Running Ubuntu 14.04 non-virtualized on POWER8
Breno Leitao 270001BNJT Comments (6) Visits (16627)
By: Breno Leitão
This technical preview tutorial explains how users of IBM's latest POWER8-based scale-out Linux servers can try Ubuntu running non-virtualized. We show how Ubuntu can be installed directly on the OPAL firmware, and run as a single-image operating system directly on the system.
Ubuntu 14.04 is generally available today and fully supported as a PowerKVM guest on the IBM Power Systems shown below:
For more details on Ubuntu 14.04 - see Cano
It is also possible to run Ubuntu 14.04 directly on these systems, which the development teams refer to as non-virtualized mode, or "bare-metal". There is no PowerVM LPAR layer, and there is no PowerKVM hosting layer. Over time, this capability is available in the open-source communities, so new versions of other Linux distros are expected to be enabled for this support as well.
Note: If you are running Ubuntu 14.04 non-virtualized, you need to upgrade the kernel packages to get cpufreq support. The 3.13.0-32 level works.
The OPAL firmware referenced below is designed to allow a Linux operating system to run directly on the POWER8 system. By running directly on the system, this enables the operating system to be a KVM host, creating and controlling KVM Guests. In the scenario described here in this article, there is no KVM hosting, and the Ubuntu 14.04 operating system is running as an operating system directly on the system.
Because the OPAL firmware enables the PowerKVM mode, the terminology used in selecting the firmware below is targeted at that mode. In practice, OPAL firmware enables a Linux operating system to run directly on the system, and running KVM in that operating system is not a requirement.
1. In order to install Ubuntu 14.04 on the IBM Power system, the system needs to be set for KVM as the Hypervisor mode. This step selects the OPAL Firmware to be loaded. If you build the system with the PowerKVM configuration, you are ready to go, otherwise, you can configure it using the following steps:
2. Once the machine is in PowerKVM mode, you need to connect to the FSP using IPMI to get the machine console. Run the following IPMI commands:
Once you run the last command, you will be seeing the machine console, and everything you type will be sent to the machine. In order to exit the console, you should type ~. and ~? shows the help menu.
3. Once the machine is booted up, you will see the petitboot console, as shown below:
Petitboot is the bootloader for the IBM Power machines configured with PowerKVM. From here, you can install an Ubuntu DVD in the machine using DVD-ROM and boot from it. You can also boot from the network.
This document will explain how to install from the network.
4. In order to install from the network, you need to configure the System Network in the 'System Configuration' menu entry. Once the network is configured, you can create a new entry in the petitboot by pressing the letter 'n'. By creating a new entry, you will go into Option Editor to configure the entry details, as shown:
Once you are editing the boot entry, you should choose the 'Specify paths/URLs manually' option and you must provide the installer kernel and initird. For Ubuntu, you should point it to the Cano
On this example, I used version 14.04 that I following URLs:
For a more recent version, as 14.04.1, 14.04.2 and updates, check the Ubun
You do not need to fill out the other entries, if you just want to do a default installation. Once you do the configuration, get back to the petitboot menu, and boot the entry you just configured "User Item 1".
Then just boot on that entry, pressing 'Enter',, and you are going to launch the Ubuntu 14.04 installer, as shown:
When you see this screen, select the language you want to use during the installation and proceed through normal Ubuntu 14.04 installation processes.