mSATA on Dell PE 2950


I’ve a 64G mSATA adapter from Had it up and running in no time at all on a Dell 755 workstation and a pair of 1TB SATA drives. Good stuff.

But, came by a Dell PowerEdge 2950 (6 1TB drives on a RAID controller at RAID 6). Booting the Rockstor install from a DVD (wouldn’t boot from the USB I used on the 755), I was able to get a new install on to the mSATA drive - but no matter how I fiddle and tweak the BIOS, I’ve not been able to get the thing to boot. It’s hooking into the PE BIOS - I see the adapter’s splash in POST - but it never tries to boot. PE BIOS reports ‘no boot device’ and does the ‘F1 retry or F2 for setup’ dance.

If I install Rockstor or CentOS to the RAID itself - no problems, it all boots and runs just fine - but I’d rather use this mSATA for the OS.

Pretty sure I’ve gotta do some kind of magic to get the mSATA ‘visible’ as a boot device. And, I’ve run out of options and convolutions in the PE BIOS setup.

Any suggestions or ideas? Sorry, not alter for sacrifices - but may be tempted.

First question - latest firmware?

Good question - and a tad tricky to answer. And you may well be spot on as to where this issue resides.

This box wasn’t a “Dell Server”. It was a vendor supplied server for a backup system. As such, the BIOS is not Dell branded. Looks like 2950 BIOS, just doesn’t say DELL anywhere - splash screen is eerie to look at.

First thing I’ll try next - see if I can get the actual DELL BIOS on board at the latest revision - see what I get from there.

Then look around on Dells site to see if you can find the BIOS to see if it fixed any of these issues in the change log. Could it be that your boot order is not correct. Its not uncommon to have external boot devices disabled on machines like this. I know we disabled them all at my work.

Downloaded a new BIOS file - now seems I have to build a DOS USB stick to use it.

Gads, one would think an outfit like DELL would have a *nix native tool.

Thanks guys! Soon as I get that stick built and see the results of the BIOS “refresh”, I’ll let ya know how it went.

1 Like

Nothing about enterprise level hardware is easy.

The Poweredge 1950 and 2950 are seriously old hardware. I would not be surprised if you had bulging capacitors on the PCI riser card. This can quickly result in a server that powers off unexpectedly or even refusing to POST. These were great servers back in the day, but are quickly becoming unreliable simply due to aging capacitors. If this is just a test/lab machine, you could just replace the caps in the riser card with equivalent units to keep the server usable. The problematic card looks like this: and if hyou have the newer riser card inside like this: it will not have the issues I described. I believe the good riser comes with the PE 2950 v3 (2950 III)

1 Like

Hi Everyone I know that it’s very old post but I am also in similar situation with trying to boot FreeNAS from mSATA without luck. It detects the drive during installation but when it comes to booting the bios seems not to have an option to boot via PCIe. I have updated BIOS to the latest version which is 2.6.1 I think and was wondering if anyone succeed.

I believe the original issue actually stems from a lack of UEFI capability on the PowerEdge 2950, meaning that the mSATA disk attached to the PCIe bus was not accessible until after the BIOS were completed.

If you’re also using a PCIe mSATA bridge on older (non-UEFI) hardware this is likely your issue as well.

If that’s the case, I’m afraid you’ll need to do something creative.
Perhaps you can boot to a USB disk, and point the boot sector via grub to the destination drive, or failing that, boot an entire kernel from USB and define the root partition as your mSATA disk so that kernel drivers can initialize it.

Please note that this is purely speculative, will require an advanced touch and is most definately outside the realm of standard config.