Updating an IBM 335

Sunday, May 10, 2009 

I’m bringing up an old IBM 335 for use as a pfSense Firewall.  It is a fine computer, with almost everything you’d want except dual power supplies (the 336 has those plus 64 bit hardware).

IBM 335 Server

The first step is updating the machine:

  • BIOS to 1.15: download the flash image, it writes itself to a floppy, boot with that floppy and flash the BIOS.  I had to go through a bunch of 1990’s era software disks until I found a few floppies that would format without errors.  This also updates the LSI 1030 disk controller.
  • Internal Diagnostics to 1.07: these are disk images (.img) diskcopy didn’t seem to do the right thing on my XP box, so I used diskwriter 0.9 to create the disks.  You boot off the BIOS update disk then select update diagnostics.
  • Configure the disks with ServeRAID.   I didn’t flash the BIOS on the controller, but I did reformat the disks and set them up as RAID 1.
  • Update the System Management Processor to 1.06.  This is a self-booting floppy.
  • Update the Broadcom NetXtreme NICs to 209h.  This is a self-booting floppy that creates a RAM disk then runs the update.  The command for the 335 is UPDATE 8830

This gets the core hardware up to date.  You might also want to flash the firmware in the disks, though I did not as my box is loaded with unsupported disks.  Plus 36GB SCSI disks aren’t exactly going through a lot of teething pains these days.

Then I installed pfSense from the LiveCD (verify the hash).  This is pretty effortless.  The only important bit of data is to set up the NICs: in the 335 under FreeBSD bge0 is the lower port and bge1 is the upper port.

At a later date I will install a 73P9265 Remote Supervisor II adapater, but the cable I have (73P9312) is for newer boxes.  The 335 needs the 02R1661: oddly it is cheaper to buy the cable with a card than just the cable.  This will probably need flashing of the firmware, but is a nice tool with remote KVM and a lot of other slick features.

Posted at 23:09:31 UTC

Leave a Reply