IBM x series for fun and profit

For those of you familiar – IBM produce instructional manuals based on workshops or residencies called Redbooks. We still joke about one called Aix Printing – For fun and profit that we we given when I worked on IBM RS6000 systems. Recently I wished that the equivalent book was available when working on a new machine an x3690 – when we experienced some of its “interesting features”.

The project should have been quite straightforward but given the fact that another party had doe the initial configuration – had made changes and had imparted none of that information made it a bit of a mind field. The machine was for a compute intensive compilation of a software product for a client and this requirement was a dual boot environment with Centos and Windows 2008 to allow comparisions to be drawn between the performance of the two os and in this case db2 versus mssql for the build process.

The issues that we faced were

1) Windows 2008 R2 had been installed but then removed. ESXi was also installed on a raid 5 stripe on the machine. Centos had been installed along wth Grub to allow for the dual booting. Esx was going to be used to test some virtualisation concepts. Once we tried to install Windows we got

Windows cannot be installed  on this disk. Disk has an MBR partition table. Windows can only be installed to GPT disk

We in the end removed the Centos partition from the disk to allow Windows to see the drive in its empty state.

We also hit where Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 UEFI fails install/boot with hypervisor key – IBM BladeCenter and System x


“Boot failed” error message when you start a UEFI-enabled computer from the installation DVD of a

64-bit version of Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 (Package 2)

Consider the following scenario:

    You attach a storage device that has more than four partitions to a computer that has the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) mode enabled.

    You insert a Windows 7 or a Windows Server 2008 R2 installation DVD into a drive of the device, and then you start the computer from the DVD.

    You receive the following message during the startup process, and then you press a key:

    Press any key to boot from CD/DVD

    In this scenario, you receive an error message that resembles the following:

    Boot failed.
    This issue occurs because the boot manager compares two device signatures incorrectly. These device signatures are the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) device signature that is in the extended boot record (EBR) and the device signature that is in the master boot record (MBR).

    In this particular case we removed the 4 drives containing the esxi partitioan and were able to complete the install.

    The other things to mention are – don’t disconnect both power supplies rapidly one after another or you may have to wait about 20 minutes before being able to boot the server. Do this a couple of times and you will not do it again !!

    Also not the UEFI may boot into backup mode if the system fails to boot successfully three times !!! You will need to reset it to use the default UEFI image