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PERC 6/i controller on a DELL PowerEdge 2900 and the F1 problem

Recently I was working with a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server and I stumbled upon two issues: how about RAID10 and why on earth does it come up with the “F1 error message” on boot?

The machine itself was equipped with a PERC 6/i controller – and that given model had 6 drives in it. They were all configured as RAID5 which was something I definitely did not want to use. My main concerns were of course data security and speed (there will be a few busy database VMs running on it, and RAID5 isn’t really the best option for a database system – but that’s a topic for a separate blog post). Luckily the controller supports RAID10 out of the box. Configuration takes a few minutes and you are up and running. You can then initialize your new volume using one of two available methods: fast and regular (the “fast” intialization zeroes only the beginning and the end of allocated space, whereas the regular zeroes whole allocated space).

And now it’s time to get to the “F1” problem. It was a bit annoying because the error message isn’t especially informative: “Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility”. Well, put on your Wizard’s hat and knock yourself out 🙂 After long investigation it turned out that the culprit is hidden in the motherboard’s controller. When you look into the BIOS (not PERC 6/i BIOS!) and check “detected drives”, probably the channel 0 will be marked as “Autodetect / not found” (or something around that). You have to simply disable it – and the machine will boot unattended.

Funny little thing but can become annoying especially for people that work mostly with servers coming from different manufacturers.

 

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