Remote Control of Supermicro Servers via BMC Web Interface

Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) is a standard for monitoring and controlling a machine remotely and independently from the operating system. IPMI is typically handled by a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC), which resides inside your server. BMC has access to things like fan speed, power control, system event logs, serial-over-LAN (SOL), and a fully functional graphic KVM console, which is typically the Java™-implemented iKVM.

Accessing BMC Web Interface

You can use a web browser to remotely access the Supermicro IPMI interface from your computer. From this interface, you can read BMC data, display all sensors to check server health, set and configure user lists and network settings, and even start the KVM.

To access the web interface, do the following steps:

  1. Open your web browser and connect to the IPMI server using the IP address provided to you. Use HTTPS. Example: https://11.22.33.44
  2. Enter your username and password provided to you and log in. The IPMI Home Page will display on the next page.
  3. Click “System Information” to check information about your server, i.e. BIOS version, current status, BMC IP address.

From the web interface, you can use the KVM functionality of BMC. Follow these steps to run the Java iKVM:

  1. At the top menu bar, navigate to Remote Control > Console Redirection. The Console Redirection will display in the main window.
  2. Click “Launch Console.” The Java download pop-up window will appear.
  3. Make sure that “Open with: Java Web Start Launcher” is selected. Click OK to continue to the console window.

Available settings in the Remote Control tab of the BMC web interface menu:

  • Server Power Control – This allows you to send hardware and software reset to the server. You can also shut down, start, and check the power status of your server from here:
    1. Reset Server – the equivalent of pushing the reset button on the front side of the server
    2. Power Cycle – powers the server off and then on
      Note: Both of “Reset Server” and “Power Cycle” can cold boot the OS.
    3. Soft & Hard Power Off – the equivalent of a short and long press of the power button, respectively.
    4. Note: For the “Soft Power Off” option to work, your OS should support ACPI events (Linux requires “acpid” service to be running).

The BMC web interface should already be pre-configured by your hosting provider. We do not recommend changing any of the settings as the changes may render your BMC inaccessible.

Checking Server Health via BMC Web Interface

In the Server Health tab on the top menu bar, you can see the output of individual sensors on the motherboard and in the CPU. If there are any thermal problems, you can detect them here. There is also an event log in this section. In the log, you can find system events such as critical temperature changes, reboots, and RAM errors.

Example of a RAM error:

20 2014/05/29 10:43:42   OEM   Memory   Correctable Memory ECC @ DIMMA2(CPU1)

This means one of the memory modules (DIMMA2) triggered a correctable ECC error. The first time this happens, you can just clear the log. However, be sure to schedule a DIMM replacement if the error occurs again.

Redirecting SOL in BMC Web Interface

Another good use of the IPMI interface is SOL redirection. You can enable SOL to emulate a serial (COM) port on the IPMI controller:

  1. Go to the server BIOS and set the necessary parameters. We recommend setting a speed of only 115200 for SOL. Save your settings.
  2. Go to the Remote Control menu and launch SOL. After activating SOL, you can see BIOS load after reboot. If you press the DEL key, you can even navigate the BIOS setup from here. Note that GRUB, a boot load manager, can also interact with SOL.

You can use SOL for to manage the OS of Unix-based systems. For Linux, add “console=ttyS1,115200” to kernel command line in your boot loader config. Remember to use the appropriate serial port number. If your system has two real COM ports and SOL is enabled, the SOL port becomes zero-based #2, “ttyS2.” This will enable kernel output redirection to SOL port. Some systems like CentOS Linux come pre-installed with SOL input detection. This is a great feature. You can even copy-paste text over the SOL, a much better option than the VGA console redirection of the Java applet.

Mounting ISO Images in iKVM Console

You can do manual server installation using ISO images of the OS from the Virtual Media tab on the top menu bar:

  1. Navigate to Virtual Media > Virtual Storage to open an iKVM console.
  2. In Device1, select the logical drive type “ISO file.” Click the “Open Image” button and select needed ISO image.
  3. Click the “Plug in” button.
  4. To unmount the ISO image, click the “Plugin Out” button. The image will automatically be unmounted once you close the iKVM console window.

Troubleshooting the IPMI Controller

There may be times when the IPMI controller or an iKVM Java applet freezes or becomes unresponsive.

  • To check if the IPMI is working, do the following steps:
  1. Ping the IPMI IP address.
  2. If it pings back, check the availability of the BMC web interface using a browser. You should see the login page if the IPMI is working properly.
  3. Try to reboot the BMC through the web interface using “iKVM Reset” or the IPMItool (i.e. “BMC Reset Cold”).
  4. If none of the above steps work, perform an AC-cycle by removing the server power cords and connecting them back after a few minutes. Doing this will affect your OS. However, do remember that rebooting the OS will not reboot the server’s IPMI controller.
  • To fix virtual keyboard/video/mouse issues, select “iKVM Reset.” More than one reset may be needed. Doing this will not reset IPMI or server settings.
  • If IPMI freezes, reboot the BMC. Go to BMC Web Interface menu > Maintenance menu > Unit Reset > Reset. It will restart the IPMI controller without requiring OS reload. After one minute, the IPMI controlled should be reachable again. If you cannot access the IPMI controller after this restart, do an AC-cycle.
  • Do an IPMI restart if errors like “IPMI Timeout” occur.

See also Supermicro Server Remote Access via IPMItool
See also How to reinstall OS using IPMI or PXE boot
See our Knowledgebase for more How-To articles.

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