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Installing Linux on a Compaq PL4500
Updated June 11, 2001
Created May 10, 2001

The PL4500 is about the only server I can think of that Linux cannot use the embedded SCSI controller. What this means is that the PL4500 will work with Linux, but you will have to put in a controller card that Linux supports.

Ok, let's make it unmistakably clear that:
1) Linux will install and function on the PL4500.
2) Linux is not able to use the embedded (integrated/built-in) SCSI controller at all - there is no Linux driver for it.

Questions and Answers on the PL4500

To make this page easier to get your questions answered, I have added a Question and Answer section.

  • Q1. Will Linux run on the PL4500?
  • A1. Yes, Linux will run on the PL4500.


  • Q2. Is there any part of the PL4500 that Linux is unable to use at this time (May 2001)?
  • A2. Linux will use most every part of the PL4500 except the embedded (also called integrated) SCSI controller.


  • Q3. Why can't I get my CD-Rom on my PL4500 to work?
  • A3. Linux cannot use the embedded (integrated) SCSI controller. You must use an additional SCSI controller for the CD-Rom and Tape drive(s).


  • Q4. What kind of additional controller may I use for my CD-Rom on the PL4500?
  • A4. You may use any ISA or EISA based SCSI controller that has a Linux driver.


  • Q5. What is the chipset of the embedded (integrated) SCSI on the PL4500 and is there a Linux driver for it?
  • A5. The chipset for the embedded SCSI controller on the PL4500 is the NCR53C825. The NCR53C8XX chipset in the PL4500 IS ON THE EISA BUS. Two drivers exist for the PCI version of this chipset: NCR53C8xx and SYM53c8xx; however, these drivers ONLY work with the PCI bus and WILL NOT WORK with the EISA bus. So the answer is: No, there is no Linux driver for the embedded SCSI controller on the PL4500.


  • Q6. What is a Compaq SMART controller?
  • A6. A "SMART" controller's full and proper name is: "Compaq SMART SCSI Array Controller", which I call the "Compaq Original Smart Array Controller". There is a full line of Compaq Smart and Smart/2 array controllers listed at http://www.cpqlinux.com/drivers.html


  • Q7. Is any Compaq array controller or SMART array controller able to control a CD-Rom?
  • A7. No, array controllers are designed to work with hard drives only. Only in recent servers (for ex: DL360) can a special Compaq array controller called an Integrated Array Controller be able to work with Tape Drives and Hard Drives; however, there is no driver to make that controller work with a tape drive under Linux as of yet (May 2001) - so that controller still only works with hard drives under Linux.


  • Q8. Is there a way to install Linux on the PL4500 without using the CD-Rom drive?
  • A8. Yes, a CD-Rom is not required for installation of Linux on the PL4500. Various versions of Linux (including Red Hat) provide for performing a network install.


  • Q9. What are various methods for network install?
  • A9. Methods for network installation of Linux are: FTP, NFS, HTTP, and others.


  • Q10. I can't get my current network card to work with Linux, what should I do?
  • A10. Compaq network cards use the tlan, amd pcnet32, e100, eepro100, and e1000 drivers. If these don't work for you, then a good card I recommend is the NE2000 compatible ISA network card which you can pick up at any corner computer store for about $20.00 USD.


  • Q11. Besides the base PL4500, what else do I need to be able to install Linux?
  • A11. Your hard drives will need either a SCSI controller or and Array controller in a slot. Check that you have a SCSI controller or an Array controller in a slot to control your hard drives - if not, you will need to get one. It seems that most PL4500's usually already have some type of Compaq array controller in a slot.


  • Q12. Can I used the embedded NCR SCSI.
  • A12. No, you may not use Linux with the embedded NCR SCSI.


  • Q13. Is there any distribution of Linux that has a driver for the embedded SCSI controller on the PL4500?
  • A13. The driver for the embedded SCSI controller on the PL4500 does not exist in any distribution of Linux (May 2001).

Ok, let's make it unmistakably clear again that:
1) Linux will install and function on the PL4500.
2) Linux is not able to use the embedded (integrated/built-in) SCSI controller at all - there is no Linux driver for it.

Here is the short message
on the PL4500

1) Basically you can not use the embedded (integrated) SCSI controller with Linux.

2) You must use an "add in" SCSI or Array controller card for hard drives.

3) If you use an array controller for the hard drives, then you need a separate SCSI controller for the CD-Rom and/or Tape drives. Compaq array controllers are not able to control CD-Rom drives.

Linux can install and function on the PL4500 without having a CD-Rom. This can be done by performing a network install.

The CD-Rom will not work until you get a controller for it. Adding CD-Rom support to Linux after install is not a hard task.


Ok, let's make it unmistakably clear again that:
1) Linux will install and function on the PL4500.
2) Linux is not able to use the embedded (integrated/built-in) SCSI controller at all - there is no Linux driver for it.


Accessing the CDROM:

  • Linux Supported ISA SCSI Controller
  • Linux Supported EISA SCSI Controller


  • I would suggest using a Linux supported ISA or EISA SCSI controller to access the CD-ROM. Please email me to let me know which controller card(s) you have been able to use in this situation with the PL4500, I'll add it to the list so others will know which cards work (most cards should work). One choice is a EISA card that has the NCR53c710 chipset, this would use the sim710 driver.

    IDE? I really don't want to discuss IDE in the PL4500 because it's not supported. It may or may not work putting in an IDE card, send me an email if you get that working. I don't want to be involved in getting it to work, but if you do have success, then let me know some of the specific cards and CD-ROM models used.

    Accessing the Hard Drives:

  • Compaq Original EISA Smart Array Controller
  • Compaq Smart-2/E
  • Linux Supported ISA SCSI Controller
  • Linux Supported EISA SCSI Controller


  • Controllers to Use with the PL4500:

    I would suggest either using the same card you use to access the CD-ROM (go from SCSI card to bottom of drive cage, out of top of drive cage to CD-ROM), or I prefer one of the Compaq Smart Array Controllers. There seems to only be two EISA array controller cards to fit this situation: Compaq Original Smart Array Controller and the Compaq Smart-2/E Controller. Both of these cards use the cpqarray (smart2) driver.

    Installing without the CD-ROM:

    Don't let "not" having a CD-ROM drive stop you from getting Linux installed on your PL4500. Sure CD-ROM's are nice, but these days that is not a good excuse to abort the install. Do a network install for now and then at a later time add a SCSI controller for your CD-ROM if you must use it. By the way, all it should take at a later time to add support for the CD-ROM once you install the SCSI controller should be to 1) create a link for /dev/cdrom, and 2) add an entry for the CD-ROM in /etc/fstab -- that's it, no big deal -- nothing to stop the install over.

    Network Install - Alternate Method:

    If you don't have or can't find a SCSI controller for your CD-ROM drive and you have a Compaq EISA array controller in the PL4500, then skip worrying about getting a controller for the CD-ROM. Do a network install:
    1. Set up another server/workstation as either an ftp or nfs server (this can be any type of machine - you can even use for ex. Win98 with WarFTP [freeware] to set up Win98 as an ftp server)
    2. Make the bootnet.img floppy (boot disk provided with your distribution that will allow network install)
    3. Boot from the floppy and perform a network install
    4. The installer will ask you for the address of the ftp or nfs server and the path, the rest of the install is usually very much the same as a CD-ROM install
    Now, of course, you won't be able to use the CD-ROM until you put in a supported controller, but don't let that stop you from using the rest of the machine.

    Installing with the Compaq Original EISA Smart Array Controller:

    If you will be installing with the Compaq Original EISA Smart Array Controller then please reference the smart.html page.

    Installing with the Compaq Smart-2/E Controller:

    If you will be installing with the Compaq Smart-2/E Controller then please reference the smart2e.html page.


    Ok, let's make it unmistakably clear again that:
    1) Linux will install and function on the PL4500.
    2) Linux is not able to use the embedded (integrated/built-in) SCSI controller at all - there is no Linux driver for it.

    SMP on older Compaq Servers:

    Compaq's early SystemPro/ProLiant SMP design was created long before the Intel MPS specification. Since the 2.2 and 2.4 Linux kernels only support Intel MPS architectures, these early MP servers can only be used in single processor mode:

    SystemPro/XL
    ProLiant 2000
    ProLiant 4000
    ProLiant 4500

    Compaq is considering making its early MP specifications available to the public, or even adding the support to the Linux kernel. If you are interested in participating in the development of such support, or have one of these servers you would like to run Linux SMP, please send an email to John Cagle c/o linux.feedback@compaq.com. Be sure to put John Cagle's name in the email so it will be forwarded to him.


    Ok, let's make it unmistakably clear again that:
    1) Linux will install and function on the PL4500.
    2) Linux is not able to use the embedded (integrated/built-in) SCSI controller at all - there is no Linux driver for it.


    MEMORY CDROM INT_SCSI NET_INST


    Memory

    If you are having problems detecting your memory, then read the memory.html page. All the instructions for getting more than 16MB of memory are located here:

    memory.html

    MEMORY CDROM INT_SCSI NET_INST


    Accessing the CDROM on the PL4500

    If you want to use the SCSI CDROM that is on the PL4500 you will need to add in a Linux supported SCSI controller card to connect to the CDROM drive. You may not use the embedded SCSI controller as there is no driver in Linux for the embedded SCSI controller card on the PL4500.

    Note: A CDROM is not required to install Linux on a computer system. Options available are Network installation.
    MEMORY CDROM INT_SCSI NET_INST


    Using the Integrated SCSI Controller

    Currently (May 2001) there is no driver for the integrated SCSI controller on the PL4500. Add in a SCSI controller card if you need one.
    MEMORY CDROM INT_SCSI NET_INST


    Installing Linux over the network without a local CDROM

    Get another system with a network card. Set up either FTP, HTTP, or NFS on that other system so that it will share the Red Hat CDROM. Create the /images/bootnet.img floppy. Boot the PL4500 on this network boot disk and have it connect to the network server you set up.