Installing Ubuntu Server 13.04 on an HP DL320e Gen8

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I just had the experience of installing Ubuntu Server 13.04 on a new HP DL320e Gen8 server and it was not as easy as it should have been. It’s kind of pain because Ubuntu is not one of the officially supported operating systems from HP on this server model. So, their “Intelligent Provisioning” is worthless to you. For some crazy reason, Suse Linux is supported but Ubuntu is not. Weird. Anyway, here is what you have to do if you want to get Ubuntu Server going on it.

BIOS Settings

The SATA “fakeRAID” controller from HP that is integrated is not supported, so you will have to run software RAID which you can configure via the Ubuntu Server installer partitioning steps. But, even leaving the setting in the BIOS to have it use the B120i HP RAID controller will mess-up booting into Ubuntu. The Ubuntu OS installer (tried 12.04 and end-up installing 13.04 as it was officially released today) will see the physical drives in the server bays no matter what the BIOS is set to, but the BIOS will have trouble booting after what felt like a successful install. So, you need to go into the BIOS and change the SATA controller setting to “SATA AHCI Support” so you will be able to boot post-install.

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I believe the BIOS ships with the “Dynamic HP Smart Array B120i RAID Support” set as the default. It’s not that smart, so get it out of the way. You will be bombarded with warnings, but you have to do it. I did a bunch of test installs and this worked when all other options around leaving the “smart” setting going failed. You can get into the BIOS with F9.

Software RAID Configuration

I went with two terabyte drives and a simple RAID1 setup. If you set the BIOS SATA controller setting or not, the Ubuntu installer will see the individual physical drives in the bays. You need to not use guided partitioning and switch to manual. On each disk, create a partition map and give each drive the full free space you can without any partitions.

Once each drive has free space and partition maps through manual partitioning, you will get an option to do “Configure Software RAID.” Select it and create your RAID with the drives you have and right changes. Then, go into Configure the Logical Volume Manager” and create volumes on the RAID for root and swap.

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Yes, you can get fancy with more partitions and we all used to back in the day with various ones for /usr, /var, etc. but not really much of a benefit to do anymore. I match my swap size with the amount of RAM I have. In this case, I had a couple of 1TB drives sw mirrored and gave 8GB-ish to the swap space and the rest to root for Linux.

If you do these two major tweaks, you can get around the SATA problem with Ubuntu on the DL320e. If you get through an install and can reboot because it can’t find the volumes, check the BIOS setting and make sure it is on SATA AHCI or it will not find the installed Linux system and sw RAID.

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35 Replies to “Installing Ubuntu Server 13.04 on an HP DL320e Gen8”

    1. Thank you! Very helpful. My install was on an HP Proliant ML310e G8 v2. After applying BIOS suggested change, my system was able to boot. I configured software RAID which is apparently more reliable than fakeRAID mounted on server. Very helpful post. Thank you Mr. Mergy.

  1. Thanks a lot for sharing this! Will spare me some headache during install on my DL320e Gen8 v2 tomorrow… It is a pity that HP does not integrate one of the favourite server distros any better and bans it from ‘intelligent provisioning’, although the hardware is ubuntu certified.

  2. Just got a DL320e gen8 v2 and ran into the same issue, thanks for pointing this out. Another really annoying thing is that after system start the fan runs constantly at 100%. have you encountered the same problem and what have you done in order to fix it if so?

  3. Hi guys,
    I’ve recetly installed Ubuntu 12.04 server in a hp dl320e v8 and I’ve experienced the same fan-speed problems as some of you had. have anyone found how to get the fan to work properly??

    thanks!

  4. Our company just purchased those, after a talk with there representatives I was given 2 advices :

    1) The supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and VMware ESX distributions (listed above) do not provide an HP Dynamic Smart Array Controller in-box driver. To use the Dynamic Smart Array Controller mode on these distributions, the HP Dynamic Smart Array Controller driver (hpvsa) must be downloaded from hp.com using the navigation steps listed under Locating the HP Dynamic Smart Array Controller Driver below.

    The Dynamic Smart Array driver is not available for the following Linux distributions:

    Debian
    Ubuntu
    CentOS
    Fedora
    Asianux
    Oracle Linux
    OpenSUSE

    2) this server will support RAID with ubuntu if you add an additional P420 controller

  5. Hi bro, thanks for posting this you saved my life at work!. I have a question: I use a HP Proliant ML310e Gen8 but i can’t use the ports for openssh or FTP you know if there any security that i have to change? Thanks!

  6. I have installed ubuntu 14.04.1 but i have 2 hard drives, but just one its loading trying to figure out how to load the hard drivers! The model its proliant ml350 g6
    Any help?

  7. Hi Johnathan,

    awesome post! Installed Ubuntu 14.04.1 on a Gen8 with a B120i HP RAID controller and run into a red screen after reboot. Is there still no driver for Ubuntu although the hardware is certified for 14.04? And is “SATA AHCI Support” the only solution?

    Best regards,
    Krzysztof

  8. Thank you for your answer Jonathan. Found an official HP Advisory:

    Tested with 14.04.1 LTS (Trusty) and driver-injection on a USB-stick.
    So far, so good.

  9. Hi,

    I’m using HP PROLIANT ML310E GEN8, i’m trying to install ubuntu server 64 bits 14.04 LTS, it said on the offical ubuntu website, that this hp server version is supported, and tested for installation. My problem is I can’t access boot, it loads this informations :
    Early system intialization, please wait ….
    Progress : 90%
    Early processor initialization
    Processing Log information
    Memory and QPI Link Initialization Start.

    And it’s stuck on 90%, I tried to hit : f1,f2,f10,f11, delete. and for several times, but with no success.

    Please give me a hand on that.

    1. Sounds like something evil set in the BIOS. I would reset to optimal/default settings in the BIOS then confirm you can at least get through to boot off the OS and then go back and carefully tweak BIOS settings one by one to see which one(s) could cause the issue.

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