Operating System Options for IA64 Altix/Prism Systems

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Operating System Options for IA64 Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby smj » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:38 pm

It seems like we're building up a decent amount of Itanium Altix information, but there are still some frequent questions that might benefit from being centralized. One of those is the question of operating system support for Altix systems. I've incorporated what I could find into the Altix 350 wiki page, but it seemed like it would be good to create a thread for reporting and Q&A.

Note that I linked to the Altix 350 page versus the generic Altix page in part because of the differences that exist and are expected to grow between the older Itanium-based models and the newer x86_64-based models. As of this writing most of the questions have been about the Altix 350 and Prism, but this will probably change as more of these machines are released into the aftermarket. So we can expect to overhaul the Altix pages as it becomes necessary.

SGI officially supported the following Linux distros on IA64 Altix at different times:

SGI Advanced Linux Environment (based on RedHat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server releases)
RedHat Enterprise Linux (4.x - 6.4) (Edit: 6.x unlikely, as 6.x didn't support Itanium...)
SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (8 - 11 SP2)

Forum members have reported successful installs of the following additional distros:

CentOS (5.5 through 5.9 so far) *
Debian (5.x - 6.x)
Scientific Linux CERN 5.x

Support for the Prism platform is a little different if you want support for the graphics cards. It appears that support ended with ProPack 4 (SP4?) according to this thread, which means Prism owners might be able to run SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 SP3. However without graphics odds are good a Prism will run any OS that any other Altix 3000-based system will run.


* CentOS.org doesn't supply ISOs for IA64 after release 4.9; see this post about cross-building 5.x
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:17 pm

I'm curious about this myself since the Altix seems like a nice way to get an Itanic in my collection that can "do stuff."
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby smj » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:58 am

bluecode wrote:Will OpenVMS run on those?

Will OpenVMS run on an Altix? I don't believe so, and I would not expect so.

But oddly enough, I was going to reply to ClassicHasClass suggesting he could look at an HP Integrity RX1600 or RX2600 if he wanted to add Itanium to his herd. Played right I think you can have your choice of HP/UX, Tru64 Unix, or OpenVMS on those boxes as well as the FOSS/Linux offerings.

Edit: Brain fart re: Tru64.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby jan-jaap » Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:49 am

smj wrote:Support for the Prism platform is a little different if you want support for the graphics cards. It appears that support ended with ProPack 4 (SP4?) according to this thread, which means Prism owners might be able to run SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 SP3.

ProPack 4, SP3 to be precise.

Code: Select all

1.1  Before You Start
---------------------

Note the following prerequisites for using SGI ProPack 4 SP3 on SGI Altix
systems:

  - requires SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 9 Service Pack 3
  - PROM 4.43 (ships with SGI ProPack 4 SP3) or later version recommended

SUSE released an SLES9 SP4, but I don't know is it's compatible with ProPack4 SP3

Another thing worth knowing for those playing with the Altixes: you can still get the Intel IA64 compiler (free for non-commercial use). Here's how:

* Go to the Non-Commercial Software Development page at Intel. Sign up for the current x86/x86_64 Linux Compose XE package.
* You will receive a license file and a download link.
* The license file works for Linux x86/x64 *and* ia64:

Code: Select all

PLATFORMS="i86_r i86_re it64_lr it64_re amd64_re"

* The download page contains an option to download "Additional downloads, updates and versions".
* The current product (Composer XE) doesn't support ia64 any longer. You want Intel C++/Fortran Compiler 11.1, Update 9.

I have not tried this myself yet (no Itanium hardware), but the procedure works fine with a new key, the 11.1 compilers, on x86_64.

The release notes of the various ProPacks refer to the then-current Intel compilers (v8.x, ... v10.x) so maybe you want to install an older compiler if 11.1 gives trouble.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:47 am

bluecode wrote:
ClassicHasClass wrote:I'm curious about this myself since the Altix seems like a nice way to get an Itanic in my collection that can "do stuff."


Just looked at your webpage. Very nice layout and very interesting stuff! Nice job!


Thanks, man! I need to update that -- the Fuel took the C8000's slot in the KVM because it's getting much more use. I need to find somewhere to put it, though, because I really have a soft spot for PA-RISC.

smj wrote:I was going to reply to ClassicHasClass suggesting he could look at an HP Integrity RX1600 or RX2600 if he wanted to add Itanium to his herd.


It's on my list, though I would prefer something in a workstation form factor rather than YA rackmount system, and an SGI Itanic is a bonus. But I've thought about those too.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby astouffer » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:10 pm

What all is needed hardware wise to run a rackmount Altix? Someone on ebay is selling them for $100 each but looking at the pictures there doesn't appear to be a built in ethernet port. Only a serial console and RJ45 console port. So you'd need a supported ethernet card?

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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby smj » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:57 pm

astouffer wrote:What all is needed hardware wise to run a rackmount Altix? Someone on ebay is selling them for $100 each but looking at the pictures there doesn't appear to be a built in ethernet port. Only a serial console and RJ45 console port. So you'd need a supported ethernet card?

You're asking about a specific eBay auction - that listing will disappear forever in a few months, which makes for a lousy reference. But from what I think is on eBay at the moment, you're likely seeing Altix 350 compute-memory bricks with no base I/O at that price, plus S&H. But let me speak to the general topic of minimal Altix configurations for those reading this thread in future...

I think the smallest option would be an Altix 330. That would require at least a single 1U "base compute module" and gets you one or two Itanium 2 CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM, one PCI/PCI-X slot, a slim DVD-ROM, up to two internal SAS/SATA hard drives, and two gigabit Ethernet ports.

For an Altix 350 you'd need at least one unit ("brick") that has a PCI/PCI-X backplane and an IO9 or IO10 installed in the bottom PCI slot. This gives you basic I/O like the Ethernet port and either Ultra160 SCSI (IO9) or SATA (IO10). While the IO9 gives you separate internal and external SCSI busses, the IO10 gives you SAS/SATA ports for internal disks and a handful of serial ports through a small external connector.

For an Altix 3000 system, you'd need at least one C brick (CPUs, memory), one IX brick (I/O), and a power bay to feed them with 48VDC.

With the Altix 450 I believe you'd need one Individual Rack Unit (IRU). You'd need at least one IA64 compute/memory blade and an "IA" or "IA2" base I/O blade in slot 0 of that IRU. That should get you one or two Itanium 2 CPUs, 12 DIMM slots for memory, and then the usual I/O features: one or two SAS/SATA II HDDs, a DVD, two PCI-X slots, two GigE ports, 4 USB ports, etc. It looks like these used modular PSUs designed to run off of typical local residential service, rather than Origin/Altix 3000-style power bays, which is nice.

Aside from the A350 I'm picking this info out of TechPubs, and since the later/larger models are decreasingly likely to turn up at my house any time soon, I'll stop with the 450. ;) But if you're curious, by all means continue reading with the Altix 4700 or Altix UV100 System User Guides.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby rosmaniac » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:53 pm

smj wrote:It seems like we're building up a decent amount of Altix information, but there are still some frequent questions that might benefit from being centralized. One of those is the question of operating system support for Altix systems. I've incorporated what I could find into the Altix 350 wiki page, but it seemed like it would be good to create a thread for reporting and Q&A.


Excellent idea, and I like the page on the wiki.

...
RedHat Enterprise Linux (4.x - 6.4)
...


RHEL is supported only through RHEL 5, which will be supported by Red Hat through 2017. RHEL 6 is not supported, although some rebuild efforts are underway to get CentOS 6 back on IA64. RHEL 5 is currently at 5.9 and is supported by Red Hat on IA64 in parallel with i686 and x86_64.

Fedora 9 is the last Fedora on IA64, but I can't vouch for how well it works; a mirror of the install ISO's is at http://mirrors.rit.edu/fedora-secondary/archive/releases/9/Fedora/ia64/iso/.

...
Forum members have reported successful installs of the following additional distros:
...
Scientific Linux CERN 5.x
...


SL CERN stopped support of IA64 at 5.4, and getting it to install is a bit of a thing, since the 5.4 install DVD won't directly boot. I've got to refresh my memory how I did that; it's been a while.

I'll try to dig that back up, and I'll see if I can't roll install media for CentOS5 or my own rebranded rebuild of CentOS5. I do have an RHEL entitllement, currently in use on a different box, but that allowed me to evaluate RHEL5 on Altix, and suffice to say it just works, as of RHEL 5.8.

What I need to do next is rebuild the redistributable ProPack source packages that last worked for RHEL5 (Foundation 1 SP6 and ProPack 6SP6; Foundation 2 and ProPack 7 are SuSE-only) on CentOS 5.9. This includes the environment modules. If you have the ProPack and Foundation ISO's the source packages are found in the SRPMS directory for each ISO.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby rosmaniac » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:49 pm

UPDATE:

According to the PACKAGE_LICENSES.txt files on both the Foundation and ProPack discs, some of the more useful packages are indeed GPL, including the environmental modules one. So the source for those pieces should be releaseable. Several useful packages aren't GPL, including numatools and pcp-sgi, which have SGI Proprietary licenses..

Do note that what I've called 'environmental modules" is not what it sounds like, and the actual package you want for performance monitoring would be 'pcp-open' which is GPL/LGPL licensed.

I'll attempt to build this one in a few days, and see what info it gives.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby SAQ » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:50 pm

bluecode wrote:Will OpenVMS run on those?

Highly unlikely. Core logic is different (NUMAflex vs whatever HP uses) as is I/O.
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:51 am

Yes, my understanding is that the Altixes (Alticies?) only run the big L, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were a NetBSD port brewing somewhere. (The prerequisite for that is getting the ia64 port working and I understand that is still very experimental.)
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby hamei » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:02 am

bluecode wrote:Is there any way they could make Itanic even less useful than it apparently already is?

They could make it run Windows :D
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby smj » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:49 am

hamei wrote:
bluecode wrote:Is there any way they could make Itanic even less useful than it apparently already is?

They could make it run Windows :D

They could, but I don't see that they have for Itanium-based Altix - but Windows Server 2008 is certified on the Altix UV 1000. I mentioned before, I was at an SGI & Intel briefing in San Jose and they had Dr. Goh connecting to a big Altix running acceptance tests at a university somewhere and showing us a Windows instance with a multiple terabytes of RAM.

Check it: The 16 Terabyte PC - SGI Bets on Exascale
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FreeBSD?

Unread postby smj » Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:48 pm

bluecode wrote:
ClassicHasClass wrote:Yes, my understanding is that the Altixes (Alticies?) only run the big L, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were a NetBSD port brewing somewhere. (The prerequisite for that is getting the ia64 port working and I understand that is still very experimental.)

Thanks. That's sounds like a colossal waste of time and money for whoever dreamed that one up. Is there any way they could make Itanic even less useful than it apparently already is? The mind boggles.

Just to clarify, there's nothing about Itanium that precludes other OSes. What OS did you want?

Whatever we may think of the decision, SGI decided to only support the IA64 Altix through the Linux kernel. They weren't going to keep IRIX going, and while HP, Sun, et al did ports to Itanium you can't be that surprised none of them opted to port to a competitor's high-end architecture.

FreeBSD has an Itanium port, with ISO images available for download, and I just found an announcement of a working snapshot for the Altix 350 in this post from January 2013. Maybe I'll swap disks and give that a shot, though I expect you'd give up everything from the ProPacks, the Intel compilers, etc. (Build from that post has disappeared, but I found a June snapshot here.)

On this front FreeBSD is ahead of NetBSD - I don't see anything but old, possibly incomplete support for an Itanium emulator in NetBSD/ia64. Not much activity on the ports-ia64 mailing list in the past several years either.

Can you think of any other realistic candidates?
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Re: Operating System Options for Altix/Prism Systems

Unread postby SAQ » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:56 pm

bluecode wrote:
ClassicHasClass wrote:Yes, my understanding is that the Altixes (Alticies?) only run the big L, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were a NetBSD port brewing somewhere. (The prerequisite for that is getting the ia64 port working and I understand that is still very experimental.)


Thanks. That's sounds like a colossal waste of time and money for whoever dreamed that one up. Is there any way they could make Itanic even less useful than it apparently already is? The mind boggles.


Altix took the Origin's huge capacity for processors in a SSI and implemented it in Itanium because SGI decided not to keep on developing their own chips. For most of the people who bought Altix it was the performance that mattered, and what it ran was secondary (as long as it worked) - and Linux was a cheap way for SGI to provide an OS.

Tru64 never made it onto Itanium - it was Alpha only. Compaq/HP made some noise about moving it to Itanium, then HP was going to port the better features to HP-UX, then they dropped it completely.
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