Encountered issues installing rockstor 3.8.13 on Dell Dimension 5100C

Here is an outline of the steps I needed to take to install Rockstor 3.18.3 on a Dell Dimension 5100C. I’m not posting this with the intention to complain (since this particular setup might just be unlucky), but I’ll admit this took more effort than I originally anticipated. This is more for purposes of providing feedback and as reference for others, and identifying any bug reports I should file or subscribe to. I wouldn’t mind breaking this discussion into individual threads for specific issues, if preferred.

e100 ethernet driver not present in installer
The installer could not connect to the Internet using the built-in fast Ethernet NIC since the e100 driver was not available during installation, so I used a supported ASIX USB NIC instead.

No dmraid package included with installer (known issue)
No mirror configured in installer (in case something like dmraid missing)
The installer needed dmraid, probably because of the ICH chipset present; previously reported by another user at https://github.com/rockstor/rockstor-core/issues/1257 ; This required that I configure a CentOS 7 mirror during the installation. (There may be a way to prevent the installer from requesting dmraid in the first place.)

DHCP does not renew in installer (known issue?)
However, the installer would eventually fail to download a package, and abort the installation. The installer was no longer connected to the Internet: ifconfig showed no IPv4 configuration. I noticed that this would happen almost exactly an hour into the installation, which led me to check the DHCP lease time: sure enough, it was 3600 seconds. I also made sure this wasn’t due to NTP changing the time at the beginning of the installation without adjusting the renewal time (otherwise the renewal time would be a few hours into the future, since I’m in CDT). (This may be a known issue, but I have only seen reports of it with the installed desktop, not the installer.)
To workaround that, I downloaded the CentOS 7 “everything” iso and configured it as a source in the installer. (An alternative could have been a script to respawn dhclient.) The installation finally finished after about 5 hours; maybe it normally doesn’t take so long, so it normally wouldn’t matter if the installer was going to lose its connection to the Internet.

Version of kernel-ml used by Rockstor prevents support of PNY flash drive (known issue: https://github.com/rockstor/rockstor-core/issues/1069)
But the install wouldn’t boot successfully using the default kernel-ml 4.4.5 due to a known issue with USB drives (the particular one used was PNY 16GB, vendor 154b device 005b). The issue is resolved as of kernel-ml 4.5.2 in ElRepo, which I installed using chroot from a livecd, allowing a successful boot.

But since Rockstor insists on using kernel-ml 4.4.5 for now, the final workaround was to move the installation to a (much faster) compact flash card in the built-in card reader using a livecd, run grub2-install from chroot, and attempt to boot it.

Hooray, I think the system is finally in both a working and supported state.

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Really nice post @chrstphrchvz. Welcome to Rockstor community btw!

Some issues you explained are clearly due to the custom kernel. But I think it may be time to rebase our ISO with latest CentOS. The current ISO was seeded with CentOS 7.1 in august 2014 i believe. And then I hacked some anaconda files to strip down the installer a bit and make it easier.

I wonder if the DHCP renews properly in a vanilla CentOS. Any chance you could test that? Same goes for e100 driver. Thanks for your contribution!

Hi Suman,

I’ve finally had a chance to look into your suggestions. I have tried booting from the CentOS 7.2.1511 Everything ISO, and so far can confirm that the e100 driver is still not present. But I am wondering if that driver is intentionally omitted for some reason. It seems like one way of getting the e100 driver on CentOS is to use ElRepo kernel (kmod-e100 package); since Rockstor happens to use this kernel, the built-in NIC is available once Rockstor is installed.

I do not have a second NIC for this machine at the moment, so I will have to try on another machine or virtual machine to confirm the DHCP issue, unless someone else has come across this issue more recently.