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HOWTO Use a Compaq Remote Insight Lights Out Edition for a Headless, Remote Linux Installation

Marc Nozell

Compaq Computer Corporation

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Revision History
Revision v1.1 10 April 2002 Revised by: MN
Update for new Red Hat release, new RIB/LOE firmware v2.41 release screenshots, add grub.conf suggestion, misc cleanup of filenames/hostnames.
Revision v1.0 25 October 2000 Revised by: MN
Initial public release.

This document describes how to install Linux on a headless Compaq ProLiant server with a Compaq Remote Insight Lights-Out Edition card without physical access to the system. The installation is done remotely through the use of a Java-enabled browser.

1. Introduction

This document is a quick guide which shows how to install Linux on a remote, headless Compaq ProLiant system equipped with a Compaq Remote Insight Lights-Out Edition (RIB/LOE) card without needing physical access to the system.

This document further describes how to use a virtual floppy disk for the initial install of Linux, and to setup an Apache server to provide the distribution media for completing the installation.

1.1. Trademarks

Compaq, Compaq Insight Manager, ProLiant, are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark office.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Red Hat is a trademark of Red Hat, Inc., in the United States and other countries.

SuSE is a trademark of SuSE GmbH.

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Other product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

1.3. Distribution Policy

Copyright (c) 2000-2002 Compaq Computer Corporation.


The limited warranties for Compaq products are exclusively set forth in the documentation accompanying such products. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting a further or additional warranty.

This publication does not constitute an endorsement of the product or products that were tested. The configuration or configurations tested or described may or may not be the only available solution. This test is not a determination or product quality or correctness, nor does it ensure compliance with any federal, state, or local requirements.

This document may be distributed under the terms set forth in the LDP license at

This HOWTO is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the Linux Document Project (LDP) license. This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the LDP license for more details.

2. Compaq Remote Insight Lights-Out Background

The Remote Insight Lights-Out is an optional management PCI card with a dedicated LAN connection. It provides full access and control of servers even when the server is in a failed state.

2.1. Key Features

The key features of the Remote Insight Lights-Out card:

  • Self-contained with on-board processor, memory, NIC, and ROM

  • External power adapter ensures continuous server access

  • Enables 'headless' server deployments in data centers

  • Virtual Floppy Drive allows host server to remotely boot from a standard 1.44 MB floppy diskette in a network client, enabling remote OS installation from a network drive, and remote server ROM updates

  • Full control of your server with browser-based, virtual graphical remote console

  • No additional software required for Compaq ProLiant servers - the client just requires a browser that supports Java.

  • Virtual Power Button provides full control of remote server power state - turn your server on or off remotely

  • Remote Reboot allows cold reboot when system is not responding.

  • SSL encryption of HTTP data before transmitting over the network

  • Dedicated, low-bandwidth network connection provides secure access over LAN

  • Group administration for user accounts

To get more information about the Remote Insight Lights-Out Edition see the Compaq web page at

3. Linux Installation using a Remote Insight Lights-Out

After you have installed the card into the server system you will need to set up a Linux distribution repository, build and download a special boot floppy, and drive the installation through a browser.

3.2. Setting up a Linux Distribution Point

On another server, make the contents of the Red Hat installation CD available via HTTP or FTP. For this example, the server is named and HTTP is used.

Copy the entire CD to the local hard disk and give appropriate file protections to allow the web server to read it. For Red Hat V6.2, use the following commands.

        # mount -t iso9660 -o ro /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
         # mkdir /usr/src/distros/RH62
         # (cd /mnt/cdrom && tar cf - . ) | (cd /usr/src/RHCD && tar xvfp - )
         # umount /mnt/cdrom
         # chmod +x -R /usr/src/distros/RH62
Red Hat V7.0 and later versions contain two binary distribution CDs, so both need to be copied into the same directory structure. This example shows the steps for Red Hat 7.2. Put the first binary distribution CD into the drive and as above use the following commands:
        # mount -t iso9660 -o ro /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
         # mkdir /usr/src/distros/RH72
         # (cd /mnt/cdrom && tar cf - . ) | (cd /usr/src/distros/RH72 && tar xvfp - )
         # umount /mnt/cdrom
Then put the second binary distribution CD into the drive and issue the following commands.
        # mount -t iso9660 -o ro /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
         # mkdir /usr/src/distros/RH72
         # (cd /mnt/cdrom && tar cf - . ) | (cd /usr/src/distros/RH72 && tar xvfp - )
         # umount /mnt/cdrom
         # chmod +x -R /usr/src/distros/RH72

Edit httpd.conf to add the following lines near the section wehre other Aliases are defined. The location of the configuration file varies. On a default Red Hat system, it is in /etc/httpd/httpd.conf. If the Apache server was installed from sources using the default location, it is in /usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf. You can also try locate httpd.conf to find it.

       <Directory /usr/src/distros/>
                Options Indexes
                AllowOverride all

        Alias /distros  /usr/src/distros

Restart the Apache server. If you are still running the default Apache shipped with Red Hat, do this:

       # /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd restart

Other Linux distributions may put the Apache Web Server startup script in a different place.

The location of of apachectl may vary; find it with locate apachectl. If you installed the Apache server yourself, you may want to use apachectl. If you used the Apache default file locations, it would be the following.

       # /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl restart

Verify that the Red Hat content is available:

       # lynx

3.3. Creating a Virtual Floppy Disk

Create a special Red Hat boot floppy that can perform a network installation. The file from the Red Hat CD is in images/bootnet.img;in this example, /usr/src/distros/RH72/images/bootnet.img or Other distributions can also install across the network using similar steps.

From a Linux or UNIX system follow these steps. Put a floppy in the drive.

       # dd if=/usr/src/distros/RH72/images/bootnet.img of=/dev/fd0 bs=1440k

Take that special boot floppy to a Microsoft Windows system that has the CPQIMAGE program to build an IMG file from a floppy to be uploaded to the Compaq Remote Insight Lights-Out card. This is the only step that requires the use of a Microsoft platform. The CPQIMAGE program is not available on any other platform.

The CPQIMAGE program for Microsoft Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/2000 is available for download from Choose the "Diskette Image Utility" download.

Build a file named redhat-bootnet.img using that Windows-based application. Note for multi-system installations, this file can be reused or simply provided to the customer.

3.4. Downloading a Virtual Floppy Disk to the Server

Now that a special version of the bootnet.img has been created, it needs to be loaded into the Virtual Floppy Disk on the Remote Insight Lights-Out card.

  1. Connect to the Remote Insight Lights-Out card of the Linux system from a Java-enabled browser (Netscape, MSIE) using the URL https://XX.XX.XX.XX where the X's are the IP address assigned to the card. You can use a Linux system running Netscape or a Windows system running Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Just have the redhat-bootnet.img local to the system running the browser. Note that this special image file is larger than a regular 1.44MB floppy. Note: You may want to use FTP to move the file to the system that you will run the browser on.

  2. Log in to the Remote Insight Lights-Out card by using a web browser to connect to the IP address assigned to the card.

  3. Select the "Insert Virtual Floppy" from the web interface, link (on left near the bottom) and load the redhat-bootnet.img file you just created into the virtual floppy.

    Figure 1. Uploading bootnet floppy image

    Uploading a floppy image to the Virtual Floppy

  4. Select the "Virtual Floppy Boot Option" of 'Boot Once' in the "Virtual Floppy Status" section.

    Figure 2. Virtual Floppy Boot Once Dialog

    Image of Virtual Floppy Options

3.5. Power on and Booting

Now the system is ready to be powered. From the browser, click on the 'Virtual Power Button' and power on the server.

  1. Turn on the virtual console by selecting 'Remote Console (2-cursor) under the "Remote Console" section. This starts a Java applet that will show you exactly what is being displayed on the console, for example, the memory self check, BIOS startup, SCSI probe, etc. If you have a Compaq SmartArray card, you can click on the button to send an F10 keypress.

    Figure 3. BIOS bootup

    Browser window showing memory check during BIOS boot

  2. Enter "text" for a non-GUI installation method at the boot: prompt. The graphical interface would work also, but it is slower over the network.

  3. Follow the Red Hat installation. When it gets to the place where it asks for where the distribution media location (CDROM, HardDrive, HTTP, NFS, FTP), select 'HTTP'.

    Figure 4. Red Hat bootup

    Red Hat text-based installation

  4. Put the name of the web server with the Red Hat distribution for the hostname, in this example, The directory for this example is /rh. If you didn't previously specify a DNS server in the TCP/IP configuration step prior to this, you can use the IP address of the system serving the distribution.

    Figure 5. Red Hat bootup

    Selecting HTTP based installation

  5. Proceed with a normal Red Hat installation.

  6. Skip the configuration of the X server when it gets to the X11 configuration step.

    If you want to run a graphical interface on your server system, it can be configured later using Xconfigurator or xf86config. Compaq suggests that the server resolution be set to 640x480 at 16-bit color depth and mouse acceleration to be 1x.

  7. Proceed with a normal Red Hat installation. Note that there is a 15 minute timeout for the Remote Console, if your Red Hat installation takes longer than that you may be disconnected from the Remote Console. If this happens, simply reconnect to the URL https://XX.XX.XX.XX, where the X's are the IP address assigned to the card, and continue from where you left off.



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