I fought with everything I had to get something else. So did one of my coworkers and my boss. But it was for naught. Late on Thursday afternoon, a pile of Dell servers showed up outside my office.

I did the only sensible thing to do: I ignored them until Friday morning.

I didn’t like how the box was taped. That shouldn’t make much difference. But what I really didn’t like was what happened after I pulled the PowerEdge 1750 out of the box.

It bent.OK, maybe “flex” is a more appropriate word. I’m used to working with HP servers. They have a one-piece chassis. Although their 1U offerings weigh about the same amount as these Dells, when you pick them up, they remain straight.

I think that’s a useful feature for something you want to shove into a rack.

Why, of course I suggested drugs as a possible explanation. I can’t let the obvious joke slip by.

I was happy to see that these servers, unlike the last Dell I worked on, actually use a ServerWorks chipset rather than a cheap Intel desktop chipset. The Intel stuff is cheaper, but then all you’ve really gotten is a Dell Dimension in a rackmount case. In all honesty, I’ve run Linux on Intel and Sis and Via chipsets and turned those systems loose as servers, but when you’re spending money rather than repurposing systems, you should spend the money to do the job right.

I was less happy when I went to install Linux on it. The standard Debian 3.0 wouldn’t see it. It was the first time I’d found a system that Debian 3.0 wouldn’t boot.

A Google search quickly turned up a custom Debian boot CD for Dells, which I used to do the installation. Once installed, we compiled a custom kernel so the system would work right. I used to routinely recommend that. That was before I had 125 servers to stay on top of. These days I’m more inclined to use the standard kernel whenever I can–that way, when a vulnerability shows up, I can just apt-get update and reboot, rather than having to compile a kernel and then reboot.

I’m not in love with HP’s service–that’s a story in and of itself, but the short version is that the last time I used their 4-hour-response-time service, it took a day longer than regular warranty service would have taken–but HP’s servers sure make my life less complicated than Dell’s do.