2.1 Before you install

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According to http://gate.crashing.org/doc/ppc/doc003.htm [1] , a port of the Linux kernel to the PowerPC architecture started in 1994 with Gary Thomas. Around 1997, various source code branches (Native Linux, MkLinux, Linux-pmac) merged to form the LinuxPPC developers release. From this release evolved the first commercial distributions from SuSE, Debian and Yellowdog. The kernel in these releases was a 32-bit kernel.

[1] Mark Hatle, based on posts to the LinuxPPC-users mailing list.

As described in http://penguinppc64.org/history.shtml, in 2002, IBM decided to create a port of the Linux kernel for ppc64 to run on the latest 64-bit PowerPC hardware. It is the evolution of this work that we are now using.

Following are two projects related to Linux for PowerPC:

  • http://penguinppc.org is the home of the development of the 32-bit kernel to run on a variety of hardware: embedded systems based on the 4xx, and the 7xx chips from IBM, Apple desktop machines (PowerMac, PowerBook, iMac, iBook), or IBM pSeries and iSeries ¢ servers.

  • http://penguinppc64.org is the home of the development of the 64-bit kernel to run on IBM pSeries servers (POWER3 ¢, POWER4) and iSeries servers with POWER4 processors. The 64-bit kernel can run 32-bit and 64-bit applications.

For further information, consult the following Web sites:

  • IBM PowerPC processors


  • Main mailing lists for Linux on PowerPC


  • Linux on pSeries portal


Next , we describe how to get the ppc64 Linux kernel running on your 64-bit pSeries server.

2.1.1 Check the prerequisites

In this section, we present a checklist for you to follow before you begin installing your first pSeries system with the Linux operating system. First check that your hardware is fully supported, and that it has the correct level of firmware and hypervisor code in case you are installing an LPAR. Also ensure that you have CDs containing the latest Linux distribution and patches at hand.


We cover the installation of the 64-bit Linux operating system on POWER4-based pSeries systems. At the time of writing, the supported models are:

  • p615 (standalone)

  • p630 (LPAR and standalone)

  • p650 (LPAR and standalone)

  • p655 (LPAR and standalone)

  • p670, p690 (LPAR only)

As a quick guide, the following adapters are currently supported under Linux on pSeries hardware:

  • Storage interfaces

    - 6203 Ultra3 SCSI

    - 6204 Differential Ultra SCSI

    - 6228 2 Gigabit Fibre Channel

    - 6239 2 Gigabit Fibre Channel PCI-X

  • Communications and connectivity

    - 4962 10/100 Mbps Ethernet PCI II

    - 2969 Gigabit Ethernet - SX PCI (Fibre)

    - 2975 Gigabit Ethernet “ Base-T PCI (UTP)

    - 4961 4-port 10/100 Mbps Ethernet4962 10/100 Mbps Ethernet PCI II

    - 5700 Gigabit Ethernet - SX PCI-X (Fibre)

    - 5701 Gigabit Ethernet “ Base-TX PCI-X (UTP)

    - 5706 Gigabit Ethernet (UTP) 2-port

    - 5707 Gigabit Ethernet (Fibre) 2-port

  • Display adapters

    - 2848 GXT135P

  • Disk drives and subsystems

    - 2104-DU3/TU3 Expandable Storage Plus

    - 2105 Enterprise Storage Server Model 800

    - 3159 73.4GB SCSI Disk, 10K rpm

    - 3277 36.4GB SCSI Disk, 15K rpm

    - 3275 146.8GB SCSI Disk, 10K rpm

    - FAStT200/500/600/700/900 Storage Servers

  • Fibre channel directors, switches and hubs

    - 2031-032/224/232 McDATA Fibre Chan Switch

    - 2032-064/140 McDATA Fibre Channel Director

    - 2042-128/256 INRANGE FC/9000 Fibre Dir

    - 2062-D01/D02/T07 Cisco Fabric Switch / Dir

    - 3534-F08 SAN Switch

    - 2109-F16/F32 SAN Switch

  • Optical drives and libraries

    - 2624 32X/40X CD-ROM

    - 2628 40X CD-ROM auto-dock

    - 2629 4.7GB SCSI DVD-RAM


The most recent list of supported hardware and features is available at:


For more general news, announcements, resources, consult the IBM portal for Linux on pSeries:


Firmware levels

We were able to install SLES 8 and RHAS 3 on p650 LPARs and a p630 with these levels of firmware:

  • p650: 3K030916

  • p630: 3R030501

To check your current level of firmware on an already running system, use the lscfg command. Under Linux, this command is not part of the SLES 8 or RHAS 3 distributions. Refer to 4.1.2, "IBM diagnostics tools" on page 168 for information on how to set it up under Linux. If you need to upgrade the firmware, refer to:


If you are already running Linux in a partition or in standalone mode and you wish to upgrade the firmware, you can do it from Linux. The procedure is detailed in 4.1.2, "IBM diagnostics tools" on page 168.

HMC code levels for LPAR mode

The HMC that we used to install the p650 LPARs was running version 3.2.4. If you need to upgrade the HMC code, check:

https ://techsupport.services.ibm.com/server/hmc

More information about the HMC can be found in the IBM Redbook: Effective System Management Using the IBM Hardware Management Console for pSeries , SG24-7038.


Today, the officially supported distributions for installing Linux on pSeries are available at the following locations:

  • SuSE SLES 8, available at:


  • Turbolinux TLES 8, available at:


  • Red Hat RHAS 3, available at:


Turbolinux Enterprise Server (TLES 8) from Turbolinux is identical to SuSE SLES 8. Both implement the UnitedLinux 1.0 specifications [2] . From now on, we will refer only to SLES 8 ”but what we write about SLES 8 applies equally to TLES 8.

[2] UnitedLinux is a consortium of Conectiva, SCO Group , SuSE and Turbolinux that aims at producing a unified professional Linux distribution. It is based on SuSE SLES 8.

A more adventurous reader may wish to try alternative distributions. These distributions feature a 32-bit kernel that can be used for cross-compiling the 64-bit kernel. You install a 32-bit PowerPC distribution on some machine (Apple G4, IBM B50) to build the toolchain (PowerPC64 cross-compiler and utilities) in order to compile a 64-bit kernel to be booted on the target machine. It is very likely that some of the following distributions will feature a 64-bit kernel natively in the future:

  • Gentoo


  • Debian


  • Mandrake


  • Yellow Dog


  • Knoppix


A document written by Manuel L sser, Ralf Strauss and Florian M. Weps is available that gives detailed instructions on how to install a Debian "Woody" distribution on an IBM pSeries p630. The installation server used is an Apple iBook.This document can be found at:


SLES 8 contents

SLES 8 is a full-featured Linux distribution. The complete list of applications can be found at:


It contains nearly 1000 packages. The main features are as follows :

  • UnitedLinux brand 1.0

  • LSB certification 1.3 [3]

    [3] LSB, or Linux Standard Base, aims at improving the compatibility between Linux distributions. It defines common rules for compiled applications and installation scripts that defines a uniform industry standard. LSB addresses such issues as object formats, dynamic linking, libraries, package formats, and so on.

  • Kernel 2.4.21

  • 32-bit and 64-bit application support

  • Glibc 2.2.5

  • Gcc 3.2.2

  • Cross-compiler suite for generating 64-bit applications

  • LVM 1.0.5

  • EVMS 1.4.0

  • File systems supported: ext2, ext3, JFS, ReiserFS

  • Heartbeat 0.4.9e

  • XFree86 4.2

  • KDE 3.0.3

  • GNOME 2.0.6

  • Apache 1.3.26

  • PHP 4.2.2

  • MySQL 3.23.52

  • PostgreSQL 7.2.2

The distribution contains three CDs. Only the first CD is bootable and required for a minimal install. SuSE provides also some supplementary CDs containing source RPMS and documentation for all the packages.

RHAS 3 contents

Red Hat recently announced its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server Version 3 for iSeries, pSeries and zSeries . For a complete description of RHAS 3, refer to:



The main features of RHAS 3 are:

  • LSB certification 1.3

  • Kernel 2.4.21

  • Glibc 2.3.2

  • 32-bit and 64-bit application support

  • Gcc 3.2.3

  • Cross-compiler suite for generating 64-bit applications

  • LVM 1.0.3

  • File systems supported: ext2, ext3

  • XFree86 4.3

  • KDE 3.0.3

  • GNOME 2.0.6

  • Apache 2.0.46

  • PHP 4.3.2

  • MySQL 3.23.58

  • PostgreSQL 7.3.4

The distribution contains four CDs. Only the first CD is bootable. CD1, CD2 and CD3 are required, even for a minimal install. Red Hat also provides five supplementary CDs containing source RPMS and documentation for all the packages. Red Hat also distributes an additional Linux Applications CD (LACD) that contains the IBM Java ¢ runtime and SDK versions 1.4.1.

Where to get the distributions

Neither SLES 8 nor RHAS 3 can be freely downloaded from the Web. Unless you purchase a Linux-ready configuration, you have to order SLES 8 or RHAS 3 separately. For more information, check the following:



The SLES 8 CD1 contains extensive installation documentation in the /docu/ directory. Be sure to have a copy at hand.

The RHAS 3 CD1 contains release notes in the root directory. Complete documentation can be found on the documentation CD. You can find more information about installing RHAS 3 on pSeries from:


2.1.2 Prepare the system

Before installing, verify that all your hardware is supported. Exotic adapters should be removed temporarily during the installation. This applies, for example, for network adapters that have not yet been certified. Also be sure to make a note of the operating systems that might be previously installed, because you may, for example, have an AIX installation on some of the disks that you wish to preserve.


If you are installing an LPAR, you must define it before starting the installation process. Refer to the following IBM documentation on HMC and LPAR:

  • The Complete Partitioning Guide for IBM eServer pSeries Servers , SG24-7039

  • Configuring p690 in an IBM eServer Cluster 1600 , REDP-0187

  • IBM eServer Certification Study Guide - p690 Technical Support , SG24-7195

  • Effective System Management Using the IBM Hardware Management Console for pSeries , SG24-7038

Dynamic LPAR is not supported for a Linux partition. If you only have Linux or AIX 5.2 partitions, it is recommended that you activate the Small Real Mode Address Region, which allows for more flexibility in the way the memory can be partitioned.

When defining the LPAR on the HMC, make sure you check this option, as shown in Figure 2-1 on page 14.

Figure 2-1. Small Real Mode Address Region selection


Our experimental setup consists of one standalone p630 server and four p650 systems with two LPARs.

2.1.3 Monitoring the installation

The installation programs from SuSE and Red Hat can run in text mode or in graphic mode, if the system is equipped with a graphical adapter. If the system being installed does not have a graphical adapter (for example, rack-mounted systems), a graphical installation is still possible using Virtual Network Computing (VNC).

Graphics adapter issues

The p615 and p630 can be fitted with the GXT135P graphics adapter (FC 2848 or 2849). Some adapters have a single DB15 connector for analog displays and are trouble-free. The more recent adapters come with a DB15 connector for analog displays and also a DVI connector for digital displays. This could be troublesome for versions of SLES 8 prior to SP3 if using an analog display, because the default output port for the GXT135P-2848 is the DVI port. The installer program that comes with SLES 8 SP3 can handle this configuration now. This means that you have to boot the SLES 8 SP3 CD1 and then, when prompted by the installation program, insert the base SLES 8 CD1 for the remaining part of the installation.

You may find very useful information in the SLES 8 release notes at:


This document contains a section on graphics adapter issues. In some cases, it might be necessary to connect an ASCII console to perform the installation.

VNC installation

VNC (Virtual Network Computing from http://www.realvnc.com/) is a cross-platform client-server application for remote graphical display. There are clients and servers available for many different operating systems, including AIX, Windows , MacOS and Linux.

Both SuSE and Red Hat installers can start a VNC server during installation. A VNC client needs to be started on a system that has graphical capabilities itself and that is directly connected on the same network as the system being installed. SuSE and RedHat have slightly different ways of telling the installer to start the VNC server and the VNC client, and these are detailed in the following sections.

Setting up a serial connection

The easiest way to set up a serial connection is to connect a 3151 type terminal to the first serial connector of the system being installed. Or you can use a null modem cable and connect to a laptop and use HyperTerminal on Windows or Minicom on Linux.


HyperTerminal can be started from the Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Communication menu on most Windows systems. Upon startup you are asked to name the session, as shown in Figure 2-2 on page 16.

Figure 2-2. HyperTerminal: naming the session


Then you must select the serial port on which you connected the null modem cable. This is usually COM1, as shown in Figure 2-3.

Figure 2-3. HyperTerminal: choosing the serial port


The port settings need to be changed to 9600 bauds, 8N1 as shown in Figure 2-4 on page 17.

Figure 2-4. HyperTerminal: serial port settings


You should now be connected; Figure 2-5 on page 18 shows the HyperTerminal screen.

Figure 2-5. HyperTerminal


Pressing Enter while in this HyperTerminal screen should connect you to the attached system, in the service processor menu, if the system has just been powered up.


Minicom is a popular serial communication program that can be found on any Linux system. Once your null modem cable is connected to a serial port, you can start it by typing: minicom .


On some IBM Thinkpad T30s, the first serial device is disabled in the BIOS. Windows enables it itself, but Linux does not.

To activate it permanently for use by Linux, you must either enable it in the BIOS, or through a Windows utility program that can be found under C:\Program Files\ThinkPad \Utilities\PS2.exe; for example:

 C:>ps2 ? sera # to check the current status C:>ps2 sera enable # to enable it 

Figure 2-6. The minicom startup screen


Pressing Ctrl-A then Z brings up the help screen, as shown in Figure 2-7 on page 20.

Figure 2-7. The minicom help screen


In the minicom help screen, select O . Next, select Serial port setup to choose the serial port and its settings, as shown in Figure 2-8 on page 21.

Figure 2-8. The minicom configuration screen


The first serial port on a PC running Linux is usually named /dev/ttyS0. It corresponds to COM1 for Windows.

If you are using another serial port, change it accordingly as shown in Figure 2-8. To check if a particular port is connected, use the stty command as shown in Example 2-1.

Example 2-1. stty command
 #  stty -a -F /dev/ttyS0  speed 9600 baud; rows 0; columns 0; line = 0; intr = ^C; quit = ^\; erase = ^?; kill = ^U; eof = ^D; eol = <undef>; eol2 = <undef>; start = ^Q; stop = ^S; susp = ^Z; rprnt = ^R; werase = ^W; lnext = ^V; flush = ^U; min = 1; time = 0; -parenb -parodd cs8 hupcl -cstopb cread clocal -crtscts -ignbrk -brkint -ignpar -parmrk -inpck -istrip -inlcr -igncr icrnl ixon -ixoff -iuclc -ixany -imaxbel opost -olcuc -ocrnl onlcr -onocr -onlret -ofill -ofdel nl0 cr0 tab0 bs0 vt0 ff0 isig icanon iexten echo echoe echok -echonl -noflsh -xcase -tostop -echoprt echoctl echoke 

Using stty on a device that is not connected results in an error, as shown in Example 2-2.

Example 2-2. stty error
 #  stty -a -F /dev/ttyS5  stty: /dev/ttyS5: Input/output error 

If the serial port settings must be changed, refer to Figure 2-9 for information on how to change the serial port settings.

Figure 2-9. minicom: changing the serial port settings


After you save the settings, reinitialize the connection by pressing Ctrl A + M keys. Then press Enter and the pSeries console appears; see Figure 2-10 on page 23.

Figure 2-10. minicom: the pSeries console


2.1.4 Review your choices

Whichever distribution you are now ready to install, you will be asked a few questions during the installation. In this section, we briefly review the choices.

Boot options

Once you boot the installation media, you may have to enter some boot options for the installation program. This is where you specify your interface to the installation program as text mode, graphical mode, or VNC.


If you have adapter cards that do not support the Enhanced Error Handling (EEH) feature, then add eeh-force-off to your boot options. For example, the Myricom PCI-X adapters do not support EEH. Add the eeh-force-off to the append option in the /etc/lilo.conf boot loader configuration file, as shown:

 image = /boot/vmlinuz    label = linux    root = /dev/sda3    append = " eeh-force-off" 

A typical invocation is shown in Example 2-3 for SLES 8.

Example 2-3. boot options for SLES 8
 Welcome to yaboot version 1.3.6.SuSE Enter "help" to get some basic usage information boot:  install vnc=1 vnc_password=itsoadmin dhcp=1  

Example 2-4 shows the typical invocation used for RHAS 3.

Example 2-4. boot options for RHAS 3
 Welcome to yaboot version 1.3.10 Enter "help" to get some basic usage information boot:  linux vnc=1 vncconnect=  
Type of installation

The media can be used to install a new system or to boot an already installed system in case of trouble with the boot loader. In our case, we choose a new installation.

Disk partitioning

You will make important decisions in this step. You have to choose if you are going to use Logical Volume Manager (LVM), which type of file system you wish to have and the size of each of the file systems you intend to define in this step. The installers offer default configurations which are sensible , but you may wish to make changes.

LVM is described in great detail in 3.6, "Logical Volume Manager (LVM)" on page 113. LVM is supported by both distributions. As for the file systems, the SLES 8 installer proposes ext2/ext3, ReiserFS and JFS. The RHAS 3 installer supports only ext2/ext3.

Software selection

Both distributions offer minimal, standard, full and customizable software configurations. The minimal installation is useful for testing purposes as it is quick to install. However, a product like GPFS will not install with a minimal installation because it requires compilers to be available.

Kernel modules for your hardware

During installation, you may have to load or select kernel modules for your hardware. Table 2-1 lists the most common drivers.

Table 2-1. Kernel module names

Feature codes


Linux driver


10/100 Mbps Ethernet PCI II



Gigabit Ethernet



Ultra SCSI 3

sym83c8xx (built in on SLES 8)


Gigabit Fibre Channel PCI-X


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Quintero - Deploying Linux on IBM E-Server Pseries Clusters
Quintero - Deploying Linux on IBM E-Server Pseries Clusters
Year: 2003
Pages: 108

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