice of hardware? We have a preference for Dell to keep aligned with the other server infrastructure, but are there Dell 1U alternatives which are better suited to pfSense … or perhaps not use pfSense or Dell at all and opt for other firewall/load balancer solutions?

    The R310 is a 1U machine (see the specs I added). We went for a Dell for the same reasons, a lot of our equipment is Dell / Cisco.

    If this is a good choice are there any best options with respect to processor, network cards etc.

    I went for the low power L3426 Xeon CPU. Haven't measured the power envelop yet, but the machine is pretty quiet with the specs I have. Haven't measured throughput either, I'll update the thread when I do.

    I notice this thread mentions running pfSense version 2. Presumably I would be better to keep to the stable 1.2.3 until 2.0 is fully released?

    I'm lucky enough that I can setup and stress test the machine for another 6 weeks before it needs to go live. Hopefully this should give me enough time to decide whether or not to keep 2.0 running on it. Haven't tried to install 1.2 on it though.

    Cheers,
    John



  • Thanks John,

    Really useful.

    I see you opted for the 4network card. Does this give you 6 ports in all (I'm assuming the box has 21G direct to the motherboard - is that correct?). I think i will need 4 port in total, 1 for pfsync, 1 for internet link and 2 for server traffic (to primary and backup switches).

    I also see you put in a second disk but not mirrored. Is this to allow for failure of the primary disk, and if so is do you know if there a clever way to configure it as such.

    I'm a little wary of low power processors having recently rebuild a home PC. I'm sure is was saving me a few watts of power, but telling the chip to work in high perfromance versus low power mode made a huge difference to performance (and the PC is still almost silent which I suspect has more to do with the DDR3 motherboard and low power disks).

    I'd be very interested to know how much power your setup draws (when unloaded and when you performance test) if you can plug it in via a meter. Clearly nice to try to keep co-lo power down, particularly if we have two of these.

    Regards,

    Ed.



  • Hello Ed,

    I see you opted for the 4network card. Does this give you 6 ports in all (I'm assuming the box has 21G direct to the motherboard - is that correct?). I think i will need 4 port in total, 1 for pfsync, 1 for internet link and 2 for server traffic (to primary and backup switches).

    That's right, 6 gigabit ports in total (4 on the network card + 2 on the motherboard). I'm new at this, but one thing I will be testing (once I figure out how), is transfer between onboard and card, onboard to onboard and card to card, and the associated load on the server.

    I also see you put in a second disk but not mirrored. Is this to allow for failure of the primary disk, and if so is do you know if there a clever way to configure it as such.

    Software RAID in pfsense 2.0 is pretty painless… or at least it was for me. It's an option (geom mirror) that comes-up early in the install. Once you've created your mirror, you just use that as the volume you install pfsense to.

    I'm a little wary of low power processors having recently rebuild a home PC. I'm sure is was saving me a few watts of power, but telling the chip to work in high perfromance versus low power mode made a huge difference to performance (and the PC is still almost silent which I suspect has more to do with the DDR3 motherboard and low power disks).

    I'd be very interested to know how much power your setup draws (when unloaded and when you performance test) if you can plug it in via a meter. Clearly nice to try to keep co-lo power down, particularly if we have two of these.

    I have one a wall socket power-meter things I will use to measure power consumption. Probably not the most accurate tool in the world, but at least it'll give me some figures for idle/load.

    Talking about L-series (low power) vs X series, have you seen this recent anandtech article? http://www.anandtech.com/show/3817/low-power-server-cpus-the-energy-saving-choice

    The conclusion if I understand this correctly, is that peak power consumption is capped on low power xeons, but their performance is lower when compared to the X-series. Reading the article, this very much depends on the task.

    So benchmark wise… I'll follow http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Benchmark suggestion to use netcat and see what load / power consumption I'll be getting in the different configurations enumerated above and report back.

    Cheers,
    John



  • Hi John,

    Many thanks. I look forward to seeing the results of your tests.

    Regards, Ed.



  • Has anyone installed 1.2.3 on one of these yet? What chipset is the mysterious "On-Board Dual Gigabit Network Adapter [Included in Price]"?

    Thanks!



  • Good day everyone,

    I use 2x 1U R310 for our load balancing / Clustering (Carp) solution.
    This work great. Dual integrated Gigabit Nic are detected.
    The only thing I had to do, is remove the internal DVD drives. and install pfsense from an external usb drives.
    SATA port E seems to block pfsense in my case.
    I use pfsense 1.2.3.

    Regards
    Christian Vallee
    Val Technologie



  • Im using Dell Poweredge R300 and they work fine, install from internal DVD drive fine.

    You can't use 1.2.3 on these due to to the Intel PCIe network card does not have drivers in 1.2.3. The base features in 2.0 seem to work fine. I've had to restart twice due to firewall rules changes stop taking effect. Most of the packages seem to not work right or have issues, so I think as long as the base pfsense w/o extra packages works for you then you will be fine using 2.0 beta. Squid do not work right (transparent proxy broken, at least) and on the other machine its stuck with the packages removed but webui thinks they are still installed.


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