My IPMI 2.0 hell

While trying to get a 1U rack server up and running we decided to check out IPMI 2.0 as a potential replacement/adjunct to a console server. The motherboard in question is a SuperMicro P8SCi and we went ahead and purchased the IPMI 2.0 board (aka “BMC”).

The directions for installation are pretty straightforward:

  • power off system, disconnect AC, insert card
  • insert provided CD-ROM
  • start system – CD-ROM should autoboot and update flash
  • load OS and grab gateway, gateway MAC, IP, and MAC
  • install ‘Graceful Power Cutoff’ drivers
  • install IPMI View on control system
  • connect to managed system using given IP/MAC

All this went off without a hitch until I got to IPMI View. It said “Could not communicate with server”. No amount of Googling helped out, and there were no firewall/network issues since the system was reachable just fine and is sitting in the wild (not behind a firewall/NAT).

I finally sound some support FAQs at SuperMicro’s Web site, but apparently the support system is not indexable by Google, so I had to manually search all forums for instances of ‘IPMI’, which was ~17 pages of hits with no way to narrow it down any more.

An hour later, I found a rather ambiguous FAQ entry that said that on some motherboards (mine was not listed) you could NOT use the MAC/IP for your system, you had to use a separate MAC printed on the IPMI slot on the motherboard. Gack! And, as it turns out, you have to assign an IP address to that separate from the one for your system.

To do all this you have to use a program only tangentially mentioned in the installation docs, IPMnMAC.exe. So the REAL installation process works like they mention, however you must first:

  • remove ‘load OS and grab gateway, gateway MAC, IP, and MAC’

and then substitute:

  • boot from CD, exit Flash updater, run IPnMAC.exe, enter IP address assigned to IPMI and MAC address printed on motherboard

After you do that, THEN you can access it with IPMI View. I finally got it working, but GPC doesn’t work for me and never did, the Linux installer didn’t work with the CentOS 2.6.11 kernel we’re running.

There is NO fucking way I would have figured this out without reading through every page of the 17 pages of FAQ hits on ‘IPMI’ I found coupled with some rather non-intuitive leaps/assumptions on my part (e.g. the BMC requires its own IP address).