Installing Linux on Compaq Servers - Concepts Page

In this document I will discuss some of the basic concepts of Installing Linux on Compaq Servers. These concepts will keep your F10 partition functioning properly.

Summary of Linux drivers available for Compaq Servers:

Linux drivers exist for the following current Compaq server components: Array controllers, both kinds of server network cards (TLAN and EEPRO100), embedded SCSI, video controllers, monitors, etc.

Differences between RedHat 6.0 and RedHat 6.1:

RedHat 6.0 has support for the earlier Raid controllers: including SA3200 and SA221. RedHat 6.1 brings in support for the Integrated Array (check the Smart-2 Home Page for more details: RedHat 6.1 dropped fdisk from installation proceedure, now have to fdisk drive from bash screen, devices are located in /tmp instead of /dev. RedHat 6.1 has a GUI install.

RedHat 6.0 installation concerns:

Disk druid will see your existing F10 partition which is a primary partition. If you create a /boot through Disk Druid, it will be created in the extended partition. The only way to create /boot as a primary partition is to use fdisk. Be sure to mark it active.

RedHat 6.1 installation concerns:

In RedHat 6.1 we are still concerned about Disk Druid creating your /boot partition in the extended partition. You still need to run fdisk to create /boot as a primary partition. Fdisk was removed from the installation path of RedHat 6.1. When you get to the disk druid screen to partition your hard drive, switch to your bash screen (ctrl+alt+F2). From here, check /tmp directory for entries for your hard drive. Run fdisk on the correct entry. All entries for your hard drives should exist here at this point during the install. If these entries don't exist, you can refer to the "Recovery" document on how to create entries for your hard drive.

What is the Compaq System Partition:

Compaq Servers have a Compaq System Utilities Partition which may also be know as F10 Setup. This partition is placed at the front of the hard drive and takes up about 39MB of space. When you boot the server, and after the hardware check (POST), the screen blanks and you get a block cursor blinking in the upper right corner of the screen for a few seconds. During this time, if you press F10, the Compaq System Partition will be booted.

How to keep the Compaq System Partition during install:

During installation be sure not to wipe out the entire drive. If installing RedHat 6.0, this means choosing a "custom" install of Linux (because server or workstation install wipes the entire drive and partitions the drive its own way).

How to maintain the F10 functionality on boot up:

F10 will function as long as LILO is NOT installed into the MBR (Master Boot Record).

Where should I install LILO:

LILO should be installed into the first sector of the /boot partition rather than the MBR.

What do I do if F10 key doesn't work properly anymore:

Put LILO onto the /boot partition

Recreate the MBR (boot to DOS boot diskette, run "fdisk /mbr")

How do I put LILO onto the /boot partition:

Edit /etc/lilo.conf so that LILO will point to /boot instead of the MBR. (MBR is referenced without a partition number:/dev/sda, the /boot partition is referenced with a partition number: /dev/sda1)

After editing /etc/lilo.conf, run "/sbin/lilo" to put a copy of LILO onto your /boot partition

What requirements must /boot meet for my system to come up:

/boot must be a primary partition (#'s 1-4)

/boot must be the only partition marked active

A good copy of LILO should be placed on the /boot partition

/boot should be well below the 1024 cylinder limit

Recommendations on setting up /boot:

/boot should be set up as the next partition immediately after the Compaq System Partition (this guarantees /boot to be below the 1024 cylinder limit)

/boot should be a primary partition (#'s 1-4)

/boot should be around 60MB

LILO should be installed to /boot

How do I create the /boot partition as a primary partition:

The only way to make /boot a primary partition (when the Compaq System Partition is present) is to use fdisk. Currently, Disk Druid does not allow for 2 primary partitions

Boot Up checklist:

Controller order

Boot controller must be set for "controller order first" in SCU (System Configuration Utility)


MBR must not be corrupt (either run "fdisk /mbr" from a booted DOS diskette or put a fresh copy of LILO there)

/boot is a primary partition

Make sure that /boot is a primary partition (#'s 1-4)

/boot is marked active

Make sure that /boot is the only partition marked active

/etc/lilo.conf is correct

Make sure that /etc/lilo.conf points to /boot

/etc/fstab is correct

Make sure that /etc/fstab has correct partition information

/boot has a good copy of LILO

Make sure that a good copy of LILO is placed on /boot ("/sbin/lilo")


11-04-1999 Document created due to release of RedHat 6.1 and 6.0. Released on