Installing Debian Sarge Linux on a IBM HS20 Blade (HOWTO)

  1. Start the management interface on your local machine
  2. Open a console for the remote Blade
  3. Attach the local CDROM drive to the remote destination Blade
  4. Boot the remote Blade from the local CDROM
  5. Press <F1>(Using the console’s F1 button) in order to get into the install disk menu
  6. By using the respective function key jump into the menu with the special boot characters
  7. Choose and enter the command line that disables framebuffer (with framebuffer display, which is on by default you won’t see anything in the console)
  8. You will possibly need to switch around the console’s keyboard settings in order to be able to enter the “special” characters “/” and “=” (the console wouldn’t map the local swissgerman keyboard correctly. I had to use the US, the Italian and the German keyboard settings in order to be able to enter all the charcters I needed throughout the installation process)
  9. Now proceed with the installation which will quite soon fail, because the installer won’t find the CDROM drive, because it’s internally attached over USB
  10. Change into the next terminal with Alt-F2 and issue a modprobe usb-uhci which will load the required USB drivers. You should see this when you issue a dmesg to display the kernel messages
  11. Issue a hw-detect to make the Debian installer rescan the HW and this time detect the CDROM which is connected via the USB-storage and the SCSI-over-USB drivers
  12. Press Alt-F1 (click on the Alt and F1 buttons of the console) to return to the installer
  13. Press “OK” to let the installer search for the CDROM drive once more which it should find and you should be able to continue the install process
  14. At the machine where this procedure was tested, the two Broadcom BCM 5703 Tiga NetXtreme gigabit ethernet cards on the Blade were in trunking mode and thus Linux’ tg3.o driver wouldn’t be able to access the net out of the box. The connection to the switch had to be changed to “normal” mode in order for the driver to be able to communicate
  15. Now before you restart, be aware that currently the first SCSI disk /dev/sca1 for Linux is the SCSI over USB CDROM drive and the local hard disk on the local SCSI controller at /dev/scb1. But as soon as you’ll restart, the USB driver will not yet be installed and instead the local SCSI contoller will be at /dev/sca1
  16. Thus when you restart, as soon as you get into GRUB’s boot loader menu change the boot device from boot=/dev/scb1 to boot=/dev/sca1
  17. That’s it. Let me know if this HOWTO has helped you.


  1. We used the 2.4 kernel (==2.4.27-2-386)