Installing Linux on a PowerEdge 860

I’ve got a couple of old Dell PowerEdge 860 servers. They are nothing to write home about but they are functional and good enough for playing around with (I’m investigating KVM and Xen virtualization at the moment). What I need to do though is install from a USB as I don’t have any CD’s to burn. Unfortunately how you achieve that isn’t obvious.

In order to install from USB you need all the following settings correctly set in the BIOS:

  • Intergrated Devices –> USB Controller = On with BIOS Support
  • USB Flash Drive Emulation Type = Hard Disk (Auto won’t work)
  • Hard Disk Drive Sequence = Set  “Hard-disk-emulated USB flash drive” at the top of the list.

To confuse matters the BIOS doesn’t immediately pick up on changes to the “USB Flash Drive Emulation Type” setting so after changing it to “Hard Disk” you’ll probably have to restart the machine with the USB stick inserted. It will then pick up the USB as a hard disk and let you select it in the sequence list. Also note that the BIOS seems to forget about the sequence order if you remove the USB and restart so if you are doing repeated installs then you’ll be in the settings a lot.