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Dell DRAC5 remote management system

News IPMI Recommended Links PERC controller iLO 3 -- HP engineering fiasco
  Configuring Platform Events Updating the DRAC 5 Firmware Humor Etc

Hardware vendors now incorporate hardware for remote management of boxes. IPMI 2.0 has become the current standard. IPMI offers a way to remotely power-cycle a machine, as well as to have remote console viewable to see the machine boot from BIOS. IPMI is quite powerful -- we could change BIOS settings, reboot the nodes, and watch them boot up and see the screen dump without ever seeing the machine . Terminal servers such as the Cyclades ACS48 remain a reasonable investment and provide out-of-band access and reliability that IPMI does not quite deliver.

DRAC is essentially a web interface to IPMI via a separate small bootable computer on a standard card. For most Dell PowerEdge models, the DRAC exists as an option that you can add to your server configuration. This option adds approximately $300 at the list price to your server configuration, but if you server is installed in remote location it is more then worth the cost. The DRAC on current models is a separate chipset and board that is connected to the server main board but has its own network interface. It can be configured during the boot process as direct configuration is accessible during system initialization.

From the DRAC you can manage media, power, integrated system log messages, and have a remote view of the console. The DRAC is similar to the Hewlett Packard Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) but it is more reliable (see ILO 3 -- HP engineering fiasco)

DRAC card can use either DHCP or static address.

Access to DRAC user accounts is protected by passwords. Default account and password is provided by Dell. You should change it to avoid a trivial backdoor to the server. When the DRAC initializes, you can enter into a configuration screen to get the basic IP address and credentials set. Once this is set, you can further access the system through the web-based interface. Pressing Ctrl-D will take you into the DRAC board setup where you can make basic settings changes. Once you configure the IP address is configured, you can configure additional users and the timeout values for the network sessions.

Note: The default session timeout value is five minutes, you need to increase it to more reasonable value, say 1920 seconds. You can also do it from Remote Access /Configuration/Services menu via HTTP.

There are slight differences in the DRAC’s web interface across models.

DRAC media management

Probably the strongest feature of the DRAC is the media redirection capability. From the web interface, you can redirect the server's CD-ROM and floppy media to that of your web client or an image file. The best application for this is for a brand new server and no operating system is installed. With DRAC media redirection, a CD-ROM .ISO image of an operating system can be configured to be the CD-ROM and the installation can proceed from the virtual CD-ROM without physical media being inserted into the server.

This is workable, tested solution for server installation in remote datacenters without boots on the ground.

The one caveat to watch for is the boot order in the BIOS. Frequently, the default configuration will have the DRAC's redirected CD-ROM as a bootable device - but, if it's below the physical CD-ROM it may not boot correctly. In the BIOS, it is listed as "Virtual CD-ROM" and the equivalent for the floppy drive.

Remote Power Control and Console

The DRAC provides the ability to remotely power off, power on, reset, and power cycle the system, regardless of the state of the operating system. This is especially handy in situations such as the blue screen of death or otherwise failed system that no native interaction can resolve. Be especially careful with the use of the remote power controls since this is one feature that always does as it is told. The security models in place can allow you to prohibit the power controls, called "server control commands." You should consider in larger environments.

The DRAC console also provides a redirection of the video display, also regardless of the operating system state. So, you could connect and see the blue screen of death, jump into the server's BIOS to configure the boot order, install an operating system, or view the console of the operating system as it's running. There are two sessions to the console permitted in most configurations. Note that these two sessions may be in addition to an operating system method, a physical console session, and any additional hardware - such as a keyboard, video, mouse controller or software such as PC Anywhere.

One downside of the DRAC is that on certain models if the DRAC is selected, the onboard video (both rear and front side) interfaces are rendered inoperable by the presence of the DRAC video interface. Dell usually has markers indicating that these interfaces are not available. However, these may get removed and, should you have a monitor connected to the incorrect interface, there would be no video displayed.

Firmware and other housekeeping

The DRAC has a firmware that's separate from the computer's firmware. From support.dell.com, you can download the appropriate firmware for the DRAC model in your system. The DRAC can also provide you the service tag, making the retrieval easier. I recommend that you keep this firmware up to date as inevitably some piece of functionality may not work correctly on the firmware you currently have on the unit. This is where, in my experience, the iLO has been a better remote management device. The DRAC firmware should be updated, whereas you didn't used to have to worry about the iLO firmware.

Be sure to note that within the DRAC you have access to the integrated system logs. This would include notes such as power supply failed, chassis opened, or a memory module failure. The DRAC 5 can even provide running temperatures on the system board. This can be especially beneficial in remote, harsh environment situations where unexpected results are occurring and thermal data would identify an issue. The DRAC also allows for Active Directory integration, certificate management, SNMP traps, and basic email alerting for the status of the device.



NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Mar 07, 2012] Advanced Configuration of the DRAC 5 Dell Remote Access Controller 5 Firmware Version 1.40 User's Guide

Logging In

You can log in either as a DRAC 5 user or as a Microsoft® Active Directory® user. The default user name and password are root and calvin, respectively.

Before you log in to the DRAC 5, verify that you have Log In to DRAC 5 permission. Speak to your organization's DRAC or network administrator to confirm your access privileges.

To log in:

  1. In the User Name field, type one of the following:

    • Your DRAC 5 user name.

For example, <username>

The DRAC 5 user name for local users is case sensitive

For example, <domain>\<username>, <domain>/<username>, or <user>@<domain>.

Examples of an Active Directory user name are: dell.com\john_doe or john_doe@dell.com.

The Active Directory user name is not case sensitive.

  1. In the Password field, type your DRAC 5 user password or Active Directory user password.

This field is case sensitive.

  1. Click OK or press <Enter>.

Logging Out

  1. In the upper-right corner of the DRAC 5 Web-based interface window, click Log Out to close the session.

  2. Close the browser window.

NOTE: The Log Out button does not appear until you log in.
NOTE: Closing the browser without gracefully logging out causes the session to remain open until it times out. It is strongly recommended that you click the logout button to end the session; otherwise, the session remains active until the session timeout is reached.
NOTE: Closing the DRAC 5 Web-based interface within Microsoft Internet Explorer using the close button ("x") at the top right corner of the window may generate an application error. To fix this issue, download the latest Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer from the Microsoft Support website, at support.microsoft.com.

Enabling and Configuring the Managed System to Use a Serial or Telnet Console

The following subsections provide information about how to enable and configure a serial/telnet/ssh console on the managed system.

Using the connect com2 Serial Command

When using the connect com2 serial command, ensure that the following are configured properly:

When a telnet session is established to the DRAC 5 and these settings are incorrect, connect com2 may display a blank screen.

Configuring the BIOS Setup Program for a Serial Connection on the Managed System

Perform the following steps to configure your BIOS Setup program to redirect output to a serial port.

NOTE: You must configure the System Setup program in conjunction with the connect com2 command.
  1. Turn on or restart your system.

  2. Press <F2> immediately after you see the following message:

<F2> = System Setup

  1. Scroll down and select Serial Communication by pressing <Enter>.

  2. Set the Serial Communication screen as follows:

External Serial Connector - Remote Access Device

Redirection After Boot - Disabled

  1. Press <Esc> to exit the System Setup program to complete the System Setup program configuration.

Using the Remote Access Serial Interface

When establishing a serial connection to the RAC device, the following interfaces are available:

RAC Serial Interface

RAC also supports a serial console interface (or RAC Serial Console) that provides a RAC CLI, which is not defined by IPMI. If your system includes a RAC card with Serial Console enabled, the RAC card will override the IPMI serial settings and display the RAC CLI serial interface.

To enable the RAC serial terminal interface, set the cfgSerialConsoleEnable property to 1 (TRUE).

For example:

racadm config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialConsoleEnable 1

See "cfgSerialConsoleEnable (Read/Write)" for more information.

Table 4-1 provides the serial interface settings.

Table 4-1. Serial Interface Settings

IPMI Mode RAC Serial Console Interface
Basic Disabled Basic Mode
Basic Enabled RAC CLI
Terminal Disabled IPMI Terminal Mode
Terminal Enabled RAC CLI

Configuring Linux for Serial Console Redirection During Boot

The following steps are specific to the Linux GRand Unified Bootloader (GRUB). Similar changes would be necessary if you use a different boot loader.

NOTE: When you configure the client VT100 emulation window, set the window or application that is displaying the redirected console to 25 rows x 80 columns to ensure proper text display; otherwise, some text screens may be garbled.

Edit the /etc/grub.conf file as follows:

  1. Locate the General Setting sections in the file and add the following two new lines:

serial --unit=1 --speed=57600
terminal --timeout=10 serial

  1. Append two options to the kernel line:

kernel ............. console=ttyS1,57600

  1. If the /etc/grub.conf contains a splashimage directive, comment it out.

Table 4-2 provides a sample /etc/grub.conf file that shows the changes described in this procedure.

Table 4-2. Sample File: /etc/grub.conf

# grub.conf generated by anaconda
#
# Note that you do not have to rerun grub after making changes
# to this file
# NOTICE: You do not have a /boot partition. This means that
# all kernel and initrd paths are relative to /, e.g.
# root (hd0,0)
# kernel /boot/vmlinuz-version ro root= /dev/sdal
# initrd /boot/initrd-version.img
#
#boot=/dev/sda
default=0
timeout=10
#splashimage=(hd0,2)/grub/splash.xpm.gz

serial --unit=1 --speed=57600
terminal --timeout=10 serial

title Red Hat Linux Advanced Server (2.4.9-e.3smp)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.9-e.3smp ro root= /dev/sda1 hda=ide-scsi console=ttyS0 console= ttyS1,57600
initrd /boot/initrd-2.4.9-e.3smp.img
title Red Hat Linux Advanced Server-up (2.4.9-e.3)
root (hd0,00)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.9-e.3 ro root=/dev/sda1 s
initrd /boot/initrd-2.4.9-e.3.im

When you edit the /etc/grub.conf file, use the following guidelines:

  1. Disable GRUB's graphical interface and use the text-based interface; otherwise, the GRUB screen will not be displayed in RAC console redirection. To disable the graphical interface, comment out the line starting with splashimage.

  2. To enable multiple GRUB options to start console sessions through the RAC serial connection, add the following line to all options:

console=ttyS1,57600

Table 4-2 shows console=ttyS1,57600 added to only the first option.

Enabling Login to the Console After Boot

Edit the file /etc/inittab as follows:

Add a new line to configure agetty on the COM2 serial port:

co:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -h -L 57600 ttyS1 ansi

Table 4-3 shows a sample file with the new line.

Table 4-3. Sample File: /etc/innitab

#
# inittab This file describes how the INIT process should set up
# the system in a certain run-level.
#
# Author: Miquel van Smoorenburg
# Modified for RHS Linux by Marc Ewing and Donnie Barnes
#
# Default runlevel. The runlevels used by RHS are:
# 0 - halt (Do NOT set initdefault to this)
# 1 - Single user mode
# 2 - Multiuser, without NFS (The same as 3, if you do not have
# networking)
# 3 - Full multiuser mode
# 4 - unused
# 5 - X11
# 6 - reboot (Do NOT set initdefault to this)
#
id:3:initdefault:

# System initialization.
si::sysinit:/etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit


l0:0:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 0
l1:1:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 1
l2:2:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 2
l3:3:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 3
l4:4:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 4
l5:5:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 5
l6:6:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 6

# Things to run in every runlevel.
ud::once:/sbin/update

# Trap CTRL-ALT-DELETE
ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t3 -r now

# When our UPS tells us power has failed, assume we have a few
# minutes of power left. Schedule a shutdown for 2 minutes from now.
# This does, of course, assume you have power installed and your
# UPS is connected and working correctly.
pf::powerfail:/sbin/shutdown -f -h +2 "Power Failure; System Shutting Down"
# If power was restored before the shutdown kicked in, cancel it.
pr:12345:powerokwait:/sbin/shutdown -c "Power Restored; Shutdown Cancelled"


# Run gettys in standard runlevels
co:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -h -L 57600 ttyS1 ansi
1:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty1
2:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty2
3:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty3
4:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty4
5:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty5
6:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty6

# Run xdm in runlevel 5
# xdm is now a separate service
x:5:respawn:/etc/X11/prefdm -nodaemon

Edit the file /etc/securetty as follows:

Add a new line with the name of the serial tty for COM2:

ttyS1

Table 4-4 shows a sample file with the new line.

Table 4-4. Sample File: /etc/securetty

vc/1
vc/2
vc/3
vc/4
vc/5
vc/6
vc/7
vc/8
vc/9
vc/10
vc/11
tty1
tty2
tty3
tty4
tty5
tty6
tty7
tty8
tty9
tty10
tty11
ttyS1

Enabling the DRAC 5 Serial/Telnet/SSH Console

The serial/telnet/ssh console can be enabled locally or remotely.

Enabling the Serial/Telnet/SSH Console Locally

NOTE: You (the current user) must have Configure DRAC 5 permission in order to perform the steps in this section.

To enable the serial/telnet/ssh console from the managed system, type the following local RACADM commands from a command prompt:

racadm config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialConsoleEnable 1

racadm config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialTelnetEnable 1

racadm config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialSshEnable 1

Enabling the Serial/Telnet/SSH Console Remotely

To enable the serial/telnet/ssh console remotely, type the following remote RACADM commands from a command prompt:

racadm -u <username> -p <password> -r <DRAC 5 IP address> config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialConsoleEnable 1

racadm -u <username> -p <password> -r <DRAC 5 IP address> config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialTelnetEnable 1

racadm -u <username> -p <password> -r <DRAC 5 IP address> config -g cfgSerial -o cfgSerialSshEnable 1

NOTE: When you use Internet Explorer version 6 SP2 or version 7 to log into a managed system on a private network, but without access to the Internet, you may experience a delay of up to 30 seconds while using remote RACADM commands.

Using the RACADM Command to Configure the Settings

[Dec 29, 2011] losalamos.redhawk.org

Oct 10, 2007 losalamos.redhawk.org

The setup for ssh concole access on the DELL DRAC.

This setup shows using DHCP for the DRAC ip address, but it can be hard set as well.

    * Enter setup F2
         1. Cursor down to Serial Communications.
         2. Set the other fields to the following.
                o Serial Communication : On with console Redirection via COM2
                o External Serial Connector : Remote Access Device
                o Failsafe Baud Rate : 57600
                o Remote Terminal Type : VT100/VT200
                o Redirection After Boot: Enabled 

         3. Save and exit. 

    * Enter the RAC configuration when prompted CTRL-E

          o Set the ip address to DHCP
          o Set the LAN User password to the current console password.
          o Write down the DRAC MAC address.

          o Save and Exit 
Enter the MAC address in dhcp on your dhcp server dhcpd.conf in the appropriate section.
Restart DHCP

Now we should be able to ssh to the console.

 ssh vt-11-c -l root

 root@vt-11-c's password:
 Warning: No xauth data; using fake authentication data for X11 forwarding.

 Dell Remote Access Controller 5 (DRAC 5)
 Firmware Version 1.20 (Build 07.03.02)

 $   
To get to the console type:
 connect com2
This message flashes...
 Connected to com2. To end type: '^\'                                            
Then you should have the console login.
 Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS release 4 (Nahant Update 5)
 Kernel 2.6.9-55.ELsmp on an x86_64

 vt-11 login:
To escape type 'CTRL' + '\'
 $ 
To change root password on a DRAC from ssh shell
 $ racadm config -g cfgUserAdmin -o cfgUserAdminPassword -i 2 NewPasswordHere
Now to do power tasks on the dell type smclp.
 $ smclp
 DRAC5 SM-CLP System Management Shell, version 1.0
 Copyright (c) 2004-2007 Dell, Inc.
 All Rights Reserved

cd system1

/system1

show

/system1:

  Targets:
    logs1

  Properties:
    CreationClassName       = CIM_ComputerSystem
    Name                    = 7B0CZC1
    NameFormat              = other
    Dedicated               = 0
    ResetCapability         = 4
    EnabledState            = 2
    RequestedState          = 12
    EnabledDefault          = 2
    HealthState             = 5
    OperationalStatus       = 2
    Description             = PowerEdge 2970

  Verbs:
    cd
    exit
    help
    reset
    show
    start
    stop
    version

    * To reboot the system type "reset"
    * To power off "stop"
    * To power on "start" 

[Apr 06, 2010] Dell's DRAC card sucks Standalone Sysadmin

Contrary to the opinion below I have mostly positive experience with DRAC 5. They work both locally and for remote datacenters. Split cursor is the only unpleasant problem I used to encountered.
October 30, 2008

John:

I was just at our colo replacing a dead fan on one of our servers and the data-center guy was talking about how they call DRAC "drag" because it's so slow. I mean… not that funny I guess…

Alex:

We have DRAC 5 cards in about 100 Dell 2950 systems and IMHO they work great.

Very fast and useful even for remote server installs, by mounting the media.

DRAC 4 cards Dell 2850 are useful as well but with a lot of bugs, some of them work like a charm, some cannot be accessed despite all the software reinstalls and firmware upgrades

DRAC 3 cards: USELESS and slow to extreme. GUI next to imposible to use, telnet is OK

DRAC/MC in 1855 blades, very slow as well, Https will time out half times.

Just our experience,

Alex

Recovering and Troubleshooting the Managed System

Dell Remote Access Controller 5 Firmware Version 1.30 User's Guide

First Steps to Troubleshoot a Remote System

Managing Power on a Remote System

Viewing System Information

Using the System Event Log (SEL)

Viewing the Last System Crash Screen

Using the RAC Log

Using the Diagnostic Console

Troubleshooting Network Problems

Troubleshooting Alerting Problems

Dell - Support

Why do I receive an "Out of Scan Range," "Synch out of Range," or "No Sync Input" message when I power my system off?

When the system is powered off, it stops sending a signal to the monitor. These messages indicate that the monitor is no longer receiving a signal from the computer.

Out of Scan Range, Synch out of Range, or No Sync Input Message When the System is Powered Off.

When you shut down your system, one of the following messages may appear on the monitor screen:

Out of Scan Range
Synch Out of Range
No Sync Input

These messages may flash by quickly or may stay until the monitor is powered off.



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