June 22nd, 2006
So, a little while ago, I wrote about why I like HP. This week, I’m starting to be annoyed at them.
My employer just bought nearly $100,000 worth of HP hardware. We get a new MSA1500cs Fibre Channel SAN (with redundant controllers, FC switches, disks, etc), a new blade enclosure system, three blades to start with (all of them, at minimum, dual dual-core Opterons with 4GB RAM, and some considerably more), a rack to put all this in, etc.
So we’re starting to set all this stuff up. I’ve got Debian installed on an NFS root for testing the blades and how they interact with the SAN.
The blades have an integrated dual-port QLogic QLA2312 Fibre Channel adapter. The Linux kernel has a built-in driver for this (qla2xxx), which detects it and, so far at least, works fine. We want to run kernel 2.6.17 because it’s the first version where XFS has decent semantics for write ordering to prevent corruption after a power failure. Plus we want at least a 2.6.16.x kernel because we want to run the latest Xen 3.0 on these blades. (Live migration of virtual servers from blade to blade — this will be great.)
But we learn that HP does not support the kernel qla2xxx driver. HP does not say WHY they don’t support it, just that their own driver is the only one that they support.
After plowing through several annoying scripts to get to their driver, I realize why it fails to install: it is OLD. At BEST, 2.6.14 is the most recent kernel it would even compile against (release date: October 2005), and I think the most recent version it supports is more like 2.6.8 (almost TWO YEARS OLD now). They reference a whole bunch of kernel symbols and macros that were removed somewhere between 2.6.8 and 2.6.17.
I sent a ticket to HP support. Their first request was to run their system information gathering tool and send them the results. Fine, that’s reasonable. I did so. Next they say, gee, you’re running Debian, and we don’t support that.
Argh…. If they tried to compile it against 18.104.22.168 on RedHat or SuSE, they’d get the exact same problem. I told them what symbols they were erroneously using, and a simple grep would have showed them that.
Besides, how many customers are going to be pleased with no upgrade path available for 2 years? I wouldn’t want our kernel version to be held hostage to HP’s slow driver development process.