How to boot from iSCSI on an Intel x-520 mezzanine card (Dell Blades).


How to boot from iSCSI on an Intel x-520 mezzanine card (Dell Blades).

by Tuan Nguyen

So I recently came across a situation where we wanted to boot a blade off of an EqualLogic SAN via the installed Intel X-520 10gbe mezzanine cards. With Broadcom it’s easy, you just enable iSCSI boot to Broadcom in the BIOS, and set it up in the CTRL-S bios setup. There is no equivalent option as delivered on the Intel cards. So to enable iSCSI boot, you have to get the bootutil.exe program from Intel here and make it a bootable iso. You have to boot the server somehow to a dos prompt, and since it’s a blade you’ll generally be doing it remotely via the iDRAC console. You really only need two files, bootutil.exe and bootimg.flb.

So here’s the confusing part. Generally you’d run the program like this:

Bootutil.exe -flashenable

Bootutil.exe -up=iSCSI -nic=# (where # is the nic you want to boot)

Bootutil.exe -bootenable=iSCSIprimary -nic=# (once again, nic you want to boot from)


The probem is that on the mezzanine x-520 cards in blades, the two first commands do not work. The documentation from Intel only tells you the -flashenable is not supported. It does not tell you why, or what to change. It also doesn’t tell you that the -up=iSCSI doesn’t work, nor does it tell you why. Well my friends I found out why. Basically you can’t do a -flashenable because the mezzanine cards don’t support enabling flash. It is enabled by default, and cannot be disabled. Since it cannot be disabled, it logically cannot be disabled – therefore the commands are invalid. Also the cards do not support single flash images, only combo images. This means you can do iSCSI, but you have to load the card with the whole image (bootimg.flb). The stock combo image has iSCSI boot capability, but it seems to be broken. Anyways on with the info. To get it to work do this:

Bootutil.exe -up=combo -all (this updates the whole card to all newest images)

Bootutil.exe -bootenable=iSCSIprimary -nic=#

Bootutil.exe -bootenable=iSCSIsecondary -nic=# (only if you want a secondary boot for redundancy)

After these steps you can reboot with the command “reboot 1” and wait for the CTRL-D prompt to set up your iSCSI boot config.

You can also specify the config before rebooting with bootutil as well. The commands are:

Syntax is  Bootutil.exe -[option]=[value]


-Targetname (iqn)

-TargetIP (ip)

-TargetDHCP (enable/disable)

-Targetport (usually 3260)

-Bootlun (# of lun)

-Initiatorname (iqn)

-InitiatorIP (ip)

-InitiatorDHCP (enable/disable)

-Netmask (ip)

-Gateway (ip)

-Bootpriority (not really necessary, already set)

Full text is here.

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Tuan Nguyen

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