Linux Notes: x86-64

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Edit: 2019-02-06 (original page split into five)

The Platform Name Game: x86, x86-64, x64, ia64, etc.

Getting Linux for an HP rx2660

note: HP marketed Itanium as Integrity. This helped increase the confusion about Itanium after AMD, then IBM, added 64-bit extensions to x86 resulting in x86-64

Linux IA64 distributions list by most recently published update

Gentoo Linux @ Wikipedia

Debian Linux @ Wikipedia

FreeBSD @ Wikipedia

SuSE @ Wikipedia

CentOS @wikipedia

OS Ease of Install (Easiest First)

  OS Type install
1 OpenVMS binary 100% 100% < 1 hour
  • while OpenVMS is not a version of Linux or Unix,
    it still occupies the top spot for ease of installation
2 SuSE binary 100% 100% 1-2 hours
  • a pc-based terminal emulator is required; a real VT monitor will not work
  • elilo setup was done for me including the boot manager entry (cool)
3 CentOS binary 100% 100% 1-2 hours
  • elilo setup was done for me including the boot manager entry (cool)
  • this is a very old offering from 2008 so did not offer a version of MariaDB
4 Debian binary 100% 95% 2-3 hours
  • installation failed in the final phase (elilo setup); I had to to it manually
5 FreeBSD binary 100% 90% 2-3 hours
  • appeared to install in under 30 minutes. But then I discovered ...
  • that the installer never bothered to create a boot partition.
  • you need to do a manual partitioning using gpart (very unfriendly)
  • you will need to format the partitions with newfs
  • no elilo-like tools exist so you will be setting up the boot partition manually
9 Gentoo source build 5% n/a > 7 hours
  • after the initial boot, the run-time environment quickly shifts to the VGA monitor
  • installation instructions were spotty so I learned a lot the hard way
  • not recommended for anyone other than experts and/or hackers
  • provided the greatest amount of fun and frustration
  • When I finally got this working I was reminded of a line from the movie This Island Earth where the alien says: "you have assembled an interocitor; a feat which few men are capable"

Gentoo comments, caveats, and gotchas


  1. Type very carefully. This command "tar --help" passes one switch to tar while this command "tar -help" passes four switches (h, e, l, p) and will just ignore anything it does not understand
  2. Lots of UNIX sites published their own Gentoo installation guides but you would be wise to ignore everything published before 2014 because that year Gentoo went through major changes
  3. Using "parted" to partition your disks
  4. The Gentoo handbooks I tried (x86, amd64, ia64) in 2016 all work properly but are not 100% accurate
  5. If you do not execute the "swapon /dev/sda2" command, tar will fail when it unpacks the stage3 tarball
  6. Do not modify file "make.conf" in the IA64 version. Just inserting "-march=native" will cause numerous errors
    1. I checked out gcc on other Gentoo distros including i486, i586 and i686 but none of them ever mention (in the help) using "-march=native" although writing a simple hello-world.c program then compiling with "-march=native" seems to work. But the output appeared to be the same as not using the switch at all
    2. The Gentoo installation manual seems to infer that switches "-march" and "-mtune" are synonyms but they are not. The first switch selects the CPU architecture (eg. i586) while the second switch selects a specific optimization within the specified architecture (eg. pentiumiii)
    3. The IA64 version of gcc in 2016 does not support the "-march" switch because this compiler can only generate Itanium code. Viewing verbose help indicates that switch "-mtune" can have only two values: "itanium1" or "itanium2" with the compiler defaulting to "itanium2".
      • if you are seeing a lot of build errors then try using switch "-mtune=itanium1"
      • HP appears to have stopped working on Linux source code (at least from what I can see in the comments area of the IA64 kernel). I can only assume that they worried that free Linux would hurt sales of their own proprietary UNIX product called HP-UX
  7. Many people skip chapter #3 (setting up the network) because it auto-configures via dhcp during the CD or DVD boot. However, you still must copy "/etc/resolv.conf" to the Gentoo hard drive before you execute "chroot". Why? After you execute "chroot" you will be isolated from the previous environment. Failure to do this will cause file retrieval failures when you execute "emerge-webrsync"
  8. The IA64 Handbook is missing this command in chapter #4
        mkfs.vfat /dev/sda1
    which is required before copying your boot loader in chapter #10. Do not forget to mount this volume before executing "elilo --efiboot" (or consider setting up the boot partition manually; that's what I did on Gentoo as well as Debian
  9. After you issue chroot I suggest you issue the passwd command for root. Failure to do this now will cause problems during your first boot in chapter #11
  10. On your first kernel build you would be wise to do an automatic build via command "genkernel all". This will produce a kernel similar to the one associated with the CD ROM (will auto-detect hardware but boot a little slower). Once everything works properly you could try "make menuconfig" on a subsequent build.
  11. The file elilo.efi found on the Gentoo hard-drive is corrupt so copy the file used by the CD or DVD
  12. Here are the contents of elilo.conf on the boot partition (worked on 2016-0-xx)
      append="initrd=initramdisk root=/dev/sda3"
    and here are the contents of neil.msg on the boot partition (just a simple text file)
        gentoo1  (gentoo with ram disk)
        gentoo2  (standalone)

Debian comments, caveats, and gotchas

What's up with elilo on Linux distros?

Overview 2016

Installing CentOS-5 on an HP ProLiant DL360-g5 (gen 5 CPU)

date: 2016.09.xx

Installing CentOS-6 on an HP ProLiant DL380-g6 (gen 6 CPU)

date: 2016.10.xx

date: 2017.01.xx

Installing CentOS-7 on an HP ProLiant ML370-g6 (gen 6 CPU)

date: 2016.12.xx

Installing CentOS-7 on an HP ProLiant  DL385-g7  (gen 7 CPU)

date: 2017.02.xx

Installing CentOS-7 on an HP ProLiant  DL385p gen8  (gen 8 CPU)

Older SFF Adapter
Newer SFF Adapter

date: 2018.07.xx

CAVEAT: starting with gen8 servers, HPE has changed the plastic mounting adapter used to insert the SAS disk drive into its slot.

Managing hardware RAID volumes on HP/HPE systems

date: 2018-12-20

Executive Summary: There are only three ways I know about to manage h/w RAID on HPE systems
  1. access ORCA (Option Rom Configuration for Arrays) from firmware during any boot
    • mostly limited to ADD / DELETE
  2. access SSA (Smart Storage Administrator) after booting HPE Firmware + Diagnostics (from either USB or DVD)
    •  SSA at this point lets you do whatever you want (very dangerous yet powerful)
    • this media is only available with a support contract and goes by the name Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP)
  3. access SSA (Smart Storage Administrator) or SSACLI from with Linux
    • will not be able to DELETE logical volumes once they have been associated with Linux devices under /dev

GUI-based SSA Utility (way cool tool)

	1.  login as root from the graphical front console
	2.  download all files related to ssa-2.65-7.0.x86_64.rpm from 
	3.  rpm -i  ssa-2.65-7.0.x86_64.rpm
	4.  /usr/sbin/ssa -local (firefox auto opens with a beautiful colored diagram of your setup)
	    see page 18 of this manual 
	5.  /usr/sbin/ssa -help  (view all available command-line switches)
Tips:	1. I have used this tool to convert a volume from "8-disk RAID-60" to "8-disk RAID-0" on the fly
		This requires several hours and would definitely impact server performance
	2. my next experiment was to convert from "8-disk RAID-0" to "4-disk RAID-0" on the fly
		I didn't even know this was possible (would not work if the volume was full)

CLI-based SSA Utility (great for scripting)

	1. login as root from anywhere
	2. rpm -i ssacli-2.65-7.0.x86_64.rpm
	3. then just type "ssacli" (my typing is in blue)
	4. Notice that the drive in bay-8 is marked "Predictive Failure"
[root@localhost ~]# ssacli
Smart Storage Administrator CLI
Detecting Controllers...Done.
Type "help" for a list of supported commands.
Type "exit" to close the console.
=> ctrl all show summary

   this is the only way to see which controllers were found in which slots (slot #0 means embedded)

=> set target ctrl slot=0
   "controller slot=0"
=> show config
Smart Array P420i in Slot 0 (Embedded)    (sn: 001438024F5D170)

   Port Name: 1I
   Port Name: 2I 
   Internal Drive Cage at Port 1I, Box 2, OK
   Internal Drive Cage at Port 2I, Box 2, OK
   Array A (SAS, Unused Space: 0  MB)
      logicaldrive 1 (1.1 TB, RAID 60, OK)
      physicaldrive 1I:2:1 (port 1I:box 2:bay 1, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 1I:2:2 (port 1I:box 2:bay 2, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 1I:2:3 (port 1I:box 2:bay 3, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 1I:2:4 (port 1I:box 2:bay 4, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 2I:2:5 (port 2I:box 2:bay 5, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 2I:2:6 (port 2I:box 2:bay 6, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 2I:2:7 (port 2I:box 2:bay 7, SAS HDD, 300 GB, OK)
      physicaldrive 2I:2:8 (port 2I:box 2:bay 8, SAS HDD, 300 GB, Predictive Failure)
   SEP (Vendor ID PMCSIERA, Model SRCv8x6G) 380  (WWID: 5001438024F5D17F)
=> show status
Smart Array P420i in Slot 0 (Embedded)
   Controller Status: OK
   Cache Status: OK
   Battery/Capacitor Status: OK
=> show config detail 

      Model: SRCv8x6G
=> exit
[root@localhost ~]#

Linux Enhanced Security

Linux has been leading the way in computer security for sometime with its two most notable features being "the software-based firewall" and "SELinux"

Software-based Firewall

Many people claim that hardware-based firewalls are superior to software-firewalls. This may be true but I know one thing for sure: once a weakness has been discovered in a hardware firewall, the systems sitting behind it are vulnerable until the hardware firewall has been updated (not possible in many products) or replaced ($$$).

Since software firewalls are easily updated they are a better choice for all desktop based systems -and- many servers with light to medium loads.

Many non-professionals are surprised to learn that software-based firewalls appeared in Linux systems before Windows systems. In fact, many people believe that Microsoft borrowed the idea from the Linux community.

No sane person would ever disable a software firewall so never disable SELinux (read on)


moved here: Linux Notes: SELinux (introduction for hackers)

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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.