Proliant DL380 and Linux

By: on May 16, 2006

I bought a Proliant DL380 on eBay for £27. Its got a couple of 866MHz Pentium 3s, 512Mb of RAM and two very fast 18Gb SCSI drives. It’s a first generation, which is sometimes called G1, but mostly just omits the generation in documentation. That makes it annoyingly difficult to Google for.

I couldn’t get Linux (Debian testing) to recognise the RAID controller. If I loaded cpqarray, the device seemed to get detected, but could not then detect any drives. I noticed an IDE connector on the mother board, so I figured I’d just replace the SCSI disks with a couple of cheap IDE disks. So I ordered them, and they duly arrived.

The first time I booted, they didn’t get detected by Linux, and access to the CD drive slowed down a lot. At this point I decided I’d have to get the setup CD (there is no BIOS configuration tool in the BIOS itself). You can get that here. I was a bit perturbed to find the BIOS help said that IDE fixed disks are unsupported. I guess I should have read the manual first.

Anyway, I had them set up as master and slave, and changed them to cable sensing, just in case Linux might detect them anyway. This had the result that I got /dev/hda with 3 cylinders and a correctly detected /dev/hdb. Unfortunately the performance problem was even worse this time.

I decided to try and work out if the RAID controller could be disabled, so I could see the SCSI disks under linux. I couldn’t just move the disks from the RAID controller to the non-raid controller, since they have 80pin SCSI connectors. There is a dip switch block, which I can’t find any documentation for. I decided not to mess with that. Instead, I removed a little daughter card from over near the SCSI connectors. It might be a mini-PCI card. Anyway, that turns out to be the RAID controller. With it removed, Linux detects the SCSI card it was using, and I am left with two SCSI drives I can use software RAID on.

Unfortunately, that’s less disk space than I need, so I still need to figure out how to get my IDE drives to work. At least it will boot debian now. I guess I’ll use a PCI IDE adaptor. Maybe even an IDE RAID controller.

If anyone knows what the DIP switches on the MB do, I’d be delighted to know.



  1. Jacob says:


    There are 2 switch banks SW1 and SW2. SW1 is undocumented, and the HP doc warns:”Do not change these settings”. There is no need to do so.
    SW2 is called the system configuration switchbank with the following functions:
    1 Embedded video disable (Off)
    2 Configuration lock (Off)
    3 Rack Mount (On)
    4 Diskette drive boot override (Off)
    5 Passw ord disable (Off)
    6 Maintenance (Off)

    I had trouble with the raid array controller too. That was because the RAID information is written on the disks, and the radi controller tries to reconfigure the old raid config. Try erasing the ROM settings, then you’ll be able to reconfigure teh RAID as you want it. I have 4 18.2 GB drives in one RAID5 config which gives me 50.9 GB disk.

    Good luck!

  2. david says:

    Thanks. I’ve got some more drives, and everything is now working. Resetting the BIOS solved lots of problems. In fact, it even made the IDE drive problem go away.

  3. Robert says:


    just tried to install Debian 3.0r1 on an identical box. System installation went smoothly, raid array found as /dev/ida/c0d0. Just, the bootloader keeps failing to install correctly… no error message though! But after reboot I get “Operating System not found”. c0d0p1 is marked bootable in cfdisk.

    Any suggestions and hints?

    Best regards,

  4. david says:

    I didn’t get the installer to recognise the hardware RAID, so I don’t know if there are further problems with the boot loader.

    If you aren’t using the RAID-5 functionality of the controller, there isn’t really any point using it.

    I can only suggest you remove the hardware RAID and install debian testing.

  5. Sam Harris says:

    I have managed to buy 2 servers 1850R first generations anybody knows if I can run Linux on them using some kind of SmartStart?


  6. Arnaud says:

    Hi Guys,

    i also have a proliant dl380 g1. I’m trying to install ubuntu server, the RAID controller is detected and the disks as well. It installs fine but never boots from the hard disks (non-bootable disks found).

    I have tried all possible manipulations with SmartStart 5.50.

    Any idea?


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