Monday, February 11, 2013

GEFORCE GT610 video card in dell poweredge 840 server

And, trying to ignore reality, the only thing sane to do is to try to think something else real hard. Luckily I have lots of tasks like that.

I installed a GEFORCE GT610 in my new dell poweredge 840 server (I use my server as a desktop computer).
Model name GF-GT610-LP1GH, with 1 GB of video memory, pretty fast, and the best, works with a 32 bit PCI bus! (not pci-express!)
My computer has 1 32bit PCI bus, and two PCI-X (not express, eXtended! which is like a 64 bit PCI bus), so the card fits in any of these (you can put a 32 bit PCI card into a PCI-X one).

Maker page:

Official drivers for GNU/Linux (32 and 64 architecture available):

I'd prefer to use free software or at least open source for this kind of thing... apparently there are some options in the repositories (sudo apt-cache search nvidia). Please check those out too, I know I will...

How it goes:
1- Install the card in the server
2- Boot. You'll hear some beeps, and it'll take a lot longer than usual depending on your kernel
3- Depending on your X settings, you'll get no output to the monitor after the POST and maybe the init scripts have run.
4- If you get no output from your monitor (I didn't!), use ssh to login to your computer, run the file you get from the official drivers download page (chmod +x; ./
5- You'll get compiled the kernel modules for the video card and your /etc/X11/xorg.conf settings will be changed ( notes on that below)
6- reboot
7- Cross your fingers and after probably a lot longer than you're used to, you'll see how the init scripts run, and you get your X session looking quite pretty!

- the grub menu screen won't show... so right now I can't choose anything but my current default kernel/initrd on startup. This probably won't be so hard to fix
- the server won't halt! (it takes a lot to shutdown!)... yes, I guess the modules aren't working perfectly or something. I guess re-compiling your kernel for multiple displays support would fix it. Or at least trying a new kernel...
- it takes so long to boot! There's a pause between the grub start menu thing, and the actual initrd scripts running. I guess this is due to the kernel as well.

But besides that, it works perfectly!! I can finally see high-resolution videos without having to scale them smaller or dropping frames, and even better, I can finally play on my computer decently! I just tried quakelive without any trouble!

Random information:
computer: dell poweredge 840
OS: Debian GNU/Linux 6.0, kernel: 2.6.26-2
added lines on /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

$ bzr diff xorg.conf|grep +
--- xorg.conf 2013-02-11 07:06:13 +0000
+++ xorg.conf 2013-02-11 07:24:07 +0000
@@ -1,57 +1,54 @@
+# nvidia-xconfig: X configuration file generated by nvidia-xconfig
+# nvidia-xconfig:  version 310.32  (buildmeister@swio-display-x86-rhel47-09)  Mon Jan 14 15:46:49 PST 2013
+Section "ServerLayout"
+    Identifier     "Layout0"
+    Screen      0  "Screen0"
+    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
+    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
+Section "Files"
+Section "InputDevice"
+    # generated from default
+    Identifier     "Mouse0"
+    Driver         "mouse"
+    Option         "Protocol" "auto"
+    Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
+    Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
+    Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
+Section "InputDevice"
+    # generated from default
+    Identifier     "Keyboard0"
+    Driver         "kbd"
+Section "Monitor"
+    Identifier     "Monitor0"
+    VendorName     "Unknown"
+    ModelName      "Unknown"
+    HorizSync       28.0 - 33.0
+    VertRefresh     43.0 - 72.0
+    Option         "DPMS"
+    Identifier     "Device0"
+    Driver         "nvidia"
+    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
+    Identifier     "Screen0"
+    Device         "Device0"
+    Monitor        "Monitor0"
+    DefaultDepth    24
+    SubSection     "Display"
+        Depth       24
+    EndSubSection

Just a quick update

It stopped working in the upgrade to debian 9. It works perfectly on debian 8. I tried an ubuntu live DVD without success too.
I think X is the reason so maybe you could make it work by keeping the X server in the same version as debian 8. But it was too much of a trouble for me so I just kept it on debian 8.


I inserted the card it in the slot_5 (the bottom one)


  1. Just got a poweredge 840 today and want to upgrade graphics too. You got this running without hardware modification ? Did you disable onboard video ?

    1. nice machine, although as you can guess, not ideal for this kind of thing...
      I am using it as pretty much a normal desktop computer, and use the video card to see videos/gaming. If you're planning to do the same, this blog might help you.
      If you need graphics not for home purposes (3d processing, etc), you can just get a specific graphic card designed for servers and save you the trouble.

      I did no hardware modification at all. Although I'm inserting the card in a slot not the exact size as you'd usually do in a desktop computer (putting 32 bits pci card in the pci-x slot).

      I don't remember if I changed the onboard video thing in the bios. But I think I might have set it to detect other cards and give them preference to the onboard one, or I checked somewhere it was automatic...
      Anyway, after putting the card and plugging in the monitor to it, you should be able to see the bios screen.

      Feel free to post how you got it working or any other comments.

    2. Thanks for speedy reply. I do indeed want to use this as a desktop machine for photo work.

  2. Hi,
    i've just tried to run a geforce gt720 on a pe840 but affer booting, it stucks on windows boot (black screen). Can you help me please? Thank you!

    1. Hey Massimo. windows boot = grub ? the BIOS screen? I think it gives up and actually starts booting after a while. It takes pretty long the first time it's boot though, have no idea why.
      So my reply is "wait". Or "remove, and try again" ;). If your OS is not working well with the new card, please try booting from a USB/DVD GNU/Linux portable distro, like trisquel, knoppix, etc.
      I'm afraid that's about all the help I can give you... If you get it working, please feel free to write how you did it...

  3. Thank you very much for sharing this. I am in a search of the video card for my Poweredge 840

  4. Been using GeForce Zotac GT610 on two of my Dell poweredge 840 quads for 6 months now. Very pleased.
    No raid.
    Change floppy setting to not installed.
    No memory test.
    This takes a while to boot when first installed. About 5 or 6 beeps with black screen
    Press f1 to continue...

    1. Your Zotac GT610 is a PCie card, right? In which slot did you used it? 1X or 4X? Got one too that want to use as a DJ station, but the integrated graphics card is too weak. Thanks.

    2. hello. I'm not using the Zotac card, but I googled it and appears to be the same interface as the one in this post.
      I added a few pictures to the blog post too.

      In my case though, I'm using a regular/legacy PCI slot (32-bit/33MHz) card. Not a PCI-E, or PCI-X.

      By the time I bought it, it was the best thing I could find that I could insert in my slots... maybe you have better options now.

      I think this the zotac one (regular PCI too).

      Whatever slot/interface you decide/can use, it should be around the same though.

      You'll get lots of beeps at the beginning, but you can just wait and eventually it'll start showing using that card.
      On debian 8 I didn't even need to install the firmware directly, but used the nvidia packages from the debian (probably non-free? ) repo. And the X server and its conf file was all set automatically, very nice.
      Although as I posted, it stopped working on debian 9. You might try it on debian 8 or any other distro you have interest on (even if they don't have nvidia support, you'll probably just be able to install the linux modules using the firmware).

      A DJ station sounds like fun. Hope you get it working.