Netbooting IBM POWER9 via Petitboot

Petitboot shipped with OpenPOWER firmware on Supermicro P9DSU is able to emulate PXELinux environment. Therefore the provisioning with Foreman is easy:

  • If you have Foreman 1.24 or older, grab a small patch and restart. Not the best start, I know and you stay with me :slight_smile:
  • Create architecture called “ppc64” or “ppc64le” if you need to distinquish between BE and LE. If you don’t know what you’re doing just create “ppc64”.
  • Associate Redhat family OS with the architecture and Installation media which has a copy of POWER repository. RHEL does have it, not all CentOS releases do have IBM POWER builds (I think 7.5 was the first).
  • Associate PXELinux template with the OS, use the normal one (Kickstart).
  • Create new host with PXE loader set to “None”. The value is essentially irrelevant as the DHCP filename option is ignored by Petitboot, you can leave it also on “PXELinux BIOS” as Foreman deploys all PXE templates associated with the OS.
  • Fill in the correct MAC address. Start the server.
  • You are done! Really.

OpenPOWER has interesting way of booting, essentially it’s Linux that performs booting procedure either locally or over network. It can read any filesystem, it can connect to TFTP/HTTP and parse PXELinux or Grub2 configuration files and then it - wait for it - kexec into Linux. Well, kexec on POWER is probably something more stable than on Intel as there are not thousands of drivers to break.

The similar workflow should probably work with Debian systems, I haven’t tried.

Have fun and comment if you use Foreman with OpenPOWER.