Thursday, May 24, 2007

Debian 4.0 r0 (Etch) installation on IBM System p5 510 inside LPAR

For some reason, the usual CD/DVD installation does not work in LPAR. I tried both Debian 4.0r0 (netinst and complete cd-1) and OpenSUSE 10.2 (dvd). The errors are known. I reported the OpenSUSE bug here [1], and the Debian bug has been reported here [2]. Update: This workaround should also work in OpenSUSE. Select the logical volume where the installer was disk dumped (dd) as the installer media. This can be done in the Main Menu (4>1>3).

There is a workaround documented by Gottfried Scheckenbach in debian-boot list [3]:

Of interest for users of VIO (via HMC or IVM):
I have found a way around burning a new disc (because I'm not physical near to the machine): I downloded the iso onto the VIO server and putted it via dd into a newly created virtual disc aka LV on the VIO. I attached this virtual disc as secondary hard disc to the LPAR and booted the LPAR using the defictive cdrom. After running into the missing files problem on initializaton of the installer I remounted /cdrom from this second hard disc.

I clarified the 'dd' command from him and he pointed me to the command `oem_setup_env`:
the padmin user has it's own PATH environment - there you see no dd (nor the other usual AIX stuff). But if you switch to root (with oem_setup_env), you can use all normally available AIX commands. And you must be root to write into the LV device. If you look inside /dev you find two devices witch contain the name of your lv - you have to use the block device, not the character one.

To use AIX commands like dd, login as root using the command `oem_setup_env`. This is another helpful documentation in disk dumping the cd-1 ISO image [4].

This is a step by step documentation on the workaround:

0. The assumptions are: you already are inside the VIO server as root, you already have created storage pools (one of which is the rootvg where VIO is located), also you have already created the partition where to install Linux, via IVM.

1. We create the logical volume from one of the storage pools. In this example, we create a logical volume named 'vdiso' from a storage pool named 'LinuxPoolvg'. Since the cd iso is about 700mb, I'll peg the size of the logical volume to 1gig.

$ mklv -lv vdiso LinuxPoolvg 1G

2. Copy the cd iso (debian-40r0-powerpc-CD-1.iso) to the VIO server. I used ftp. (Default user/password: padmin/padmin)

3. Disk dump the ISO to the logical volume as documented by Gottfried and here [4]. If you look inside /dev you find two devices which contain the name of your logical volume. Make sure you use the block device, not the character one.

$ oem_setup_env
# ls -l /dev/*vdiso
crw------- /dev/rvdiso
brw------- /dev/vdiso
# dd if=debian-40r0-powerpc-CD-1.iso of=/dev/vdiso bs=8M

4. Attach the logical volume to the concerned partition via IVM. This is a resourceful guide in managing your partitions using IVM [5]. The attached logical volume will be seen as /dev/sdb1 (you can verify the device name later by using `dmesg` to check for kernel messages on the attached device).

5. Create a virtual terminal (vt) connection to a partition. In this example, the id of the partition is 2:

# exit
$ mkvt -id 2

To remove the vt:

$ rmvt -id 2

To exit the vt and go back to the shell:

(tilde period)

6. Activate the partition using IVM. You should see the boot process from the newly created virtual terminal connection. You should also see yaboot bootloader. Type `install64` to load the 64-bit kernel of the Debian installer and initiate an installation.

7. The installation should fail as reported by Gottfried [2], a failure to read from the cd media. Go back to the Debian installer main menu and scroll down to 'Execute a shell'. You will be given a busybox ash shell. Verify the Linux device name of logical volume (mentioned earlier in step 4) using `dmesg`. Mine is /dev/sdb1.

8. Unmount the cd media mounted in /cdrom and replace it with the logical volume created in step 1:

Busybox ASH:
# umount /cdrom
# mount /dev/sdb1 /cdrom
# exit

9. You should be brought back to the main menu. Re-start the installation from the step 'Load installer components from CD'. Select all components.

10. There will be a problem detecting the PPPoE concentrator. I just skipped this step and continued.

11. Gottfried reports here [3] that there will be a problem with ext3 reformatting, so we use reiserfs instead.

12. Please read Gottfried's other notes (e.g. yaboot placement) for other possible errors. I encountered a minor problem with the default boot sequence but it's as simple as specifying the newly-installed partition in the SMS menu.

If you have other problems, you can drop a comment here or report it as a bug to the concerned Debian list.

[1] link1
[2] link2
[3] link3
[4] link4
[5] link5

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