This Space for Rent

The joy of Linux™, or, all hardware sucks, all software sucks

I'm trying to write a procedure for building build machines at work, so we can make new build machines as needed while having some idea of what software we're wedging onto those machines. And, for a change, we're actually being handed some modern hardware to use for the build machines.

In Linuxland, "modern hardware" means that you need a "modern" version of Linux. That's because the Linux core team has had a long-standing belief that published driver interfaces are a mark of the Devil, and if you published driver interfaces then people would write proprietary drivers and use them to corrupt the Precious Bodily Fluids of the Linux kernel. So, this means if you're trying to install something like R*dh*t Linux on an *BM *346, you can't just pick up the Adaptec A320raid driver from Redhat and have the kernel modprobe the thing into place so you'll have a driver. No, you have to go and get the A320raid driver (which is proprietary; so much for preserving those bodily fluids, eh?) for the particular version of R*dh*t you're running, if you're lucky enough to have a version of R*dh*t that Adaptec is bothering to write drivers for (and if you don't, well, I guess you can always install Microsoft Windows, which doesn't have the greatest record for driver stability either, but which doesn't spin out new and incompatable system releases every six or seven months.) And after you've done that, then you get to do the same thing again for the tigon3-based ethernet driver (this one is Open Source®™©, so even though it's not supported as well as the Adaptec driver, you can still build the kernel, sneakernet the sources over, and build a new kernel that, if you're lucky, won't cause the Adaptec drivers to go into vapours over the kernel being rebuilt out from under them.) And once you've got this done, you've got about six months before the OS vendor stops supporting your operating system and forces you to upgrade to a newer one.

It's not as if device driver interfaces are such a dark art. There aren't that many things that a driver has to do, and the interfaces you might want to publish are all sitting there fat and happy, so you do have to deliberately break things to make the interfaces incompatable. But that prevents proprietary drivers (except for the vendors who, um, ship proprietary drivers), so a legion of outraged system administrators and OS developers aren't really worth worrying about.

Excuse me, but I believe there's a wall I need to pound my head against now.


yes. this sucks. having the same problem now, after upgrading SuSE Enterpise Linux 9 to latest kernel...-> no a320raid.ko driver that match the Adaptec provided a320raid.ko ->...end of running your RAID under SLES Linux!

Stefan Tue Apr 26 02:38:50 2005

same her 'downgraded' to 9.1 suse in order to be able to use the damn hostraid from adaptec, but after upgrading the kernel of the 9.1 system things stopped working. So, the choice is a working Hostarray system from Adaptec or a securely patched linux os. No more adaptec for me, I have no way of knowing whether I can use their devices or not on my linux box.

BTW, the club version of Mandriva (aka Mandrake) 2005 LE seems to have teh a320raid driver compiled for 2.6.11.

nn2 Thu May 26 09:02:56 2005

On my question: What do we do if we have one of your lovely HostRaid in IBM 346 and RHEL4 Adaptec responded: -------------------- Our Response:

Good morning Plamen.

IBM uses Adaptec RAID solutions in many of servers. We do not support these OEM chipsets directly. Any driver update or bios update is supported and distributed by IBM exclusively.

Sincerely, Adaptec Customer Service

Thank you. -------------------- You are very welcome.....

On the same question IBM responded:

IBM: Well Adaptec didn't release the source code so we couldn't compile it....

Me: And so what do we do?

IBM: Well you can by and install the optional ServRAID-7k (SLI Logic) which has dedicated slot on the motherboard.

Me: Lovely... and how much is this, cause I need 7 of them ?

IBM: 250 UKP


Plamen Panov Thu Aug 4 07:50:04 2005


I came across this page while trying to find a solution for the exact problem described in your message - trying to install RedHat ES 3 or 4 on an IBM xSeries 346 with RAID 10 on the Adaptec 320 controller. It has been a nightmare so far, as we cannot get the linux installer to pick up the RAID array. Could you point me in the direction of the correct driver? We have tried loads and none seem to work so far.

I really don't want to have to resort to software raid when there are 2 hardware controllers on board but I am almost reaching the end of my tether with this.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


David Rush Tue Aug 9 06:47:49 2005

If you're running vanilla RHEL3 or 4, you should be able to just pick up the a320raid driver from the adaptec website and use it according to their instructions.

Should, of course, may be a bit of an exaggeration. The aic79xx driver also detects the a320, and picks up the disks that are configured as part of the disk array as separate disks. So if anything goes wrong with the a320 raid driver, your system will pick up a whole bunch of individual disks with mysteriously identical disk partitions.

At work, we've got our own installer which loads everything in the correct order before firing up *n*c*nd*, but the hardware group periodically loads up vanilla redhat and I believe have managed to get everything to work that way.

I'm not at liberty to say anything about the contents of the driver, of course, but the software raid in Linux is actually quite good and might be sufficient unless you're running a very heavily loaded system.

David Parsons Thu Aug 11 08:22:43 2005

I had the same problem with RedHat ES 4 x86-64 on an IBM x346 and using the Adaptec disk image from their website and installing with "linux dd noprobe" so it asks for driver disks and doesn't pick up the chip as an aic79xx automatically it works. Though for my install it said the appropriate driver wasn't on the disk and then I went to add it manually it had the a320 driver in the list and using that it saw the mirror.

That's with the install of kernel 2.6.9-5, as soon as I used RHN to update the kernel to 2.6.9-22 it coughed up a lung on reboot, no longer recognizes the mirror and complains that it can't mount the BOOT partition because it's already mounted. When I check the hardware browser unger RAID devices it shows the Adaptec chip as using the aic79xx driver and I have no idea how to switch it back to using the a320raid driver... I installed the RPM off Adaptec's site and it doesn't seem to take, I've tried the Update 1 driver too and nothing works. The a320raid driver existed in the /lib/modules/2.6.9-5smp/updates/ directory, but it's nowhere in the /lib/modules/2.6.9-22smp/ directory. If anyone has any insight into this it'd be much appreciated. Thanks.

Lance Fri Dec 30 15:58:38 2005

Hi guy’s,

I found one driver for IBM x346 with Red Hat 4 AS Update 1 using host raid


Rogério Fri Jan 6 09:37:05 2006

Hi, I’ve been tried al driver from IBM website (for IBM HostRaid) but no one can’t solve the Raid 1 solved.

any has expereience install rhel 4 on IBM X346 (enable Raid 1 onboard controller) pls share your knowledge.


Husnul Afif Tue Feb 28 20:53:35 2006

any luck? i’m running into the same problem… ibm 346 with hostraid raid 1. rhel 4 uses aic-7pxx, which is the incorrect driver. i tried to use u320 while searching for the drive manually in rhel setup. no luck..

chris lafty Fri Mar 3 09:37:25 2006

Ditto the please provide help … would be interested in any info on successful adaptec or other noname driver install with RH Linux es4 on IBM x346 Additional info on connect to fiber driver through brocade switch to a Hitachi SAN would be nice. - - I know and winning the lottery would be nice too. - -

Bill Hattenhauer Sat Mar 4 11:29:43 2006

should be smart to publish e-mail right.

Bill Hattenhauer Sat Mar 4 11:31:13 2006

The default adaptec downloads don’t work without a stuggle. This is the last poduct I will buy with an Adaptec. I have it running using rhel 4 x86_64 no updates. I have tried various kernels this is as high as I could go. I am working on this again right now. Trying to find a way to get it to work with a newer kernel, no luck so far. First problem is the kernel.h file on a stock 2.6 system this deos not exist. If we all put pressure on adaptec eventually they will listen to the community.

Jerry Gallagher Fri Apr 7 14:07:07 2006

I have an issue too on my IBM 346 when performing up2date and losing my hardware raid features with a kernel update on RHEL4ESU3 using Adaptec. I first setup HostRaid then used ServerRaid Manager migr-55041. Verified drives with ServerRaid Manager then installed OS. Download the .img file on the ibm site (migr-64400). Used the .img file and not the .tar as this was a new install.

The minute I update to a newer kernel -> Raid does not work correctly. Anyone have a resolution?


Steve Ingersoll Mon Jun 19 07:39:08 2006

I found driver for RH4EL on . I have instaled and it is working on a IBM X346-8840 with SCSI-HostRaid A320 Raid AIC-7902B.

LaKoroll Wed Jun 28 05:07:52 2006

Have a similar problem with a320raid controller in an Acer Altos G5350. Not that hot with Linux and wondering now why I choose to take the Adaptec controller as an option if its not supported with recent kernels. I have two Seagate drives mirrored using the Hostraid controller. When I installed SLE9 SP3 it used the included AIC79xx and all seemed to be well but then started getting SCSI transmission errors and the server would freeze! After a bit of searching I discovered a downloadable a320raid.ko driver from acer site but baffled as to how to install it now the system is running. Being advised from others to just use the Linux raid. Sounds like the only option but a waste of a hardware raid!

Sandy McCarthy Wed Jul 5 06:14:15 2006

There are recent drivers provided by Adaptec to support. I had just installed last night RHEL4 Update 4, and I used the provided image on the site (used floppy disc, linux dd on installation), and the OS was able to see the mirror raid setup.

The driver I got from adaptec site, here

Hope this helps.

jtdc Manila, Philippines

Jan dela Cruz Thu Sep 21 18:37:46 2006

I have decided to give up on these machines and give them to the windows group. The only working configuration that I have found that allows me to update is rhel4up3 running i686 insteed of x86_64. These machines reflect poorly on IBM, I have very good luck with almost all other IBM machines. The latest build attmept on these boxes worked pretty good until I rebooted after configureing multipathing for San connectivity. ~

Jerry Gallagher Mon Sep 25 15:02:34 2006

Ok, so the i686 setup has issues also. After unprecedented uptime for these boxes ~25 days. The machines Kernel panic and blame the a320raid.o Module. I tried to give these machines to the windows group and they didn’t want them. In order to get the machines to boot after the kernel panic, I had to pull a drive from the boot mirror. Advice for these machines, Software Raid. If your worried about throughput it performs better also.

Jerry Gallagher Thu Oct 5 07:58:36 2006

We’ve not had as bad luck with the horrible controllers as you’ve had (because my company bullied IBM into arranging a NDA with Adaptec so we could get the sources and build the drivers ourselves, if we’re willing to pay several million dollars if the horrible source code ever gets out to the world), but we’ve also found that if you turn the g-dd-mn hostraid off the hardware works as a regular old adaptec card. And if you’ve had the misfortune to set up a disk array, you can turn it off by pulling the disks, booting the machine, going into the adaptec ^A menu to disable hostraid, then, after rebooting, putting the disks back in.

David Parsons Fri Oct 27 11:07:29 2006

I tried to install RHEL4 on a IBM xSeries 346 for a few days now. The RAID-feature on the Adaptec card is what got me stopped all the time. This morning I gave up and disabled the RAID-set and installed directly on the disks (using LVM so it’s practicaly RAID-zero :-).

What I was wandering is: Does IBM know about this issue? Anyone told them?

Eskil Tue Dec 12 05:02:47 2006

Oh, yes, IBM does know about it. My corporate masters resell a lot of x series boxes, so we’ve got an IBM representative onsite. And whenever I refer to the a320, I refer to it as the “stupid proprietary a320” driver.

The problem is that IBM doesn’t care that it’s a proprietary piece of crapware, otherwise they’d buy the stupid a320 driver from Adaptec, slap the GPL on it, and give it away.

David Parsons Wed Dec 13 10:01:41 2006

Well… I’ve heard IBM is developing its own driver for this card. Unfortunately it’ll require you to run OS/2 on your server.

Galo Xucro Fri May 4 03:12:34 2007

It’s quite difficult to find it in the IBM site, but you can download RedHat ES 4 U4 drivers from:

(you must type “linux dd” in the RH install bootscreen in order to load the drivers from a diskette)

I have tested them in a box for about a month now, and everything is running pretty well.

Serxio Barral Wed Jun 13 07:08:23 2007

Tried the adaptec drivers succesfully however after upgrading the kernel it won’t boor with this drivers. Used instructions from adaptec (aacraid-1.1.5-2442.tgz with raid driver and dkms) however failed at building new kernel.

Anyone some ideas ?



Laurens Wagemakers Sat Dec 1 07:14:15 2007

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