Booting Dell servers over SMB

The first time I did this I didn't document it very well, causing the next time to be more time consuming, so her'es the rundown.

It's not a secret that we use some older Dell hardware as servers in our datacenter. We've been pretty happy with it since switching away from HP and one of the reasons is that the iDRAC system seems much more stable, useful, and featureful than the HP counterpart. (Oh, and HP puts their firmware updates behind a paywall which is not desirable).

Setting up a server to boot over SMB using an ISO CD/DVD image is relatively trivial, but does require a bit of preparation. You can also boot over NFS, but I've found that a bit less relaiable in the past, and honestly NFS is more painful to administer if you're not actively using it than samba.

Setting up the Samba SMB Server

  1. Install samba (your OS may vary here)

  2. Create an appropriate user (dell in my case)

  3. Configure the share. I use a very simple share from /tmp because it's simple

      comment = Temporary file source
      path = /tmp/
      read only = yes
      public = yes
  4. Configure the user password (user dell in this case)

    smbpasswd -a dell

    enter and confirm the password as prompted

  5. (Re-)start the smb daemon (example on smartos)

    svcadm enable samba:smbd
    svcadm enable samba:nmdb
  6. Place your files in /tmp for pick up

Booting on the Dell

Note: you need to have an enterprise license to boot like this.

  1. Log in to the iDRAC

  2. Navigte to the Server view

  3. Click on the Attached Media tab

  4. Fill in the following:

    title value
    Image File Path //IP or domain/mount point/file name
    Domain name blank
    User Name user name
    Password user password
    Expired or invalid certificate action Ignore
  5. Click Connect

    After a few seconds, you should get a confirmation of the connection Connection Status will read Connected

  6. Go to the Virtual Console and make sure your boot sequence checks for CD/DVDs and then Reboot