Formatting disks and clearing RAID config on Power systems with iprutils

I recently put some spare disks into a Power S814 server, and when I tried installing an OS, be it VIOS or Debian, it would say that there were no disks available to install onto.

It turns out that the RAID configuration on the controller and the disks didn’t match. This is par for the course with any RAID controller, even in the x86 world. It also didn’t help that some of the disks were formatted for IBM i, which uses non-512-byte block disks. We need to use the vendor utility to clear out the RAID config, and format the disks to be usable by commodity operating systems.

The two utilities IBM provides for this are either the diagnostics on the AIX Standalone Diagnostics disc, or using the iprutils set of software. Since netbooting Linux was easier as I don’t have a NIM server, I’m choosing to do the latter here.

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Netbooting Alpine Linux on a PowerVM system

I had a need to run a utility that requires Linux (specifically, iprutils to configure a RAID card) onto a Power S814 that I had installed at a datacentre, and no remote hands to boot a CD with. However, there’s not much information documented on how to boot Linux on these systems from a network. This article aims to synthesize what I’ve found online, since information about IBM Power systems tends to be scant outside of IBM documentation..

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Loose ideas for operating systems

This post has been copy-edited by doppler. Thanks!

Most research nerds either start writing Unix hagiographies or start stapling a 99-point thesis at the doors of Murray Hill. This is the latter kind of post; I’ll try to cover ideas for systems that could be meaningfully different from current systems. I’ve done a lot of research on existing concepts and existing systems, particularly those that could have been the future. Existing systems can be extrapolated into something new.

A lot of the ideas have been percolating in my head for a while now and are rough ideas for what could be. Perhaps I’ll iterate on them further, or realize there’s a reason no one was doing these before. The main idea is a place to start off, and it iterates from there. Treat it like a buffet of ideas; caveat emptor for people who don’t like musing.

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DNS as Code with DNSControl and GitLab

With the “infrastructure as code” renaissance, managing infrastructure has never been easier. Every change is easily recordable and reproducible and, because it’s all code, it’s never been easier to store a history of what’s changed to easily review in git log.

But short of running your own DNS servers and running custom scripts to convert code into a BIND zonefile, it’s historically been hard to manage DNS in the same way – so often, even though the servers themselves are easy to change, managing DNS means connecting to Route53, or Cloudflare, or any of a myriad of different domain registrars and DNS providers and manually changing fields in their application with no easy way to propagate changes across multiple domains or to roll back to a historical record if a new change causes something to break.

Using a tool like DNSControl, which allows a provider-agnostic view of DNS records as code, along with automatic capabilities to update records at your provides, fixes all of this.

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