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IBM xSeries 206m

Model MT-M 8485-E7Y.

Currently I'm running my IBM box with Debian GNU/Linux Testing (Lenny) and Linux kernel 2.6.21.

Feature Description Linux kernel options
Ethernet Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express TIGON3 (tg3)
IDE controller Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) BLK_DEV_PIIX (piix)
SATA controller Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR/GH (ICH7 Family) SCSI_ATA_PIIX (ata_piix) or ATA_PIIX with kernel > 2.6.20
Parallel port PNP0400 Standard LPT printer port PNP, PNPBIOS, CONFIG_PNPBIOS_PROC_FS, PARPORT_PC (parport_pc)


00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation E7230 Memory Controller Hub (rev 81)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation E7230 PCI Express Root Port (rev 81)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 01)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GR/GH/GHM (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 5 (rev 01)
00:1c.5 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GR/GH/GHM (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 6 (rev 01)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 01)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 01)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 01)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 01)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 PCI Bridge (rev e1)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR (ICH7 Family) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 01)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller (rev 01)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR/GH (ICH7 Family) Serial ATA Storage Controller IDE (rev 01)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 01)
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express (rev 11)
0a:04.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc ES1000 (rev 01)


00:00 PNP0a03 PCI bus
00:01 PNP0c02 Motherboard resources
00:02 PNP0200 AT DMA controller
00:03 PNP0c04 Math coprocessor
00:04 PNP0b00 AT real-time clock
00:05 PNP0800 AT speaker
00:06 INT0800 (unknown)
00:07 PNP0501 16550A-compatible serial port
00:08 PNP0501 16550A-compatible serial port
00:09 PNP0303 IBM enhanced keyboard (101/102-key, PS/2 mouse support)
00:0a PNP0f13 PS/2 port for PS/2-style mice
00:0b PNP0400 Standard LPT printer port

IBM Glossary

Simple-swap SATA

I have two serial ATA disk drives NOT hot-swappable, but simple-swappable, this means that I can pull out the drives from the bay (with power turned off) while signal and power cables remains attached to a drive backplane.


If you don't want proprietary software on your computer, disable SATA HostRAID and use Linux kernel software RAID instead.

SATA HostRAID is the name of the feature offering RAID level-0 or level-1 on serial ATA disks. The SATA HostRAID feature is disabled by default, you must enable it in the BIOS Configuration/Setup utility (press F1 on system boot to enter it):

  1. Select Devices and I/O Ports –> Advanced Chipset Control –> Serial ATA.
  2. Select SATA Controller Mode Option. Change the value to Enhanced.
  3. Scroll down and select SATA RAID Enable.
  4. Select Enabled.
  5. Press Esc; then, select Yes to save your changes.

There is a program in the BIOS called Adaptec RAID Configuration Utility to configure the RAID volumes; to enter it press Ctrl+A on boot when the prompt Press <CTRL><A> for Adaptec RAID Configuration Utility appears. In Linux you need also the proprietary device drivers found on ServeRAID-7e (Adaptec HostRAID) Support CD.

Installing Linux

Problem 1: The system locks-up during hard disk activity

I have a new IBM xSeries 206m with two SATA drives, I installed a Debian Testing (Etch) and configured a software RAID level-1. I experience this problem: whenever a volume is reconstructing (syncing), the system stops responding. The machine is alive, because it responds to the ping, the console is responsive but I cannot pass the login prompt. It seems that every disk activity is delayed and blocking.

Q: Sometimes when a RAID volume is resyncing, the system seems to locks-up: every disk activity is blocked until resync is done.

A: This is not strictly related to Linux RAID, this is a problem related to the Linux kernel and the disk subsytem: in no circumstances a process should get all the disk resources preventing others to access them.

You can control the max speed at which RAID reconstruction is done by setting it, say at 5 Mb/s:

echo 5000 > /proc/sys/dev/raid/speed_limit_max

This is just a workaround, you have to determine the max speed that does not lock your system by trial and error and you cannot predict what will be the disk load in the future when the RAID will be resyncing for some reason.

Starting from version 2.6, Linux kernel has several choices about the I/O scheduler to be used. The default is the anticipatory scheduler, which seems to be sub-optimal on resync high load. If your kernel has the CFQ scheduler compiled in, use it during resync.

From the command line you can see which schedulers are supported and change it on the fly (remember to do it for each RAID disk):

# cat /sys/block/hda/queue/scheduler
noop [anticipatory] deadline cfq
# echo cfq > /sys/block/hda/queue/scheduler

You can also pass the elevator=cfq boot parameter to the kernel, using your boot loader.

Otherwise you can recompile your kernel and set CFQ as the default I/O scheduler (CONFIG_DEFAULT_CFQ=y in Block layer, IO Schedulers, Default I/O scheduler).

Problem 2: SATA disk not detected

The problem does not occurr always, sometimes the second SATA disk is not detected by the kernel (look at the SATA port has no device message):

ata_piix 0000:00:1f.2: version 1.05
ACPI: PCI Interrupt 0000:00:1f.2[B] -> GSI 19 (level, low) -> IRQ 233
PCI: Setting latency timer of device 0000:00:1f.2 to 64
ata1: SATA max UDMA/133 cmd 0x30C8 ctl 0x30BE bmdma 0x3090 irq 233
ata2: SATA max UDMA/133 cmd 0x30C0 ctl 0x30BA bmdma 0x3098 irq 233
ata1: dev 0 cfg 49:2f00 82:346b 83:7fe9 84:4773 85:3469 86:3c01 87:4763 88:207f
ata1: dev 0 ATA-7, max UDMA/133, 156312576 sectors: LBA48
ata1: dev 0 configured for UDMA/133
scsi0 : ata_piix
ata2: SATA port has no device.
scsi1 : ata_piix
  Vendor: ATA       Model: HDS728080PLA380   Rev: PF2O
  Type:   Direct-Access                      ANSI SCSI revision: 05
SCSI device sda: 156312576 512-byte hdwr sectors (80032 MB)
SCSI device sda: drive cache: write back
SCSI device sda: 156312576 512-byte hdwr sectors (80032 MB)
SCSI device sda: drive cache: write back
 sda: sda1 sda2 < sda5 sda6 sda7 >
sd 0:0:0:0: Attached scsi disk sda

It turned out to be a kernel 2.6.16 problem, upgrading to 2.6.17 solved it. As kindly suggested by Tejun Heo: ata_piix probing received some updates during 2.6.16 devel cycle and some fixes during .17, thanks!

Problem 3: lm-sensors does not work

WARNING: Using IPMI instead of lm_sensors to read the system sensors proved to be a more mature solution, see below :-).

Currently (may 2006) there is a kernel module named smsc47m192 (not yet included in the official 2.6.17 tree) that can read some of the sensors. Unfortunately the Debian lm-sensors package must be patched to cope with this new kernel module. See this posting.

Compile the kernel module


  • Download the kernel module source…
  • Unpack and patch the kernel…
  • Configure CONFIG_SENSORS_SMSC47M192=m
  • Compile and install the kernel…
  • Download the source for lm-sensors…
  • Patch, compile and install the lm-sensors program…

Load the modules at startup

Add the following lines to /etc/modules:

# Support modules for lm-sensors
# I2C adapters.
# IBM motherboard.

Reading the sensors

As you can see, not all the senrsors can be read:

# sensors
Adapter: SMBus I801 adapter at 3060
in0:       +2.50 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +3.32 V)
in1:       +0.00 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +2.99 V)   ALARM
in2:       +3.32 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +4.38 V)
in3:       +5.10 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +6.64 V)
in4:      +12.12 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max = +15.94 V)
in5:       +3.32 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +4.38 V)
in6:       +1.51 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +1.99 V)
in7:       +1.80 V  (min =  +0.00 V, max =  +2.39 V)
temp1:     +35.0°C  (low  =  -128°C, high =  +127°C)
temp2:    -128.0°C  (low  =  -128°C, high =  +127°C)  FAULT
temp3:    -128.0°C  (low  =  -128°C, high =  +127°C)  FAULT
vid:      +1.062 V  (VRM Version 10.0)

Monitoring sensors with IPMI

In the IBM xSeries 206m there is a BMC (Baseboard Management Controller), i.e. a microcontroller embedded in the motherboard. This little computer uses its own firmware, which is independent from the system BIOS. It is connected to the main PC via the KCS interface, to all of the hardware sensors, to the network controller (to be verified). Fortunately we can talk to this controller via the KCS interface using a Linux kernel module.

Read this interesting article: IPMI on Debian.

Installed the Debian package openipmi, loaded the kernel modules ipmi_devintf and ipmi_si. It seems that the hardware is detected (from dmesg):

ipmi message handler version 39.0
ipmi device interface
IPMI System Interface driver.
ipmi_si: Trying SMBIOS-specified KCS state machine at I/O address 0xca8, slave address 0x20, irq 0
ipmi: Found new BMC (man_id: 0x000002,  prod_id: 0x0025, dev_id: 0x20)
 IPMI KCS interface initialized

Now we can run ipmish, an interactive shell to talk with IPMI subsystem:

> domain open paros smi 0
> sensor list
  Name: paros(29.1)
    Name: paros(29.1).CPU FAN
  Name: paros(3.1)
    Name: paros(3.1).CPU VCore
    Name: paros(3.1).CPU 1 Status0
    Name: paros(3.1).CPU 1 Prochot0
    Name: paros(3.1).CPU 1 Temp
  Name: paros(29.3)
    Name: paros(29.3).System Fan
> sensor get paros(29.3)
> Sensor
  Name: paros(29.1).CPU FAN
  Event Messages Enabled: true
  Sensor Scanning Enabled: true
  Initial Update In Progress: false
  Value: 1.950000e+03
  Raw Value: 0xd
    Name: lower critical
    Out Of Range: false

A more advanced interface is offered by ipmitool, from the homonymous Debian package:

# ipmitool -I open sensor
Ambient Temp     | 37.000     | degrees C  | ok    | na        | na        | na        | 70.000    | na        | 80.000
CPU FAN          | 1800.000   | RPM        | ok    | na        | 1050.000  | na        | na        | na        | na
DASD Fan         | 0.000      | RPM        | ok    | 28800.000 | na        | 9600.000  | 0.000     | na        | na
CPU 1 Temp       | 41.000     | degrees C  | ok    | na        | na        | na        | 85.000    | na        | 95.000
Sys Pwr Monitor  | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
Watchdog         | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
1.5V Sense       | 1.550      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 1.340     | na        | na        | 1.670     | na
1.8V Sense       | 1.850      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 1.650     | na        | na        | 1.960     | na
3.3V Stby Sense  | 3.420      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 3.060     | na        | na        | 3.580     | na
12V Sense        | 12.240     | Volts      | ok    | na        | 11.016    | na        | na        | 13.248    | na
5V Sense         | 5.250      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 4.560     | na        | na        | 6.090     | na
CPU 1 Prochot    | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
CPU 1 Status     | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
VRM 1 Status     | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
CPU Vtt Sense    | 1.220      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 1.100     | na        | na        | 1.300     | na
NMI State        | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
SEL Fullness     | 7.000      | messages   | ok    | na        | na        | na        | 75.000    | 90.000    | 100.000
3.3V Sense       | 3.420      | Volts      | ok    | na        | 3.060     | na        | na        | 3.580     | na
Login Violation  | 0x0        | discrete   | 0x0080| na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
Memory           | na         | discrete   | na    | na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
PEF Action       | na         | discrete   | na    | na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
System Fan       | 1200.000   | RPM        | ok    | na        | 600.000   | na        | na        | na        | na
PCI Bus          | na         | discrete   | na    | na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
POST Firmware    | na         | discrete   | na    | na        | na        | na        | na        | na        | na
CPU VCore        | 1.357      | Volts      | ok    | 2.246     | na        | 2.246     | 0.000     | na        | na

Device permission

Debian assigns a default permission of 0660 to /dev/impi0, some programs may be not able to read it (e.g. snmpd which runs under unprivileged user). To let the device a different mode, you can create a file /etc/udev/rules.d/z99_local.rules with a line like this:

KERNEL=="ipmi[0-9]*",       MODE="666"

Enabling devices

Parallel port

The parallel port is a PNP0400 Standard LPT printer port. To use it as a printer port you need the kernel modules parport, parport_pc and lp. The hardware is driven by the parport_pc module, but simply loading the module is not sufficient to enable the port. This is the kernel error message displayed by dmesg:

pnp: Device 00:0b activated.
pnp: Device 00:0b disabled.
parport_pc: probe of 00:0b failed with error -22

This is beacuse the hardware is a Plug and Play device and we need to activate it. Linux support for PnP devices is granted via the old interface /proc/bus/pnp/… or via the new interface /sys/bus/pnp/devices/…. Activate the following options into the kernel configuration: CONFIG_PNP, CONFIG_PNPBIOS, CONFIG_PNPACPI and CONFIG_PNPBIOS_PROC_FS. Note that ACPI is expected to supersede PNPBIOS some day, currently it co-exists nicely.

Use the lspnp command to discover the ID of the device (00:0b in this case), after boot the device is disabled:

cat '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'
state = disabled
io disabled
irq 7

Then enable it with:

echo auto     > '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'
echo activate > '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'
cat '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'
state = active
io 0x378-0x37b
irq 7

See the pnp.txt help file supplied with the kernel for more info. This time the kernel modules load and work as expected:

pnp: Device 00:0b activated.
parport: PnPBIOS parport detected.
parport0: PC-style at 0x378, irq 7 [PCSPP,TRISTATE,EPP]
lp0: using parport0 (interrupt-driven).

Unfortunatelly the port settings will not survive the reboot. As explained in man modprobe.conf(5), you can execute automatically the previous commands before loading the kernel module adding the following lines into a file /etc/modprobe.d/local:

# Activate the PnP parellel port before loading the kernel module.
install parport_pc \
    echo auto     > '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'; \
    echo activate > '/sys/bus/pnp/devices/00:0b/resources'; \
    /sbin/modprobe  --ignore-install parport_pc  $CMDLINE_OPTS

BIOS upgrade

Upgraded BIOS Download the IBM eserver xSeries x206m/x306m Flash Update version 1.37A from, here it is a local copy of the archive: ibm_xseries_bios_udate_pae137a.tgz.

Burn the ibm_fw_bios_pae137a_anyos_i386.iso image onto a CD-ROM and reboot from it, follow the instructions. In the picture the boot screen after the update.

I downloaded the 1.43 version too, but not flashed yet: ibm_xseries_bios_udate_pae143a.tgz.

RAM upgrade

2007-09-15 Added 1 Gb of memory installing two RAM modules:

  • IBM part number 30R5148
  • 512MB (1x512MB) PC2-4200 CL4 ECC DDR2 SDRAM DIMM DDR2-533

Web links

doc/appunti/hardware/ibm_xseries_206m.txt · Last modified: 2010/06/19 12:08 by niccolo