Category Archives: Hardware

windows 10 KERNEL_SECURITY_CHECK_FAILED in qemu vm

I upgraded to a shiny new AMD Ryzen 3rd gen processer (Threadripper 3960x.) After doing so I could not boot up my Windows 10 gaming VM (it uses VFIO / PCI Passthrough for the video card.) The message I kept getting as it tried to boot was:


After reading this reddit thread and this one It turns out it’s a culmination of a few things:

  • Running Linux kernel greater than 5.4
  • Running QEMU 5
  • Using 3rd gen AMD Ryzen CPU
  • Using host-passthrough CPU mode

The problem comes with a new speculative execution protection hardware feature in the Ryzen Gen 3 chipsets – stibp. Qemu doesn’t know how to handle it properly, thus the bluescreens.

There are two ways to fix it

  • Change host-model from host-passthrough to epyc
  • Add CPU parameters to your Virtual Machine’s XML file instructing it to not use the stibp CPU feature.

Since I have some software that checks CPU model and refuses to work if it’s not in the desktop class (Geforce Experience) I opted for route #2.

First, check the qemu logs to see which CPU parameters your VM was using (pick a time where it worked.) Replace ‘win10’ with the name of your VM.

sudo cat /var/log/libvirt/qemu/win10.log | grep "\-cpu"

in my case, it was -cpu host,migratable=on,topoext=on,kvmclock=on,hv-time,hv-relaxed,hv-vapic,hv-spinlocks=0x1fff,hv-vendor-id=1234567890ab,kvm=off \

Copy everything after -cpu and before the last backslash. Then edit your VM’s XML file (change last argument to the name of your VM)

sudo virsh edit win10

Scroll down to the bottom qemu:commandline section (if it doesn’t exist, create it right above the last line – </domain>. Paste the following information obtained from the above log (ignoring the qemu:commandline lines if they already exist.) In my case it looked like this:

    <qemu:arg value='-cpu'/>
    <qemu:arg value='host,topoext=on,kvmclock=on,hv-time,hv-relaxed,hv-vapic,hv-

What you’re doing is copying the CPU arguments you found in the log and adding them to the qemu:commandline section, with a twist – adding -amd-stibp which instructs qemu to remove that CPU flag.

This did the trick for me!

KVM with vga passthrough in arch linux

I’ve once again switched from Proxmox to Arch Linux for my desktop machine. Both use KVM so it’s really just a matter of using the different VM manager syntax (virt-manager vs qm.) I used my notes from my previous stint with Arch, my article on GPU Passthrough in Proxmox as well as a thorough reading of the Arch wiki’s PCI Passthrough article.

Enable IOMMU

Configure GRUB to load the necessary iommu modules at boot. Append amd_iommu=on iommu=pt to the end of GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT (change accordingly if you have Intel instead of AMD)

sudo vim /etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="loglevel=3 amd_iommu=on iommu=pt"

Run update-grub

sudo update-grub

Reserve GPU for VFIO

Reserve the GPU you wish to pass through to a VM for use with the vfio kernel driver (so the host OS doesn’t interfere with it)

  1. Determine the PCI address of your GPU
    1. Run lspci -v and look for your card. Mine was 01:00.0 & 01:00.1. You can omit the part after the decimal to include them both in one go – so in that case it would be 01:00
    2. Run lspci -n -s <PCI address from above> to obtain vendor IDs.
      Example :
      lspci -n -s 01:00
      01:00.0 0300: 10de:1b81 (rev a1)
      01:00.1 0403: 10de:10f0 (rev a1)
  2. Assign your GPU to vfio driver using the IDs obtained above.
    Example using above IDs:
    echo "options vfio-pci ids=10de:1b81,10de:10f0" >> /etc/modprobe.d/vfio.conf

Reboot the host to put the kernel / drivers into effect.

Configure virt-manager

Install virt-manager, dnsmasq & libvirtd:

pacman -Sy libvirtd virt-manager dnsmasq
sudo systemctl enable libvirtd
sudo systemctl start libvirtd

Configure Networking

Assuming you’re using network manager for your connections, create a bridge (thanks to & the arch wiki for information on how to do so.) Replace interface names with ones corresponding to your machine:

sudo nmcli connection add type bridge ifname br0 stp no
sudo nmcli connection add type bridge-slave ifname enp4s0 master br0 
sudo nmcli connection show
#Make note of the active connection name
sudo nmcli connection down "Wired connection 2" #from above
sudo nmcli connection up bridge-br0

Create a second bridge bound to lo0 for host-only communication. Change IP as desired:

sudo nmcli connection add type bridge ifname br99 stp no ip4
sudo nmcli connection add type bridge-slave ifname lo master br99
sudo nmcli connection up bridge-br99

Configure VM

Initial configuration

When creating the passthrough VM, make sure chipset is Q35.

Set the CPU model to host-passthrough (type it in, there is no dropdown for it.)

When adding disks / other devices, set the device model to virtio

Add your GPU by going to Add Hardware and finding it under PCI Host Device.

Windows 10 specific tweaks

If your passthrough VM is going to be windows based, some tweaks are required to get the GPU to work properly within the VM.

Ignore MSRs (blue screen fix)

Later versions of Windows 10 instantly bluescreen with kmode_exception_not_handled unless you pass an option to ignore MSRs. Add the kvm ignore_msrs=1 option in /etc/modprobe.d/kvm.conf to do so. Optionally add the report_ignored_msrs=0 option to squelch massive amounts of kernel messages every time an MSR was ignored.

echo "options kvm ignore_msrs=1" >> /etc/modprobe.d/kvm.conf
#Optional - ignore kernel messages from ignored MSRs
echo "options kvm report_ignored_msrs=0" >> /etc/modprobe.d/kvm.conf

Reboot to make those changes take effect.

NVIDIA Code 43 workaround

Use the virsh edit command to make some tweaks to the VM configuration. We need to hide the fact that this is a VM otherwise the GPU drivers will not load and will throw Error 43. We need to add a vendor_id in the hyperv section, and create a kvm section enabling hidden state, which hides certain CPU flags that the drivers use to detect if they’re in a VM or not.

sudo virsh edit <VM_NAME>

		<vendor_id state='on' value='1234567890ab'/>
	<hidden state='on'/>

Optimize CPU

Determine architecture

If you operate on a multi-core system such as my AMD Ryzen Threadripper the you will want to optimize your CPU core configuration in the VM per the CPU Pinning section in the Arch Wiki

Determine your CPU topology by running lscpu -e and lstopo The important things to look for are the CPU number and core number. On my box, it looks like this:

0 0 0 0 0:0:0:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
1 0 0 1 1:1:1:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
2 0 0 2 2:2:2:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
3 0 0 3 3:3:3:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
4 0 0 4 4:4:4:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
5 0 0 5 5:5:5:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
6 0 0 6 6:6:6:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
7 0 0 7 7:7:7:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
8 0 0 8 8:8:8:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
9 0 0 9 9:9:9:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
10 0 0 10 10:10:10:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
11 0 0 11 11:11:11:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
12 0 0 12 12:12:12:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
13 0 0 13 13:13:13:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
14 0 0 14 14:14:14:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
15 0 0 15 15:15:15:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
16 0 0 0 0:0:0:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
17 0 0 1 1:1:1:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
18 0 0 2 2:2:2:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
19 0 0 3 3:3:3:0 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
20 0 0 4 4:4:4:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
21 0 0 5 5:5:5:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
22 0 0 6 6:6:6:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
23 0 0 7 7:7:7:1 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
24 0 0 8 8:8:8:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
25 0 0 9 9:9:9:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
26 0 0 10 10:10:10:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
27 0 0 11 11:11:11:2 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
28 0 0 12 12:12:12:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
29 0 0 13 13:13:13:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
30 0 0 14 14:14:14:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000
31 0 0 15 15:15:15:3 yes 3400.0000 2200.0000

From the above output I see my CPU core 0 is shared by CPUs 0 & 16, meaning CPU 0 and CPU 16 (as seen by the Linux kernel) are hyperthreaded to the same physical CPU core.

Especially for gaming, you want to keep all threads on the same CPU cores (for multithreading) and the same CPU die (on my threadripper, CPUs 0-7 reside on one physical die, and CPUs 8-15 reside on the other, within the same socket.)

In my case I want to dedicate one CPU die to my VM with its accompanying hyperthreads (CPUs 0-7 & hyperthreads 16-23) You can accomplish this using the virsh edit command and creating a cputune section (make sure you have a matching vcpu count for the number of cores you’re configuring.) Also edit CPU mode with the proper topology of 1 socket, 1 die, 8 cores with 2 threads. Lastly, configure memory to only be from the proper NUMA node the CPU cores your VM is using (Read here for more info.)

sudo virsh edit <VM_NAME>

<domain type='kvm'>
  <vcpu placement='static' cpuset='0-7,16-23'>16</vcpu> 
    <vcpupin vcpu='0' cpuset='0'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='1' cpuset='16'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='2' cpuset='1'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='3' cpuset='17'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='4' cpuset='2'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='5' cpuset='18'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='6' cpuset='3'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='7' cpuset='19'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='8' cpuset='4'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='9' cpuset='20'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='10' cpuset='5'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='11' cpuset='21'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='12' cpuset='6'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='13' cpuset='22'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='14' cpuset='7'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='15' cpuset='23'/>
    <emulatorpin cpuset='0-7','26-23'/>
  <cpu mode='host-passthrough' check='none'>
    <topology sockets='1' dies='1' cores='8' threads='2'/>
    <feature policy='require' name='topoext'/>
      <cell id='0' cpus='0-15' memory='16777216' unit='KiB'/>

Configure NUMA

Non-uniform memory access is essential for 1st and 2nd gen Ryzen chips. It turns out that by default my motherboard hid the real NUMA configuration from the operating system. Remedy this by changing the BIOS setting to set Memory Interleaving = Channel (for my ASRock X399 motherboard it’s in CBS / DF options.) See here:

After changing BIOS setting, lstopo now shows proper configuration:

CPU frequency

Change CPU frequency setting to use performance mode:

sudo pacman -S cpupower
sudo cpupower frequency-set -g performance

Enable Hugepages

Append default_hugepagesz=1G hugepagesz=1G hugepages=16 to the kernel line in /etc/default/grub and re-run sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Configure FIFO CPU scheduling

The Arch Wiki mentions to run qemu-system-x86_64 with taskset and chrt but doesn’t mention how to do so if you’re using virt-manager. Fortunately this reddit thread outlined how to accomplish it: libvirt hooks. Create the following script and place it in /etc/libvirt/hooks/qemu  , change the VM variable to match the name of your VM, mark that new file as executable (chmod +x /etc/libvirt/hooks/qemu ) and restart libvirtd

#Hook to change VM to FIFO scheduling to decrease latency
#Place this file in /etc/libvirt/hooks/qemu and mark it executable

#Change the VM variable to match the name of your VM

if [ "$1" == "$VM" ] && [ "$2" == "started" ]; then
  if pid=$(pidof qemu-system-x86_64); then
     chrt -f -p 1 $pid
    echo $(date) changing CPU scheduling to FIFO for VM $1 pid $pid >> /var/log/libvirthook.log
    echo $(date) Unable to acquire PID of $1 >> /var/log/libvirthook.log
#Additional debug
#echo $(date) libvirt hook arg1=$1 arg2=$2 arg3=$3 arg4=$4 pid=$pid >> /var/log/libvirthook.log 

Isolate CPUs

Update 7/28/20: I no longer do this in favor of the qemu hook script above, which prioritizes to p1 the qemu process for the cores it needs. I’m leaving this section here for historical/additional tweaking purposes.

Update 6/28/20: Additional tuning since I was having some stuttering and framerate issues. Also read here about the emulatorpin option

Dedicate CPUs to the VM (host will not use them) – append isolcups, nohz_full & rcu_nocbs kernel parameters into /etc/default/grub

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=... isolcpus=0-7,16-23 nohz_full=0-7,16-23 rcu_nocbs=0-7,16-23

Update grub:

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Reboot, then check if it worked:

cat /proc/cmdline
BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/mapper/arch-root rw loglevel=3 amd_iommu=on iommu=pt isolcpus=0-7,16-23 nohz_full=0-7,16-23 rcu_nocbs=0-7,16-23
taskset -cp 1
pid 1's current affinity list: 8-15,24-31

You can still tell programs to use the CPUs the VM has manually with the taskset command:

chrt -r 1 taskset -c <cores to use> <name of program/process>

Low Latency Audio

Upbate 7/8/2020: I found this article and this reddit thread (and this one) on how to use pulseaudio for your guest VM to get low latency guest VM audio piped to the host machine.

Update qemu config

edit /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf: uncomment the line #user = "root" and replace “root” with your username

Update pulseaudio config

Edit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf and uncomment the following lines (remove semicolon)

;default-sample-rate = 44100
;alternate-sample-rate = 48000

Note: Change VM audio settings to match 44100 sample rate

Edit /etc/pulse/ and append auth-anonymous=1 to load-module module-native-protocol-unix

load-module module-native-protocol-unix auth-anonymous=1

The restart pulseaudio:

pulseaudio -k

Update VM XML

remove all audio devices from the virtual hardware details bar (left side in VM info view).

Edit XML via virsh edit <VM_NAME>

Make sure top line reads

<domain type='kvm' xmlns:qemu=''>

Add the following after </devices> (bottom of file)

    <qemu:arg value='-device'/>
    <qemu:arg value='ich9-intel-hda,bus=pcie.0,addr=0x1b'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-device'/>
    <qemu:arg value='hda-micro,audiodev=hda'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-audiodev'/>
    <qemu:arg value='pa,id=hda,server=unix:/run/user/1000/pulse/native'/>

Replace /user/1000 with the UID of your user (output of id command)

Final Win10 XML tweaks for 1950x threadripper

<domain type='kvm' id='1' xmlns:qemu=''>
  <memory unit='KiB'>16777216</memory>
  <currentMemory unit='KiB'>16777216</currentMemory>
  <vcpu placement='static'>16</vcpu>
    <vcpupin vcpu='0' cpuset='0'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='1' cpuset='16'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='2' cpuset='1'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='3' cpuset='17'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='4' cpuset='2'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='5' cpuset='18'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='6' cpuset='3'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='7' cpuset='19'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='8' cpuset='4'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='9' cpuset='20'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='10' cpuset='5'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='11' cpuset='21'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='12' cpuset='6'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='13' cpuset='22'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='14' cpuset='7'/>
    <vcpupin vcpu='15' cpuset='23'/>
    <emulatorpin cpuset='8-15,24-31'/>
    <memory mode='strict' nodeset='0'/>
      <vendor_id state='on' value='1234567890ab'/>
      <hidden state='on'/>
  <cpu mode='host-passthrough' check='none'>
    <topology sockets='1' dies='1' cores='8' threads='2'/>
    <feature policy='require' name='topoext'/>
      <cell id='0' cpus='0-15' memory='16777216' unit='KiB'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-device'/>
    <qemu:arg value='ich9-intel-hda,bus=pcie.0,addr=0x1b'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-device'/>
    <qemu:arg value='hda-micro,audiodev=hda'/>
    <qemu:arg value='-audiodev'/>
    <qemu:arg value='pa,id=hda,server=unix:/run/user/1000/pulse/native'/>


I’m very pleased with my current setup. It works well!

Threadripper / Epyc processor core optimization

I had a pet project (folding@home) where I wanted to maximize computing power. I became frustrated with default CPU scheduling of my folding@home threads. Ideal performance would keep similar threads on the same CPU, but the threads were jumping all over the place, which was impacting performance.

Step one was to figure out which threads belonged to which physical cores. I found on this site that you can use cat to find out what your “sibling threads” are:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list

The above command is for my Threadripper & Epyc systems, which each have 16 cores hyperthreaded to 32 cores. Adjust the {0..15} number to match your number of cores (core 0 being the fist core.) This was my output:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list


Now that I know the sibling threads are offset by 16, I can use this information to optimize my folding@home VMs. I modified my CPU pinning script to take this into consideration. The script ensures that each VM is pinned to only use sibling threads (ensuring they all stay on the same physical CPU.)

This script should be used with caution. It pins processes to specific CPUs, which limits the kernel scheduler’s ability to move things around if needed. If configured badly this can cause the machine to lock up or VMs to be terminated.

I saw some impressive results spinning up four separate 8 core VMs and pinning them to sibling cores using this script. It almost doubled the rate at which I completed folding@home work units.

And now, the script:

#Properly assign CPU cores to their respective die for EPYC/Threadripper systems
#Based on how hyperthreads are done in these systems
#cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu{0..15}/topology/thread_siblings_list

#The script takes two arguments - the ID of the Proxmox VM to modify, and the core to begin the VM on
#If running this against multiple VMs, make sure to increment this second number by half of the cores of the previous VM
#For example, if I have one 8 core VM and I run this script specifying 0 for the offset, if I spin up a second VM, the second argument would be 4
#this would ensure the second VM starts on core 4 (the 5th core) and assigns sibling cores to match

set -eo pipefail

#take First argument as which VMID to pin CPU cores to, the second argument is which core to start pinning to

#Determine offset for sibling threads
SIBLING_THREAD_OFFSET=$(cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/topology/thread_siblings_list| sed 's/,/ /g' | awk '{print $2}')

#Function to determine number of CPU cores a VM has
cpu_tasks() {
	expect <<EOF | sed -n 's/^.* CPU .*thread_id=\(.*\)$/\1/p' | tr -d '\r' || true
spawn qm monitor $VMID
expect ">"
send "info cpus\r"
expect ">"

#Only act if VMID & OFFSET are set
if [[ -z $VMID  || -z $OFFSET ]]
	echo "Usage: <VMID> <OFFSET>"
	exit 1
	#Get PIDs of each CPU core for VM, count number of VM cores, and get even/odd PIDs for assignment
	VCPU_EVEN_THREADS=($(for EVEN_THREAD in "${VCPUS[@]}"; do echo $EVEN_THREAD; done | awk '!(NR%2)'))
	VCPU_ODD_THREADS=($(for ODD_THREAD in "${VCPUS[@]}"; do echo $ODD_THREAD; done | awk '(NR%2)'))

	if [[ $VCPU_COUNT -eq 0 ]]; then
		echo "* No VCPUS for VM$VMID"
		exit 1

	echo "* Detected ${#VCPUS[@]} assigned to VM$VMID..."
	echo "* Resetting cpu shield..."

	#Start at offset CPU number, assign odd numbered PIDs to their own CPU thread, then increment CPU core number
	#0-3 if offset is 0, 4-7 if offset is 4, etc
	for PID in "${VCPU_ODD_THREADS[@]}"
		echo "* Assigning ODD thread $ODD_CPU_INDEX to $PID..."
		taskset -pc "$ODD_CPU_INDEX" "$PID"

	#Start at offset + CPU count, assign even number PIDs to their own CPU thread, then increment CPU core number
	#16-19 if offset is 0,	20-23 if offset is 4, etc
	for PID in "${VCPU_EVEN_THREADS[@]}"
		echo "* Assigning EVEN thread $EVEN_CPU_INDEX to $PID..."
		taskset -pc "$EVEN_CPU_INDEX" "$PID"

Folding@home opencl error fix

I decided to contribute my GPU on my Ubuntu-based system to the Folding@Home effort for COVID-19. I kept getting this error message for my NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI when I tried:

ERROR:WU00:FS00:Failed to start core: OpenCL device matching slot 0 not found, make sure the OpenCL driver is installed or try setting 'opencl-index' manually

I had the nvidia opencl packages installed but apparently missed something. I finally found on the folding at home forum what I was missing – ocl-icd-opencl-dev

sudo apt install ocl-icd-opencl-dev

After running the above command and restarting the FAHClient service, the GPU started folding. For science!

EDIT 5/6/2020: After a re-install I had the issue where the GPU wouldn’t show up at all. It addition to ocl-icd-opencl-dev, it looks like you also need nvidia-cuda-dev.

sudo apt install ocl-icd-opencl-dev nvidia-cuda-dev

WD*EZRZ NAS array spindown fix

I recently acquired some 5TB Western Digital Blue drives (WD50EZRZ.) These particular drives were shucked from external USB enclosures. When I tried to add them into my ZFS raid array, though, I ran into constant problems. I would continually get errors like this from the kernel:

[155069.298001] sd 0:0:10:0: attempting task abort! scmd(ffff8f0678887100)
[155069.298005] sd 0:0:10:0: [sdk] tag#5 CDB: Write(16) 8a 00 00 00 00 01 a8 1e 77 10 00 00 00 58 00 00
[155069.298008] scsi target0:0:10: handle(0x0014), sas_address(0x5001438023a93296), phy(22)
[155069.298010] scsi target0:0:10: enclosure logical id(0x5001438023a932a5), slot(53) 
[155069.298012] sd 0:0:10:0: task abort: SUCCESS scmd(ffff8f0678887100)
[155069.298016] sd 0:0:10:0: [sdk] tag#5 FAILED Result: hostbyte=DID_TIME_OUT driverbyte=DRIVER_OK
[155069.298018] sd 0:0:10:0: [sdk] tag#5 CDB: Write(16) 8a 00 00 00 00 01 a8 1e 77 10 00 00 00 58 00 00
[155069.298020] blk_update_request: I/O error, dev sdk, sector 7115536144
[155069.298023] zio pool=storage vdev=/dev/disk/by-id/ata-WDC_WD50EZRZ-32RWYB1_WD-WX31XXXXXVA-part1 error=5 type=2 offset=3643153457152 size=45056 flags=180880

After a couple of said errors, the drive would be marked as bad and taken out of the array. A battery of tests on a different system revealed the drives to be fine. It did not matter where I inserted these drives on my NAS, they did the same thing, even on ports I knew had working drives. It wasn’t a cabling or other hardware issue.

The drives would resilver back into the array just fine, and then pop out again at random intervals – sometimes minutes later, other times hours later. After a lot of research I came across this post that got me thinking – this sounds like a drive spindown issue! The random nature of it could simply be the drives not being used and then powering themselves down.

I tried using hdparm to set the spindown timer but was greeted with this lovely error:

sudo hdparm -B /dev/sdk
 APM_level	= not supported

I eventually found this post complaining about their Western Digital drives spinning down aggressively.

idle3 to the rescue

The above post mentions apmtimer which did not help me, however more searches reveled this godsend: idle3-tools

idle3-tools is an open source utility to handle spindown on Western Digital drives themselves (not the OS level.)

Download & compile idle3:

cd idle3-tools-0.9.1/
sudo make install

Use idle3 to query current spindown status (update drive letters to suit your needs)

for drive in {a..p}; do echo /dev/sd$drive; sudo idle3ctl -g /dev/sd$drive; done

For anything that doesn’t say Idle3 timer is disabled run the following:

sudo idle3ctl -s 0 /dev/sd(DRIVE_LETTER)

No more drive spindown!

proxmox bond not present fix

I really banged my head on the wall on this one. I recently decided to re-architect my networking setup in proxmox to utilize bonded network configuration. I followed this writeup exactly. The problem is it didn’t work.

I would copy the example exactly, only changing the interface name, and yet every time I tried to start the networking service I would get this lovely error:

rawdevice bond0 not present

I finally found on the Debian Wiki one critical line :

First install the ifenslave package, necessary to enable bonding

For some reason the ProxMox howtos don’t speak of this – I guess because it comes installed by default. I discovered, however, that if you install ifupdown2 it removes ifenslave. I had installed ifupdown2 in the past to reload network configuration without rebooting. Aha!

I re-installed ifenslave (which removed ifupdown2 and re-installed ifupdown) and suddenly, the bond worked!

Bond not falling back to primary intrerface

I had configured my bond in active – backup mode. I wanted it to prefer the faster link, but if there was a failure in that link it wouldn’t switch back automatically (thanks to this site for showing me the command to check:

cat /proc/net/bonding/bond0

I read again in Debian bonding wiki that I needed to add this directive to the bond:

        bond-primary enp2s0

Here is my complete working active-backup configuration, assigning vlan 2 to the host, and making enp2s0 (the 10gig nic) the primary, with a 1gig backup (eno1)

auto bond0
iface bond0 inet manual
        slaves enp2s0 eno1
        bond-primary enp2s0
        bond_miimon 100
        bond_mode active-backup

iface bond0.2 inet manual

auto vmbr0v2
iface vmbr0v2 inet static
        bridge_ports bond0.2
        bridge_stp off
        bridge_fd 0

auto vmbr0
iface vmbr0 inet manual
        bridge_ports bond0
        brideg_stp off
        bridge_fd 0

migrate between amd & intel in proxmox

I recently acquired an Intel based server and plugged it into my AMD-based Proxmox cluster. I ran into an issue transferring from AMD to Intel boxes (the other direction worked fine.) After a few moments, every VM that moved from AMD to Intel would kernel panic.

Fortunately I found here that the fix is to add a few custom CPU flags to your VMs. Once I did this they could move back and forth freely (assuming they had the kvm64 CPU assigned to them – host obviously won’t work.)

qm set *VMID* --args "-cpu 'kvm64,+ssse3,+sse4.1,+sse4.2,+x2apic'"

Fix proxmox iommu operation not permitted

In trying to passthrough some LSI SAS cards to a VM I kept receiving this error:

kvm: -device vfio-pci,host=0000:03:00.0,id=hostpci0,bus=ich9-pcie-port-1,addr=0x0,rombar=0: vfio 0000:03:00.0: failed to setup container for group 7: Failed to set iommu for container: Operation not permitted

I found on this post that the fix is to add a line to /etc/modprobe.d/vfio.conf with the following:

options vfio_iommu_type1 allow_unsafe_interrupts=1

then reboot the host. It worked in my case!

Dell LSI SAS2008 2TB drive fix

I just recently got a $40 external SAS adapter for my new storage server. The plan was to create a DAS device from my old NAS chassis and have it be driven by my new storage server (new to me anyway – a Dell PowerEdge R610.) I ordered what was listed simply as “Dell SAS External Dual Ports PCI-E 6GB/S Host Bus Server Adapter 12DNW 342-0910 Consumer Electronics” from Amazon for $40 to accomplish this goal.

When I plugged everything in, to my dismay none of my disks with greater than 2TB capacity showed up. Well, they sort of showed up – they all reported capacities of exactly 2TB. I was clearly running into some sort of firmware issue.

lspci revealed this card uses the LSI SAS2008 chipset, which from what I’ve read is capable of drives greater than 2TB in size. I later found the model number of my card – Dell PERC H200E – which proved to be quite vital information. After hours of digging around in unholy corners of the internet I finally arrived on this Dell Support page. It had exactly what I was hoping for:

– Added support for SAS HDDs larger than 2TB

To flash this I chose to create a bootable dos ISO as per the instructions here. First, download the Windows installer, open with your archive program of choice and extract to the folder you’re going to build your ISO from. Then follow the instructions linked to above of downloading a freeDOS ISO, extracting it to the same folder you extracted the firmware to, then running the command to build your ISO (adjust as needed)

mkisofs -o <ISO_OUTPUT_LOCATION -q -l -N -boot-info-table -iso-level 4 -no-emul-boot -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -publisher "FreeDOS -" -A "FreeDOS beta9 Distribution" -V FDOS_BETA9 -v .

I got so far and yet tripped at the finish line. If you simply run flash.bat you’ll be greeted with a message saying no compatible adapters were found. Fortunately that’s a LIE. My savior was this writeup on how to flash certain versions of these cards to IT mode. I didn’t care about IT mode (my card is not a RAID card) but it had the information I needed. Here are the magic commands!

sas2flsh -listall

#Use the number in the first column to get the SAS Address for the card.
sas2flsh -c 0 -list
#Write down the SAS Address and continue to the next steps.
sas2flsh -o -f 6GBPSAS.FW
sas2flsh -o -sasadd 5xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (replace this address with the one you wrote down in the first steps).

Reboot, and finally, after hours of banging my head on the wall… success!!!

These 4 drives were only being reported as 2TB before

I didn’t end up using it but in my internet travels I came across this. Broadcom offers a neat utility called the LSI pre-boot USB tool that I didn’t end up using:

Update 3/7/2020

I had some issues with my 4tb+ drives dropping out of my zpools. I found better firmware to flash in order to fix it. It was very frustrating to flash, however. I tried following the instructions as laid out here but I was met with this lovely message:

"Cannot Flash IT Firmware over IR Firmware"..

I found this guide on how to use the megarec utility to wipe the firmware in order to flash over properly. I was able to find the megarec utility here.

I very frustratingly found I couldn’t use the megarec utility on my Dell server; megarec would simply hang

I ended up taking the card out and putting it into my desktop to run megarec commands. Comically, my desktop had a chipset that caused sas2flash not to work!! It would fail with the message

Failed to initialize PAL

Instructions per this page were to boot to EFI and run the flash utilities there, but that desktop didn’t have an EFI shell and I couldn’t get it to boot one from USB.

My final resort: an even older desktop (my Dad’s old PC, circa 2008.) It did the deed!


With both utilities working I was still having trouble with sas2flash erroring out on me. I finally found the wise words from fourlynx on this homelab reddit discussion on the final song and dance I had to perform to get my Dell H200 card to work with the LSI firmware I wanted

  1. Flash to Dell 6GBPSAS.FW
    1. I used megarec to wipe the card first before it would let me install that firmware
  2. Erase the card
    1. sas2flsh -o -e 7 -c 0
  3. Flash to 6GBPSAS.FW again
    1. sas2flsh -o -f 6GBPSAS.FW
    2. If asked me to state a firmware, I entered 6GBPSAS.FW, waited for it to finish, then ran the sas2flsh command (flashed a total of 3 times the same firmware.)
  4. Reboot
  5. Finally flash LSI firmware
    1. sas2flsh -o -f 2118it.bin

No need to flash BIOS (-b flag) if not going to boot from that controller. Also no need to set SAS address if it’s the only card in the server.

Words of wisdom from fourlynx:

For what concerns your case, I’d try to flash it to the Dell firmware first (any of your choice, for H200I, H200A or with the 6GBPSAS.fw). From there, clear it completely sas2flsh -o -e 7 -c 0 and flash the 6GBPSAS.fw before rebooting. You should now have better luck in crossflashing that to the LSI firmware. Note that you’ll need to use the v5 or v7 version of the flasher to do this step as newer versions will refuse to crossflash. You can then flash the bootloader for EFI (x64sas2.rom) or for BIOS (mptsas2.rom) at your leisure according to what you’re going to use, or flash both, or none if you’re not going to boot from those drives at all but instead use an USB key.

megarec -cleanflash 0 is equivalent to sas2flsh -o -e 7, btw, and the megarec -writesbr sbrempty.bin command that is often found in guides is only relevant when coming from a M1015 afaik, so not being able to use megarec is not a show stopper.

I feel I should add that, contrary to what seems the popular opinion in the various guides, these cards aren’t really easy to brick and I haven’t managed to achieve that despite all the experiments I’ve subjected them to 🙂

Update 3/8/2020

I still had issues with a drive popping out of the array so I found this page with an even better firmware for my card:

Things seem more stable now!

Java IDRAC 6 Ubuntu 18.04 setup

I recently acquired a Dell PowerEdge R610 and had a hard time getting its iDRAC to work properly on my ElementaryOS setup (Ubuntu 18.04 derivative.) I had two problems: Connection failed error and keyboard not working.

Connection Failed

After much searching I finally found this post:

The post explains the problem is with the security settings of Java 8+ preventing the connection. I didn’t know where my security file was so I first ran a quick find command to find it:

sudo find / -name

In my case it was located in /etc/java-11-openjdk/security/

The last step was to remove RC4 from the list of blacklisted ciphers, as this is the cause of the problem.

sudo vim /etc/java-11-openjdk/security/

#change jdk.tls.disabledAlgorithms=SSLv3, RC4, DES, MD5withRSA, DH keySize < 1024, \ to be:
jdk.tls.disabledAlgorithms=SSLv3, DES, MD5withRSA, DH keySize < 1024, \

Save and exit, and iDRAC will now load!

Except now…

Keyboard doesn’t work

My system was defaulting to using JRE 11, which apparently causes the keyboard to not function at all. I found on this reddit post that you really need an older version of Java. To do so on Ubuntu 18.04 you need to install it along with the icedtea plugin and run update-alternatives

sudo apt install openjdk-8-jre icedtea-8-plugin

Edit /etc/java-8-openjdk/security/ and remove the restriction on the RC4 algorhythm. Then configure the system to run java 8:

sudo update-alternatives --config java
#select java 8

Lastly, configure the icedtea plugin to run Java 8 instead of 11, because for some reason this plugin ignores the system java settings. Launch the IcedTea Web Control panel (find it in your system menu) and then Navigate to JVM settings. Enter /usr/ in the section “Set JVM for IcedTea-Web – working best with OpenJDK” section. Then hit Apply / OK

Phew. FINALLY you should be able to use iDRAC 6 on your modern Ubuntu system.