Raise the Itanic!

Itanium was Intel’s attempt to cause all other workstation processor manufacturers to run around like Chicken Little until they ran themselves out of business. It worked surprisingly well. In the end, HP put down Alpha and PA-RISC, and MIPS sold itself for $100m.

But enough history, Itanic might have failed in the marketplace, but that means you can pick up servers on eBay for £58 (and that includes tax and delivery — all 22 kg of it).

money-shot
Above: Three 64 bit servers you probably don’t own: X-Gene (ARM 64 bit), HP Itanium RX2620, Mac G5 (PPC64)

This server has no hard drive, and requires UltraSCSI 320 disks, so I’m going to try PXE booting it [see below] into RHEL 5 and see if I can use a ram disk (it has a very generous 16 GB of RAM), or failing that, use a USB disk.

The interior is not that interesting as most of the important bits are covered up with ducting to push the incredibly noisy airflow to the right places:

interior

On the back:

back

  • Dual power supplies!
  • Dual 1 GbE, plus one 100 Mbps ethernet!
  • 3 serial ports! I’ve never seen that excessiveness on a server before.

The machine has dual CPUs running at 1.6 GHz and 16 GB of RAM. It was almost worth the cost just for the RAM.

I tried fairly hard to get it to PXE boot into ELILO, but it wasn’t having any of that, so now I’m downloading the RHEL 5.10 DVD.

Update Mainly for my own reference what I eventually ended up doing was copying the Debian netboot installer files to a USB key. The EFI shell can load files from this, allowing a relatively simple boot.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Raise the Itanic!

  1. Not sure but i remember itanium motherboards have efi instead bios.

  2. Pingback: How to boot a Fedora 21 aarch64 UEFI guest on x86_64 | Richard WM Jones

  3. Pingback: Not very serious quest to run Linux on every architecture | Richard WM Jones

  4. Pingback: Raise the Itanic! (part 2) | Richard WM Jones

  5. jonmasters

    Btw, I just ordered one of these off eBay. I’ll probably harass you at some point😉 It’s likely I’ll put Debian on it as I only need the kernel, userspace isn’t going to run very long on it.

    • rich

      Note also part 2 here. The problem is that the kernel and userspace has regressed and lots of things no longer work, so you either need to run a very old distro (like, RHEL 5) or have a lot of work on your hands fixing things for an obsolete architecture. Also they generate a lot of heat and noise😦

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